Top 10 Foods Highest in Calories

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Patricia Shelton Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Patricia Shelton
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
Powered by USDA Nutrition Data.
Top 10 Foods Highest in Calories

Calories are the basic unit used for measuring the energy in food.

Healthy high-calorie foods include granola, meats, tofu, fish, avocados, milk, beans, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and nuts. The daily value (DV) for calories is 2000 calories per day. (1)

The DV is an average number of calories that a person needs to maintain their body weight and to be physically active at an average level. However, an individual’s daily calorie needs can vary significantly, based on factors like their body size, age, and level of physical activity.

To gain weight in the form of lean muscle mass, you'll need to eat more calories, so that your body has the energy to build muscle. A good target is around 3000 calories per day. You may need to eat more or less than this, depending on how many strength-building exercises you are doing.

Below is a list of the top 10 high calorie foods ranked by common serving size.

If you are looking to lose weight, see the list on unhealthy high calorie foods to avoid.

If you are looking to gain weight, see select meal portions for eating more calories, and the high calorie weight gain meal plans.

Printable One Page Sheet

Click to Print
A printable list of high-calorie foods for weight gain.

Tips for Gaining Weight

  • Add high calorie foods to existing dishes - Nuts, seeds, or dried fruit can make a great addition to salads, rice dishes, pasta dishes, etc.
  • Add healthy fats and oils to existing dishes - Add olive oil, peanut oil, or safflower oil to as many foods as possible, such as rice, other grains, pasta, salads, etc.
  • Increase portion sizes - Create larger meals of calorie dense foods like rice, mashed potatoes, and pasta.
  • Drink Calories - Drinks are an easy way to consume calories on the go. Drink juice, soy milk, milk, smoothies, and other healthy high-calorie beverages.
  • Do Muscle Building (Anaerobic) Exercises - Muscle building exercises can increase appetite and also increase weight as your body builds muscle. This is especially true when combined with high protein foods like nuts, peanut butter, fish, or beans.
  • Track your progress and set goals - You may want to set goals for weight gain each month. Keep in mind that there isn’t enough solid scientific research to indicate what a healthy and realistic muscle gain goal would be, so choosing a specific goal may be difficult. You'll also want to monitor your body composition to ensure that you're gaining muscle and not fat. Keep in mind that most people will gain muscle more quickly when they first start lifting weights, and this will taper off after you've been training for a while. (2,3) Use the daily food log to track what you eat and make any needed changes.

Select Meal Portions for Eating More Calories

Use the ranking tool links below to select foods and create your own food list to share or print.

View more nutrients with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. USDA - Calories on the Nutrition Facts Label
  2. Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K. Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adaptations and strength development during strength training in strength-trained and untrained men J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):572-82. doi: 10.1519/15604.1. 16095405
  3. Haun CT, Vann CG, Mobley CB, Osburn SC, Mumford PW, Roberson PA, Romero MA, Fox CD, Parry HA, Kavazis AN, Moon JR, Young KC, Roberts MD. Muscle fiber hypertrophy in response to 6 weeks of high-volume resistance training in trained young men is largely attributed to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy Front Physiol. 2019 Mar 26;10:297. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00297. eCollection 2019. 30971942
MyFoodData provides free nutrition data tools and articles to help you organize and understand the foods you eat.

Try the recipe nutrition calculator, or daily meal planner.

Create a free account to log and track foods.