All foods can be high calorie snacks if the portion is big enough, but it is important to differentiate between “good” and “bad” snacks. When trying to lose weight, most people try to avoid the “bad” high calorie snacks. Although tasty and cheap, these snacks often offer little or no nutritional value, and are often referred to as “empty calories.” On the other hand, there are “good” high calorie snacks that can be useful to those who are trying to gain weight. For these individuals, the right snack can provide beneficial fats, complex carbohydrates, and increased energy, since calories are nothing more than a measurement of the energy contained in fuel for the body.
Those looking to gain weight in a healthy manner should look for calorie-dense foods that provide a higher number of calories without greatly increasing volume. Peanut butter is a popular weight-gaining tool for bodybuilders, since it provides a healthy dose of carbohydrates and unsaturated fat along with 165 calories per ounce (28.3 grams). Spread it on top of a bagel, and the calorie count increases by 289, and the carbohydrates increase by about 2 ounces (56 grams).
Nuts are a healthy high calorie snack. Besides containing large amounts of carbohydrates, nuts are also a source of protein, as well as “good” fats that are beneficial to heart health. Cashews weigh in at 786 calories per cup (137 grams), which is equivalent to a large handful, and a cup of peanuts (144 grams) contains 862 calories.
Granola is another healthy high calorie snack option. A one-cup (96 gram) serving of plain granola cereal contains about 412 calories, and a cup of whole milk adds another 146 calories. If the granola includes chocolate or dried fruit, the calorie count can skyrocket. Besides being packed full of calories, granola also contains large amounts of fiber that is good for digestion and heart health, and complex carbohydrates that provide lasting energy throughout the day.
Protein shakes are an easy, portable weight gain method. Available in a variety of flavors including chocolate, vanilla, and various fruits, some of these shakes can contain more than 500 calories per serving. Protein shakes are available either pre-mixed or in powdered form, any many include additives like fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and other various vitamins and minerals that may help promote healthy weight gain.
Chips, candy, cakes, and cookies may be delicious and are usually high calorie snacks. The average plain, glazed doughnut contains over 300 calories, and potato chips contain over 153 calories per ounce; most “snack”-sized bags are four to six ounces (about 113 to 170 grams). These foods will cause weight gain, but they can also cause high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart damage. Healthy weight gain is about building muscle and feeding the body what it needs, which cannot be achieved by consuming unhealthy high calorie snacks.