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High-Calorie, High-Protein Diet

Why Follow a High-Calorie, High-Protein Diet?

A high-calorie, high-protein diet may be advised if you have recently lost weight, have a poor appetite, or have an increased need for protein, such as with a burn or infection. Eating a high-calorie, high-protein diet can help you:
  • Have more energy
  • Gain weight or stop losing weight
  • Heal
  • Resist infection
  • Recover faster from surgery or illness

High-Calorie, High-Protein Diet Food Guide

Below are lists of foods that are high in calories and protein. Whenever possible, include foods from these lists in your snacks and meals:
High-Calorie Foods High-Protein Foods
  • Cheese, cream cheese
  • Whole milk, heavy cream, whipped cream
  • Sour cream
  • Butter, margarine, oil
  • Ice cream
  • Cake, cookies, chocolate
  • Gravy
  • Salad dressing, mayonnaise
  • Avocado
  • Jam, jelly, syrup
  • Honey, sugar
  • Dried Fruit
  • Cheese, cottage cheese
  • Milk, soy milk, milk powder
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts, seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Tofu and other soy products
  • Beans, peas, lentils
  • Beef, poultry, pork, and other meats
  • Fish and other seafood

Snack Suggestions

Snack Directions Calories
Fruit smoothie
Blend 8 ounces whole milk vanilla yogurt + ½ cup orange juice + 1 cup frozen berries
Egg and cheese English muffin
1 whole wheat English muffin + 2 teaspoons margarine spread or butter + 1 ounce cheese + 1 egg
Peanut butter and banana sandwich
2 slices of bread + 2 tablespoons peanut butter + 1 sliced banana
Trail mix
½ cup nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
Cereal, milk, and banana
1 cup presweetened wheat cereal + 8 ounces whole milk + 1 banana
Yogurt and granola
1 cup whole milk flavored yogurt + ½ cup low-fat granola

Ten Tips for Increasing Calorie and Protein Intake

  • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Keep prepared, ready-to-eat snacks on hand while at home, at the office, and on the road.
  • Drink your calories. Choose high-calorie fluids, such as milk, blended coffee drinks, milk shakes, or juice.
  • Add protein powder or powdered milk to your beverages, smoothies, and foods, such as cream soups, scrambled eggs, gravy, and mashed potatoes.
  • Melt cheese onto sandwiches, bread, tortillas, eggs, meat, and vegetables.
  • Use milk in place of water when cooking and when preparing foods, such as hot cereal, cocoa, or pudding.
  • Load salads with hardboiled eggs, avocado, nuts, cheese, and dressing.
  • Use peanut butter or creamy salad dressings as a dip for raw veggies.
  • Try commercial supplements, such as Boost, Ensure, Resource, or Carnation Instant Breakfast.
  • Talk to a registered dietitian. They can help you develop an individualized eating plan.


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
US Department of Agriculture


Dietitians of Canada
Health Canada


High calorie, high protein diet. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Available at: https://patienteducation.osumc.edu/Documents/hig-cal.pdf. Updated August 5, 2014. Accessed September 13, 2016.
ILD nutrition manual: Sample menu: High-calorie, high-protein meals. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/ild%5Fnutrition%5Fmanual/sample%5Fmenu%5Fhigh-calorie%5Fand%5Fhigh-protein%5Fmeals. Accessed September 13, 2016.

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