High Calorie Foods

Many people may associate calories with unhealthy eating, since some high calorie foods are also high in fat and other unwanted ingredients that don’t contribute to a balanced, healthy diet. But calories are actually necessary and important for your health. 

A calorie is just a measure of energy, so it’s important to balance the number of calories we take in with the calories we burn each day. Many healthy foods are also high in calories, not just junk food or fatty foods. It’s often more important to pay attention to other harmful ingredients, aside from just the calorie count.

Why You Need Calories

Calories keep the body functioning. All of the processes that the body performs require energy to keep moving. Calories provide our bodies with this energy that is necessary to sustain our daily lives.

Some health conditions cause people to lose weight in unhealthy ways, including some types of cancer, eating disorders, depression or anxiety, HIV/AIDS, hyperthyroidism, and others. This unhealthy weight loss can cause a host of health risks. People with these conditions need to find foods that are high in calories to help them gain weight.

Foods with High Calories

Many healthy foods are high in calories and contribute to a healthy diet in humans. Here are a few high-calorie foods to be aware of:

1. Carbohydrates and Whole Grains

Foods that contain whole grains and lots of carbohydrates are high in calories and also contain necessary nutrients and minerals for a healthy body. The best whole-grain foods with high calories include bread, brown rice, and pasta made from whole grains. Potatoes are a high-carbohydrate food. 

One serving of baked potatoes provides 145 calories with only one calorie from fat. And one serving of brown rice (1/4 cup) gives you 171 calories. These foods are rich in calories and contribute to a healthy diet.

2. Red Meat

Beef and pork products provide a lot of calories and can especially help those who are trying to gain weight. One serving of steak (5 ounces) gives you 300 calories and 44 grams of protein. However, be aware that steak also contains a lot of fat, in this case 12 grams of total fat. 


One serving of a pork chop (3 ounces) has 211 calories and also 5 grams of saturated fat, with 12 grams of total fat. While red meat has a lot of calories and protein, these dishes often contain high amounts of cholesterol, sodium, and fat, so they should be eaten in moderation for a balanced diet.

3. Beans

Many people who avoid red meat make up for the calories and protein by eating legumes, and, specifically, beans. Beans offer high calorie intake and carbohydrates with very little fat.

For example, one serving of pinto beans, which is 4 ounces, contains 193 calories, 11 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of fat (0 grams of saturated fat). Eating beans instead of a lot of red meat can help you reduce fat while still getting your calories.

4. Healthy Fats

Remember that not all fats are bad for you. Certain nuts and oils contain healthy fats that help you avoid saturated fat while getting the calories you need. Unhealthy fats are saturated and trans fats, and healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids

Healthy fats can be found in plant-based foods, oils like olive oil, fish, and fish oil. One tip is to use olive oil when cooking instead of butter, which contains lots of calories but helps you avoid unhealthy fat. One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil contains 126 calories and only 2 grams of saturated fat.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 03, 2020



StatPearls: “Calories.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Fat and Calories.”

Cleveland Clinic: “High-Calorie Foods and Snack Ideas to Gain Weight.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “potatoes.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem Oregon: “brown rice.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Meat or beans: What will you have? Part I: Meat.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Sale, Oregon: “pork chop.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “pinto beans.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fats: Know which types to choose.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “olive oil.”

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