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Claudiu Pop is a nutritionist, medical writer, journalist, and the founder of Unfold Today. He specialized in fitness and nutrition, especially in weight gain, by helping people increase their body mass since 2019 with over 20 articles published in the field.
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Maria Pfund, MS, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist holding a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics earned at the University of Florida, and a Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences acquired at Eastern Illinois University.
As a hardgainer, I know from experience how difficult it can be to gain weight the healthy way, but high-calorie snacks will make your bulking phase so much easier.
Even if you already know a few bulking snacks, it can be hard to find alternatives because you want to bulk up consuming snacks that help you keep a balanced diet instead of loading your stomach with empty fast-food calories.
That is why this list of high-calorie snacks is a must-have while bulking up for everyone trying to gain weight on a healthy diet, from hardgainers and skinny people to bodybuilding experts and fitness pros struggling to build more muscle mass.
Helpful tip: if you struggle to gain weight after you add high-calorie snacks to your diet, you likely need to start eating other types of nutrient-dense foods as well. Get ideas from our list of high-calorie foods for weight gain.
After finishing our research we ended up with 71 high-calorie snacks that you can find in this article.
Here are the top 10 healthy high-calorie snacks with the most calories:
And there are plenty more snacks that will help you bulk up.
Find below a list of 71 high-calorie snacks organized by their predominant macronutrient. This way, if you need, for example, more proteins, you will know exactly which bulking snacks have the highest protein content. The same goes for carbs and fats.
Since proteins are fundamental nutrients for building muscle, feeding your body with them by eating high-protein snacks across the day is essential when following a bulking diet, especially for hardgainers.
High-protein snacks, especially the ones with low-fat contents, are great for athletes doing clean bulking. Clean bulking is a practice followed by individuals who want to gain weight without adding too much fat.
Generally, you can find the most proteins in meat snacks, nutrition bars, eggs, and dairy snacks.
As slurpable snacks, weight gain shakes earned their title of the highest calorie snack. And the best thing? Many shakes are high in protein.
You can find protein shake recipes for weight gain ranging from 476 calories to almost 1830 on our list of high-calorie shakes.
If you also consider smoothies as being slurpable snacks, weight gain smoothies are the runner-up in this high-calorie snacks ranking. In addition, many of them are rich in protein.
You can find protein smoothie recipes that are high-calorie on our list of weight gain smoothies. Alternatively, if you'd rather not follow a recipe and choose each ingredient, learn how to make a high-calorie smoothie from scratch.
If you can't decide whether you should add smoothies or shakes to your high-calorie diet, see the differences between smoothies and shakes.
Jerky is one of the high-protein snacks with the most calories, mainly because it has plenty of fats as well.
However, be careful that jerky has a lot of sodium, so you don’t want to eat 100 g (3.5 oz) of it a day, even if that amount has a good share of iron as well.
A few slices of smoked pork tenderloin come in handy when you need to prepare a high-protein snack that also has plenty of calories.
Canned tuna doesn’t have over 100 calories but it is a protein-packed snack that helps you build muscle, so it’s definitely a useful and healthy food to add to your diet.
Tuna is also good if you have an upset stomach, as it counts among the 50 most easily digestible foods you can include in your diet.
Snacking on protein bars is one of the easiest ways to fill up with energy before or after workouts.
Also, high-calorie bars count among the most effective weight gain foods for females. About 2 in 10 women who successfully gain weight consume high-calorie protein bars regularly.
Besides, this high-protein snack has plenty of calcium, iron, and a bit of vitamin D.
If you want to gain weight and increase your muscle size, make sure to choose your favorite protein bar from our list of 25 best high-calorie bars.
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods, and thus they make for a healthy snack packed with proteins and fats.
Besides, eggs can be cooked in various ways. For example, hard-boiled eggs have a decent amount of vitamin A, iron, potassium, and sodium.
Greek yogurt is a handy source of protein and calcium that will help you fill up your daily calorie needs.
Important tip: make sure to pay attention to the amount of fat that different Greek yogurts have. In stores, you will usually find zero fat, low fat, and full-fat variants. Choose according to your caloric needs and diet plan.
For example, if you want to gain weight and you generally struggle to eat enough fats during the day, you should go for the full-fat yogurt option. On the other hand, if you wish to lose weight, you will find that the zero fat or low-fat variant will make it easier for you to stay in a caloric deficit.
Even though cottage cheese doesn’t offer as much energy as other healthy high-calorie snacks on this list, it is a useful snack for bulking up because of its high protein content and affordable price.
Consuming high-carb bulking snacks throughout the day can help you keep your energy levels high, feel better during your workouts, and repair your muscles faster after training sessions, according to scientific research.
Usually, you can find the most carbs in smoothies, chocolate, whole-grain snacks, sugary snacks, dried fruits, and some fresh fruits.
Whole-grain snacks, sugary snacks, and fruits are especially useful for preparing pre-workout meals for muscle gain.
Most weight gain shakes are high both in calories and carbs, which means they'll not only help you put on pounds but also energize yourself.
You can find high-carb shake recipes for weight gain on our list of high-calorie shakes.
Since weight gain smoothies have fruits and vegetables at their core, most of them are high-carb snacks.
You can find smoothie recipes for weight gain ranging from 400 calories to almost 1300 on our list of high-calorie smoothies.
Tip: since smoothies are oftentimes made with vegetables, make sure to use high-calorie vegetables when preparing one to obtain a slurpable snack with as many as possible calories.
Dark chocolate is hands down one of the most energizing carbs in our list of healthy high-calorie snacks. Chocolate with 70-85% cacao has plenty of carbs but also a lot of fats while featuring a decent amount of protein as well.
Tortilla chips are a high-calorie snack that’s rich in carbs and fats, so you don’t want to eat too many of them.
Also, as tortilla chips are usually salted, they may put you in danger of exceeding the daily limit for sodium. Eat responsibly is the keyword phrase here.
Granola bars are some of the most nutritious and easy to consume high-calorie snacks but they also have plenty of fats. Keep an eye on them if you include granola bars in your meal plans.
Whole wheat crackers are some of the most nutritious high-calorie snacks because of their rich macronutrient profile. Crackers help you build muscle by releasing proteins inside your body and give you energy from their carbs and fats.
Additionally, whole wheat crackers feature solid quantities of iron and potassium.
Warning: don't overeat crackers as they oftentimes contain a lot of sodium.
If you want to get the healthiest version of this high-calorie snack called popcorn, air-pop it using a non-stick pot. You’ll end up with an energy-filling snack with plenty of carbs, a decent number of proteins, some iron, and potassium.
Brown rice cakes are better than the ones made from white rice because they contain complex carbs that release energy over an extended period of time.
Nutrient-wise, brown rice cakes are rich in carbs and offer a decent amount of protein as well. Moreover, they also have iron and potassium.
Whole grain cereals are some of the healthiest high-calorie snacks you can consume across your day, not only for breakfast. For example, Honey Nut Cheerios made from whole grain oats are a treasure of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.
Whole wheat pretzels are a great way to leverage your calorie intake for the day as this bulking snack has over 80 grams of carbs and a decent number of proteins. Besides, pretzels are a good source of iron and potassium.
Gingerbread makes for a handy high-calorie snack for when you’re bulking, as it’s rich in carbs and fats but also in minerals like potassium, iron, and calcium.
Even though muesli is more like a breakfast meal, it can be eaten as a snack too. As a combination of oats, dried fruits, nuts, and other cereals, muesli will give you plenty of carbs and some protein alongside iron, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium.
Whole wheat bread is a staple high-carb food that works best in combination with other bulking snacks. Besides carbs, whole bread is a decent source of protein, iron, calcium, and potassium.
As they are rich in carbs and offer some protein as well, whole wheat English muffins are a good high-calorie alternative to bread. Also, English muffins have calcium, iron, and potassium in their content.
However, be careful that English muffins also have a higher amount of sodium than bread.
Besides being a breakfast classic, pancakes make for a tasty high-calorie snack that can fit almost any bulking diet. Even Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson is known for frequently having a large plate of pancakes every now and then.
Honey is a carb-filled snack that you can easily use to boost your daily calorie intake.
Consuming jam alone may be too sweet for most of us, so adding it to other high-calorie snacks is a great idea to get more calories effortlessly.
Raisins are a high-calorie snack packed with carbs that will load up your energy tank. Also, raisins have plenty of potassium, iron, and a bit of vitamin C.
Medjool dates are dried fruits that make for a nutritious high-calorie snack due to their carb-filled content. Moreover, dates feature high levels of potassium, iron, and calcium.
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, but for a higher calorie density, you want to go for the dried option. Dried figs are a high-calorie snack that features plenty of carbs, potassium, iron, and calcium.
Besides them being a treasure of vitamin A, potassium, and iron, dried apricots are a high-calorie snack that will energize yourself due to the many carbs in its composition.
Prunes, also known as dried plums, are a high-carb snack that is rich in potassium and vitamin A while featuring a small quantity of iron.
Like other dehydrated fruits, dried peaches are a high-carb snack, which additionally features plenty of calories along with solid quantities of vitamin A, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.
Bananas make for a healthy high-calorie snack that is great for anyone looking to bulk up on a budget. Actually, bananas are some of the most nutritious fruits as they contain vitamin C, potassium, and plenty of energy due to their high-carb content.
Fruit juice doesn’t have as many calories per 100 g as other bulking snacks but it makes up for it by being very easy to consume and affordable at the same time.
Therefore, fruit juice makes for a handy high-calorie drink to include as a standalone liquid snack or in combination with other foods. For example, half a liter of 100% apple juice will load you up with 230 calories and fill up your necessary daily vitamin C intake.
Check out our list of high-calorie fruits for weight gain, which features the fruits with the highest number of calories, whether you're looking for fresh or dried fruits or even fruit juices.
Consuming high-fat bulking snacks is the easiest way to boost your calorie intake because every 1 g of fat has 9 calories, while 1 g of protein or carbs has 4 calories.
Since they have more calories per gram, most high-fat foods, like seeds, nuts, and butter, are low-volume high-calorie foods that won't make you feel full.
However, you can't rely just on fatty foods if you want to gain weight and build muscle at the same time.
But still, including a few healthy high-fat snacks in your nutrition plan is going to make your bulking efforts way easier.
Usually, you can find the most fats in weight gain shakes, dairy snacks, nuts, seeds, and some fruits.
Because weight gain shakes often contain ingredients rich in healthy fats, such as nuts and dairy, many of these nutritious drinks are high in fat besides being rich in calories.
Find high-fat shake recipes in our comprehensive article about high-calorie shakes for weight gain.
High-calorie nuts are convenient energy-dense snacks that will help you gain weight, especially due to the healthy fats in their composition.
The nuts with the highest calories are:
Yet there are many more nutty snacks that will help you gain weight.
High-calorie nut butters make for tasty weight gain snacks and have a similar number of calories to the nuts they are made of.
The nut butters with the highest calories are:
However, there are many more tasty high-calorie nut butters that may help you achieve your goals.
If you're looking for a snack to help you easily meet your daily fat intake, you can't go wrong with butter. Almost 80% of this dairy product's composition is fat.
Besides the fact it has plenty of fats, Cheddar cheese is also a source of protein, calcium, and vitamin A. The downside is that this type of cheese has pretty much sodium as well, so consume it responsibly.
String cheese is a very handy high-calorie snack because it can be consumed one stick at a time. Moreover, string cheese is rich in both fats and proteins while having solid amounts of calcium, sodium, and vitamin A.
Ice cream doesn't have to be your enemy. This sweet high-calorie snack has plenty of fats and carbs that will energize you while delighting your taste buds.
When you're not in the mood to fill up your stomach with solid bulking snacks, pour yourself a large glass of whole milk and boost your calorie intake.
Roasted sunflower seeds are some of the most affordable high-calorie snacks on the market. In addition, these seeds are rich in fats, proteins, and carbs, while having plenty of iron and potassium.
Munching on a pack of roasted pumpkin seeds is an excellent way to boost up your calorie intake. Pumpkin seeds are rich in proteins, fats, iron, and potassium.
The toasted kernels of sesame seeds make for a healthy and energizing high-calorie snack. Sesame seeds are filled with fats, feature solid quantities of carbs and protein, and offer a treasure of minerals, including iron, calcium, and potassium.
Ground flax seeds are a high-calorie snack that works best in combination with other foods. Nevertheless, flax seeds are loaded with fats, proteins, carbs, and minerals, such as iron, potassium, and calcium.
Besides being loaded with fats, proteins, and carbs, poppy seeds are packed with calcium, iron, and potassium. 100 g of poppy seeds offer you more than the necessary daily calcium intake, so there's no reason to eat so much poppy.
Chia seeds are one of the least fatty seeds in our list of healthy high-calorie snacks, but they compensate with their high-carb content. Other than that, chia seeds are loaded with calcium, iron, and potassium.
Coconut meat is a high-calorie snack mainly due to its high-fat content. Mineral-wise, coconut meat has iron, potassium, and some vitamin C.
The avocado is a bulking snack that's rich in healthy fats. Moreover, avocados are loaded with vitamin C and potassium.
You can find two smoothie recipes containing avocado, the Green Seed Mix Smoothie and the Green Protein Smoothie, in our list of weight gain smoothie recipes.
Alternatively, here is a short tutorial on how to prepare an avocado and banana smoothie:
For more fruit snacks, head over to our list of high-calorie fruits for weight gain.
Some of the high-calorie snacks can get pretty expensive, so if you're on a tight budget you might have a hard time picking the right foods to include in your bulking diet.
But don't fret, because we have already done the hard work and researched the food market to obtain a list of 45 cheap high-calorie foods, on which you can not only find affordable bulking snacks but also meal ideas that will help you gain weight easier than ever.
The cheapest high-calorie snacks are:
Besides buying cheap high-calorie snacks for your bulk, one other very effective way to save money on food is to meal prep.
Meal prepping essentially means preparing your meals and snacks ahead of time. This way you will know what you'll eat every day and what you need to buy from the grocery store, without wasting unnecessary money.
If you are on a low-carb diet, you should focus on high-calorie low-carb foods, including snacks.
Here are the high-calorie snacks that are low in carbs:
If you're following a ketogenic diet and have increased caloric needs, you should include high-calorie foods for keto diets, which are by definition high in fat and low in carbs, into your meal plans.
Here are the high-calorie snacks that fit keto diets:
You cannot do meal prepping without meal planning. Therefore, we crafted a meal plan that includes healthy high-calorie snacks to serve you as an example.
Feel free to follow the meal plan by the book or tweak it with your favorite meals, snacks, or some high-calorie drinks, but remember to eat with your fitness goal in mind.
Pre-workout breakfast snack: 502 calories
Post-workout snack: 619 calories
Lunch: 424 calories
Dinner: 467 calories
Pre-bed snack - 332 calories
Find other meal plans made with high-calorie snacks by checking the weight gain meal plans for females.
Packaged foods having over 400 calories per serving are considered high calorie, according to FDA. As a consequence:
Since serving sizes can differ greatly from snack to snack, high-calorie snacks have at least 400 calories per 100 g.
However, we considered being high-calorie a few other snacks under 400 calories that are especially rich in one macronutrient, thus helping you complete your daily calorie goals without risking eating too many other macronutrients.
Note: snacks especially rich in one macronutrient are those whose protein, carbs, or fat content take up at least 66% of the snack’s total calories.
For example, when you miss 20 grams of protein but you already met your carbs and fat goals for a certain day, all you want is a snack whose content is composed mainly of proteins.
Moreover, among all the high-calorie snacks in this article, we have added a few fruits that have under 400 calories per 100 g, but which qualified on our list of high-calorie fruits.
Last but not the least, we added a few popular snacks with fewer calories than the 400-calorie mark, like ice cream or pancakes due to their widespread consumption.
Low-fat high-calorie snacks are snacks that have less than 30% of their calories coming from fat.
According to the American Cancer Society's definition of low-fat foods, "for every 100 calories, if the product has 3 grams of fat or less, it’s a low-fat product. This means 30% or less of the calories come from fat."
You can find low-fat calorie-dense snacks in our full article about high-calorie low-fat foods.
If you struggled to gain weight, build muscle or meet your daily calories, you should now be able to do them all easily by adding various high-calorie snacks, from those rich in proteins to those high in carbs and fats, into your bulking meal plans.
Congratulations, you're one step closer to achieving your ideal weight and body shape.
High-Calorie Foods and Drinks
Maria Pfund, MS, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist holding a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and a Master of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences.