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, I tell you.
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 eat more nutritious main meals. Get some affordable meal ideas from our list of 45 cheap high-calorie foods.
Top 10 high-calorie snacks for bulking up
After finishing our research we ended up with 55 high-calorie snacks that you can find in this article. Here are the top 10 healthy high-calorie snacks with the most calories:
Butter (717 calories);
Nuts (569-716 calories);
Seeds (486-657 calories);
Peanut butter (639 calories);
Dark chocolate (598 calories);
Tortilla chips (497 calories);
Granola bars (471 calories);
Trail mix (462 calories);
Whole-wheat crackers (427 calories);
Jerky (410 calories).
And there are plenty more snacks that will help you bulk up.
Find below a list of 55 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.
High-protein bulking snacks
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 are also great for athletes doing clean bulking, which means they 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.
Jerky is the high-protein snack with the most calories in our ranking, 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 of it a day, even if that amount has a good share of iron as well.
Macronutrients: 33 g of proteins, 11 g of carbs, and 26 g of fats
Micronutrients (% daily value): 92% sodium, 30% iron
How to add more calories to this snack? As jerky is a high-calorie snack that’s rich in proteins and fats, you want to complete your snack with more carbs, so have a slice of whole wheat bread or an English muffin alongside your meat.
2. Fillet smoked pork tenderloin
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.
Micronutrients (% daily value): 16% sodium, 7% potassium, 5.4% iron
How to add more calories to this snack? Make a tuna and avocado salad to bring some healthy fats to your snack. Add some whole wheat bread, crackers, or pretzels into the mix to maximize your calorie intake.
Macronutrients: 13 g of protein, 1 g of carbs, and 11 g of fat
Micronutrients (% daily value): 10.4% vitamin A, 6.6% iron, 5% sodium, and 4% potassium
How to add more calories to this snack? Hard-boiled eggs go well with a few slices of whole wheat bread or an English muffin. Alternatively, you can add boiled eggs to a salad along with some vegetables, croutons, and olive oil for a calorie boost.
6. Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is a handy source of protein and calcium that will help you fill up your daily calorie needs.
How to add more calories to this snack? It’s a good idea to combine Greek yogurt with high-carb bulking snacks, such as a slice of whole-grain bread, dried fruits, or a touch of honey.
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.
7. Cottage cheese
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Cottage cheese tastes delicious with some grapes, apples, or canned fruits on the side. Also, try mixing cottage cheese with one or two tablespoons of honey to get a calorie surplus on this snack.
High-carb bulking snacks
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 chocolate, whole-grain snacks, sugary snacks, dried fruits, and some fresh fruits.
8. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is hands down the most energizing carb 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.
How to add more calories to this snack? A great idea for a bulking snack with even more calories is to dip tortilla chips in some avocado spread. As an alternative, you can dip the chips in peanut butter or Greek yogurt.
10. Granola bars
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 into your meal plans.
How to add more calories to this snack? As granola bars can sometimes be hard to chew, eat this snack alongside a glass of whole milk or a cup of Greek yogurt. You can also spread some peanut butter over the granola for more calories.
11. Whole wheat crackers
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? For a better bulking snack, combine whole wheat crackers with some high-protein canned tuna. Alternatively, mix crackers with some Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, whole milk, butter, or healthy nuts.
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 a energy-filling snack with plenty of carbs, a decent number of proteins, some iron, and potassium.
How to add more calories to this snack? Use olive oil while preparing your popcorn or add some butter over them when you’re done air-popping to get a calorie surplus. Enjoy this bulking snack in front of your favorite movie or latest streaming series.
13. Brown rice cakes
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Rice cakes go well with other healthy spreadable high-calorie snacks, like peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or even some avocado spread.
14. Whole grain cereals
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? You have plenty of ways to leverage the number of calories in cereals. You can soak them in whole milk, mix them with Greek yogurt, or sprinkle over some healthy nuts.
15. Whole wheat pretzels
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Have some full fat Greek yogurt or a glass of whole milk to boost the calories in this snack. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some seeds, from sunflower to poppy ones, on top of the pretzels.
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? You can spread some peanut butter over your gingerbread or combine it with dried fruits.
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Whole wheat bread goes well with olive oil for a boost of calories and healthy fats. Also, bread always goes hand in hand with Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, and other healthy high-calorie snacks.
19. English muffin
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? For a boost of calories and beneficial fats, pair whole wheat English muffins with olive oil. Muffins also go well with high-calorie foods such as Greek yogurt, nuts, butter, and other healthy bulking snacks.
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.
Macronutrients: 6 g of protein, 28 g of carbs, and 10 g of fats
Micronutrients (% daily value): 18% sodium, 17% calcium, 10% iron
How to add more calories to this snack? Pancakes are some of the most versatile high-calorie snacks as you can have them with bananas, peanut butter, jam, honey and nuts, Greek yogurt, and more healthy alternatives.
Honey is a carb-filled snack that you can easily use to boost your daily calorie intake.
How to add more calories to this snack? Spread some jam over a slice of whole wheat bread, crackers, or pretzels to get a carb-filled snack. Alternatively, you can mix jam with some Greek yogurt to get a calorie-dense snack that will definitely help with your bulking efforts.
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? You can sprinkle raisins over some high-calorie dairy products, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or even ice cream, to obtain a bulking snack with even more calories.
24. Medjool dates
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Combine dates with a high-protein or high-fat snack to level the macronutrients when you want to have a bite of this type of dried fruit. For example, try mixing dates with Greek yogurt or some Cheddar cheese.
25. Dried figs
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.
Macronutrients: 3 g of protein, 63 g of carbs, and 1 g of fats
Micronutrients (% daily value): 72% vitamin A, 34% potassium, 15% iron
How to add more calories to this snack? You can easily sprinkle a few dried apricots on a slice of whole-wheat bread, combine them with a high-fat snack like cashew nuts or pistachios, or you can boost calories by dipping them in Greek yogurt.
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.
Micronutrients (% daily value): 21% potassium, 16% vitamin A, 5% iron
How to add more calories to this snack? You can find that combining prunes with jerky makes for a surprisingly tasty bulking snack. Besides, you’ll see that eating prunes alongside protein-dense dairy products is both a nutritious and delicious idea for a high-calorie snack.
28. Dried peaches
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.
Micronutrients (% daily value): 43% vitamin A, 28% potassium, 23% iron, 8% vitamin C
How to add more calories to this snack? You can obtain a calorie surplus by adding dried peaches over some ice cream or combining them with yogurt or cottage cheese.
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? To obtain a bulking snack with even more calories, you can mix bananas with some high-fat snacks, like whole milk, walnuts, or ice cream, or you can mix them with a protein bar or some low-fat Greek yogurt for some additional muscle-building benefits.
30. Fruit juice
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Whether you prefer apple, orange, or grape juice, consider combining them with other healthy high-calorie snacks, preferably with the ones rich in protein or fats, to maximize your energy intake.
High-fat bulking snacks
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 only 4 calories. 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 dairy snacks, nuts, seeds, and some fruits.
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? It's a great idea to spread butter on a slice of whole-wheat bread and add some slices of smoked pork tenderloin to make a nutritious high-calorie snack.
32. Cheddar cheese
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Cheddar cheese goes well with dried or fresh fruits, whole wheat bread or crackers, honey, and jams.
33. String cheese
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Try eating ice cream along bananas or whole-wheat pretzels to get a higher calorie boost. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some nuts or dried fruits over the top of your ice cream.
35. Whole milk
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.
Macronutrients: 3 g of protein, 5 g of carbs, and 3 g of fats
Micronutrients (% daily value): 9% calcium
How to add more calories to this snack? You can successfully combine whole milk with whole-grain snacks, or you can make yourself a healthy high-calorie milkshake by adding a banana and some peanut butter.
36. Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are as nutritious as fancy their name sounds. Featuring plenty of fats and iron, roasted macadamias make for a calorie-filled snack that is going to be extremely handy during the days you're far away from your necessary daily calorie intake.
Macronutrients: 15 g of protein, 18 g of carbs, and 62 g of fats
Micronutrients (% daily value): 25% iron, 22% potassium, 10% calcium, and 6% vitamin C
How to add more calories to this snack? Hazelnuts go well with dried or fresh fruits, like prunes or bananas, and make for an excellent combo alongside dark chocolate.
As roasted peanuts are rich in fats and proteins, they make for a nutritious high-calorie snack that will not only help you meet your daily calorie goals but also help you build muscle. Moreover, peanuts contain good amounts of potassium, sodium, and some iron.
How to add more calories to this snack? Cashew nuts pair well with dark chocolate or dried fruits, like dates and raisins.
Roasted pistachios are a high-calorie snack that is rich in protein, carbs, and fats while being a treasure of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, iron, sodium, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
How to add more calories to this snack? Eat pumpkin seeds alongside a protein bar or add them to a vitamin-filled salad.
50. Sesame seeds
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? You can sprinkle sesame seeds over a slice of whole wheat bread, have them along with canned tuna, or dip them in honey to obtain more nutritious bulking snacks.
51. Ground flax seeds
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Blend ground flax seeds into a banana and peanut butter smoothie or sprinkle them in a bowl of whole-grain cereals soaked in whole milk to get a calorie surplus.
52. Poppy seeds
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Sprinkle poppy seeds over your whole-grain bread or English muffin, and pair the combo with a glass of whole milk to round up a high-calorie snack.
53. Chia seeds
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.
How to add more calories to this snack? Avocados are versatile fruits. You can add avocados in a smoothie alongside Greek yogurt, bananas, and dark chocolate, as a topping over tortilla chips, or spread them over some pancakes.
Here is a short tutorial on how to prepare avocado and banana smoothie:
Bulking snacks on a budget
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.
Meal plan with high-calorie snacks
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 and snacks, but remember to eat with your fitness goal in mind.
2300 calories meal plan
Pre-workout breakfast snack: 502 calories
Cottage cheese - 164 calories
Amount: 200 g
Protein: 22 g
Carbs: 8 g
Fats: 4 g
Honey - 91 calories
Amount: 30 g
Carbs: 25 g
Banana - 105 calories
Amount: 118 g (medium banana)
Protein: 1 g
Carbs: 27 g
Whole wheat bread - 142 calories
Amount: 2 slices (56 g)
Protein: 7 g
Carbs: 24 g
Fats: 2 g
Post-workout snack: 619 calories
Hard-boiled eggs - 233 calories
Amount: 3 large eggs (150 g)
Protein: 20 g
Carbs: 2 g
Fats: 17 g
English muffin - 203 calories
Amount: 100 g
Protein: 9 g
Carbs: 40 g
Fats: 2 g
Whole milk - 183 calories
Amount: 300 ml
Protein: 9 g
Carbs: 15 g
Fats: 9 g
Lunch: 424 calories
Pork meatballs - 260 calories
Amount: 5 meatballs (150 g)
Protein: 22 g
Carbs: 5 g
Fats: 17 g
Whole wheat bread - 142 calories
Amount: 2 slices (56 g)
Protein: 7 g
Carbs: 24 g
Fats: 2 g
Ketchup - 22 calories
Amount: 20 g
Carbs: 5 g
Dinner: 467 calories
Roasted turkey breast - 202 calories
Amount: 150 g
Protein: 45 g
Fats: 1 g
Cooked brown rice - 222 calories
Amount: 200 g
Protein: 5 g
Carbs: 47 g
Fats: 2 g
Cucumber salad - 43 calories
Amount: 150 g
Protein: 1 g
Carbs: 10 g
Pre-bed snack - 332 calories
Full-fat Greek yogurt - 194 calories
Amount: 200 g
Protein: 18 g
Carbs: 8 g
Fats: 10 g
Apple juice - 138 calories
Amount: 300 ml
Carbs: 33 g
Calories: 2344 calories
Protein: 166 g
Carbs: 273 g
Fats: 66 g
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.
Claudiu Pop is the founder of Unfold Today and an awarded journalist with expertise in numerous fields such as health, nutrition, fitness, mental health, productivity, healthy habits, and other domains related to personal growth.
He has a BA in Journalism from Babeș-Bolyai University and was trained by professionals coming from the most authoritative news organizations, like CNN, The New York Times, and Reuters. Claudiu's work, published in various national and international outlets has been read by over 1 million people before he was even 21 years old.
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