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Whether you want to maintain or gain weight, if you consume high-calorie foods carelessly, you can end up feeling full before achieving your daily calorie goals. Fortunately, you can gain weight with high-calorie low-volume foods because they don’t leave you filled up.
In this article:
To determine the high-calorie foods that are low-volume, we measured the water content, the fiber level, and other characteristics related to volume and satiety found in each of the high-calorie foods.
Whether you want to gain weight, stay away from feeling full, or both, see below the list of non-filling low-volume high-calorie foods.
Oils are low-volume high-calorie foods because they have no water or fibers, contain only fats, are processed products, and have between 884 and 892 calories per 100 g (1/2 cup).
No matter the type of edible oil you choose, 10 ml of oil has around 90 calories.
A downside of consuming oils is that they lack carbohydrates and proteins, macronutrients that speed up muscle growth.
Moreover, many oils, like coconut oil, are rich in unhealthy saturated fats, which affect cardiovascular health.
Therefore, to consume oils the healthy way, use them in small quantities as dressings on salads, meals, or snacks, or when cooking.
Below are some types of oils and their nutrition facts:
Coconut oil: 892 calories/100 g (1/2 cup)
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Coconut oil.
Canola oil: 884 calories/100 g (1/2 cup)
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Canola oil.
Olive oil: 884 calories/100 g (½ cup)
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Olive oil.
To help you add oils to your diet, below are a few recipe ideas:
Two dairy products, butter and cheddar cheese, are low-volume high-calorie foods because they contain low quantities of water, are high in fats, are processed, and have 717 calories (butter), respectively 409 calories (cheddar), per 100 g (3.5 oz).
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Butter.
Butter, according to Nutrition Data, has a fullness factor of 0.5 out of 5, which means it’s a non-filling food that is easy to overeat.
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Cheddar cheese.
Cheddar cheese has a score of 146% on the satiety index. This means cheddar will leave you more satiated than white bread does (100% on the index).
Below are a few recipe ideas with butter and cheddar cheese:
Nuts and nut butters are low-volume high-calorie foods because they are low in water, are high in fat, and have between 509 and 719 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
A few examples of nuts are almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts. Regarding nut butters, a few tasty types are peanut butter, almond butter, and hazelnut butter.
As for their nutritional qualities, nuts and nut butters are rich in proteins, fats, and micronutrients.
Regarding their satiety value, since peanuts, as an example, have a score of 86% on the satiety index, peanuts, and nuts in general, are not the most satiable foods. As a fact, peanuts will leave you less satiated than white bread does (100% on the satiety index).
Yet, since nuts contain many dietary fibers, they will have an impact on your satiety level.
Find the 23 nuts and nut butters with the highest calories, their nutrition facts, and ways to eat them in our complete article about high calorie nuts and nut butters.
Seeds are low-volume high-calorie foods because they are low in water, high in fat, and have between 486 and 657 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
In the ranked list of high-calorie snacks, seeds are the 4th most caloric snack.
Besides being low in water, seeds are high in proteins, fat, and fibers.
Below are some types of seeds and their nutrition facts:
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Sunflower seeds.
Ground flax seeds:
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Ground flax seeds.
Below are a few recipe ideas with seeds:
Although chia seeds can be ingredients in both smoothies and shakes, the two drinks are not the same. Learn the differences between smoothies and shakes.
High-calorie bars are low-volume high-calorie foods because they are low in water, are high in fat, are processed, and have between 517 and 622 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
As a bonus, since high-calorie bars are rich in proteins, carbs, and fats, they can help you gain weight and muscle easier.
Find the best high-calorie bars on the market, their nutrition facts, and how to make homemade bars in our full article about high-calorie bars.
Dark chocolate is a low-volume high-calorie food because it has only 1% water, is high in fat, is processed, and has 598 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Dark chocolate (70-85% cacao).
Below are a few recipe ideas for dark chocolate:
Two products made from cereals, tortilla chips and whole wheat crackers, are low-volume high-calorie foods because they:
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Tortilla chips.
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Whole wheat crackers.
Whole wheat crackers have a score of 127% on the satiety index. Consequently, whole wheat crackers will leave you more satiated than white bread does (100% on the index).
Below are a few recipe ideas for tortilla chips and whole wheat crackers:
Granola is a low-volume high-calorie food because it contains only 6% water, is high in fat, is processed, and has 489 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Granola.
Below are a few recipe ideas for granola:
Beef jerky is a low-volume high-calorie food because it is only 23% water, is high in fat, has low fibers, is processed, and has 410 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Beef jerky.
Below are a few recipe ideas for beef jerky:
Two types of sugary toppings, honey and jam, are low-volume high-calorie foods because they contain low quantities of water, are low in fibers, are processed, and have 304 calories (honey), respectively 278 calories (jam), per 100 g (3.5 oz).
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Honey.
Honey, according to Nutrition Data, has a fullness factor of 1.4 out of 5, which means it won’t fill you up fast.
Nutrition facts source: FoodData Central - Jam.
Below are a few recipe ideas with honey and jam:
As a visual example, in the video below educator chef Arthur Elliot shows the correct way of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Dried fruits are low-volume high-calorie foods because they are low in water, are processed, and have between 277 and 660 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
A few examples of dried fruits are desiccated coconut, dried goji berries, and dates.
Regarding their nutritional qualities, because they are low-volume and rich in carbohydrates, dried fruits are excellent for a quick boost of energy.
Also, since, for example, raisins have a fullness factor of 1.8, raisins are non-filling foods, like other dried fruits. As a fact, raisins are as satiating as white bread is (1.8 fullness factor as well).
Find the dried fruits with the highest calories, their nutrition facts, and ways to eat them in our complete article about high-calorie fruits.
Although they don’t have over 400 calories, the dried vegetables with the highest calories are low-volume foods because they have low water content and are processed.
Dried vegetables have between 258 and 345 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz).
A few examples of dried vegetables are dried chile peppers, dried carrots, and dried Asian mushrooms.
Concerning their nutrients, because dried vegetables are low-volume and high in carbs, they are useful in energizing your body.
Find the dried vegetables with the highest calories, their nutrition facts, and ways to eat them in our complete article about high-calorie vegetables.
Low-volume high-calorie foods are non-filling foods that are low in water and air, and have over 400 calories/100 g while providing many calories even if someone eats just a small quantity of them.
Therefore, low-volume high-calorie foods are ideal for people who want to gain weight without getting satiated too fast.
Besides having low water content, high-calorie foods that are low in volume usually belong to at least one of the following categories:
As proved in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, because foods high in water reduce appetite, to gain weight easier you should include in your diet some low-water foods.
High-fat foods are generally high in calories but low in volume because 1 g of fat has more than double the calories of 1 g of carbohydrates or protein.
A few examples of high-fat foods are olive oil, butter, and nuts.
Also, processed foods are usually low-volume and high in calories.
Food, according to a Food and Function study, becomes less and less satiating every time it’s processed.
Food and Function
See the study about why minimally processed foods are more satiating than ultra-processed foods.
As further proof, according to the Cell Metabolism journal, while unprocessed diets can help with weight loss, people who eat ultra-processed foods tend to gain weight.
Low-fiber foods are usually less filling because, according to a Journal of Nutrition study on dietary fiber, high-fiber foods are effective at increasing satiety.
Low-volume foods are foods that occupy a small space in your stomach because they don’t have much water or air, especially when compared to other more voluminous foods of the same weight.
For example, while tomatoes, which are 95% water, are high in volume, peanuts, which are less than 2% water, are low in volume. As a result, 150 g of tomatoes have 33 calories, the same number of calories as 6 g of peanuts.
Per FDA, high-calorie foods are foods that have at least 400 calories per common serving.
Why is this?
To be high-calorie, FDA considers that a packaged food needs to have at least 400 calories per serving.
The serving sizes on nutrition labels are based on the common amounts of food typically consumed by people.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The common serving proportions are updated and listed by FDA.
Yet, because gaining weight usually requires you to eat more than an average person would, it’s more correct to define high-calorie foods in the following way:
For people who want to gain weight, high-calorie foods are foods that have at least 400 calories per 100 g (3.5 oz) of consumed food.
The low-volume foods that are also high in protein work best for people who want to gain weight by growing their muscles.
Here are the low-volume foods that are high in protein:
You can eat low-volume high-calorie foods as part of snacks or meals.
Here is an example of a low-volume high-calorie snack: a bowl of 40 g of walnuts mixed with 40 g of dried goji berries. This snack has 402 calories.
Here is an example of a low-volume high-calorie breakfast meal: 2 pieces (40 g) of beef jerky with two slices of whole wheat bread and 2 large scrambled eggs. This meal has 507 calories.
If you include low-volume high-calorie foods in your diet, you will start reaping many benefits.
See details about each benefit below.
Because low-volume high-calorie foods take up little space in your stomach, they leave room for more food. Therefore, you can enjoy more food before feeling filled up.
Food lovers and gourmands should be especially happy about this news.
Since you can eat more of them, low-volume high-calorie foods will increase your daily calorie intake and, by this, help you gain weight.
Therefore, you should give low-volume high-calorie foods a try, whether you’re a bodybuilder, a skinny person, or somebody with a disease that makes him lose weight.
Low-volume high-calorie foods, since they are less satiable, will help you feel less filled up and lighter overall. This ability is especially useful for people who need to engage in physical activity shortly after eating.
Therefore, most low-volume, except the high-fat ones, are useful for preparing pre-workout meals for muscle gain.
Because low-volume high-calorie foods are dense in proteins, carbs, and fats, they are a great source of nutrients for your body.
But, to get a balanced intake of macronutrients, you have to eat various low-volume high-calorie foods. For example, don’t just stick to dried fruits because they are full of carbs but lack proteins and fat.
Given that many low-volume high-calorie foods count among the cheapest high-calorie foods, they can help you make your diet more affordable.
Sunflower seeds, peanut butter, and whole wheat crackers are just some of the low-volume high-calorie foods that you can usually find at cheap prices.
Contrary to the philosophy behind low-volume foods, eating high-volume foods means you eat foods that take up a large space in your stomach.
Foods that are high in volume have high water content and are usually low in calories. Fruits and vegetables are some of the best examples of high-volume low-calorie foods.
Volume eating can be bad for you only if you want to gain weight. Eating high-volume low-calorie foods, or “volume eating”, is a useful strategy for reducing your daily calorie intake, and thus, for weight loss.
You can increase your calories without eating a large volume of food by consuming low-volume high-calorie foods. A few examples of low-volume high-calorie foods are nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate.
You can eat more calories and still not feel full by focusing on eating low-volume high-calorie foods.
The foods that are high in calories but not filling are nuts, seeds, cheddar cheese, and generally low-volume high-calorie foods.
According to our list of high-calorie foods, the foods with the highest calories are high-calorie shakes.
To discover how many calories you need to eat daily to gain weight, add 500 calories over your maintenance calories (the calories you burn daily). To find your maintenance calories, use a TDEE calculator. With a surplus of 500 calories, you can expect to gain around 0.25-0.5 kg (0.5-1 pound) of weight per week.
In conclusion, besides learning how to spot low-volume high-calorie foods and getting a handy list of them, you also got to know how to eat them and their benefits.
Whether you prefer nuts, dried fruits, or anything else on the list of low-volume high-calorie foods, you can now gain weight with food that doesn’t make you filled up all the time.
Unfold Today has rigorous sourcing principles adhering to the top journalistic standards, so our writers always look for official, experienced, and first-hand sources. Read more about how we keep our content trustworthy and updated by reading our editorial process.
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