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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 recommended 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 is a list 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: Updated August 5, 2014. Accessed August 6, 2015.

  • ILD nutrition manual: Sample menu: High-calorie, high-protein meals. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: Accessed August 6, 2015.

  • Shield J, Mullen MC. Patient education materials. Supplement to the Manual of Clinical Dietetics. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2001.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.