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 360
Egg and cheese English muffin 1 whole wheat English muffin + 2 teaspoons margarine spread or butter + 1 ounce cheese + 1 egg 365
Peanut butter and banana sandwich 2 slices of bread + 2 tablespoons peanut butter + 1 sliced banana 400
Trail Mix ½ cup nuts, seeds, and dried fruit 350
Cereal, milk, and banana 1 cup presweetened wheat cereal + 8 ounces whole milk + 1 banana 360
Yogurt and granola 1 cup whole milk flavored yogurt + ½ cup low-fat granola 440


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 (eg, Boost, Ensure, Resource, Carnation Instant Breakfast).
  • Talk to a registered dietitian. They can help you develop an individualized eating plan.


American Dietetic Association



Canada's Food Guide

Dietitians of Canada


High-calorie, high-protein diet. Dietitians of Canada website. Available at: http://www.dieteticsatwork.com/client%5Feducation/sample%5Fhigh%5Fcalorie%5Fhigh%5Fprotein%5Fdiet%5Ffinal.pdf . Accessed February 15, 2006.

High-calorie/high-protein diet. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford website. Available at: http://www.lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/oncology/hchpd.html . Accessed February 15, 2006.

My Food-A-Pedia. MyPyramid.gov website. Available at: http://www.myfoodapedia.gov/Default.aspx . Accessed January 3, 2010.

Nutrition care manual. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org/auth.cfm?p=%2Findex.cfm%3F . Accessed January 3, 2009.

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

Tips for increasing protein in your diet. UPMC Health System website. Available at: http://patienteducation.upmc.com/Pdf/IncreasingProtein.pdf . Accessed February 15. 2006.

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