Health Library

High-Calorie, High-Protein Diet

Why Should I Eat This Way?

Eating this way may be helpful if you have lost weight, do not feel hungry, or have an higher need for protein, such as with a burn or infection. Eating this way can help you:

  • Have more strength
  • Gain weight or stop losing weight
  • Heal
  • Fight off infection
  • Get better from surgery or sickness faster

A List of Foods You Should Eat

Here are foods that are high in calories and protein. Try to make foods from these lists as part of 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, mayo
  • 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 Tips

Snack Ideas 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


Tips to Get More Calories and Protein

  • Eat small meals and snacks during the day.
  • Keep pre-made, ready-to-eat snacks on hand while at home, at the office, and on the road.
  • Drink your calories. Pick high-calorie drinks, such as milk, blended coffee drinks, milk shakes, or juice.
  • Add protein powder or powdered milk to your drinks, smoothies, and foods, such as cream soups, scrambled eggs, gravy, and mashed potatoes.
  • Melt cheese onto sandwiches, bread, tortillas, eggs, meat, and veggies.
  • Use milk in place of water when cooking and making 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 drinks like Boost, Ensure, Resource, or Carnation Instant Breakfast.
  • Talk to a dietitian if you need more help.


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—US Department of Agriculture

Canadian Resources

Dietitians of Canada

Health Canada


High calorie high protein diet. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center website. Available at: Accessed February 4, 2021.

ILD nutrition manual: Sample menu: High-calorie, high-protein meals. UCSF Medical Center website. Available at: Accessed February 4, 2021.