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Easy ways to increase your calories

Posted: May 2, 2013

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Easy ways to increase your calories

In previous posts, I've made mention of meeting minimum calorie and protein amounts at meals and snacks.  To refresh: men should aim for 400 calories, 20 grams protein at meals and 200 calories, 10 grams protein at snacks, while woman should target 300 calories, 20 grams protein at meals and 150 calories and 10g protein at snacks.  These targets are particularly important earlier in the day as meeting them can lead to feeling less hungry and therefore, hopefully consuming fewer calories later in the day. 

Achieving these caloric and protein levels can be difficult for some, especially in the morning – a time when many report not being hungry.  Others need to increase their calories in order to avoid losing weight too quickly which can lead to complications such as gallstones and muscle loss.  For some, this may mean a 500+ calorie breakfast which might seem daunting.

The good news is that you don't have to add a large volume of food to a meal in order to significantly increase the calories and/or protein.

  1. 1oz unsalted nuts (any kind) added to oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt, salads or paired with fruit will increase your intake by approximately 175 calories and 6-7 grams of protein.  The fibre and healthy fats will also help to fill you up.
  2. 1oz cheese added to eggs, toast, salads, sandwiches, meat, potatoes, rice, fruit, or melted over vegetables will add ~120 calories and ~7g protein.
  3. 0.5oz oil (e.g. olive, canola) used for salad dressing or as part of a marinade for your protein will add ~120 calories.
  4. ½ (approximately 7oz) sliced avocado added to salads, pureed as part of a dip or used as a sandwich spread will add ~160 calories.
  5. 1 scoop protein powder (approx 35g) will add ~130 calories and 30g protein.  \
  6. 1 tbsp nut butter (15g) added to toast, mixed into oatmeal, a smoothie or melted and used as a dip for fruits or vegetables will add ~100 calories.

Mark McGill, RD