When I used to think of muscle building snacks to include in my diet I thought of typical things like fruit, protein shakes, protein bars, sandwiches, and yogurt.
While those are certainly good high(er) calorie "healthy" foods, truth is, for many individuals they're not good enough. They may be calorie dense, but most of those foods are quite filling, expensive, and not very enjoyable to eat on a consistent basis.
When you need 3,000 plus calories per day to build muscle, you're going to need some high calorie snacks that you actually enjoy. You also need to stop worrying about eating "healthy". With that many calories, you're almost certain to be getting in plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. Save the "healthy" eating for when you're limiting your intake to lose fat...that's when you’ll need it.
When your goals are muscle gain you need to focus on one thing really...and that's calories. Not how much protein your snacks have, if they're "healthy", what type of fats they contain, or if they're made of simple or complex carbs. As long as it has plenty of calories, it will almost certainly be a great choice for your muscle building diet.
So without further ado, here is a list of my top 10 muscle building snacks that I regularly include in my diet when my goals are focused on gaining muscle. They are all very calorie dense, easy to consume, satisfying, take very little time to prepare, budget friendly, contain a decent amount of protein, and can be eaten at anytime and in any amount based on your needs and preferences.
1: Ben & Jerry's Pints
I'm almost certain these were specifically made to be muscle building snacks. If you ever watched videos from Rich Piana, you will hear him talk about consuming his pint of Ben & Jerry's each night. It's also a nearly every night staple in my own muscle building diet. Most flavors contain at least 1,000 calories per pint and who doesn't enjoy digging into an entire pint of ice cream.
Bonus Tip: Top with some Kashi cereal for even more calories and nutrients to make this quite the complete snack.
2: Pop-Tart Sandwiches
When you need a ton of calories, snacking on a typical sandwich just isn't going to cut it. They will never provide the calories you need without leaving you stuffed. This recent snack discovery though has been a game changer. I've experimented with a couple varieties, such as donut and waffle, but my favorite so far has easily been pop-tart sandwiches. Pop-tarts alone are a great high calorie snack, but when you turn them into a sandwich it gets even better. They easily can provide 800 plus calories per sandwich and the varieties and flavor combinations you can create are incredible. You may be wondering what these even are. All it is is some ice cream sandwiched between two pop-tarts. Simple, easy, and delicious.
3: Cereal Bowls
Depending on just what you include cereal bowls can be a very low calorie snack. If you do them right though, they can be very high calorie as well. To do that, you will of course need to use some higher calorie cereal...but that alone will only get you so far.
Other things to include are granola, trail mix, or dried fruits like raisins to top your cereal with. Also, forget the skim milk or plant milk alternatives and use some whole milk to pour on and even make it up into a protein shake if you need.
4: Rice Cakes + Peanut Butter
Rice cakes alone, great for losing fat. Add some peanut butter though and you've got perhaps one of my favorite high calorie muscle building snacks ever. Really peanut butter on anything could be a great muscle building snack but it just seems to go so well with rice cakes and is quite the nutritious snack. Again, the flavor combinations are endless and you will be hard pressed to find a tastier snack that provides the nutrients and calories these do.
5: Hard Boiled Eggs
Don't you dare throw out that yolk skinny! If you do you will never stand a chance at building muscle. You need those calories and fat. It doesn't get much easier or more portable than hard boiled eggs. You can boil up a large batch at one time and have on-the-go muscle building snacks for days. One of the most nutritious foods on the planet, very cheap, and can be taken and eaten anywhere. It doesn't get much better than hard boiled eggs.
6: Clif Bars
Forget your traditional protein bars. Most don't contain nearly enough calories to be muscle building snacks. Clif bars on the other hand are incredibly calorie dense and quite nutritious as well. I just chuckle when someone thinks that eating a Clif bar will help them lose weight because it's "healthy". They taste great and can again be taken anywhere and consumed at anytime for a quick, easy, calorie packed snack. They're also quite a bit cheaper than most protein bars.
Need a fast food snack to help you meet your calorie goals and build muscle? A milkshake is probably your best option. You can get one basically anywhere for an easy to consume high calorie snack. Stop carrying your shaker bottle and protein powder with you everywhere you go.
Do yourself a favor and trade your chalky protein shake you have to force yourself to choke down for a delicious milkshake that you actually enjoy and provides you with far more calories and nutrients.
Everybody loves parfait. You ever met somebody and be like hey you want some parfait and they say hell no I don't want no parfait? Didn't think so. Despite many peoples belief, parfait is actually quit high in calories thanks to the sugary yogurt and calorie dense granola, nuts, and fruit it's usually topped with. Another great fast food option if you don't have any muscle building snacks available and need one.
9: Fruit Smoothies
Another option you can find on the go at most fast food places. Also yet another option many people seem to believe will be a good snack to help them lose weight. Poor people. Most fruit smoothies can easily contain 500 plus calories and 100 plus grams of carbs while being highly nutritious and containing several servings of fruit in an easy to consume refreshing drink.
10: Nuts & Seeds
If you want to be "healthy" or even eat Paleo to get your calories in it's hard to beat snacking on nuts & seeds. They are loaded with calories with each handful easily containing a few hundred. Highly portable and convenient as well. I'm not sure I find them satisfying enough or affordable enough to regularly consume in my own diet but if you do then go nuts!
Bonus Tip: Take the seeds from things like squash or pumpkin and roast your own in olive oil to save yourself a lot of dough.
Stop making the excuse you can't eat enough to gain weight. Stop trying to stuff yourself with "healthy" foods only to consistently fail to meet your calorie needs. Change your food choices and get those calories up to where they need to be. Everyone should be able to find a few muscle building snacks you enjoy and can consistently consume from the list above. Consume enough calories and train correctly and you won't be skinny for long.
About The Author
Dylan Willet: I'm just a regular guy who loves to lift heavy weights and eat LOTS of nutritious...and also a little bit of not-so-nutritious foods. I'm a graduate of North Carolina State University, fitness blogger, training and nutrition coach, and also a poultry farmer. My goal is to teach people that building muscle and losing fat is simple and can be achieved by everyone and that you don't have to suffer with restrictive diets, avoid foods you love, and live your life in the gym to build and maintain an impressive physique that turns heads everywhere you go.