If you’re not gaining weight, it’s due to one reason, and one reason only: you’re not eating enough.
You see, the one thing responsible for whether or not we gain weight is energy balance: the relationship between energy-in (calories consumed) and energy-out (calories burned). If we can manage to remain in a positive energy balance—where we’re consuming more calories than we’re burning—we’ll gain weight.
No matter how much you think you’re eating, if the scales not moving, you’ve got to eat more. If you’re not sure how many calories you should be consuming in order to achieve the necessary calorie surplus, then read my article on The Ballpark Method.
Knowing how many calories you need, however, is only half the battle. The other half is actually fitting all of that food in your mouth and/or your stomach.
Today, we’re going to tackle the second half of the battle by going over 8 calorie-filled foods that’ll make eating enough a breeze. If you can manage to incorporate these 8 foods, or a variation of them, into your diet, regularly, you’ll have no problem moving the scale.
8 High-Calorie Foods Skinny Guys Should Eat Every Day
1. Nut Butters
When I first began training, I asked my brother what I should be eating. His reply: peanut butter sandwiches.
If you would have bumped into me at any time during this point in my life, chances are, I would have had a peanut butter sandwich in hand. And guess what—I gained weight.
At first, because I didn’t ask many questions, I assumed that there was something inherently special about peanut butter that would magically put size on you. And what do you know—there was. But it had nothing to do with the macronutrient profile or how much protein it contained. Instead, it had to do with the amount of calories per gram.
You see, 1 serving of peanut butter contains about 200kcal. That doesn’t include the bread you spread it over; that’s another 150kcal. Multiply that by two because no one eats just one peanut butter sandwich, and you’ve got a 700kcal of creamy deliciousness in a matter of minutes.
2. Nuts and Seeds
Whether it’s almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, or pistachios, nuts and seeds all pack a powerful punch of micronutrients and essential fatty acids.
But if that isn’t enough to have you putting nuts in your mouth, consider this: one small handful of nuts (or seeds) contains about 200kcal.
And if that doesn’t seem like a lot, then let me ask you this: When’s the last time you ate almonds but only had one small serving?
My point exactly!
Most of us will either have one heaping handful—typically equating to 400-500kcal—or a few small handfuls—also equating to over two servings.
Either way, we can easily get over 400kcal in a matter of seconds. And I won’t even get into those of you who, like me, snack on the bag throughout the day.
3. Dark Chocolate
Growing up, I never had many vices. I didn’t drink, smoke, or get hooked on videos games. I did, however, become addicted to chocolate. Unfortunately for me, though, dairy makes me break out so I had to quit.
If you ever seem me around Halloween time, pay very close attention to how much worse my skin looks. It’s because once I rip open one piece of chocolate, I can’t help but continue until it’s all gone. I need help, I know.
Believe it or not though, chocolate isn’t bad for everyone—particularly dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. In fact, dark chocolate has many health benefits. Not only is it high in fiber, rich in micronutrients like magnesium and iron, and packed with antioxidants, but dark chocolate also raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.
More importantly, however, for us hardgainers with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is an enjoyable way to pack in more calories. With over 600kcal in one bar, it’s a good excuse to have dessert when your goal is to build muscle.
4. Dried Fruit
When I first began my muscle building journey, dried fruit was a staple. Whether it was dried banana chips or raisins, I was always fully stocked.
So why dried as opposed to fresh? Simple. It’s going to be much easier for you to snack on 500kcal worth of banana chips than it will be to eat 5 bananas.
Dried fruit, however, isn’t something you’ll sit and have as a meal or snack—instead, it can be used as a small side to your meals or something you keep at arms-reach to snack on throughout the day.
Things like raisins and prunes are a high-calorie “add on” that you can sprinkle into your cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt for additional calories.
Not only are they a nutritious replacement for potato chips, but dried fruit has a better macronutrient profile and, if you’re creative enough, allows for endless variety.
5. Fruit Juice
Liquid calories have been shown to elicit a weak appetitive response when compared to solid foods. So although drinking calories can be the worst thing to do if your goal is weight loss, it could be an effective method for those looking to gain weight and build muscle.
Can you remember the last time you drank 500kcal worth of orange juice? You were probably hungry 30 minutes later. Compare that to the last time you had 500kcal worth of solid foods—I’d imagine you were satisfied for at least a few hours.
Besides, you’re drinking fluids throughout the day anyway—so why not get those extra calories in while hydrating?
This is not to say that you should replace water with fruit juice completely, but getting 10-15% of your daily intake from liquid calories can be an efficient way to achieve your nutrition goals for the day.
GOMAD? More like, go fuck yourself. Anyone who recommends that you consume 1 gallon of milk per day is a fucking idiot. Anyone who actually does it, well, they’re just plain retarded.
Jokes aside, GOMAD can actually work—it’s just not what I’d recommend. Not only because it’s impractical, but getting 2,300kcal from milk is not going to leave much room in your stomach for actual food.
That said, however, I do believe that milk should be a staple in anyone’s diet if they’re struggling to gain weight.
One glass of chocolate milk contains a little over 200kcal. Having one glass with breakfast and another before bed will add over 400kcal to your daily intake, and a good deal of that coming from protein.
7. Whole-Wheat Pasta
Perhaps I am a bit biased, but whole-wheat pasta is the best muscle building food on the fucking planet. And although I cannot provide any scientific evidence for this claim, I still consider my previous statement to be a fact and not an opinion.
For one, pasta is fucking delicious, period. On top of that, though, whole wheat pasta is packed with carbs and protein. In fact, the brand that I buy (Barilla) contains almost 70g of carbs, close to 20g of protein, and 7g of fiber per serving. That doesn’t even include whatever meat and/or sauces you add.
And did I mention it’s only $2 per box?
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t eat much pork—if any at all. But at over 300kcal per serving (3oz.), I had to include it on this list.
Although the macronutrient profile isn’t great—mainly due to an extremely high fat content—I do think it’s a solid choice for anyone on a small budget who needs a lot of calories.
Not only is it extremely calorie dense, alone, but adding some rice and beans or pasta takes it from high-calorie meat to a calorie-overload meal. Not a bad thing if you’re struggling to gain weight.
As I mentioned before, gaining weight and building muscle isn’t a matter of eating the perfect foods, but rather, consuming the right amounts.
And although you can transform your physique from skinny weakling to jacked powerhouse without ever touching any of the foods on this list, if you struggle to eat enough, these foods will do the trick.