Nutrition Articles

Having Trouble Eating Enough? Use These Calorie-Boosting Tips

Tips to Meet Your Requirements and Get Results

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It may sound strange for us to provide tips to boost calories when many members are trying to cut back. But some people have difficulty meeting even the minimum calories in their recommended ranges, whether because of lack of hunger, loss of appetite, or just out of habit of eating too little. Eating within your calorie range is important for your body to work properly. In addition, you need to eat enough calories to meet nutritional needs, maintain a healthy metabolic rate, and stay energized. Eating too little will actually hurt your weight loss efforts.   Many people make the mistake of "the less I eat, the more I'll lose," but that's not necessarily true. (Read more about how eating more will help you lose weight.)

The following tips and food suggestions can help. By applying one or two each day, you may find that you are back on track and in-control of a healthy caloric intake.

Tips to Meet Your Calorie Recommendations
  • Eat small, frequent meals 5-6 times daily.
  • Drink high-calorie, nutritious liquids if you are not hungry for food.
  • Limit diet, low calorie, low-fat products.
  • Have ready-to-eat snacks available to munch on when you feel hungry. Easy snacks include trail mix, pretzels with dip, nuts, dried fruit, crackers with cheese, frozen yogurt or ice cream, pudding, and fruit smoothies.
  • When you drink beverages, make certain they are nutrient-rich. Limit diet drinks, tea and coffee.
  • Enjoy Super-Strength Milk for extra calories and protein. Simply mix together 1 quart of milk and 1 cup of instant non-fat dry milk powder. Stir for about 5 minutes or until the dry milk is dissolved. Store this beverage in your refrigerator and use it just as you would regular milk. (Makes 1 quart)

To Increase Calories…
  • Mix dry powdered milk to mashed potatoes, ground meats, cream soups, pudding, casseroles, hot cereal, and milk.
  • Add an additional egg (or egg white) to casseroles and ground meat before cooking.
  • Top vegetables, potatoes, casseroles, soups, sandwiches and salads with cheese.
  • Using milk instead of water when preparing hot cereals, cream soups, hot chocolate, and gravy.
  • Spread peanut butter on crackers, apples, bananas, pears, and celery.
  • Snack on eggs, meat salads, cheese, nuts, nut butters, and cottage cheese.
  • Add extra butter, margarine, oil, regular salad dressing, or mayonnaise to foods such as potatoes, vegetables, bread & rolls, hot cereal, salad, pasta, rice, noodles, and sandwiches.
  • Top vegetables and meats with sauce, gravy, or cheese.
  • Add extra sugar or honey to cereals and beverages.
  • Add sour cream, cream cheese or whipped cream to your favorite recipes, potatoes, and bagels.
  • Toss nuts and seeds into vegetables, salad, trail mix and cereal.
  • Snack on a piece of fruit.
Good Things Come in Small Packages
These foods are small in size but big on calories and nutrients. Adding these to your diet can help you boost your caloric intake even when you don't have a big appetite:
  • Eggs: deviled, hardboiled
  • Nuts: peanut & nut butters on crackers, mixed nuts, trail mix, seeds
  • Dairy: yogurt, pudding, custard, frozen yogurt, cheese cubes, string cheese
  • Grains: cereal with milk, whole grain bagel with cream cheese, granola bars
  • Fruit: Add fruit to your meals and snacks to boost your calories.
Drink Up
These beverages are high in both protein and calories:
  • Dairy-based drinks: yogurt smoothies, milkshakes, whole chocolate milk, commercial eggnog
  • Drink mixes: hot chocolate, instant breakfast drinks
  • Nutritional supplement drinks: Check with your physician to determine if you need a supplement drink to meet your needs.

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Member Comments

  • Some good tips but, seriously, adding extra sugar to our diets is horrible advice. This article needs to be updated to 2017 health standards. Sugar causes a host of health problems. Add healthy calories, not junk calories.
  • ETHELMERZ
    See a real, live, dietitian if you honestly have problems with this.......
  • This is my biggest problem. Thanks for this article, very helpful.
  • Best. Problem. Ever.
  • I just wanted to update my comment, as I did not see the second page!!! I do like this list and it is helpful. Thank you for sharing.
  • It would be helpful for this article to have more ideas. I recently had a baby and I currently breastfeed. I had a tough time gaining weight while pregnant and had to resort to high calorie treats and now that I am breastfeeding, it is tougher than ever. My appetite is back to my pre-pregnancy appetite (I normally ate nutritious food that are lower calorie) and I have difficulty eating enough for the two of us. My blood sugar frequently drops due to not enough calories, even though I'm not hungry.
  • I was hoping the article would say how to get more calories without getting too much sodium and fiber. Even on 1500 calories I tend to be over on fiber and have to watch the sodium carefully. On days like today when I burn 900 calories on a long run I don't know how to eat without going way over on fiber and sodium.
  • CEVIZAGACE
    Since I've been tracking calories with SP I discovered that I have a hard time getting in over 1200 cal per day - it frightens me to eat more. But I think eating not enough might be one of the causes of binge eating, and I'm trying to meet my calorie needs now.
  • CEVIZAGACE
    Since I've been tracking calories with SP I discovered that I have a hard time getting in over 1200 cal per day - it frightens me to eat more. But I think eating not enough might be one of the causes of binge eating, and I'm trying to meet my calorie needs now.
  • MORLES1968
    I knew I needed to loose weight but I have always been happy my weight never bothered me or my spouse. The only thing the doctor ever said about my health was you should loose weight. No high blood pressure no high cholesterol not close to being a diabetic. So recently I decided to see if I could loose 100 pounds. I started tracking my calories and found I was routinely eating between 900 to 1200 calories a day. I couldn't figure out why I was not loosing anything then I read this article. Since I began to eat myself into my calories zone I have lost 5 pounds in 8 days. Who knew????
  • This article is a great idea, and actually, a real comfort for those of us trying to put on, but as healthily as possible.

    Heavily reliant on dairy though, which I can't eat and is part of the reason I have this problem!!!
  • MARVINLZINN1
    WOW, this article is 7 years old, and still applies. I doubt anyone will read this comment.
    My weight has been always under normal and never changed five pounds in 45 years. There was three years when I really should have had more calories for nutrition, but I had to limit my food cost to one dollar per meal, so that would not be available either. But more important is if even I just eat less, I use only nutritious organic food.

    Do I take advice of a doctor? Rarely! I do go there for information, but find alternative solutions most doctors never learn or are not permitted to tell me. If I believed doctors I would have been already dead four times. The last was prostate cancer I refused surgery and radiation. Instead I take graviola and turmeric. Symptoms I had more than a year were gone in three weeks. But with a lot of three time experiments I also know if I eat half as much sugar as most Americans do, or any dairy products, the herbs would fail. The the doctor would be correct; I would have died before then end of last year.
  • TOOSKINNYISBAD
    I am trying to eat "normal" food which is eating anything except chocolate, chips, or things like that. I'm eating only a fun size chocolate each day and I ate 969 calories on the first day. Without eating all the junk, I usually do I do not eat enough calories.
  • TOOSKINNYISBAD
    I am trying to eat "normal" food which is eating anything except chocolate, chips, or things like that. I'm eating only a fun size chocolate each day and I ate 969 calories on the first day. Without eating all the junk, I usually do I do not eat enough calories.
  • Thank you so much for the information! I am having such a hard time eating over 2500 calories a day! Sounds funny, as the old me would have no problem! LOL Thanks to SP I am down 32.4 pounds!!! :)

About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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