Having Trouble Eating Enough? Use These Calorie-Boosting Tips

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

Thank-you for this article. I increased my daily activity last week and SparkPeople said I should update my activity to increase my calorie goal but now I've been struggling to eat enough just to reach my minimum. I will definitely put the tips in this post to help me get there. Report
I do have a problem getting enough protein and fiber as well as the calories are usually low but the weight doesn't move. I have goals to meet this month of increasing them all to the proper range. Report
I too am a chronic undereater. Yes, I have no appetite. Being on Sparks and keeping track of my calorie intake is the only way I can keep on track and eat a sufficient number of calories to support my activities. I have found Sparks to be a lifesaver in that regard. More articles explaining this phenom and solutions would be much appreciated. Report
I enjoyed this article because it is talking about me. I donít ever feel hunger pains so I under eat every day. Some would say then why a weight problem? I was eating empty calories befor and now that the calories are healthy and organic it is difficult to eat the recommended amount in a day, yet I feel more than satisfied. I drink 8-10 glasses of water a day because I love waters, and never drank sodas. I make my own flavored water with my own fruits, vegetables, mint or any herb you like. My goal is to work on this and increase my caloric intake. Report
The most dangerous addictive drug in the world is SUGAR! Report
This article is good advice for the majority, but misses people who are either too busy for meals, or have insufficient income. Those factors cause me extra care of balanced nutrition with the healthiest product I can find. For example, I need more protein, so increase organic beans and rice because that is all I can afford. To get more calories I need with candy with sugar, I would lose more health than weight management can gain! (The most dangerous addictive drug in the world is sugar.) Fortunately most summer meals come from my garden.

My weight has always been a little below normal, and I plan to keep it that way even if the food is free. Report
Good information. Report
Today was not a healthy caloric intake day. I didn't eat till late so 12 fries half cheeseburger & vanilla shake. Will try to balance it veggies...... Report
My daily calorie intake hovers around 980-1060. Some days it's around 740... It isn't from the psychological issues of being overweight and thus avoiding food, I am just never really physically hungry. Before I started on my dietary change from junk food to healthy, low fat/low sodium/high protein options I would normally only eat 1 meal a day just because I wasnt hungry. I can not understand how people graze all day on food, because I never have. I've always ate when I was hungry and that was always rare...yet here I am at 220 lbs @ 5'4". I have recently started FORCING myself to eat portioned cheeses, apples, yogurt, dates, and raisins. Oddly enough the raisins and dates may throw my carbs through the roof, but the extra energy is very much welcome. Still...the lack of an appetite is slow to change. (Also, I have a clean bill of health with the exception of pre-hypertension.
) Report
To be honest, if this were my problem, I probably wouldn't have been on this site to begin with. Report
I keep plenty of fruit; apples oranges, strawberries on hand to help keep me full. If I overeat I snack on fruit the rest of the day to cut down on calories. Report
Seeds, nuts and whole grain sugar free bread are good ways to get fiber and other nutrients in. Report
I don't do smoothies or protein bars Report
I am on a low cholesterol diet so adding more dairy, eggs or meat products to my diet is really not an option. I know that there are a lot of folks that are on a very limited income, as am I and those supplemental drinks can be quite expensive. Adding extra sugar or honey to foods seems sort of counter productive since we are trying to eat healthier and limit our added sugars. There are some great suggestions if you do not have any other health issues or financial restraints. Report


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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