Are you trying to limit carbs or follow a low carb diet? Do you still need to consume enough calories to stay satisfied? Maybe you are being carb-conscious for medical reasons but you need high calorie foods to maintain or gain weight? No matter your reason, this list of 15 high calorie, low carb foods is going to make life a bit easier.
If you are looking for whole, natural foods that offer health benefits and that are high in calories and low in carbohydrates, then focus on nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and oils. For processed items, there are many products on the shelves these days (thanks to the keto diet craze) that have lower carbs but can still pack a punch for calories. Let’s dive in!
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Avocados are rich in healthy fats, polyunsaturated (2.5 grams) and monounsaturated (13 grams), and contain around 227 calories per fruit, according to the USDA food database. Did you know they also have a whopping 9 grams of fiber each and also contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and a dash of sodium?
- Nuts and seeds
Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are all high in calories and low in carbs. You can easily grab two Blue Diamond or Emerald 100-calorie pre-portioned bag of nuts for 200 calories and only about 6 grams of carbs.
- Nut butters
Natural peanut butter, almond butter, or other nut butter varieties without added sugars can be high in calories and low in carbs. Typically, the natural butters that you stir the oil into do not have added sugars, just the nuts and salt per the ingredient list. I enjoy Smucker’s Natural Chunky Peanut Butter.
Olive oil is a calorie-dense source of healthy fats, with about 120 calories and no carbs per tablespoon. One can use it while cooking and with vinegar for a dressing or bread dipping. Coconut oil is a popular oil to use in cooking and baking that contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). It provides about 125 calories per tablespoon, but it is not advised to only use coconut oil due to the high amount of saturated fats it contains. Experiment with other oils for cooking, baking, grilling and more, like avocado oil, almond oil, hazelnut oil, and canola oil.
Certain types of cheese, such as cheddar, Swiss, and cream cheese, are low in carbs and high in calories. For instance, original (full fat) Philadelphia cream cheese is a favorite of mine. It has 80 calories and only 2 grams of carbs for a serving of 2 tablespoons.
- Fish and other seafood
Salmon, albacore tuna, trout, mussels, halibut, oysters, sardines, and anchovy are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids and no carbs with a decent amount of calories. For example, a wild-caught, Atlantic salmon has 121 calories, no carbs, and 17 grams of protein for a 3 oz serving.
- Full-fat Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is low in carbs and high in protein and healthy fats. Opting for the full-fat versions will increase your calorie intake with ease. Kroger grocery store actually carries a greek yogurt with 10% milkfat by Cabot! I haven’t seen any this high in fat for yogurt in a while. It provides 230 calories, 9 grams carb, and 14 grams protein for a 3/4 cup serving.
- Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (70% or more) is relatively low in carbs and can satisfy your sweet tooth. In a 1 oz serving, there is approximately 13 grams of carbs and 170 calories. It also provides fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients like magnesium and copper.
- Butter and ghee
These are calorie-dense fats that have no carbs and can be used for cooking, baking, or on its own as a spread. Both can also be used for frying, roasting, and sauteing.
- High-calorie protein powders or shakes
Some protein powders and shakes are formulated to be higher in calories while keeping the carb content low. They typically include a blend of proteins, healthy fats, and added nutrients. Premier protein shakes and Fairlife Nutrition Shakes fit the bill with the added perk of being high protein. You can get creative by substituting these shakes for regular milk in recipes. I’ve heard of people using them instead of creamer for their coffee, making “protein” pudding, and more. They come in a wide range of flavors – vanilla, chocolate mint, strawberry, birthday cake, caramel, and more – so there’s something for everyone!
- Coconut milk and cream
Full fat coconut milk and cream are velvety, calorie-dense options that are low in carbs. They can be used as alternatives to regular milk in recipes, smoothies, or coffee. Coconut milk is the classic base for curry recipes and can also be substituted for regular milk in other recipes.
- Fat-based coffee creamers
Certain coffee creamers are made with high-fat ingredients like MCT oil or coconut cream, like Kitu Life Super Creamer from Amazon and Kroger. These can add calories to your coffee without adding significant carbohydrates.
Bacon lovers rejoice! Bacon is a popular food choice that is low in carbs and higher in calories. It is primarily fat and protein and makes a flavorful addition to meals or as a standalone snack.
- High-fat salad dressings
Look for salad dressings that are made with ingredients like olive oil, avocado oil, or MCT oil, such as an oil and vinegar, Caesar, or Ranch. These dressings can add calories to your salads without significantly increasing the carb content. Look for the word “creamy” as a description on the bottle.
- Nutritional bars
There are nutrition bars or energy bars available that provide a higher calorie content while keeping the carbohydrate content low. These bars often contain a combination of fats, proteins, and fibers. The Power Crunch bar and IQ bar are two options that can be found at most grocery stores.
Bonus: Eggs are a nutrient-dense food that is low in carbs and can be high in calories, depending on the number eaten at once. They are an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. You can prepare them in a variety of ways, such as boiled, scrambled, or as omelets.
Remember to read the labels and check the nutritional information to ensure that the products align with your dietary needs and preferences. Keep in mind that consuming these foods can increase calories significantly, which can lead to weight gain.
It’s important to note that while these foods and products are low in carbs and high in calories, they should still be consumed as part of a balanced and varied diet. Monitoring portion sizes and considering your overall nutritional needs is essential.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor to provide medical advice and/or a registered dietitian (RD) to provide medical nutrition therapy before incorporating any new products into your diet. An RD, especially, can provide personalized guidance and ensure these products align with your health goals.
Let me know in the comments if this helped and which food item you are looking forward to enjoying!