Are you tired of being skinny? Are you tired of wasting your time in the gym, only to see minimal results? If so, you’re not alone. Many guys just like you struggle with thin frames and poor nutrition. Luckily for these “hard-gainers” there are many high-calorie low-carb foods that can help fuel weight gainer diets and finally achieve desired body composition goals.
In this article, we will explore 11 high-calorie low-carb staples that should be included in any bulking plan—providing both high calories and essential nutrients needed for muscle growth. So if you’re tired of having a scrawny figure & want to add some serious size, keep reading!
11 High Calorie Low Carb Foods
Nut butters are excellent sources of calories and healthy fats, making them an ideal choice for those looking to gain muscle or bulk up. They are also relatively low in carbs, meaning they won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Nut butters are a great addition to any diet as they provide a source of both energy and essential nutrients. Here are a couple of examples you can add to your diet:
Peanut butter has a high-calorie content at about 190 calories per two-tablespoon serving, but also contains very few carbs and almost no sugar (depending on the brand). The healthy fat content helps keep you full between meals and the protein can help build muscle.
Try adding nut butters to a sandwhich, a smoothie, or even eating a few spoon fulls to sneak in some extra calories to your diet.
Almond butter has a similarly high-calorie content at about 190 calories per two-tablespoon serving but also contains very few carbs and almost no sugar (depending on the brand). Unlike peanut butter, almond butter is also a good source of calcium and other important minerals.
Fatty fish are excellent sources of high-quality protein and healthy fats. These types of fish contain very few carbs and almost no sugar whatsoever. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits including reducing inflammation and improving heart health. Eating fatty fish is an easy way to add calories to your diet without the carbs or sugar. Here are a couple of examples of fatty fish:
Salmon is a great choice for those looking to add more healthy calories and fats to their diet. 3 ounces of salmon contains about 175 calories, 19 grams of high-quality protein, 11 grams of healthy fats, and very few carbs (depending on the preparation). It’s also an excellent source of B vitamins as well as omega-3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits.
Tuna is another excellent source of high-quality protein and healthy fats. Tuna contains very few carbs (depending on the preparation) and almost no sugar, making it an ideal option for those looking to add more calories to their diet without the carbs or sugar. 4 ounces of tuna contains about 145 calories and roughly 26 grams of high-quality protein. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and phosphorus which can help support healthy bones and overall health.
Most oils contain very few carbs and almost no sugar whatsoever, making them an ideal option for those looking to add more calories without the carbs or sugar. Different types of oil also provide different amounts of essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s which can help support a healthy heart.
In addition to the health benefits, many oils can also add unique flavors to dishes or be used as a healthier alternative for cooking. Here are a few examples of oils that are high-calorie and low-carb:
Avocado oil is a great choice for those looking to add more healthy calories and fats to their diet. A single tablespoon of avocado oil contains 124 calories with no carbs. Avocado oil is also high in monounsaturated fats which can help support healthy heart health, as well as being an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and carotenoids.
Olive oil is another high-calorie food. Just 1 tablespoon of olive oil carries 120 calories and no carbs. It’s also high in monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid which can help support healthy heart health, as well as being a good source of vitamin E, polyphenols, and other beneficial antioxidants that can protect cells from oxidative damage. In addition, olive oil has a rich flavor that can add unique depth to dishes or be used as a healthier alternative for cooking.
Vegetable oils such as sunflower oil(120 calories/tbsp), canola oil(124 calories/tbsp), and soybean oil(120 calories/tbsp) contain mostly polyunsaturated and some monounsaturated fats which can help support heart health. Vegetable oils can also be a great source of vitamin E and other beneficial antioxidants that can protect cells from oxidative damage. In addition, vegetable oils have a neutral flavor which makes them great for baking, sautéing, or dressing salads.
Coconut oil is also a great choice for those trying to add more healthy fats and calories without the carbs or sugar. A single tablespoon of coconut oil contains roughly 100 calories. Coconut oil is also high in medium-chain triglycerides which can help increase satiety (the feeling of being full), as well as being an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial fatty acids such as lauric acid which can help support heart health.
Dark chocolate is a great choice for those looking to add more healthy calories and fats without the carbs or sugar. A single ounce of dark chocolate can contain up to 170 calories, as well as being an excellent source of iron, magnesium, copper, and other beneficial minerals.
Dark chocolate also contains flavonols which are powerful antioxidants that can help support cardiovascular health. In addition, dark chocolate has a deep, rich flavor that can satisfy cravings without the added sugar or fat of milk chocolate. Making this a great low-carb food.
Coconut milk is a great choice for those looking to add more healthy calories and fats without the carbs or sugar. A single cup of coconut milk can contain over 500 calories*, as well as being an excellent source of saturated fat, lauric acid, and other medium-chain triglycerides which can help support heart health. Coconut milk also contains vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and other essential minerals.
*Note: this is raw coconut milk for cooking and not traditional coconut milk for drinking.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent choice for those looking to add more healthy calories and fats without the carbs or sugar. Just one ounce of sunflower seeds can contain up to 180 calories, as well as being a great source of fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fatty acids which can help support heart health.
Sunflower seeds are also high in essential vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
How to Bulk
Gaining weight, aka “bulking”, is a straightforward process, but can be difficult for many. In order for someone to gain weight, it requires 2 main focuses:
A caloric surplus means that you are consuming more calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. This can help you put on muscle and gain weight. Eating high-calorie foods, high-calorie snacks, and multiple meals a day (3 to 4+) can be helpful during this process. It is also important to make sure you are eating the right types of foods when in a caloric surplus, as some foods will provide the necessary nutrients for physical activity while others may lead to fat storage.
Doing this for one day or even one week might be easy for most people, but consistency is key to successful bulking. Eating a consistent caloric surplus and exercising regularly can help you reach your desired results. It’s also important to make sure that you are consuming the right macronutrients to fuel your body for optimal performance, as well as making sure your calorie intake matches your needs. Consistency in both diet and exercise will ensure that you can achieve your desired bulking goals.
How Many Calories Do I Need to Gain Weight?
To calculate how many calories you need, you first need to figure out your maintenance calories.
After figuring out your maintenance calories, you’ll want to be anywhere from 200-500+ calories over in order to gain weight. While many “hard gainers” like to eat well over 500 calories over maintenance, it can come with some downsides like fat gain and feeling sluggish. A healthy/cleaner bulk can be anywhere from 200-400 calories over maintenance to ensure a “leaner” bulk.
Are Carbs Bad?
No, carbs are not bad. Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients that provide our body with energy. They are found in a wide variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for the brain, muscles, and other organs as they can be easily broken down into glucose to produce energy. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of complex carbohydrates can help support overall health and wellness.
Why Are Low-Carb Foods Good for Bulking?
While carbs are typically high in calories, many of these calories will come at the cost of being highly processed. The benefit of low-carb foods for bulking can help you manage your carb intake by ingesting healthier and more natural options when you do choose to include carbs in your meals. Some healthy carbs include rice, beans, potatoes, and quinoa.
At the end of the day, in order to gain weight, you need to be eating enough calories. Pretty straightforward. But if you want to do so in a healthier way, adding in some high-calorie low-carb foods can help ease the process to give you more control of your diet.
Being selective of your carbs is important since this along with fats is your body’s main source of energy. By choosing what you put into your body, you’ll have more control over how you feel throughout the day, during your workouts, and even how you sleep through the night.
Take control of your diet and start adding some high-calorie low-carb foods into it today to support your weight gain goals!