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

Some interesting ideas! Report
.... Report
Good article. Report
thanks for sharing Report
Someone said d that if getting enough calories were their problem, they wouldnt be on Spark People to begin with.

I use Spark people to eat healthy, not just to lose weight and it is my problem. Since I have increased my exercise and water, and eating healthy food, -I am not hungry or as hungry so my caloric intake is always about 300-500 less than it should be.

I am always looking for ways to increase my healthy calories and I am going to try that Super Milk to see if it works for me.

Gotta love Becky.

Are you FAT? Yes I am talking to you. ARE YOU FAT?

Listen to Becky! She will help you stay that way. That is her job. No conspiracy theories here. No tin foil hat.

Do you LIKE being FAT? Is that why you came to SparkPeople to help you STAY FAT?

Listen to Becky! She will help you stay that way.

Or take WHATEVER she says to do and do the opposite. That is a simple rule and it will help you lose weight.

You are FAT! You have done exactly what Becky has said to do for the last umpteen years and... you are FAT! Why in the world would listening to her help you lose weight?

So if you want to NOT BE FAT, then DON'T DO THAT!

I have lost 45 lbs in 6 months. My diabetes is in remission. My A1C is 6.1 and dropping. I take no diabetes drugs. My fasting blood glucose is in the 80s. All diet controlled.

I have more weight to lose but Becky has never said a single thing that has been true or helpful in my weightloss journey. I got FAT listening to that crap and I am losing weight (and turned around my disease) ignoring that crap. Report
Some great ideas Report
interesting article Report
Thank you for the information Report
thank you this will help I have been avoiding nuts completely as they are so fattening but will look into a glass of milk and maybe seeds to bolster that calorie intake those should help I hope. My husband is in a health crisis so running to and from doctors test have been making healthy snacking hard and I won't vending machine to tempting. So I can work with these suggestions. Report
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 don’t 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


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.