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High Protein / High Calorie Diet


A high-protein and high-calorie diet is a meal plan with extra calories and protein. You may need this diet if you have certain health conditions that increase your body's need for protein and calories. Some of these health conditions include cancer, HIV, AIDS, wounds (such as pressure injuries and burns), and malnutrition. You may also need to follow this diet after a surgery or illness. The extra calories will help you gain weight and have more energy. The extra protein will help your body heal and get stronger.


Guidelines for increasing protein and calories:

Your dietitian will tell you how much protein and how many calories you need each day.

  • It may be easier to increase calories and protein if you eat 6 to 8 small meals throughout the day. Eat at regular times, and do not skip meals.
  • Always have snack foods available so you can eat when you feel hungry.
  • Include a variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups.

Foods that are high in protein or calories:

  • Hot cereals (oatmeal or cream of wheat) with milk, added fat (such as butter or margarine), and sugar
  • Granola and other cereals with dried fruit
  • Croissants, buttermilk biscuits, muffins, or quick breads (banana bread or zucchini bread)
  • Vegetables with added margarine, butter, cream cheese, and cheese
  • Potatoes with butter, margarine, sour cream, or cheese
  • Avocado
  • Fruit canned in heavy syrup, dried fruit, or fruit nectar
  • Meats, eggs, dried beans, and lentils
  • Peanut butter and tofu
  • Eggnog and milkshakes
  • Whole milk and whole milk products (yogurt, ice cream, and cheese)
  • Cream cheese and sour cream
  • Casseroles with meat
  • Soups made with cream or meat

How to add protein:

  • Add powdered milk to milk, cereals, scrambled eggs, soups, and casseroles.
  • Add cheese to sauces, soups, or vegetables.
  • Add eggs to tuna, salads, sauces, or casseroles.
  • Add nutrition supplements and breakfast drink mixes to milk or shakes.
  • Add nuts to foods or eat them as snacks.
  • Add meat (beef, chicken, and pork) to soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, or vegetables.
  • Add beans, peas, and other legumes to salads.
  • Eat cottage cheese or yogurt with fruit.

How to add calories:

You can add any of the following to foods to increase calories.

  • 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine (adds 100 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise (adds 100 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of heavy cream or whipping cream (adds 55 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of cream cheese (adds 50 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey (adds 45 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of sour cream (adds 30 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon of half-and-half cream or evaporated milk (adds 20 calories)

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.