What can I eat to get 4000 calories a day?

Quick Answer

To consume 4000 calories per day, focus on incorporating high calorie foods at every meal and snack throughout the day. Good options include nuts, nut butters, avocados, full fat dairy, dried fruit, granola, fatty cuts of meat, breads, bagels, pasta, rice, beans, smoothies, milkshakes, juice, and sports drinks. Plan to eat 3 substantial meals and 2-3 snacks per day. Portion sizes should be larger than normal. Be sure to choose nutrient dense foods and vary your choices to meet vitamin, mineral, and protein needs.

Calculating Your Calorie Needs

Most adults require approximately 2000-2500 calories per day to maintain weight. Consuming 4000 calories daily would provide a significant calorie surplus needed to fuel weight gain. Athletes, bodybuilders, and those looking to build muscle mass are examples of populations that require very high caloric intakes.

To determine your specific calorie needs, consider:

  • Your current weight and body composition goals
  • Your activity level – the more active you are, the more calories you’ll need
  • Your age and gender – men and younger adults generally require more calories
  • Any special considerations like pregnancy, breastfeeding, or medical conditions

It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider and/or work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to pinpoint your optimal calorie intake for your individual needs and goals.

Incorporating More Calories Throughout the Day

To reach a total of 4000 calories daily, you’ll need to incorporate high calorie foods at each meal and snack. Here are some tips:

Focus on Calorie Dense Foods

Prioritize foods that provide a lot of calories relative to their size or weight. Great options include:

  • Nuts and nut butters – 150-200 calories per ounce
  • Avocados – 250 calories each
  • Nutrient rich oils like olive and coconut oil – 120 calories per tablespoon
  • Dried fruit – twice the calories of fresh fruit per serving
  • Full fat dairy like whole milk, cheese, yogurt, and cream
  • Granola and trail mixes – 500+ calories per cup
  • Fatty cuts of meat like lamb, pork, and dark meat poultry

Focusing on calorically dense foods makes it easier to take in more calories without having to eat enormous portions.

Include Bigger Portion Sizes

To boost calories, serve yourself larger portions of foods you would normally eat like grains, starches, proteins, dairy, fruits, and veggies. For example:

  • Have 2 cups of grains (like oatmeal, quinoa, pasta, rice, etc) instead of 1 cup
  • Eat an 8 ounce chicken breast rather than 4 ounces
  • Have 2 servings of nuts instead of 1 serving
  • Eat a cup of fruit instead of 1/2 cup

Portioning out slightly larger amounts of balanced meals and sides can help provide extra calories throughout the day.

Don’t Skip Meals or Snacks

Be sure to eat regularly throughout the day. Consuming 3 moderate to large sized meals and at least 2 snacks will make it easier to meet your high calorie needs versus trying to cram everything into 1-2 big meals.

Good snacks in the 400-500 calorie range include trail mixes, Greek yogurt with fruit and granola, protein shakes, egg sandwiches, avocado toast, nuts and dried fruit, smoothies, and energy/protein bars.

Incorporate Calorie Rich Beverages

Drinks can provide an easy way to pack in extra calories. Options like:

  • Fruit juice – 200 calories per cup
  • Milk and plant based milks like soy, almond, oat – 100-300 calories per cup
  • Smoothies – Up to 500 calories for a large blended fruit and yogurt smoothie
  • Milkshakes – Around 500-800 calories depending on size and ingredients
  • Sports drinks like Gatorade – 130-150 calories per 12 ounce serving
  • Hot cocoa or coffee drinks with whole milk and whipped cream

Sipping on caloric drinks is an easy route for extra calories as needed throughout the day.

Sample High Calorie Daily Meal Plan

Here is a sample 4000 calorie meal plan divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks:

Breakfast – 800 Calories

  • 2 cups granola with 1 cup whole milk – 550 calories
  • 1 banana – 100 calories
  • 12 ounce glass orange juice – 160 calories

Snack #1 – 450 Calories

  • Trail mix – 1 cup peanuts, almonds, dried cranberries, M&Ms – 450 calories

Lunch – 1000 Calories

  • Tuna sandwich on bagel – Tuna salad with mayo on large bagel – 700 calories
  • Medium apple – 95 calories
  • 2 chocolate chip cookies – 200 calories
  • 12 ounce sports drink – 150 calories

Snack #2 – 480 Calories

  • Smoothie – 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter – 480 calories

Dinner – 900 Calories

  • 6 ounce pork chop – 370 calories
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes – 200 calories
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli – 60 calories
  • 1 cup cashew rice pudding – 270 calories

Daily Total: 4000 Calories

This provides a balanced mix of proteins, carbs, fats, and key nutrients within an appropriately high calorie day. Adjust the specific meal ideas to suit your preferences.

Foods to Help You Gain Weight

If you are struggling to consume enough calories to gain weight, incorporate more of these nutritious high calorie options into your daily meal plan:


  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken with skin
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Greek yogurt
  • Protein powders
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tofu

Choose proteins that also provide healthy fats like salmon, eggs, and cheese.


  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Cereal
  • Granola
  • Bagels

Opt for whole grains whenever possible for extra fiber and nutrients.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Mangos
  • Avocados
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas

Fruits and veggies provide important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Having 2-3 servings with each meal can help provide calories.

Healthy Fats

  • Oils – olive, canola, coconut
  • Butter
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Full fat salad dressings and mayo
  • Cheese
  • Whole milk
  • Avocados

Fats help boost the calorie content of foods so be sure to include them.

Dried Fruits

  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried apples
  • Dried apricots
  • Dates
  • Dried figs
  • Dried plums (prunes)

Ounce for ounce, dried fruits contain 2-3 times the calories of fresh fruits.

Sugary Foods in Moderation

  • Honey
  • Jams and jellies
  • Candy
  • Sugary cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Muffins
  • Cake
  • Ice cream

These add calories from sugar which should be balanced with more nutritious choices.

Nutrients to Focus On

When following a high calorie diet, be sure to emphasize nutrient dense whole foods so that you meet vitamin, mineral, fiber, protein, and other nutritional needs. Critical nutrients to include adequate amounts of each day:


Aim for 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, spaced out over meals and snacks. Include lean proteins like chicken, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds.

Healthy Fats

Include unsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish which provide essential fatty acids and support hormonal balance.


Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Spread fiber intake throughout the day.

Vitamin C

Include citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, and potatoes for this immune boosting antioxidant.

Vitamin D

Found in fatty fish, eggs, fortified dairy, and supplementation if sun exposure is low. Vitamin D supports bone health and immunity.


Meat, poultry, seafood, spinach, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, and fortified grains offer iron to support blood health. Vitamin C boosts iron absorption.


Dairy products, leafy greens, broccoli, almonds, figs, salmon with bones, and calcium-set tofu are good sources. Calcium is essential for bone health.


Aim for 3500-4700 mg daily from fruits, vegetables, dairy, beans, lentils, fish, and poultry. Potassium regulates fluid balance.


Found in leafy greens, nuts, seeds, bananas, avocados, yogurt, fish, and beans. Magnesium supports muscle and nerve function.


Oysters, beef, crab, yogurt, chickpeas, cashews, milk, and pumpkin seeds offer zinc to benefit immune health and cell growth.


Consuming 4000 calories daily requires eating frequent substantial meals and snacks with plenty of calorie dense foods. Focus on nutritious choices like proteins, produce, whole grains, healthy fats, and dairy. Limit added sugar and refined carbs. Aim to meet all vitamin and mineral needs through nutrient rich whole foods. Work with a registered dietitian or doctor to determine your specific high calorie meal plan based on your health, preferences and goals. With strategic meal planning, you can effectively gain weight and muscle through a 4000 calorie per day diet.

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