10 Ideas to Eat a High Protein Calorie Surplus

Whether you’re trying to gain muscle mass or are bulking, choosing high-calorie, high-protein foods that still taste good can be a little challenging.

While anyone can eat in a calorie surplus loaded with delicious junk foods, these are typically highly processed and loaded with sugar and fats. It can be a lot trickier when trying to be intentional with your calorie surplus to include high protein, healthy, nutritious foods.

If you’re struggling to find foods that fit into this category during your calorie surplus, check out the 10 options below to help you out.

10 Healthy High-Protein, High-Calorie Foods

1. Nuts and Nut Butter

Nuts and nut butter can be an easy addition to your meals or snacks to boost your protein intake and calories healthfully. Nuts are rich in healthy fats, incredibly versatile, and nutrient-dense.

Whether you are spreading peanut butter or almond butter on your morning toast or reaching for cashews or pistachios for a mid-afternoon snack, you are getting way more than just extra calories and protein, but many other nutrients as well. 

For example, a 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains 190 calories and 8 grams of protein [1].

2. Fatty Fish 

If you are a seafood lover, this one's for you. There are many health benefits associated with consuming fatty fish such as salmon or tuna. Not only do these offer a rich source of protein but also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

Because these foods are high in fat they are also rich in calories which means you can eat smaller portions and still get what you need without feeling overly stuffed.

A 6-ounce serving of Atlantic salmon provides roughly 240 calories and 34 grams of protein [2].

3. Lean Meats 

Lean meats, such as skinless chicken breast or turkey can be an easy and versatile addition to meals to boost your protein and calorie content. Whether you enjoy them grilled, baked, ground, or roasted, the possibilities are endless.

A 4-ounce serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast contains roughly 120 calories and 26 grams of protein [3].

4. Smoothies

Smoothies are an excellent opportunity to add in calorie, protein, and nutrient-dense foods to increase your intake with ease. 

For example, adding foods such as low-sugar Greek yogurt, nut butter, seeds, or a high-quality protein powder to your smoothies can boost the calorie and protein content. You can also add other high-calorie but nutrient-dense foods such as avocado. 

5. Trail Mix 

Get creative with your snacks and consider a homemade trail mix to boost both protein and calories that will crush those salty cravings. 

Combine your favorite nuts and seeds and then choose options such as roasted edamame or chickpeas to boost the protein and calories even further. You can also add a small portion of dried fruit to give it a little sweet kick but be mindful of the sugar content in these.

A 30-gram serving of dry roasted edamame (roughly ¼ cup) contains 130 calories and 13 grams of protein [4].

6. Greek Yogurt Granola Parfaits

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein as well as beneficial probiotics. Choose a low-sugar Greek yogurt option for a hefty dose of protein of up to 20 grams. Pair it with your favorite fruit and low-sugar granola for an indulgent breakfast or a hearty snack.

A 7-ounce container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt contains 146 calories and 20 grams of protein [5].

7. Lean Cuts of Beef

If you are a meat-eater, don’t shy away from your leaner cuts of beef. By choosing a leaner option you reduce the saturated fat content while still keeping a good dose of calories and protein per serving.

According to the USDA, a cut of beef is considered lean if a 3.5-ounce portion contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol.

There are also extra-lean cuts of beef available that have less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce serving [6].

A 3-ounce 93% lean 7% fat ground beef contains 164 calories and 22 grams of protein [7]

8. Eggs 

Eggs are an easy, inexpensive protein source you can add to salads, enjoy as a snack, or bake into casseroles. Eggs contain a good source of protein as well as healthy fats and essential nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, and B vitamins [8]

1 extra-large egg contains 80 calories and 7 grams of protein [9]. 

9. Cheese 

Good news for cheese lovers, cheese is a great source of additional calories and protein. It can be enjoyed as a snack or added on top of meals for extra flavor.

1 ounce of Swiss cheese contains 111 calories and 7 grams of protein [10].

10. Mass Gainer

If you are still struggling to get in a calorie surplus that contains a good dose of protein, or simply need an easy option for those busy days, a mass gainer supplement, such as our double chocolate weight gainer supplement, is a great option.

Naked Mass contains 1250 calories and 50 grams of protein made from only 3 ingredients: organic tapioca maltodextrin, whey protein concentrate, and micellar casein to make your life easier when you need it.

How Much Protein Do I Need to Increase Muscle Mass?

The amount of protein each person needs to build muscle mass will vary based on a variety of factors.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), those who are trying to increase muscle mass should aim to consume between 1.2-2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.5-0.9 grams per pound) in combination with regular resistance training [11].

This means if you weigh 180 pounds you want to be getting somewhere between 98-163 grams of protein per day.

This is compared to the current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight [12].

How Many Calories Do I Need to Increase Muscle?

During a bulk, or when trying to boost muscle mass, it’s important to not overdo it with the calorie surplus. If you are consuming more protein, you will naturally be increasing your calorie intake as well.

Most people can build lean muscle mass by increasing their daily calorie intake by 5-10% however, during a bulk you may want to increase your calories by 10-20% for a healthy weight gain of .25-5 pounds per week [13, 14, 15].

This means you need to be familiar with your current intake for maintenance. If you are consuming roughly 2,500 calories per day, you want to aim to consume a surplus of 250-500 calories.

You can estimate your maintenance calorie range by using an online TDEE calculator that factors in your age, weight, gender, height, and activity level.