Creating High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain in Athletes
It is not uncommon for athletes to be looking for ways to add calories to their day to help them with gaining weight. High calorie smoothies can be a quick and easy option to support athletes with achieving their weight gain goals.
High calorie smoothies can be enjoyed for a quick breakfast on-the-go, following a workout, or as an evening snack before bed. By changing the types of fruit and mix-in ingredients, athletes can enjoy a different smoothie flavor combination each time.
High Calorie Ingredients for Smoothies to Support Weight Gain
When making a high calorie smoothie for weight gain, focus on adding nutritious calories that provide carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Let’s take a look at a variety of high calorie ingredients athletes can add to their smoothies to support weight gain.
Avocados: Nutritious Addition to High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain
Avocados are a great way to add healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your meal. The majority of fat found in avocados is monounsaturated fat, a type of healthy, unsaturated fat.
One medium avocado (201 g) provides 322 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 14 grams of fiber (1). Avocados also provide B Vitamins, Vitamin C, potassium, folate, and magnesium, making them a nutritious addition to your smoothie.
Adding Avocados to High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain
Blending ½ an avocado into your smoothie is a great way to add-in nutritious calories. Since avocados have a mild flavor, they will not alter the taste of your smoothie. However, avocados will give the smoothie a creamy texture, thus making it a great smoothie addition.
Try making the Avocado Banana Smoothie from Katie Dodd, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. This is a delicious high calorie smoothie recipe to support athlete weight gain.
Nut Butters: Add Healthy Fats and Protein to High Calorie Smoothies
Nut butters contain protein, unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Thus, they are a nutritious option to enjoy in your smoothie. A 2-tablespoon serving of nut butter provides ~200 calories and ~7 grams of protein (depending on brand).
Adding Nut Butter to High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain
For athletes looking to gain weight, nut butters can easily increase the total calories in your shake. Nut butters are also a fun way to change-up the flavor profile of your smoothies, with options such as peanut butter banana, chocolate peanut butter, or even peanut butter and jelly (made with mixed berries).
If you have a good quality blender, nuts can also be blended into smoothies for added calories and flavor. Pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts are all great options to add to your high calorie smoothie. If you are worried your blender won’t be able to process the nuts, consider adding them as a garnish on top instead.
Seeds: Nutrient Dense Ingredient for High Calorie Smoothies
Seeds are a great addition to a high calorie smoothie for weight gain. In addition to calories, nutrient-dense seeds, such as chia seeds or ground flaxseeds, provide protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Seeds are a convenient way to boost the nutrient profile of your smoothie.
Chia seeds have the ability to absorb water, which will give the smoothie a thicker texture. A 1-ounce serving of chia seeds provides 138 calories, 5 grams of protein along with 10 grams of fiber (2). Chia seeds do not have much flavor. Therefore, putting a few tablespoons of chia seeds into your shake is great way to boost the nutrient profile.
Flaxseeds are typically consumed ground, as it is easier for the body to digest and absorb the nutrients in the ground form. Bob’s Red Mill® Golden Flaxseed Meal provides 70 calories, 3 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber per 2 Tbsp serving. Ground flaxseeds blend well into a smoothie, thus it’s an easy way to increase the nutrient profile of your smoothie.
Tofu: Plant-Based Addition to High Calorie Smoothies
Tofu is an easy way to add plant-based protein (soy protein), vitamins, and minerals to your smoothie. Unlike most sources of plant protein, soy protein is a complete protein. Complete proteins contain all 9 of the essential amino acids, which our bodies cannot produce. Thus, for athletes following a plant-based diet, tofu can be a great smoothie addition.
There are a variety of types of tofu. However, silken or soft tofu is most often used for shakes or smoothies. Similar to avocado, tofu will take on the flavor of the smoothie and give the smoothie an extra creamy texture making it a delicious addition.
Cottage Cheese: High Protein Smoothie Addition
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, providing ~28 grams of protein per 1 cup serving (3). Even if you are not a fan of the texture of cottage cheese, it blends well into a smoothie and is a great way to add protein.
Consider trying Good Culture® cottage cheese, which contains live and active cultures to support gut health. Their cottage cheese is thick and creamy and makes a delicious smoothie addition. For those who are lactose intolerant, Good Culture® and Lactaid® both offer lactose-free varieties of cottage cheese that athletes can enjoy in their smoothies.
Greek Yogurt: Add Protein and Calcium to High Calorie Smoothies
Greek yogurt is another great option for adding healthy calories and protein to your smoothie. In general, Greek yogurt contains ~21 grams of protein per cup, while regular yogurt has ~7 grams of protein (depending on the brand). Therefore, you get ~3 times more protein when switching from regular to Greek yogurt.
In addition to protein, Greek yogurt provides calcium and some brands are also fortified with Vitamin D. Try using a vanilla flavored Greek yogurt in your smoothie for a rich, creamy flavor.
When athletes are trying to gain weight, the use of whole milk is a great way to provide calories, protein, calcium, and Vitamin D. Consider trying an ultra-filtered, whole milk to use in your smoothie.
Ultra-filtered, high-protein milks are filtered to remove the lactose and contain a concentrated protein and calcium content. A cup of ultra-filtered milk provides ~13 grams of protein compared to 8 grams in a cup of regular milk. Using ultra-filtered, whole milk in your smoothie is a great way to add calories and help you meet your protein needs.
Fruit Juice: Easy Addition to High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain
An easy way to add healthy calories, vitamins, and minerals to your weight gain smoothie is with the use of 100% fruit juice. Consider trying 100% orange juice, pineapple juice, mango juice, or tart cherry juice to create unique flavor combinations.
Dates: Add Natural Sweetness to Your High Calorie Smoothie
Medjool dates are an easy, nutritious way to boost the calorie content of your favorite smoothie. Dates will add natural sweetness, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your smoothie. Adding 2 pitted, Medjool dates to your smoothie will contribute 133 calories and 3 grams of fiber to your smoothie (4).
If you are interested in trying out a smoothie with dates, check out this Pumpkin Pie Vegan Smoothie from Kiran Campbell, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Creating High Calorie Smoothies for Weight Gain
Now that you have an idea of what ingredients can help increase the calorie content of your smoothie, you are ready to make your smoothie. Try some of the smoothie recipes included within this blog, have fun creating your own to enjoy, or download a free High Calorie Banana Berry Smoothie Recipe below.
For additional sports nutrition tips, check out my blog: 5 Keys to Selecting the Best Protein Powder for Teens.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.