High Calorie Diet for Elderly

Updated March 23, 2017

Seniors who are having trouble maintaining their strength because of appetite loss or illness should increase their caloric intake to ensure proper nutrition. Guidelines from the University of Texas' School of Nursing claim that to just maintain weight, the elderly need to take in 25 per cent more calories than the recommended daily allowance--meaning even more calories are necessary to put on weight. A high-calorie diet that includes the proper amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals can help an elderly person regain any weight they have lost. Using liquid supplements is advisable to ensure adequate nutrition.

Ideal High-Calorie Foods

Protein-rich foods contain a lot of calories. Choose lean proteins such as chicken, turkey and pork. Eat red meat in moderation, because while high in calories, it's also high in fat. Milk, cheese and other dairy items also contain protein along with fat and calcium. Beans and legumes are other healthy choices for elderly persons following a high-calorie diet.

Meal Preparation

Although they're quick and easy to prepare, stay away from canned foods, frozen entrées or boxed meals, which tend to be high in calories but also full of salt and fat. Prepare healthy foods with olive or canola to increase the calories in a meal and provide heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Add side dishes of grains, fruit and vegetables to create a well-rounded meal.


Choose supplemental nutritional drinks if you have trouble eating three full meals a day. Drink high-calorie, high-protein liquid supplements like Ensure between meals to provide additional calories along with the proper vitamins and minerals. Use these drinks as a dietary addition, not as total meal replacement.

Foods to Avoid

Junk food is not ideal for elderly people who are following high-calorie diets. According to the National Institute on Aging, you should avoid foods such as sodas, chips and cookies because of their high sugar or fat content. Do not eat anything containing saturated fat or trans-fat, such as margarine, shortening or processed foods made with these ingredients.

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About the Author

Nicole Canfora is a freelance writer and copy editor located in Northern New Jersey with 14 years of journalism experience. Her work has been published in In Touch Weekly, Quilts, Quick Quilts, Vicinity and The Star-Ledger. She is the author of Images of America: Belleville, published in 2002.