High Calorie : Mass ratio foods
January 16, 2014 11:22 PM   Subscribe

What foods have the highest calorie:mass or calorie:weight ratios?

Due to an unusual health issue, I need to consume the most amount of calories in the smallest/lightest package possible. What foods would help me not each much, but put on weight?
posted by Neale to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My toddler has (had, hopefully) a similar situation and we have found peanut butter, butter, heavy creams, nuts and avocado have the most calories per bite.
posted by saradarlin at 11:31 PM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've read of distance skiiers / trekkers / etc. carrying butter as the most compact, non-particularly-perishable source of calories they could manage. It seems like somewhat-purified fats and oils and things like butter are going to be a good bet.
posted by hattifattener at 11:33 PM on January 16, 2014

Maybe a lead would be what Arctic and Antarctic explorers eat, which they have to be able to carry with them. There's pemmican, and on an episode of the documentary of this recent expedition to follow part of Shackleton's journey they're shown making and eating something that appears to be a stew that's mostly lard with an occasional bit of meat.
posted by XMLicious at 11:53 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, if it's only calories:mass you care about, then plain oil would be best. Fat has more calories per gram than carbohydrate or protein. But presumably you need a somewhat more balanced diet than you would get just by drinking oil or eating butter (less good because it also contains water).

So just go for dry-ish foods with high fat content. When I go on multiday ski-camping trips I carry nuts, salami, and cheese with me and eat little besides that, and I survive for a week. But in the longer term I'd want vegetables and other vitamin-containing foods too, and unfortunately they tend to be less calorie dense.
posted by lollusc at 12:14 AM on January 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fish oil and all animal fats. Also pecans and macadamia nuts have over 700 calories in 3oz handful... That's A LOT!!
posted by chasles at 12:57 AM on January 17, 2014

Response by poster: Ok thanks everyone.
posted by Neale at 1:28 AM on January 17, 2014

Getting into the habit of heavily sugaring everything you drink will also markedly increase your calorie count without altering the volume of what you're ingesting.
posted by flabdablet at 1:44 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cake frosting is a good combination of sugar and fat. I took a winter survival course in which it was recommended as the standard fare for short-term (no more than a few days) subsistence on the smallest amount to carry.
posted by wjm at 2:49 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here is a chart that may be of interest.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 5:34 AM on January 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is really something you should talk to a dietician or other health professional about.

If you've been diagnosed with a health condition that warrants this you should be getting direction from the person who made the diagnosis, either dietary recommendations or a referral to a dietician who can provide clearer guidance as to what will actually be helpful without causing problems of its own.

A stick if butter might have lots of calories, but that doesn't mean it will be healthy for you to subsist on a diet of sticks of butter.
posted by alms at 5:45 AM on January 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

High-cal foods are common for cancer patients undergoing chemo - there are tons of smoothie recipes out there (more), and there's always prepared stuff like Ensure. Minimally, mix up a fruit smoothie of whatever you like and add a package of instant breakfast drink to it. Maybe use whole milk, or some half-and-half.

As alms says above, your doctor or healthcare professional will have scads of information on this sort of thing.
posted by jquinby at 6:08 AM on January 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're trying to consume a lot of calories, calorie:weight ratio isn't necessarily the best metric, since fullness isn't determined by weight or even strictly by volume. Palatability is key as well; i.e., a vat of crisco has a ton of calories, but you'd never be able to eat it in quantity because it'd be disgusting. You'd similarly be likely to have a difficult time consuming straight butter or olive oil. If you want to consume a large amount of calories when you're having trouble eating, you need something highly palatable. Hence, smoothies are your friend. Whole milk, peanut butter, protein powder, and fruit is a classic starting point that tastes good, is easy to consume, and has lots of nutrients and calories.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:21 AM on January 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

I knew someone who used to do shots of olive oil to put on weight.
posted by Flamingo at 6:51 AM on January 17, 2014

Unless your health issue means you need eliminate liquids, Ensure might be what you are looking for.
posted by yohko at 4:29 PM on January 17, 2014

Oh, looks like Ensure is available as a powder, so you could eat it without adding water if that's appropriate for your diet. You could mix it with oil instead of water for more calories.
posted by yohko at 4:33 PM on January 17, 2014

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