Proteins are a good way to add extra calories to your diet without adding carbs.

How to Increase Calories Without Increasing Carbs

by Samantha Scruggs

Counting calories allows you to diet and lose weight while customizing your plan to your unique dietary needs; however, you may need to tweak your plan until you get to a calorie and carbohydrate level that works for you. If you are limiting your carbs for health reasons, but your calorie level is not high enough and you are losing weight too quickly or feeling hungry often, you may need to increase your calories without adding additional carbs.

Figure out how many calories you need to add to your diet plan. Most people need at least 25 calories per kilogram of body weight, which is approximately 11 calories per pound. Remember, though, everyone is different, and you may need more if you lead an active lifestyle. Figuring out your calorie needs will help you choose food and portion sizes that will fit into your diet and add just enough calories to help with satiety, but not so many that you gain weight or lose less than you wanted. Keep track of your weight and adjust your calorie intake as needed with your goals in mind.

Read food labels to figure out the carb and calorie amount of any food you are adding. Make sure you look at the portion size on the label. You could choose something that you think is low-carb, but if you eat four servings it might have more carbs than you think. If a food doesn't have a label, you can find out the calories using calorie-counting applications or the USDA National Nutrient Database, which includes fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

Add protein-rich foods to your diet, keeping the calorie amount in mind. Lean protein contains healthy calories, and many protein-rich foods are completely carb-free. Foods like lean beef, chicken, pork and seafood are good options for adding calories without carbs. Try increasing your protein portions by 1 ounce at first. You can also choose vegetarian choices like tofu or vegetarian sandwich patties, although this is adding some carbs, so you may have to reduce other carbs already present in your meal. Look on the food label, a calorie-counting resource,or in the USDA's National Nutrient Database to figure out the carb amount of each food.

Add healthy fats to your dishes. Olive oil, canola oil and fish oil are great options for healthy fats. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for your heart and cholesterol levels. You can also eat fatty fish like salmon to add protein and fat to your meal without adding carbs. The American Heart Association recommends that fat comprise 25 to 35 percent of your calories, so watch your portion size. Fats contain 9 calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates or proteins provide 4 calories per gram, so be careful when measuring your portion sizes and be as accurate as possible.


  • Customize your food plan to your individualized needs. Figuring out a good balance of calories and carbs is key to a successful diet plan. Trial and error is the best way to create an effective diet plan.


  • Consult with a physician before beginning a low-carb diet plan.
  • Do not try to completely cut out carbohydrates. Carbs are important for many body functions, including brain function.

About the Author

Samantha Scruggs is a registered dietitian who is passionate about nutrition, healthy living and exercise. She works in a clinic with dialysis patients. Scruggs earned a bachelor's degree in public health nutrition from the University of North Carolina.

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