Energy-Dense Foods to Combat Low Appetite

Ensuring adequate food intake can be challenging when appetite is low. Nourish the body with these nutrient and energy-dense foods to stay healthy and strong.


As a senior, it is not uncommon to search for calorie-dense foods. From medications that alter appetite to effects of the natural aging process, energy-dense foods and low appetite snacks can help older adults consume enough calories each day. 

No more googling “how to increase appetite” or “how to feel hungry”! Read on for five expert-selected foods that make you feel full, nourished, and healthy.  

What Are Calorie Dense Foods?

Energy-dense or calorie-dense foods are high-calorie foods intended for healthy weight gain. Seniors often have problems staying at a healthy weight. 

Medications, aging, and even more can alter appetite and make it difficult to enjoy mealtimes. High-calorie snack foods and making meals with nutrient-dense ingredients help resolve the loss of appetite and when the desire to eat is low. 

Food in forms like protein powder or nut butters can help older adults optimize their diet. Key components of energy-dense, appetite-satisfying foods include: 

  • Healthy fats
  • Protein
  • Dietary fiber

Calorie Dense Foods for Weight Gain

Weight gain is often viewed as “bad” but for seniors, it can be vital to achieving optimal health. A concentrated source of calories can provide the elderly with the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive each day. 

For example, cream-based soups can be softened for easy digestion while providing valuable calories. Soft foods are especially great for adding digestible texture to the diet. Remember, high-calorie is not necessarily a “bad” thing! 

Along with calorie count, be sure to check the label for vitamins and minerals as well. Dietary fiber also is a filling food but just make sure to drink adequate glasses of water to lower any digestive distress.

What Are the Most Calorie Dense Healthy Foods?

So, what are the best high-calorie foods and snacks for a healthy diet? These five foods take the cake when it comes to filling and fueling foods. 

1. Peanut & Other Nut Butters

According to the National Peanut Board, “it is believed that a St. Louis physician may have developed a version of peanut butter as a protein substitute for his older patients who had poor teeth and couldn’t chew meat.” 

Peanut butter is high in protein and fat to help promote a feeling of fullness. It is packed with calories to provide fuel for the body without needing an intense digestive effort like chewing harder nuts and seeds.

Snack on a heaping spoonful or add to a myriad of other foods, including atop yogurt, spread on toast, or dipped with fruit. 

2. Eggs

Eggs are also a great source of protein, which helps seniors with satiety (feeling full). They are a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and calories as well. 

Make them scrambled, bake them inside half an avocado for the addition of healthy fats, or add them to an egg salad sandwich for a calorie-dense snack. 

3. Dairy Products

Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk, and butter are some of the most energy-dense animal products on the planet. Not only do they provide protein, but foods like whole milk also have fats as well to keep one feeling full. 

Dairy products are also a good source of calcium and other beneficial nutrients. Alternative, fortified milks or powdered milks can also be used for those sensitive to other forms of dairy.

Enjoy each on their own or combine with other nutritious ingredients. Nutrient, energy-dense food combos include topping Greek yogurt with peanut butter, blending milk or ice cream into a smoothie or shake, or pairing cheese with dried fruit.

4. Avocados

Avocados are packed with calories, high in fiber, and full of “healthy” fats. They are ideal for combining with other foods for a full belly and an elevated calorie count. 

Avocados can be made into delicious guacamole, salads, toast, and more. They can even be blended into a smoothie to simply sip ample calories and nutrients. 

5. Vegetable Oils

Pair veggie-based oils with 1 cup of veggies for a calorie-dense snack. For example, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 cup of edamame are both protein-rich and calorie-dense. 

Alternatively, add a tablespoon of olive oil to noodles, rice, or other grain dishes to up the calorie count. 

In Conclusion On Combating Low Appetite

High-calorie foods can be an ideal source of nutrition for seniors struggling with a decreased appetite. Look for foods with “healthy” fats, high protein, and dietary fiber content. 

The foods listed here can help to combat low appetite by providing an energy-dense source of calories. 


High-Calorie Foods and Snack Ideas to Gain Weight. Published September 15, 2020. Cleveland Clinic.

Dodd K. High-Calorie Soft Foods for Weight Gain. The Geriatric Dietitian. Published September 15, 2021.  

Energy-Dense Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight. Published June 7, 2017. Ultimate Performance.