November 24, 2023

Are high-calorie foods bad for your health?

Article fact-checked and approved by Dr. Didi Emokpare
Content provided in partnership with Radiant Health Magazine

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High-calorie foods are not inherently "bad" for your health; it depends on the context of your overall diet and lifestyle. Consuming high-calorie foods in moderation as part of a balanced diet that meets your energy needs can be perfectly healthy. However, excessive consumption of high-calorie foods, particularly those high in unhealthy fats and sugars, without adequate physical activity can contribute to weight gain and related health issues. It's crucial to consider the nutritional content of foods and the overall balance of your diet for optimal health.

Experts from the World Cancer Research Fund have this advice to give when it comes to high-calorie foods. In general, the healthiest foods are those that have had minimal processing. This tends to mean that most of their original nutritional value, such as key vitamins and minerals, is still likely to be intact.

When you hear the word "calorie," you might immediately think, "What can I eat to gain weight?" High-calorie foods are not just foods that make you fat; they are not just to complete the weight gain foods list but rather are foods rich in calories, meaning they simply provide you with more energy and nutrition than low-calorie foods.


Are high-calorie foods bad for your health?


The answer to this lies in how much of these foods are consumed. High-calorie foods in themselves are not bad, as they provide some of the retinue of nutrients available in most staple foods.

However, if you consume an inappropriate amount of high-calorie foods, it then becomes a health problem instead of a wealth of nutrients as it was originally intended. These problems could be obesity as a result of excess body weight to height ratio and cardiovascular diseases, which are an aftermath of obesity. All these can simply be prevented by consuming high-calorie foods in low quantities; in other words, dieting can prevent obesity and improve general health.


What are some common foods that are high in calories?


The following are a few common foods rich in calories:

  1. Bread: Bread is the book cover for high-calorie foods, as it is the most popular staple food around the world. 77.34% of restaurants worldwide offer bread on their menus.  For every 100 grams of bread, 254 calories are present as energy, making it a reliable source of cheap calories, especially if you're in a developing country. Although various types of bread now exist, each with its own level of calories per kg, the basic form of bread remains wheat bread. Wheat bread provides nutrients such as carbohydrates and low-fat vegetable protein. Bread is, however, often accused of being the culprit of weight gain and obesity. This is mostly true, especially when consumed in large quantities and with an unbalanced diet. Its wealth of calories also makes it possess a high glycemic index, making it a catalyst for sugar and the ensuing problems that follow.
  2. Nuts: Nuts of any kind have been known to be rich in calories. They are essential for muscle development and play a vital role if you want to gain weight. Nuts, although some are allergic to certain people, are also a class of 'feel good' foods as they help relax the body. Epidemiologic studies have associated nut consumption with a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, gallstones in both genders and diabetes in women. Macadamia nuts are high in calories and provide energy up to 3000 KJ. That's equivalent to you eating one pound of red meat.
  3. Milk: Milk, especially whole milk, is also rich in calories. Milk is the building block of every human, as it lays the foundation for food consumption. According to the Cambridge Journal of Dairy Research, milk, apart from being an excellent source of calcium, has other benefits such as increased satiety, which may help combat obesity, and it has been shown that components of the milk fat globule membrane may reduce cancer cell proliferation. 

Also, according to research published in Jama Pediatrics, children who drink the most milk gain the most weight. They also have excess energy after consumption. Other foods rich in calories are rice, eggs, meat, and dark chocolate, which can be found in any market.

Benefits of high-calorie foods

While high-calorie foods can have negative health effects if consumed inappropriately, their nutritional benefits of these foods are alsoundeniable.

These are a few benefits of high-calorie foods:

  1. More Energy: Why live on energy drinks? Instead of relying on energy drinks, you can obtain all the energy you need by consuming calorie-rich foods in a mindful manner.  You could snack on a box of cashew nuts right before a meeting instead of a carbonated drink.
  2. Help your body heal: Foods rich in calories help heal worn-out tissues since a majority of them contain traces of protein and protein derivatives.
  3. Maintain your body weight: Being weighty isn't all bad; being overweight is what causes alarm. By consuming selected amounts of foods rich in calories, you can maintain your weight along with regular exercise.
  4. Manage disorders: Calories can help. manage disorders. According to a study carried out by the University of Gothenburg, 4 out of every 10 adults in the world suffer from a gastric disorder. Clinical nutrition is a way to prevent and manage these disorders through the consumption of additional protein or calories, as required.

How to maintain good health while eating high-calorie foods

Food, however it is eaten, should be proportional. If you consume food in the right proportion, many benefits are expected. Maintaining good health, however, involves more than just a balanced diet.

Here are a few tips to help you stay fit and healthy even if you eat high-calorie foods:

  1. Regular exercise: This is often preached in every health-related talk. But regular exercise is not often as strenuous as it seems; by just walking a short distance instead of using a vehicle, you have performed an exercise. These help burn excess fat and build muscle tissues in your body.
  2. Take a lot of water. When you consume foods rich in calories, your body works harder. By taking water in ample quantities, you can help your body improve its digestive potential.
  3. Rest: Maintaining good health is not possible without rest. Rest helps your body repair worn-out tissue and gives you a window to mentally build your brain. Studies have shown that sleep helps the brain and intentional sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of depression.


In summary, high-calorie foods aren't bad at all; however, their benefits as well as repercussions if taken in disproportionate quantities depend solely on you. If you eat healthily and follow a healthy routine, even with all these foods, you'll be just fine.

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