There are many reasons why someone may want to gain weight, like increasing muscle mass, recovering from a bout of illness, or improving athletic performance.
Mass gaining plans are often laden with calorie-packed foods, like meat, cheese, and eggs. However, these plans aren’t suitable for anyone living a vegan lifestyle.
Vegans may also find that their diet mainly consists of low-calorie foods, which can make it harder to put on weight.
If this is the case, keep reading. We’ll cover how to gain weight as a vegan in this article, going over what a vegan diet is and why vegans may struggle to gain weight.
Before we get into the article, if you have started to lose weight unexpectedly, see your doctor to rule out anything serious. If this isn’t the case and you’re ready to start gaining weight in a healthy, vegan-friendly way, keep reading!
What Does A Vegan Diet Involve?
Vegan diets follow a philosophy that involves avoiding contributing to animal cruelty, harm, and exploitation. Diet-wise, this involves avoiding meat, eggs, fish, and dairy.
This isn’t as restrictive as it may sound, as vegans have a large range of foods available to them, including vegetables, legumes, grains, fruits, and nuts. However, these healthy foods aren’t often prioritized by people trying to gain weight.
People tend to eat more protein-packed foods, like dairy and meat, but remember that there are protein-dense vegan foods too. These also don’t have the associated unhealthy fats and poor health consequences related to animal source products.
Additionally, consuming more plant foods means that we fulfill our intake of important nutrients, like vitamin C, fiber, and calcium.
A vegan lifestyle can deliver lots of healthy fats and protein needed for healthy weight gain, along with supporting other elements related to health.
Why Is It Hard For Vegans To Gain Weight?
Vegans may find that it’s harder to gain weight compared to people on a standard Western diet. This may be the result of a negative calorie deficit.
Vegan diets are full of plant-based foods which contain lots of fiber and water. This may lead to feeling full before the individual consumes the calories necessary to put on weight.
If a vegan tries to gain weight by eating more of these products, these high-volume foods may lead to bloating and sickness. They may still struggle to reach a recommended calorie intake.
The solution to this is prioritizing calorie-dense foods. This involves finding food products that have more calories per 100 grams than others, then eating more of these each day.
We’ll cover this in more detail in the next section.
How To Put On Weight As A Vegan
Remember that everyone is different, so some people will find it easier to put on weight than others.
You’ll need to figure out your current calorie intake, body type, and metabolism before you start to gain weight. Here are some tips that can help vegans with this process.
Calorie Intake And BMR
The first thing you’ll need to do before you start trying to gain weight is work out your present calorie intake. There are many calorie-tracking websites available online, as well as smartphone apps to help you with this.
Once you know your current energy intake, calculate your BMR, which is the calories you’ll need to sustain yourself at rest. Like calorie intake, you can calculate this with several online metabolism calculators.
Gaining weight involves consuming enough calories to cover BMR, along with any calories burned through activity, and a little more. This puts you into a positive energy balance which should result in weight gain.
Increasing Calorie Intake
Gaining weight involves eating more calories than you burn. You can use diet and exercise to help you with this.
It’s important to understand which food groups are calorically dense. Consuming large amounts of vegetables and salads may be healthy, but they won’t contain the calories needed to put on weight.
You should still make these foods a part of your diet, but make sure you add energy-dense foods along with them.
Here are some examples of different food groups and their calories per 100 grams.
- Vegetables: 25 calories per 100 grams
- Potatoes, starchy vegetables, and fruits: 60 – 70 calories per 100 grams
- Grains and rice: 125 calories per 100 grams
- Avocados: 167 calories per 100 grams
- Soy food items (tempeh, tofu): 110 – 195 calories per 100 grams
- Nuts: 600 calories per 100 grams
Increase Food Intake
Prioritize eating foods that contain more protein and healthy fats, like tofu, avocados, and beans.
If you’re not used to eating large quantities, it may take some time to adjust. Try increasing your food intake gradually instead of forcing food down.
A nice starting point is to increase your meals by 50%. For instance, if you normally eat one wrap at lunchtime, increase this to a wrap and a half.
Snacking can also help you with this. Choose calorie-dense foods, like bars made with seeds, nuts, and oats. You can also try making nutrient-dense smoothies packed with fruit and nut butter.
Cardio is great for improving our fitness, but they are also effective calorie-burning workouts. If you’re trying to gain weight, we want to expend as few calories as possible.
We don’t mean that you should completely cut out cardio, but if you’re trying to put on muscle, try skipping the cardio for a short period and see if this helps you put on weight.
If you like cardio and don’t want to skip it, try reducing the intensity and time of your workouts, as this means that you use fewer calories.
Try the advice above for four to six weeks, then see if you have seen success with your weight gain. You can then amend your goals and approach, if necessary.
Vegan diets may consist of low-calorie foods, but it is possible to gain weight as a vegan!
The key here is to prioritize energy-dense foods which contain more calories. Examples like nuts, seeds, avocados, and nut butter can all help you put on weight as a vegan.
Try to increase your food intake gradually and see if this makes a difference in a few weeks. We hope that this advice helps you reach your weight gain goals!
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