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March 12, 2022 9 min read

Gaining weight can be an arduous process. What makes it incredibly challenging is how it hinges on your lifestyle, benefits, diet, and even daily activities.

Vegans especially find it rigorous to gain weight as removing animal products from their diet already has them as a disadvantage. This leaves them with a limited array of food to choose from. Despite this pickle you might find yourself in as a vegan, it is possible to gain weight. Below, we have outlined the tips and tricks to aid you in your vegan weight gain journey.

Vegan Buddha bowl with chickpeas, courgette, sundried tomatoes and sprouts

Who Is A Vegan?

If you are a vegan, chances are you already know and understand this part. If you don't understand veganism and you only have a slight idea that you abstain from meat and its product for a reason, you are still on the right track. Simply put, a vegan is a person who practices veganism. Veganism involves strict abstinence from the consumption of animal diets. Many people extend veganism to total self-restraint from the use- clothes and whatnots- of any animal product, but that is beside the point.

As a vegetarian, you flush fish, meat, eggs, poultry, chicken, and even seafood out of your meal plans. While this is a general description of who a vegan is, there are different types of vegans with different philosophies on what to eat and abstain from. Some of these types are:

  • Semi-vegetarians
  • Pescatarians
  • Ovo-vegetarians
  • Lacto-vegetarians
  • Vegetarians or Lacto-ovo vegetarians
  • Vegans

This might sound like an unnecessary array of diet types for a philosophy that entirely excludes animal by-products from meals. However, these diet plans differ. Semi-vegetarians have a flexible diet plan. They consume eggs and dairy products and may or may not include picky fish, meat, poultry, and other seafood in their meals. Pescatarians eat eggs, dairy, fish, and seafood but exclude meat and poultry products.

Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but stay away from eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. They are similar to Ovo-vegetarians who eat eggs but exclude dairy, poultry, meat, fish, and seafood. These types of vegetarians have the second most restrictive diet plans. Vegetarians eat eggs and dairy but exclude meats, fish, poultry, and seafood. Vegans, on the other hand, eat none of these.

No egg, dairy, meats, fish, poultry, or seafood are allowed in a vegan diet. Vegans have the most restrictive diet plans. People choose to be vegetarians or vegans for different reasons. These reasons may include personal choice, religion, animal compassion, allergies, and health risks. 

What Do Vegans And Vegetarians Eat?

Vegans and vegetarians have restrictive diet plans. This causes them to tailor their diet with supplementary and healthy plant-based meals. Vegans and vegetarians have a plant-based diet that fills their plates with fruits and vegetables. These meals are unprocessed and provide the necessary proteins and micronutrients that they need. Vegans and vegetarians have a diet plan that includes vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and whole-grain products.

While these foods do not provide the number of carbs and fats that are necessary for the rapid weight gain that a regular diet provides, they help to keep you healthy. Admittedly, a vegan diet does not guarantee a healthier life. A research shows that  unless a vegan regularly consumes the appropriate nutrients, excluding animal products might lead to health complications

How To Gain Weight As A Vegan Or Vegetarian

One primary reason vegans and vegetarians find it difficult to gain weight is the lack of calorie-dense meals. The majority of the foods vegan eat provide less than the necessary carbs, proteins, and calories that the meat-based counterpart produces. Couple this with genetic makeup and lifestyle, and you find that gaining weight as a vegan would take longer than it should. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to gaining weight on a vegan diet. The trick is to get to know your body and manipulate your diet to suit your needs. Some of the tricks to gain weight includes:

1. Know Your Body

Everyone’s body is unique. The amount of time it takes one person to gain weight on a vegan diet might differ from the time it takes you to do so. This is because our bodies go through different metabolic processes. Your metabolism rate is how many calories it takes to sustain yourself in a day. Your metabolism process is made of two different processes; catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is what takes place when you digest food, and Anabolic is what takes place when your digested food is used to synthesize growth processes in your body.

Having a high metabolism rate means you burn calories faster than people with a slow metabolism rate. This means you need more food and calories to sustain yourself daily than someone with a slower metabolism. Gaining weight as a vegan with a high metabolism can be frustrating as nothing you do will seem to work. You can fix this by figuring out how many calories you consume within a day and increasing your limit. 

Knowing the exact caloric content of a food is hard work. This can easily be solved by using a calorie tracker or counter to provide you with the approximate number of calories in your meal. Knowing your body type is also essential to gaining weight as a vegan. Body type, also known as somatotype, is an idealized belief that bodies can be classified into three groups, and each group directly influences your ability to gain or lose weight.

The three groups of body compositions are 

  • Endomorphs: Soft and rounded body types.
  • Mesomorphs: Square and muscular body types.
  • Ectomorphs: Thin and fine-bones body types.

It is also believed that people, generally speaking, do not belong to one body type group throughout their lives. If this theory is anything to go by, knowing your present body type is a great way to influence your diet. Essentially, there is no formula to ensure that you gain weight on a vegan diet. Take time to know your body and tailor a plan that works perfectly for you.

2. Increase Your Calorie Intake 

A study shows that  the average man and woman need to consume 2500 and 2000 calories a day respectively. This is the recommended amount of calories that you need to sustain your internal body activities- which is also influenced by your external body activities- during the day. However, if you want to gain weight, you need to increase this recommended calorie intake count.

Why? You might ask. It is simple maths. As a man, your body requires approximately 2500 calories to function perfectly without tapping into your body’s energy and fat reserve. If 2500 calories are necessary for function without a gain or a loss, it is a no-brainer that increasing your calorie intake to, let’s say, 3000 calories per day would help you store these few extra calories.

Your body is an intricate system that makes do with what you have to perform functional activities. When you run on low calories throughout the day, your body quickly exhausts its energy. Since it requires this energy to synthesize and function activities and tissue levels, it taps into your internal fuel reserve through glycogenolysis.

Glycogenolysis is a fancy word that describes your body going into survival mode when you don’t consume food and enough calories for energy. In this process, your body breaks down muscle cells to access the glucose stored inside to conserve energy.

When you are trying to gain weight, glycogenolysis is one you want to steer clear of. To do this, you need to do more than consume enough that your body can run on without tapping into its reserve. To gain weight, you need to consume more than your body needs, so it has extra to store at the end of the day.

When you eat too many calories, your body not only functions as it normally would but also stores the extra calories as fat. Consuming more calories than you burn is a one-way ticket to gaining weight. If this goes on continuously, your fat storage expands and becomes what you see as physical evidence of weight gain.

3. Eat More Food

When you are trying to gain weight as a vegan, the most important thing you need to do is, you know, eat. Don’t just eat when you are hungry, eat as often as you can. Always find an excuse to eat, and when you do, take it. Pack your plates full when you do eat. If this is difficult and you find yourself breathing hard and your plate still half full, serve your food on bigger plates. This is a helpful way to trick your brain into finishing your portions and still finding space in your stomach for more. Gradually increase your portions till your plates contain more than they usually do. Snack between your meals and figure out a meal plan that helps you eat six times a day, snack included. 

4. Reduce Cardio

Exercises are great for your health, but sometimes, you need to sit them out. Cardio is not an option when you are on a weight gain journey. While it gets your heart rate and blood pressure up, it also burns your calories. When gaining weight, you need to maximize your calories, and the last thing you want to do is burn any extra calories you might have built during the day. Reduce the amount and intensity of cardio exercises you perform during your weight gain journey.

Variety of nuts butter in jars with ingredients. Homemade raw organic peanut, almond, cashew, macadamia and pistachio nuts paste on black background

Vegan Foods For Weight Gain

As a vegan, your food choices are already severely limited. However, you need to find vegan foods high in calories to help you reach your goal. More importantly, you will be gaining weight the healthy way. Some of these foods are;

  • Nuts and their butters: Nuts, for their small size, are profoundly calories-packed. They are an abundant source of proteins, healthy fats, and essential minerals. This makes them a great candidate for your weight loss journey. Some of the nuts that are incredibly high in calories are macadamias, pecans, cashew, Brazil nuts, almonds, and peanuts. A handful of these nuts can add an impressive amount of calories to your diet for weight gain. Nut Butters are also a viable option. Pair your salad, oats, or even bread with our gluten-lactose-free  WHEY-ISO PEANUT BUTTER crammed full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients.
  • Avocados: Avocados are not only a delicious addition to meals but are also packed full of healthy calories. One hundred grams of this creamy butter-like fruit contains about 160 calories. A medium-sized avocado contains 250 calories and 23 grams of fat. This is an impressive calorie content that would give you a boost on your weight gain journey. Avocados also contain essential macro and micronutrients. From stuffed avocado to vegan avocado sandwiches and pasta recipes, avocados have a place on your diet plan.
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is a pseudocereal rich in dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. One hundred grams of Quinoa contains around 368 calories and 64 grams of carbohydrates. It is completely-plant based and provides your body with essential amino acids, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and folate.
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, black beans, soybeans, brown lentils, red lentils, and navy beans are all legumes that contain a high amount of fiber and calories.  Legumes are also excellent plant protein sources, providing your body with the necessary amino acids for synthesizing new tissue. They are also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that are beneficial to your body. For example, per 100 grams of soybeans, you are provided with 347 calories. Legumes are also notably delicious and versatile enough to belong in many of your meal options.
  • Rice: Everyone loves rice. It is versatile, makes delicious dishes, and is packed with calories and fibers. Rice comes in all types too; brown rice, long-grain rice, short-grain rice, basmati, black rice, white rice, red rice, paella rice, risotto rice, and lots of rice types we might fail to mention. This is a vegan win as it is near impossible to get bored of rice. One hundred grams of brown rice contains approximately 111 calories, 100 grams of white rice contains 130 calories, and 100 grams of basmati rice contains 139 calories. This is enough motivation to get your rice dishes cooking.
  • Oils: Coconut and Olive oil contain a high amount of calories. These oils also provide healthy fat and essential micronutrients for healthy weight gain. More importantly, they go well as cooking agents in your dishes, smoothies, sauces, and dressing. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, while one tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories. Other oil options like avocado oil, coconut oil, and canola oil are also welcome in your dishes.

There are other foods like sweet potatoes, dried fruits, tofu, smoothies, tahini, and peanut butter that also provide calories. There are also vegan supplements you can include in your meal plan to help you maximize your diet. For an easy protein boost, pair your meal plan with our VEG-PRO protein powder packed with healthy fast-absorbing proteins and essential nutrients for increased muscle mass. Pack your meal plans full with these vegan foods filled with calories, and you are on your way to gaining healthy weight. Calorie counting apps are a superb way of keeping track of the number of calories you consume daily.

Gaining Weight As A Vegan (Or Vegetarian)

Gaining weight on a vegan or vegetarian diet might seem inconceivable, but with the proper eating habits, it is far from impossible. All you need to do is find how your body works and tailor a diet plan with nutritious and caloric foods. Check out free and fun vegan meal recipes like our  vegan-gluten-free gooey peanut butter oatmeal recipes to help you with your healthy weight gain journey.