July 27, 2022 7 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 caloric disadvantage. And although a vegan diet provides you with many more food options to choose from, plant foods are almost always lower in calories than animal products.
Despite this, it is possible to gain weight as a vegan.
If you are a vegan, chances are you already know and understand this part, but for those that don't the technical difference between a vegan and vegetarian, a vegan doesn't eat any products sourced from an animal, whereas vegetarians may still eat cheese, eggs, etc.
Some people extend veganism to total self-restraint from not just animal foods but also clothes and other items sourced from animals.
As a vegan, 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 other philosophies on what to eat and abstain from with regards to animal foods.
This might sound like an unnecessary array of diet types for a philosophy that excludes animal products from meals. However, these diet plans differ.
Semi-vegetarians have a flexible diet plan. They may consume eggs and dairy products and may or may not include 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.Vegetarians eat eggs and dairy but exclude meats, fish, poultry, and seafood. Vegans, on the other hand, eat no animal products.
Vegans and vegetarians eat a plant-based diet that fills their plates with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole-grains, and more. These meals can be highly nutritious and provide all of the necessary macro and micro-nutrients that a person needs to help you get and keep you healthy.
So, how do vegans and vegetarians gain weight? By eating in a calorie surplus for given period of time, just like everyone else.
However, one primary reason vegans and vegetarians find it difficult to gain weight is that most plants are low in calories and high in fiber, carbohydrates, and water, so vegans may feel full before over-consuming calories.
With that being said,there is no one-size-fits-all approach to gaining weight on a vegan diet. But the good news is, is that if you like to eat, then you can eat a lot! And given that there are thousands of edible plants on the planet, when compared to the relatively low number of animal foods served on most menus, you'll find that your choices of plant foods is quite expansive compared to the rest.
The trick is to get to know your body and manipulate your diet to suit your needs.
Here are common tips to gain weight:
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 anabolism 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.
You can fix this by figuring out how many calories you consume within a day and increasing your limit. This can be done by using a calorie tracker 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:
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.
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, your specific needs are dependent on many factors including activity levels, stress and much more.
Your body requires approximately 2000-2500 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, then increasing your calorie intake to 2500-3000 calories per day would help you store these few extra calories.
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 something you want to steer clear of. 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.
Exercises are great for your health, but sometimes, you need to sit them out. Cardio should be more limited 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.
As a vegan, your food choices are already 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:
There are other foods like sweet potatoes, dried fruits, tofu, smoothies, tahini, and peanut butter that also provide calories, and there are also vegan supplements you can include in your meal plan to help you maximize your diet.
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 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.