Gaining Weight on a Vegetarian (or Vegan) Diet 

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Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to gain weight as a vegetarian or vegan.

While it may seem like a challenge, with the right diet plan, some supplements for weight gain, and some dedication, you can achieve your desired weight.

Let’s take a look at how to do this. 

How to gain weight as a vegan or vegetarian?

Eating Enough Calories 

The first step in gaining weight as a vegetarian or vegan is making sure that you are eating enough calories.

If your body isn’t getting enough energy, it won’t be able to use the food you’re consuming in order to gain weight.

To ensure that you are consuming enough calories, track what you eat for a few days and calculate your total calorie intake. You can then calculate how much more you need to eat in order to reach your goal weight. 

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods 

Another important factor when trying to gain weight is choosing nutrient-dense foods.

Not only will these foods help provide more calories, but they will also give your body the nutrients it needs in order to stay healthy while gaining weight.

Some great high-calorie, energy dense foods for vegetarians and vegans include:

  • nuts and nut butters
  • avocados
  • dark leafy greens
  • tofu and tempeh
  • whole grains such as quinoa and oats
  • legumes like beans and lentils
  • dried fruit such as dates and figs
  • plant-based milks (like almond milk)
  • seeds like hemp hearts or chia seeds
  • nut-based cheeses or yogurts
  • olive oil or coconut oil

Eat Frequently Throughout the Day 

Finally, it’s important to make sure that you are eating frequently throughout the day. This will help keep your blood sugar levels stable so that your body can use the food you consume more efficiently.

Aim for three main meals per day plus two snacks if necessary. Eating every 2-3 hours is recommended in order to ensure that your body has enough fuel throughout the day.  

How to gain weight healthily?

Gaining weight healthily requires a balanced approach that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, and adequate rest. Here are some tips to help you gain weight in a healthy way:

  1. Eat more often: Eating multiple small meals throughout the day can help to increase your overall calorie intake so you can reach your goal weight.
  2. Choose nutrient-dense foods: Make sure you are choosing nutrient-dense foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables when increasing your calories.
  3. Increase portion sizes of healthy foods: Eating larger portions of nutrient-dense foods can help you to meet your calorie goals without filling up on empty calories from processed snacks or junk food.
  4. Include healthy fats: Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, coconuts and their oils have essential fatty acids that are important for overall health. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of healthy fat that can be included in daily snacks or meal choices.
  5. Don’t forget proteins: Proteins play an important role in muscle growth and development so make sure to include plenty of plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, tempeh and tofu into your diet plan.
  6. Stay active: Regular exercise is still important even if you’re looking to gain weight as it helps promote muscle development which plays a role in maintaining the right balance between body fat and lean muscle mass for optimal health benefits.

Now that we’ve covered these 3 strategies to gain weight on a vegan or vegetarian diet, let’s answer some frequently asked questions!

What is veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle and diet that abstains from the use of any animal products, such as meat, dairy, eggs, and honey.

Veganism can also include refraining from using animal-derived products such as leather and wool.

Vegans typically follow a plant-based diet which consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. A vegan lifestyle also extends to ethical considerations when it comes to animal rights and environmental issues.

Tell me the vegan diet?

Here are some foods commonly found in vegan diets:

  1. Fruits: Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Berries, Grapes, Melons, Pears, Peaches etc.
  2. Vegetables: Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Carrots, Cucumbers etc.
  3. Grains: Quinoa, Brown/Wild Rice, Oats, Millet etc.
  4. Legumes: Lentils, Chickpeas, Black Beans etc.
  5. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios , Cashews , Sunflower Seeds , Pumpkin Seeds etc.
  6. Plant-Based Milk Alternatives: Soy Milk , Coconut Milk , Almond Milk , Oat Milk etc.
  7. Plant-Based Meat Alternatives: Tempeh , Tofu , Seitan , Soy Burgers etc .
  8. Plant-Based Condiments and Dressings : Hummus , Tahini , Vegan Mayo etc.
  9. Plant-Based Sweeteners : Maple Syrup , Agave Nectar , Coconut Sugar etc .

Why can’t some vegans gain weight?

  • Not eating enough calories: It is important for vegans to make sure they are consuming adequate calories to sustain a healthy weight.
  • Not consuming sufficient quantities of nutrient-dense foods: Eating a well-balanced vegan diet is key for gaining or maintaining weight. Many nutrient-dense foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains need to be included in the daily food choices.
  • Lack of dietary fat: Another potential reason why some vegans may not gain weight could be due to an inadequate amount of dietary fats. Healthy sources of plant-based fats include avocados, coconuts, olives and their oils, nuts and seeds.
  • Too much exercise: Excessive amounts of exercise can burn more energy than can be consumed through food which can then lead to difficulty when trying to gain or maintain weight.
  • Eating too many processed vegan products: Many processed vegan products contain fewer calories than those found in non-vegan options and can cause deficiencies in essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins. Opting for more fresh and wholefoods instead is recommended for optimal health benefits.

Risks of following a high-calorie diet

Following a high-calorie diet can be beneficial for gaining weight in a healthy way, however it is important to understand the potential risks associated with this type of diet.

Here are some potential risks that can occur when following a high-calorie diet:

  1. Weight gain: Consuming excess calories can lead to excessive fat storage and weight gain which can lead to health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases.
  2. Nutrient deficiencies: High-calorie diets often rely heavily on processed foods which are usually low in key vitamins and minerals. Eating nutrient-dense wholefoods instead is essential for optimal health benefits.
  3. Digestive issues: Overeating or consuming too much of certain foods like dairy or wheat may cause digestive discomfort due to their high levels of lactose or gluten respectively.
  4. Unhealthy cravings: Eating too many sugary or fatty foods can increase your appetite and cause unhealthy cravings, leading to poor dietary choices.
  5. Increased risk of chronic illnesses: Eating too many calories can put additional strain on your body which over time increases the risk of developing long-term chronic illnesses such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Foods to avoid when gaining weight

When it comes to gaining weight in a healthy way, it’s important to be mindful of the types of food you eat.

Here are some foods to avoid when trying to gain weight healthily:

  1. Processed junk food: These foods are high in calories but usually lack nutrients and contain unhealthy fats, processed sugars and artificial additives that can be damaging for your health.
  2. High-sugar foods: Eating too many sugary treats such as candy or soda can lead to increased fat storage or an unhealthy spike in blood sugar levels.
  3. Fried foods: Fried foods tend to be high in calories and saturated fats which can lead to obesity and other chronic illnesses.
  4. Refined grains: Refined grains such as white bread and white pasta have been stripped of most of their nutritional value, so they should be avoided when trying to gain weight healthily.
  5. Low-fat products: Although these products often appear more nutritious, they typically contain added sugar or chemicals that can cause digestive issues or impair metabolism.

Take supplements if necessary

In some cases, taking a multivitamin supplement can help ensure you get all of the nutrients necessary for healthy weight gain. Make sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

There are also vegan based weight gaining supplements available made with plant based proteins, amino acids and other nutrients to help you reach your goals.

You may also want to try protein powders, essential amino acids or coconut oil in combination with weight lifting as a way to get more proteins.

Overall, gaining weight in a healthy way requires careful planning and being mindful of the types of foods you eat. Make sure to include plenty of nutrient-rich wholefoods as well as healthy fats into your diet and stay active to promote muscle growth.

Meal Plan For Gaining Weight On A Vegan Diet

Here is an example meal plan with some ideas 🙂

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with almond milk, dates and almonds OR vegan protein smoothie with banana, almond butter, plant-based milk and vegan protein powder
  • Lunch: Veggie burger on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, avocado and sweet potato fries OR Quinoa bowl with black beans, bell pepper, corn and cilantro
  • Snack: Hummus and veggies such as carrots, celery and cucumber OR fruit salad made with mango, pineapple and strawberries
  • Dinner: Tofu stir fry with brown rice or quinoa and vegetables OR vegetable lasagna made with zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and tofu ricotta
  • Dessert: Whole fat greek yogurt with honey and nuts

6 high-calorie vegan foods

Eating higher-calorie vegan meals is a great way to gain weight in a healthy and sustainable manner. Here are six high-calorie vegan foods that you can incorporate into your diet:

  1. Avocado: A single avocado contains around 322 calories and is packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. Nuts and nut butter: Nuts such as almonds and cashews are nutrient-dense, calorie-rich snacks that are perfect for gaining weight in a healthy way. Nut butters such as peanut butter or almond butter contain additional calories that make them even more beneficial for weight gain.
  3. Coconut oil: Coconut oil is full of essential fatty acids and contains nearly 1190 calories per cup, making it an excellent choice to add to meals when trying to gain weight healthily.
  4. Beans and legumes: Beans and legumes like chickpeas and lentils are rich in protein and provide an excellent source of slow-releasing carbohydrates for steady energy throughout the day.
  5. Tofu: Tofu is highly nutritious as well as being incredibly versatile — it can be used to create dishes such as stir-fries and curries which tend to be higher in calories due to their sauce or seasoning components.
  6. Whole grains: Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, etc., provide a good source of complex carbohydrates which can help promote steady energy release throughout the day without spiking blood sugar levels too much.

How much calories should I eat to gain weight?

The number of calories you need to gain weight depends on your current body weight and activity level. Generally speaking, if you want to gain weight in a healthy way, it’s recommended that you increase your daily calorie intake by 500-1000 calories per day.

If you want to know exactly how many calories you need from plant foods, use this weight gain calculator.

It’s important to remember that gaining weight healthily is not just about eating more — it’s also about choosing nutritious foods as part of a balanced diet and being physically active.

Make sure to include plenty of wholefoods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds into your meals for optimal nutrition. And lastly, don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day!

Is it hard for vegetarians to gain weight?

Yes, there are more difficulties for vegan weight gain.

You will have to make sure that you’re eating enough nutrient-dense, higher-calorie vegan foods in order to reach your goals.

While plant-based diets can be incredibly healthy, they tend to be lower in calories than non-vegan diets so it can be more challenging for vegans to gain weight healthily.

How can I gain 5 kg weight naturally?

Gaining 5kg of healthy weight takes time and patience, but it is possible if you focus on eating a nutritious vegan diet that gives you those extra calories.

You will want to make sure that you’re getting enough calories each day by incorporating high-calorie vegan foods such as tofu, nuts and nut butter, avocado, coconut oil, beans and legumes into your meals.

You should also make sure you’re getting enough protein and healthy fats, as these are essential for gaining weight in a healthy way.

You may also want to try weight lifting as a way to gain muscle mass.

Can you be vegetarian and still gain weight?

Yes, it is possible to be a vegetarian and still gain weight.

What is the fastest way for a woman to gain weight?

  • Eat 5-6 small meals a day and not 2 or 3 big meals.
  • Ensure you eat food high in nutrients.
  • Choose whole-grain breads and cereals as the basis of a balanced diet.

How can a vegetarian increase fat intake?

  • Vegetarians can increase their fat intake by including plant-based sources of healthy fats such as nuts, nut butter, coconut oil, avocados, and olives in their diet.
  • Additionally, they can add vegan sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds to their meals to get an adequate intake of essential fatty acids.
  • Lastly, adding moderate amounts of dark chocolate and full-fat dairy products (such as yogurt or cheese) to the diet may help boost caloric intake and provide additional healthy fats.

Do vegetarians gain weight easily?

Generally speaking it’s more difficult as a vegetarian to gain weight. However, it’s quite normal for meat-eaters to have difficulty gaining weight as well.

Gain Weight Vegetarian / Vegan Conclusion

Gaining weight as a vegetarian or vegan requires some extra effort compared to an omnivorous diet—but with dedication and proper planning it is absolutely achievable!

Remember that tracking calorie intake is essential; choose nutrient-dense foods; and make sure you are eating frequently throughout the day in order to eat healthy calories, gain weight healthily, and reach your goals successfully!

With determination and commitment there’s no reason why being vegetarian or vegan should limit anyone from achieving their desired weight!

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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