Are you a Vegan and in search of ways to gain weight? Don’t worry we have got you covered. Read this article, ‘How to gain weight on a vegan diet’ to know more.
Vegan food is generally a plant-based diet and avoids all animal foods such as meat. Vegan foods include ample healthy food made from plants such as vegetables, fruits, legumes like beans, lentils and peas, pasta, bread, brown rice, vegetable oils, and dairy alternatives, for example, coconut milk, almond milk, and soymilk. It helps you to stay fit and healthy and it also lowers your cholesterol levels.
1. Can You Gain Weight As a Vegan?
You can gain weight as a vegan since it includes foods that are rich in protein, fats, and carbohydrates. The vegan diet is a good source of proteins, vitamins, and calories you need to gain weight. There are some vegan foods such as lentils, beans, and quinoa that contain more carbohydrates that lead to weight gain. On a vegan diet, you can build muscle mass. There is plenty of protein-dense vegan foods by which you can gain weight easily.
In addition, it gives you various healthy fats and proteins for healthy weight gain. It is very easy to gain weight fast by consuming high-calorie, nutrient-dense vegan foods. You can incorporate these foods into your snacks as it will boost your calorie consumption as well as promote weight gain. But, you should combine these foods with other nutrients like veggies, fruits, whole grains, and proteins as this will help you to maintain a well-balanced diet.
On a vegan diet, people usually include food like peas, nuts, whole grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables leading to a higher intake of lucrative nutrients. According to research, the vegan diet provides more antioxidants and fiber and it is richer in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and E, iron, and folate.
2. Can You Gain Weight With a Plant-Based Diet?
Many people think that they cannot gain weight on a plant-based diet. Though, plant-based food is low in calories, higher in volume, and also contains high fiber content. If you want to gain weight with a plant-based diet, you have to increase the intake of calorie-dense food and protein-dense foods instead of eating more animal protein. You can replace animal protein with the following plant-based food:
- For Calcium: tofu, soy milk, almonds, calcium, fortified orange juice, broccoli
- For Protein: soy, nuts, quinoa, beans
- For Iron: peanut butter, soy nuts, tofu, spinach, and fortified cereals
- For Omega 3 fatty acids: plant-based supplements, vegetable oils, and flaxseeds
Plant-based diet or vegan diet helps to build muscle mass. This is one of the best ways to gain weight. You should focus on consuming more energy-dense food and even your meals should be based on whole grains such as if quinoa or rice, vegan bars, granola, and protein components, for instance, avocado, beans, tofu, and chickpeas.
Moreover, all plant-based food contains different grams of protein, for example, a cup of cooked quinoa contains 7.45 grams of protein, raw oats has 13.2g per 100g, peanut contains 25.8g of protein per 100g, soybeans have 12.95g of protein per 100g and chia seeds include 18.29g per 100g.
A plant-based or vegan diet is advantageous for people as foods consumed by vegan people are very rich in protein and nutrient and also helps in building and repairing body cells and tissues.
3. Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet and Vegan Diet
A vegan diet or plant-based diet is very beneficial for people as it contains ample vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. It provides various health benefits and mitigates the risk of mortality from conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke as well as cancer including colon and prostate cancer.
People suffering from type 2 diabetes must eat vegan food as it lowers the blood sugar level and increases sensitivity. Vegan food mitigates the risks of developing type 2 diabetes. Even though it is not mandatory to be on a fully vegan diet but you can increase your intake of healthy plant-based foods. People specifically those who have type 2 diabetes should reduce their intake of meat and dairy-based food.
It has been estimated that people who eat vegan food are healthier than non-vegans. As per the 2017 study, vegans benefit from a 15 percent lower risk of developing cancer. For example, if you consume legumes every day, it may decline the risk of colorectal cancer by 1 to 18 percent.
Moreover, the vegan diet is associated with a lower risk of heart diseases. Plant-based diet decreases high blood pressure, blood sugar level, and cholesterol which declines the risk of heart diseases because this diet contains ample nuts and whole grains that help you to keep your heart healthy.
There are various benefits of plants based and vegan diet. The minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals found in plants keep your body in balance and strengthen your immune system and your cells healthy. With the help of a plant-based diet, you can maintain a healthy weight.
A low-fat vegan diet minimizes the effect of rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes as well as Parkinson’s diseases. It even reduces the risk of colon cancer.
4. Does Being Vegan Make You Underweight?
Sometimes vegan can make you underweight because you add those plant-based foods to your diet that are low in calories. This may cause being underweight and lead to fatigue as well. Here, it is vital to keep acquiring enough knowledge about the high calories and nutrients of vegan foods before being vegan.
There is some plant-based food that is low in protein, calories, and nutrients that cause weight loss. But it does not happen always because it depends on you which plant-based food you are adding to your vegan or plant-based diet and how you plan your vegan diet.
There are two major reasons behind losing weight after being vegan.
- Choosing the wrong food
- Not adjusting portion sizes
When you are on a vegan diet, you need to appropriately maintain your portion size and add plant-based foods that are high in calories. Vegan people must use a food scale that will support them in visualizing calories and proteins.
The main reason why most vegans are underweight is that plant-based food or vegan food makes people feel full sooner. Sometimes vegan food cause people to under eat and consequently, they lose weight. Hence, if you are a vegan, you ought to include more calorically-dense foods in your diet.
5. Body Mass Index (BMI) of Four Diet Group
BMI is the measure of body fat grounded on weight and height. It has been seen that body mass index is different between vegans and meat eaters. Usually, the body mass index (BMI) of meat eaters is higher than vegans.
5.1. Body Mass Index in Meat Eater
- Women: 23.52 kg/m (2)
- Men: 24.41kg/m (2)
5.2. Body Mass Index in Vegans
- Women: 21.52 kg/m (2)
- Men: 22.49 kg/m (2)
According to some studies, people who eat fewer animal products generally have a lower body mass index. Vegan people have lower body indexes because of the lower proportion of heavily processed food within the plant diet. If you eat products that are rich in sugar and fat, it will increase fat and appetite.
Primary animal foods like fish, sausage, and meat lead to higher body mass index. While secondary animal food like dairy products, eggs, butter, cheese as well as milk has low body mass index. Hence, if you are not vegan then you can add secondary animal products to your food.
Lower body mass can cause low weight. This is also another reason that is why vegan people are underweight.
6. How to Gain Weight on a Vegan Diet?
There are several ways by which you can gain weight on a vegan diet, for example, eating nutrient-rich food, and adding more calorically-protein dense and rich in fiber food into your everyday meal. Following are the ways to know how you can gain weight:
Step 1: Figure Out Your Current Calorie Intake
Firstly, you have to know your current calorie intake. For this, you may use a different calorie tracking app. Then calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate or metabolism and calories that you burn during exercise. It will help you maintain a positive caloric balance and healthy weight gain.
Step 2: Take On More Calories Than You Burn
Increasing calorie intake is one of the best ways for increasing and maintaining your weight healthily. People who are on a vegan diet must identify the calorically -dense food groups. They must focus on eating more nutritious food.
Vegan foods like rice and grains, peanut butter, nuts, and nut butter, soy products, vegetables, and avocado will be a great option to add to your routine meal. These all are calorie-dense food and support you in successfully gaining weight. They will also prevent you from burning fat.
Step 3: Adding More Energy-Dense Food To a Meal
One of the most important things you should consider during weight gain is to adopt a mindset that concentrates on choosing more energy-dense and calorie-rich food. Peanut butter is an energy-dense food.
Step 4: Add More Soy Alternatives to Your Vegan Diet
Soy protein supports decreasing bad cholesterol levels. You should include soy milk, soy cheese, and soy sour cream into your meal as this will help you boost more calories and fulfill all the protein needs of your body. This will also help you in building muscle mass. Protein is significant to add to your vegan diet as it contains amino acids.
Step 5: Increasing Carbohydrate Intake
Increasing carbohydrate intake will significantly boost calories in your body. People who want to gain weight on a vegan diet should include food that is rich in carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread, pasta, rice, and quinoa.
All these steps will help you to successfully gain weight and even meet the nutrient and protein requirements of your body on a vegan diet. Healthy plant-based food helps you successfully gain weight.
7. Healthy Vegan Food Options to Gain Weight
There are multiple plant-based foods that will support you to gain weight healthily. If you are trying to gain weight healthily or looking for healthy ways of gaining weight, vegan based diet or plant-based diet is the best way to gain weight but it is significant to choose energy-dense food.
You have to include iron and protein-rich plant-based alternatives like legumes. Peas, lentils, and beans contain 10 to 20 grams of protein per cooked cup along with zinc, potassium, and slowly digested carbs. Gaining weight is very difficult and reducing the intake of animal products makes it more difficult and challenging.
The most important thing while gaining weight is that firstly you should adopt healthy eating habits. These habits play a crucial role in getting a healthy lifestyle and gaining weight healthily.
Following are the high-calorie vegan foods that will definitely help you in gaining weight:
7.1. Nuts and Nut Butter
If you are on a vegan diet and trying to gain weight in healthier ways, you should eat nuts and include nut butter in your meal because they are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and calories. Including nuts like cashews, almonds, pecans, or walnuts will add enough to your diet and support healthy weight gain as well. Similarly, nut butter is a good source of boosting your calories as they are high in calories.
7.2. Olive oil
Olive oil has various health-promoting properties and it is also rich in healthy monosaturated fats. It has been seen that monosaturated fats increases levels of good HDL cholesterol, decrease blood sugar level in type 2 diabetic people, and declines blood triglycerides. A single tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat.
7.3. Brown rice
Brown rice has a low glycemic index and helps with digestion. You can add brown rice to your meal because it helps with colitis and constipation. It improves heart health and prevents heart diseases. Brown rice lowers the risk of stroke by 12 percent.
Quinoa has high protein content and is rich in other nutrients like manganese, fiber, magnesium, and iron. It contains 8 grams of protein per cup.
7.5. Protein-Rich Vegetables
There are various leafy greens, dark-colored as well as vegetables containing proteins that help gain weight. A medium-sized stalk of single broccoli has around 4 grams of protein, kale contains 2 grams of protein per cup and five medium mushrooms have 3 grams of protein.
7.6. Tofu and Tempeh
Tempeh and tofu are great substitutes for meat. Both are made from soybeans and contain 9 to 20 grams of protein per 100g. You should add tofu to your daily meals because this is a great substitute for eggs. You can eat tempeh instead of fish and maintain your weight.
You do not need animal products to gain weight, vegan foods or plant-based foods contain enough calories and proteins that will help you gain weight healthily and successfully.
Avocado is the best food for people who want to gain weight healthily. It contains many heart-healthy fats and boosts approximately 322 calories, 13.5 grams of fiber, and around 30 grams of total fat. In addition, it has various micronutrients such as pantothenic acid, vitamin c, folate as well as potassium. You should eat at least half an avocado in your morning breakfast as this will help you boost your calories and healthy weight gain too.
Quinoa is also a great option for you if you are vegan and want to gain weight in more healthy ways. Quinoa is high in calories because a cup of cooked quinoa includes around 222 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. If you add quinoa to your daily meal, it will provide your body with all nine essential amino acids, which cannot be gained by food only.
Tahini is the best source of boosting calories and proteins in your body during healthy weight gain. Only one tablespoon of Tahini boosts around 89 calories, 1.5 grams of fiber, and 2.5 grams of protein. Daily consumption of a few tablespoons of Tahini into your daily diet will boost your calorie intake as well as promote healthy weight gain. It is quite similar to peanut butter.
7.10. Pea Protein Powder
It is a sort of supplement, which is made by extracting protein from yellow peas. This is a great source of high-quality protein and has 9 essential amino acids that will help you gain and maintain your weight.
8. Vegan Diet vs. Vegetarian Diet
Vegan people do not consume animal protein and animal products including seafood, meat, cheese, milk, eggs, and honey. Furthermore, the vegan or plant-based diet may be personalized, for example, if a person could avoid the use of animal-tested makeup concerning animal welfare and right.
Vegetarians are quite similar to plant-based or vegan. They also abstain from any sort of animal meat and protein, fish, poultry, and by-products of animal slaughter. A vegetarian diet comprises multiple levels of grains, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and pulses.
8.3. Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian Diet
The major difference between vegetarians and vegans is the extent to which they think animal products are acceptable. For instance, Vegan does not consume animal by-products because they think that it hurts the environment and also their health.
While vegetarians avoid animal products as they are against killing animals for food. However, according to vegetarian people, consuming animal by-products like eggs and milk is acceptable, if animals are kept within appropriate conditions.
A vegan diet is a strict form of vegetarianism. Vegans and vegetarians are different in their beliefs about the utilization of animals by humans. It has been observed that vegan diets and vegetarian diets tend to be low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Both have high amounts of minerals, vitamins, and healthy plant compounds fiber.
These diets even comprise nutrient-dense foods, vitamin B12 as well as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. However, in vegans, levels of these nutrients are usually lower as compared to vegetarians. It has been found that vegan people have the lowest calorie intake among the entire group. They consume approximately 600 fewer calories as compared to individuals who ate plants and meat.
On the other hand, vegetarian people have quite higher calorie intake in comparison to vegan people. They usually consume 263 fewer calories than individuals who ate plant-based food and meat. Despite many differences, both vegan and vegetarian diets are efficient in treating as well as preventing many chronic diseases.
But some studies reveal that people with a vegetarian diet and a vegan diet have high chances of stroke. It is seen that they had three more strokes per 1,000 people in comparison to meat eaters.
9. Difficulties Faced by Vegan People in Gaining Weight
The inefficiently planned vegan diet creates various health problems that lead to weight loss. Since vegan includes ample anti-nutrients, for example, lectin and phytates. It causes an increase in intestinal permeability and also other health issues.
Vegan people tend to eat processed soy products like tofu and soy milk. These are an essential part of the vegan diet but these products contain phytoestrogens. If you eat more than the suggested amount of soy, it will hurt your body’s hormonal levels. Hormonal imbalance causes hair fall, breakouts on the skin, and skin pigmentation issues.
Vegan food contains a “low-heme” variety of iron that could not absorb into the body appropriately. It causes iron deficiency in vegan and vegetarian people and leads to health issues like anemia and fatigue.
Vegan foods do not contain some vitamins like vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. These all lower the weight of people that are on a vegan diet. People on vegan are at high risk of an eating disorder. So, adding the right food to your everyday vegan diet is vital to gaining and maintaining your weight healthily.
If you are on a vegan diet, you should try to add more calorically and protein-dense food to your meal. Sometimes vegan diet may cause weight loss, hence make your vegan diet plan wisely and smartly or else it can make you underweight and cause many health issues.