Living a vegan lifestyle doesn’t always have to equate to losing weight. In fact, you can healthily gain weight as a vegan and bulk up with muscle in the meantime. While gaining weight on a vegan diet can be difficult, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. In fact, you can achieve your desired results through modifications to your diet as well as your lifestyle.
What does it mean to live a vegan lifestyle?
Many people get confused with all of the different jargon floating around in the health world, ranging from vegan to vegetarian. However, a person who chooses to eat a plant-based diet is committing themselves to live a vegan lifestyle. Oftentimes that means avoiding the use of all animal products in their lives. This includes eliminating products with animal testing and animal products/by-products such as soaps, deodorants, hair products, etc.
When a person decides to live a vegan lifestyle, they are essentially completely eliminating animal products from their lives. This includes (in large part) their diet. Taking out foods that have animal products challenges most people to find foods that are healthy, give the required nutrients for the body, and help them maintain a healthy/desired weight.
What it means is that you have to be extra careful with your food choices. Luckily, a vegan lifestyle allows you to have nutritious foods that have all of the nutrients you need to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. If you’re looking to gain weight as a vegan, you can find plenty of foods that have extra calories you need to put on the weight in a healthy manner.
Later in the article, we’ll show you some of the best high-calorie vegan recipes that will help you gain weight in a healthy way while also indulging in delicious food.
Misconceptions about Vegan Lifestyles + Gaining Weight
If you’re living a vegan lifestyle, you may think that you can gain muscles while still losing weight. This is simply not possible. You cannot have lean protein in your diet with lifting and cardio only. The desired results won’t come the way you want them to.
You can gain healthy weight and muscles while also keeping your body fat low by eliminating cardio, weightlifting fewer times in your week, and eating much more fat in your vegan diet! So, if you’re wondering how to gain weight and muscle on a vegan diet, this is how you start!
Let’s take a deeper look at those elements broken down to help you get a better understanding of how to gain healthy weight while on a vegan diet.
Gaining weight and healthy muscle has less to do about exercise and more about the food you’re feeding your body. You still need to incorporate exercise into your life no matter the lifestyle you’re living or diet you’re partaking in but knowing the right types of exercise to do with the right type of food to eat will keep your body achieving the results you desire.
Research suggests that those looking to healthily gain weight and muscles should participate in weightlifting half an hour a week of gym time per week. Experts also say that the lifting should be slow and deliberate as well as in small sets each session.
If you want to learn more about this philosophy as well as acquire more detailed information, check out The 4-Hour Body. You can get a bit more information to help you on your journey!
Exercising is not enough to help you healthily gain weight and muscle. A vegan lifestyle can help you achieve your goals, but you need to know how to do that without taking yourself down a path you don’t necessarily intend to go down.
The tricky thing about a vegan diet is that some people think a person who lives a vegan lifestyle are only in it to lose weight or maintain a healthy low weight. That’s simply not true. So, you might be asking how exactly does one gain weight on a vegan diet, and that’s a great question! It’s easier than you think.
You will need to be careful that the foods you choose don’t contain animal products/by-products, which seems like a no brainer, right? But what other foods will help you gain the weight and muscles you want to gain while keeping your vegan lifestyle well intact?
Your diet should have more protein and fat than it might previously have contained while also keeping your carbohydrate count up at the same time. Keeping this nutrient count top-of-mind will help your body get the required nutrition it needs to build healthy weight and muscle.
You can add protein and fat without compromising your vegan lifestyle by including protein powder (look at ingredients first), almond butter, flax, and coconut oil. These are great additions to your vegan diet and easy to add, as well. You can easily add these ingredients to your diet by incorporating smoothies or shakes.
Some other options for adding protein and fat are:
- Black coffee
- Apple Juice (drank immediately after a workout)
- Whole Wheat Bagels
- Brown Rice
- Peanut Butter
While these are not the only options you can add to your vegan diet to add more protein and fat to your diet, these are great starters to get you nutrients you need in order to healthily gain weight as well as muscles on a vegan diet.
We’ve hit on a few foods that can help you answer the question of how to gain weight on a vegan diet, but if those foods don’t interest you, there are other options!
One of the key elements of a vegan lifestyle and diet is eating foods that are plant-based. You can’t spend your days eating french fries and potato chips in order to gain healthy weight and muscles! You need to explore foods that are derived directly from plants such as beans, grains, etc.
Why do you need protein, you might ask? Protein is essential in building muscle. Therefore, it is critical that your vegan diet contains foods that are high in protein and not simply carbohydrates. Foods such as beans, tofu, and quinoa are great sources of protein that are not high in carbohydrates.
If you struggle to add more protein-rich foods into your vegan diet, you can opt for something like plant-based protein powder. This powder can be added to smoothies and shakes, but they’re typically not the best option. In fact, vegan lifestyles promote protein intake due to the nature of the diet itself. Plant-based diets like vegan diets are great for encouraging protein intake without requiring supplemental protein from things such as powders.
If protein powders are your thing, be sure to explore different powder options. They can be tricky due to the texture of the powders themselves, but you can find good ones if you look hard enough. Just make sure to always read the packaging label and read the ingredients list! If you fail to do so, you could potentially find a protein powder that is not vegan-friendly.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts are a great source of protein that are completely vegan-friendly. They have tons of health benefits and help you put on healthy weight! Vegans that are looking to put on healthy weight can eat nuts without worrying about eating too much.
There are many different nuts and nut butters to choose from, but the most popular one that contains a great amount of protein is peanut butter. Incorporating peanut butter into your vegan diet will surely be a great source of protein with all of the good fat you want, too!
If you are allergic to peanut butter, there are alternative nut butters such as sun butter, almond butter, and even soy butter. You can find the right nut butter for your needs that still satisfies the vegan lifestyle requirements!
It’s quite common knowledge that avocados are great sources of healthy fat, and that’s exactly what you want to add more of into your vegan diet. With the addition of healthy fats from such foods like avocados, your body will thrive off of the fat and give you the healthy weight gain you’re reaching for.
Along with healthy fat, avocados are also great sources of calories. You do need calories in your vegan diet, regardless of your goals (to lose or gain weight). Calories are important to your nutrition, so cutting them completely out of any diet is a no-go. However, with healthy caloric options like avocados, you can get the nutrition you need without compromising your overall health.
Adding carbohydrates into your vegan lifestyle might seem like a good idea if you’re looking to gain weight but be careful with the types of carbs you add! You can gain healthy weight and muscle mass with the right grains, or you can add unhealthy carb options that negate your overall goals of living a healthy lifestyle.
Whole grains such as quinoa gives your body the nutrients it needs while also filling your body with healthy carbohydrates and protein! Just like any other diet, watch the types of carbohydrates you add to your diet, especially if your goal is to gain healthy weight and not simple love handles!
One thing that some people have a hard time accepting on a vegan diet is there is absolutely no animals’ milk allowed. Some choose the vegan lifestyle to avoid any type of animal products for morality reasons, but others miss cow’s milk because it’s what they were used to having in their diet when they were growing up.
But the simple fact that you are not “allowed” animal milk doesn’t mean you can’t have plant-based milk. Gaining healthy weight on a vegan diet is still achievable without completely disregarding milk-like products! There are milk substitutes such as pea-protein milk, almond milk, and soymilk.
But if your goal is to gain healthy weight on a vegan diet, you should avoid low-calorie plant milk. These milk substitutes will negate your efforts and keep you from gaining the healthy weight you’re looking to gain.
Tips: How to Gain Weight While on a Vegan Diet
We’ve gathered the top tips to help you get started on your healthy weight gain journey without compromising your vegan lifestyle!
Tip #1: Grab Yourself a Midnight Snack
This one might seem counterintuitive for so many of us out there but hear us out! Why do people choose to cut off their eating by a certain time at night? Because our bodies burn fewer calories while we’re sleeping, right? Which means, if we eat too close to bedtime, we may find ourselves harboring more calories than we typically care to keep.
However, on a vegan lifestyle, you can grab a midnight snack that is healthy and will help you gain healthy weight! Grab a snack that is high in protein, healthy fat, or even carbs right before your head hits the pillow and watch your weight gain rise (in a good way, of course)! Some options you could go for are apple slices with a peanut butter topping, whole-grain chips, hummus, or even whole-grain chips and guacamole. Sounds delicious, right? And it sounds a little bit like you’re breaking a rule you were always taught to follow! Go be a rule breaker!
Tip #2: Find the Fatty Foods
Again with the rule-breaking, right? Gaining healthy weight on a vegan diet requires strategic searches for foods that are full of the good fat your body needs! Because vegan diets are typically low on the healthy fat options, you will have to get a little more resourceful and do more research to find the right taste and nutritional value for you. Some great healthy fat sources that are also vegan-friendly are avocados, flax seeds, and tofu. If you opt for seeds such as chia, hemp, or flax seeds you can sprinkle them on your meals or in your smoothies quickly and easily! It’s important to find the tastiest and healthiest fatty foods that won’t compromise your vegan lifestyle, and it’s absolutely possible.
Tip #3: Bring on the Beans
We’ve talked a bit about how beans are great for adding nutritional value to your vegan diet that will help you gain healthy weight! But, the one thing you need to make sure you’re doing with your beans is getting the most out of them that you can! Pairing your beans with a grain can make exceptional meal choices such as rice and beans or even a quinoa and bean chili! Great taste and flavors with packed healthy weight gaining properties – score one for everyone!
Sample Meal Plans to Help You Get Started
Now that we’ve given you a few of our tips, we’re ready to help you figure out how to gain weight on a vegan diet with sample meal plans you can use in your everyday life!
Let’s explore them!
|Breakfast||Morning Snack||Lunch||Afternoon Snack||Dinner||Evening Snack|
|Day 1||Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
|Whole Wheat Pita Bread
|Trail Mix||Kung Pao Tempeh
Fried Rice Plantains
|Day 2||Scrambled Eggs
|Quinoa & Mozzarella Salad||3 Oatcakes
|Barbeque Tempeh Sandwiches
Green Beans with Olive Oil
|Banana, Almond Butter, and Blueberry Smoothie|
|Day 3||Blueberry, Nut & Cinnamon Oatmeal||Cashews
|Smoked Mackerel Fillets
|Granola Bar||Veggie Spaghetti with Potato Sauce
Sea Salt Edamame
Peanut Butter & Carrots
Crushed Dark Chocolate
|Day 4||Vegetarian Sausage
Whole Wheat Toast
|Banana, Honey, & Almond Smoothie||Walnut and Cranberry Salad||2 Rye Crackers
|Lettuce Cucumber Walnut Salad
Peanut Butter & Celery
|Day 5||Wheat Toast
|Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bar||Lentil & Avocado Salad||Brazil Nuts
|Tofu, Cashew, &Broccoli Stir-Fry||Hummus
The above weekly meal plan suggests an average person following this plan would gain 1-2 lbs during that given week. Of course, you must take into account other factors such as gender, body type, and exercise to get a more accurate depiction of the true weight gain to be expected.
However, it is expected that to gain healthy amounts of weight on a vegan diet; one should take in about 3000 calories per day. There are many different meal plan options that will cater to your specific food preferences, budget, and lifestyle! You’ve just got to be willing to put in the work to find it!
As you can see, there are a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to choosing a vegan diet that also promotes healthy weight gain and muscle building. While these sample meal plans and suggestions we’ve laid out aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, they are great starting points for you to get kick off your vegan diet! Figuring out how to gain weight on a vegan diet doesn’t have to be difficult.
Follow some simple vegan-friendly lifestyle guidelines and add in some extra calories throughout the way, and you’ll reach your healthy weight goal in no time!