Vegetarians eat mostly vegetables, fruits and grains, although some also consume dairy products and eggs. Since vegetarianism does not eat meat, you may initially find that you lose weight. Although for many this is a benefit, for others it can be a problem. However, with a few adjustments, your diet can improve the health of your body. With a vegetarian diet, you can gain weight by choosing your foods wisely.
Gain weight on a vegan diet
Understand the difference between vegetarianism and veganism. Vegans are vegetarians, but not all vegetarians are vegans. A vegetarian diet eliminates all meat products: beef, poultry, sometimes fish, but a vegan diet eliminates all animal food products. This means that vegans do not eat dairy products (milk, yogurt, butter) and eggs. Consequently, they base their diet on nutrient-rich plants.
A vegan’s diet is more restrictive and therefore more of a challenge to achieve complete nutrition (although it’s certainly possible) and for underweight people it might be a bit more difficult to gain weight
Calculate your calorie needs. A calorie is a unit of energy in food that, when consumed, is used as fuel for bodily activities or stored as fat. When you want to lose weight, what you want is to achieve a caloric deficit , that is, you have to burn more calories through physical activity than ingest them through food. To gain weight , you’ll need to do the opposite: take in more calories than you burn over the course of a day. A vegetarian diet offers many high-calorie options that will help you increase your caloric intake without having to lower the level of exercise or activity that keeps you healthy.
½ kg (1 pound) of fat equals 3,500 calories. For every 3,500 calories you eat without burning them, you will gain 1 pound (½ kg) in weight.
Calorie needs depend on age, gender, and height. Use a calorie calculator to find out how many calories you should consume each day.
Since you’ll be trying to gain weight, eat a little more than you’re used to, but don’t overdo it! Eat about 500 extra calories per day to ultimately accumulate 3,500 calories by the end of the week. At this rate, you will gain 1 pound (½ kg) per week.
Keep consuming healthy calories. The most obvious way to gain weight is by eating unhealthy, fatty vegan options like potato chips or sugary desserts. However, this is generally not what an underweight person really needs. While there are plenty of fats and calories, these foods lack nutrients such as protein, calcium, fiber, and other supplements important for a healthy body.
Throughout the day, snack on “good fats” such as avocados, beans, nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter, and hummus.
Drink your calories! Instead of just drinking water, drink juices, protein drinks and smoothies that give you calories without feeling completely full.
Add easy calories with extra ingredients, for example, add olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fruit to salads.
Eat foods rich in protein to build muscle mass. The lack of protein is the main problem observed with vegan and vegetarian diets. Those who follow these diets must consistently consume protein. Complete proteins, such as those from animal sources, soy and quinoa, are necessary due to their complete panel of amino acids. However, vegetarians and vegans can consume several protein options that complement each other (called complementary proteins) to form a complete protein that has all 9 essential amino acids. They can also simply consume complete proteins such as chickpeas, spirulina, and flaxseeds. An example of a combined protein would be brown rice and beans.
Beans are the best protein substitute for meat, but they’re also a great source of calories! Ideally, you should consume at least 3 cups of beans each week, although you can freely eat more without fear of repercussions on your health.
Nuts and seeds are high in protein, but some varieties can add too much cholesterol to your diet. Look for pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, but avoid macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts.
Explore soy alternatives. Soy protein is a vegan’s best friend, and is even thought to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels. Tofu and tempeh don’t have much flavor on their own, but they absorb the flavor of the ingredients they’re cooked with, plus they increase protein intake. Some don’t like the soft texture of tofu, so you may want to add TVP (textured vegetable protein) to dishes that require protein like ground beef, eg tacos, pasta sauces, etc.
Add calories to your meals with soy-based products, too. You can find tofu, soy milk, or soy sour cream at the grocery store. Use these products to add calories to salads, baked potatoes, tacos, or granola without feeling completely satiated.
Increase your carbohydrate intake. You may have heard that people trying to lose weight often cut carbohydrates out of their diet entirely. However, studies suggest that low-calorie diets are effective in large part because of lower calorie intake. High-carbohydrate foods can give you a caloric boost without filling you up as much as their equivalent amount in vegetables or beans. To gain weight, include carbohydrates like rice, pasta, quinoa, and whole wheat breads in your diet.
Have 6 mini meals throughout the day. If you get full quickly, you may have a hard time getting enough calories from 3 balanced vegan meals. In that case, have 6 smaller meals spread evenly throughout the day. You don’t have to eat to the point of feeling full, but small, frequent meals will give you a higher caloric intake throughout the day.
Eat snacks often. Even between your small meals, you can consume more calories by eating small, nutrient-rich snacks designed to give you energy. It could be: a tablespoon of peanut butter, a protein bar, a cup of granola, or a handful of kale chips.
Gain weight with dairy and eggs
Start with the vegan guidelines for weight gain. Vegan and vegetarian diets are quite similar, although it is true that the vegetarian diet allows a little more flexibility. As such, a vegetarian should follow all advice for vegans trying to gain weight, as well as suggestions for incorporating dairy into the diet.
Aim to consume 3,500 calories more than you need to maintain your weight each week. This way you can gain about ½ kg (1 pound) per week.
Eat high-calorie, high-protein foods like beans, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, soy products, and more to replace the role of meat in your diet.
Have several smaller meals to help you consume enough calories to gain weight, and snack often.
Increase the amount of egg protein in your diet. If your diet allows you to consume dairy and eggs, you should take advantage of the calories and protein available in those products. While eggs are fairly high in protein, eating too many yolks can cause your cholesterol to rise to dangerous levels. Egg yolks are healthy in moderation, but you shouldn’t eat more than 1 a day. Egg whites, meanwhile, are healthy and rich in protein in any quantity. Just remove the yolks or buy runny whites at the grocery store to make egg dishes packed with protein, calories, and nutrients.
For example, fill an egg white omelette with beans, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and chopped bell peppers, then top with sour cream, tomato sauce, and avocados.
Decorate your meals with dairy products. As with the vegan diet, you can add calories to your salads and meals with nuts, fruits, and other high-calorie ingredients. However, if your diet allows dairy products, you can opt for regular sour cream and cheese instead of the soy-based substitutes used by vegans. Cheese, sour cream, butter, and other dairy products are high in saturated fat, so they should be eaten only in moderation. Excessive consumption of these foods can lead to heart problems over time.
However, just 1 oz (30 g) of shredded cheese adds 100 calories to a baked potato, omelet, or salad!
2 tablespoons of sour cream adds 60 calories to a cup of vegetarian chili.
Buttering toast in the morning adds 36 calories.
Decorating meals with dairy will help you reach your 500 calorie surplus without having to eat too much.
Eat dairy snacks. Cheese should be treated with a bit of caution. Although cheese is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease, it is also a key component in the incredibly healthy Mediterranean diet. The key to gaining weight successfully with cheese is choosing the right types of cheese. Avoid less healthy versions like cheddar and Philadelphia cheeses, and opt instead for healthier cheeses like goat, feta and mozzarella, which contain fewer calories and can be eaten as snacks to reach your calorie goal. Cottage cheese is a popular snack that adds a good portion of protein to the diet without posing a potential health risk.
Yogurts are also a popular between-meal option, but avoid those that contain a lot of sugar for flavoring. Instead, opt for plain or Greek yogurt and flavor it with fresh fruit.
Consider including fish in your diet. Many vegetarians who choose not to eat meat products do eat fish. This is known as a “pescetarian” diet and can be a good option for those who want to gain weight. Like chicken, fish is a lean meat that provides calories and protein to meals. The human body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, but these acids help build muscle mass, which leads to weight gain without leaving a flabby body. The American Heart Association recommends consuming fish at least 2 times a week, especially the following:
the beautiful tuna