People couldn't be more diverse when it comes to weight, metabolism, and body shape. A plant-based diet can meet a lot of needs, especially in its healthy, clean, and mainly raw version. Slimming down your shape after rejecting animal-based products seems an obvious outcome. But is gaining weight as a vegan possible too?
Good news – the answer is a strong yes. But if you're asking this question, it probably means that your metabolism is as fast as it gets. And it probably also means that you're having a hard time to build up muscle. These problems in mind, here are a few guidelines for gaining weight on a vegan diet to whomever it may concern.
1. Don't try to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time
If your body composition has a considerable amount of fat, address this issue first with high intensity interval training (HIIT) and only then start building muscle. These two goals require different types of training (cardio for fat loss and weight-lifting for muscle gain) so doing everything at once is counterproductive.
If you don't have much fat under your skin and being too slim is what really bothers you, ditch all the cardio workout from tomorrow on. For a while, at least. This is because by doing cardio you'll use up all the nutrients that your body would otherwise use to help your muscles to recover and grow.
However, low to moderate amount and intense cardio activity can speed up your muscle recovery, but only if you eat some extra calories for this particular reason. Rowing, sprinting, and bicycling are the best options.
2. Learn how to lift weights
Multi-joint exercises are great for building lean muscle. Combine your resistance training with compound moves such as bench press, lunges, pull-ups, and squats. Make it the base of your workout.
Extremely slow lifting is the painful secret that bodybuilders hide from you. Do this for a couple of times a week. Lift your weights up as slowly as you can and draw them down, again, as slowly as you can. Repeat until the last drop of energy leaves your body.
Be smart with increasing weights. Doing this too quickly (a common mistake for eager beginners) means risking getting an injury. But if you do it too slowly, you'll hit a plateau. If you put the same amount of effort at the begging of the workout and at the end of it, it means you need to increase the weights.
3. Eat more calories
If you want to gain weight, you have to eat more. Especially having in mind that a lot of your calories are burnt during your workouts. If you are not sure how much you eat now calorie- and macronutrient-wise, use an app or a journal for at least a week.
You may get used to monitoring your meals and your weight and continue doing so much longer afterwards. The right app will help you to figure out how many calories do you actually need to consume in order to gain some pounds.
Enlarge your main meal portions. Carbohydrates are usually the easiest to get, but make sure they are coming in from healthy sources, such as fruits (bananas, dates, mangoes) and whole-grains. Definitely increase your protein and fat intake.
High calorie vegan meals, such as butter nuts, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, protein powder smoothies, coconut oil fat shakes, nuts, and dried fruits are what you need to look for daily. In general, drinking your calories is a lot easier than eating them, so you can drink two high-calorie shakes per day which can amount up to 2000 cal.
4. Eat more often
A good vegan weight gain meal plan will be spreading your eating time pretty much evenly throughout the day. That means eating every 2-3 hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 3-4 gorgeous snacks between them and before retiring for the day.
It can be tough at first, especially if you're known for your low appetite. But your body will soon adjust to the new regimen.
5. Check your blood
This may not be as obvious, but bare with me. If you struggle significantly to gain weight, this could mean that you may have intestinal worms. It sounds awful, I know, but better be safe (to check) than sorry. Loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain are a few of the most noticeable symptoms.
While you're at it, you may want to check if your vitamin and mineral levels are good. Keep in mind these most common vegan deficiencies:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
It may not be directly connected with weight gain, but a healthy person is a happy person, thin or bulky. It's better to know where you stand at before making these huge changes in your diet and physique.