Gaining weight on a vegan diet may seem challenging. However don’t worry; there are plenty of high-calorie vegan foods to help boost your calories!
Whether you’re a seasoned vegan looking to put on a few pounds or a newcomer to veganism wanting to maintain your weight, this guide offers tasty and nourishing solutions that will keep your scale and your body in perfect harmony.
40 High-Calorie Vegan Foods
Grains are a source of complex carbohydrates that provide long-lasting energy and are packed with essential nutrients like fiber, iron, and B vitamins.
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are particularly dense in calories and can significantly contribute to weight gain in a healthy way.
How to incorporate: Start your day with a hearty bowl of oatmeal topped with your favorite fruits and nuts. For lunch or dinner, you could also make grain-based dishes like brown rice stir-fry or a quinoa salad. And whole grain bread paired with almond butter offers a nutritious, calorie-rich option.
Foods: Brown rice, quinoa, oats, bulgur, whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread.
Plant-based oils can be your best friend for healthy weight gain in a vegan diet. Oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health.
These oils are calorie-dense, making them perfect for adding extra calories to your meals without increasing the volume of food too much.
How to incorporate: These oils can be used in a variety of ways in your cooking – sautéing vegetables, making salad dressings, or simply drizzling over your finished meals for an extra boost of calories and flavor.
Foods: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil.
Nuts are one of the best high-calorie, nutrient-dense foods you can include in your vegan diet. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews, among others, are packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium.
How to incorporate: Nuts can be enjoyed in many ways – as a quick snack, sprinkled over salads or grain bowls for added texture and nutrition, or used in baking to create delicious vegan treats.
Foods: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, almond butter.
Just like nuts, seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and calories. Chia, flax, and hemp seeds are full of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They also contain various essential nutrients like magnesium, iron, and calcium. Seeds are an excellent high-calorie vegan food for healthy weight gain.
How to incorporate:
- Add seeds to your smoothies for a nutrient boost.
- Sprinkle them over your salads.
- Stir them into your morning bowl of oatmeal for extra crunch and nutrition.
Foods: Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds.
Legumes are a staple in vegan diets because they are a fantastic source of protein and fiber. Moreover, foods like chickpeas, lentils, and various beans are high in calories, making them great for those seeking to gain weight healthily.
How to incorporate: Legumes are incredibly versatile, from salads and soups to stews and homemade dips like hummus. You can also make plant-based burgers with them.
Foods: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans, peas.
While fruits are not typically high in calories, some high-calorie fruits, especially dried fruits can significantly contribute to your caloric intake. Avocados, coconuts, and bananas are high in calories and packed with essential nutrients. Dried fruits like dates, raisins, and figs are also calorie-dense.
How to incorporate: Fresh fruits can be enjoyed as a snack or added to your breakfast bowls and smoothies. Dried fruits make a great sweet addition to oatmeal, salads, or homemade trail mix.
Foods: Avocados, coconuts, bananas, olives, dried dates, dried raisins, dried figs.
High-calorie vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams and corn can contribute a substantial amount of calories to your diet. Most of these starchy vegetables contain complex carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.
How to incorporate:
- Roast them for a delicious side dish.
- Add them to soups and stews for added heartiness.
- Enjoy a baked sweet potato with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a comforting meal.
Foods: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, yams, winter squash.
Protein-rich plant-based foods like tofu, tempeh, and seitan will help you meet your protein needs and provide good calories. A quick vegan protein shake is a great way to bump up your protein and calorie intake easily.
How to incorporate: These versatile ingredients can be used in a variety of dishes – stir-fries, salads, and sandwiches. Vegan protein powders can also be added to smoothies and shakes for a quick protein boost.
Foods: Tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, vegan protein powders (such as pea protein, hemp protein, brown rice protein).
Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives
Plant-based dairy alternatives are often calorie-dense like coconut milk and oat milk. They can be a great way to add extra calories to your meals while keeping your diet entirely plant-based.
How to incorporate: Use plant-based milks in your cooking and baking, pour them over your morning cereal or oatmeal, or enjoy a glass as a snack. Plant-based yogurts can also be enjoyed as is or used in smoothies.
Foods: Coconut milk, soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, vegan cheeses, coconut yogurt.
Adding a touch of sweetness to your meals can also help increase your calorie intake. Vegan-friendly ingredients like dark chocolate and natural sweeteners are perfect for this.
How to incorporate: Use these sweeteners to add flavor to your beverages, oatmeal, or baked goods. Vegan dark chocolate can be a satisfying dessert or a sweet addition to homemade trail mix.
Foods: Vegan dark chocolate, maple syrup, agave nectar.
Potential Challenges and Solutions
Embarking on a weight gain journey with a vegan diet might present a few challenges, but these can be overcome with some planning and creativity:
Challenge: Balancing Nutrient Intake: While focusing on high-calorie foods, it’s easy to overlook the importance of a varied diet to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients. Some key nutrients, like vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, can be harder to obtain from a vegan diet.
Solution: Ensure you incorporate a variety of foods into your diet. Vitamin B12 can be obtained from fortified plant-based milks, cereals, and nutritional yeast.
For iron, include more legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dark leafy green vegetables in your meals. Pair these with a source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or bell peppers, to enhance iron absorption.
Calcium can be sourced from fortified plant-based milks, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and certain green vegetables like kale and bok choy.
As for Omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and algae-based supplements are excellent sources.
It’s all about balance – a variety of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, plant-based protein, and healthy fats should be part of your meal plan.
Challenge: Maintaining Protein Intake: Given that animal products are off the menu, getting enough protein for muscle building and recovery can be challenging.
Solution: Incorporate plenty of plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh, and seitan in your meals. Consider plant-based protein powders for an additional protein boost, especially if you workout a lot!
Benefits of These Foods Beyond Weight Gain
While these vegan foods can contribute to healthy weight gain, they offer a host of other benefits:
- Heart Health: Many of these foods are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can contribute to heart health by reducing levels of harmful cholesterol and increasing beneficial cholesterol.
- Digestive Health: The fiber in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables aids in digestion and helps maintain regular bowel movements.
- Stronger Immunity: The varied vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in these foods help strengthen the immune system.
- Bone Health: Many of these foods, including legumes and green leafy vegetables, are good sources of calcium and Vitamin K which are important for bone health.
- Better Skin Health: The vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats in these foods can promote better skin health, leading to clearer, more vibrant skin.
A vegan diet doesn’t mean that healthy weight gain is out of reach. Quite the contrary, with the right selection of nutrient-dense, high-calorie vegan foods, gaining weight can be a fulfilling journey that harmoniously blends taste, nutrition, and personal ethics.
From the energizing whole grains and heart-healthy oils to the versatile legumes and protein-packed plant-based foods, the choices are aplenty.
Remember, the key is to aim for balance and variety in your diet to ensure you’re not only meeting your calorie needs but also getting a diverse array of essential nutrients.
While overcoming the challenges may require a bit of creativity and planning, the rewards – healthy weight gain, robust immunity, excellent digestive health, and overall well-being are well worth the effort.