Vegetarians eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and grains, although some also eat dairy and eggs. Since there is no meat on this diet, you may find that you lose weight once you start a vegetarian diet. While this is an advantage for many, it can be a problem for others. But with a few small adjustments, your diet can better support your body’s health. When you eat a vegetarian diet, you can gain weight by choosing your foods wisely.
All vegans are vegetarians, but not all vegetarians are vegans. On a vegetarian diet, you don’t eat any meat—beef, poultry, fish, and so on—but on a vegan diet, you don’t eat any animal products. That means vegans don’t eat dairy products (like milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese) and eggs. Vegan diets are based on nutrient-rich plants. Because a vegan’s diet is very restricted and it can be more difficult to get all of the nutrients (although, of course, it’s entirely possible) it can be more difficult for underweight people to gain weight.
A calorie is a unit of energy in food that, after ingestion, is either used to fuel the body’s activities or converted into fat. If you want to lose weight, your goal is a calorie deficit. This means you burn more calories from activity than you take in from food. To gain weight, you do the opposite: you take in more calories than you burn in a day. A vegetarian diet gives you many high-calorie options that you can use to increase your calorie intake without sacrificing the exercise or activities that keep you healthy. A pound of fat equals 3500 calories. For every 3500 calories you eat without burning; you gain a pound of weight. Your calorie needs depend on your age, gender, and size. Use an online calorie calculator to determine how many calories you should consume daily. Since you’re trying to gain weight, you should eat more than your calorie needs each day – but don’t overdo it! Eat about 500 calories each day so that by the end of the week, you’ve eaten an extra 3500 calories. At this rate, you’ll gain a pound a week.
Of course, eating unhealthy vegan options like fries or sweet pastries is the easiest way to gain weight. But that’s not usually what an underweight person needs. While these foods are high in fat and calories, they lack important nutrients such as protein, calcium, fiber and others needed for a healthy body. Eat foods that contain “good fats” throughout the day, like 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 will provide you with calories without making you feel full. It’s easy to increase your calorie intake with toppings. For example, add olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fruit to salads.
The main problem that most often occurs with a vegetarian or vegan diet is the lack of protein. People who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet should always aim for complete protein. Complete proteins are important because they contain all of the amino acids. However, vegans and vegetarians can consume different proteins that complement each other (called complementary proteins) to create a complete protein with all nine amino acids. You can also just eat complete proteins like chickpeas, spirulina, and flaxseed. An example of combined protein would be brown rice and beans. Beans are the ideal meatless protein and a great source of calories too! Ideally, you should eat at least three cups of chickpeas each week, but you can eat more without ill effects. Nuts and seeds are also high in protein, but some varieties may contain too much cholesterol. Eat pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, but avoid macadamia and Brazil nuts.
Soy protein is a vegan’s best friend and is even thought to lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels. Tofu and tempeh do not have a strong flavor, but they take on the product flavor in which they are prepared. They also increase your protein intake. Some people don’t like the smooth texture of tofu. Therefore, you could add textured soy to dishes where you want the protein to feel more like ground beef – tacos, pasta sauces, etc. Add soy toppings and side dishes to add calories to dishes. In the supermarket, you can find soy cheese, soy milk, and soy sour cream. Use these products to add calories to salads, baked potatoes, tacos, or granola without feeling overfull.
You may have heard that people trying to lose weight often cut carbs altogether. However, studies indicate that low-carbohydrate diets are most effective because they consume fewer calories. Foods high in carbs give you a calorie boost without making you feel as full as eating an equal amount of vegetables or beans. To gain weight, you should eat carbohydrates like rice, pasta, quinoa, and whole wheat bread.
If you feel full very easily, you may not be consuming enough calories by eating three vegan meals a day. In that case, you should eat six small meals spread evenly throughout the day. You don’t have to eat until you feel like you’re about to burst, but eating small, regular meals will increase your calorie intake throughout the day.
Even between small meals, you can still get calories by eating small, nutrient-dense snacks designed to fuel your body. A spoonful of peanut butter, a protein bar, a cup of granola, or a handful of cabbage chips won’t fill you up, but they will help you gain weight.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are very similar, but the vegetarian diet is a bit more flexible. Therefore, vegetarians should follow the instructions for vegans who want to gain weight and incorporate suggestions that involve dairy products. Aim to consume 3500 more calories each week than you need to maintain weight. This will make you gain about a pound a week. Eat high-calorie, high-protein foods like beans, nuts, peanut and almond butter, soy products, and so on to replace the missing meat in your diet. Eat multiple small meals to ensure you’re consuming enough calories to gain weight and eat snacks often.
If your diet allows you to eat dairy and eggs, you should take advantage of the calories and protein in those foods. Eggs are high in protein, but if you eat too much egg yolk, your cholesterol can reach dangerous levels. Egg yolks are healthy in moderation, but you shouldn’t eat more than one daily. Protein, on the other hand, is healthy and rich in protein in any quantity. Simply remove the yolk or buy runny egg whites from the grocery store to create protein, calorie, and nutritious egg dishes. For example, fill an egg white omelet with beans, cheese, chopped tomatoes, onions, and peppers and top with sour cream, salsa, or avocados.
As with the vegan diet, you can add calories to your meals by pairing salads and other dishes with nuts, fruits, and other high-calorie side dishes. However, if you eat dairy, you can use regular sour cream and cheese instead of vegans’ soy substitutes. Cheese, sour cream, butter, and other dairy products are high in saturated fats, so they should only be consumed in moderation. Consuming too many of these products can lead to heart problems later. However, just 30 grams of grated cheese adds 100 calories to a baked potato, omelet, or salad! Two tablespoons of sour cream add 60 calories to one cup of veggie chili. If you spread a portion of butter on your toast in the morning, that’s 36 more calories. Combining your meals with dairy products can achieve a daily surplus of 500 calories without overeating.
You should exercise some caution with cheese. While linked to obesity and heart disease, it is also a key ingredient in the healthy Mediterranean diet. If you want to gain weight sensibly with the help of cheese, you must choose the right types of cheese. Avoid unhealthy cheeses like cheddar and Swiss cheese, and instead eat healthier alternatives like goat cheese, feta, and mozzarella. These are lower in calories and can be eaten as a light snack for a calorie boost. Cottage cheese is a popular snack that packs protein without compromising your health. Yogurts are also a popular snack, but avoid yogurts that contain a lot of sugar due to flavor enhancers. Instead, eat plain or Greek yogurt and add flavor with fresh fruit.
Many vegetarians who do not eat meat products continue to eat fish. This is called “pescetarianism” and can be a good option for people trying to gain weight. Like chicken, fish is lean meat that adds calories and protein to your meals. The human body cannot produce the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish itself. But these acids help build muscle mass, which increases weight without gaining fat. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week, highlighting the following types of fish: Mackerel, Lake trout Herring Sardines Albacore (albacore), tuna Salmon.