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I'm vegan and in general I don't have any problem maintaining my weight, but for the last few months I've wanted to increase my weight and it's been really hard.

Could others who have had the same problem give me some tips or advice on how to gain weight on a vegan diet?

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My #1 tip: drink calories

If I want to gain weight, I make a smoothie with two bananas, a generous scoop of nut butter, vegan milk, and a tablespoon of carob. I drink this alongside my normal breakfast. I typically gain about 4kg per month doing this.

Turning food into drink by way of smoothies should enable you to eat more calorie-dense food easily.

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Oatmeal, bananas, potatoes and soya beans have a high calorie content. Nuts and seeds often have a high fat content, which translates to a high calorific value. If you eat more calories than you use, you gain weight, so these are all good options.

Then there's exercise, muscles are denser than fat, so if you build up your muscles you'll weigh more.

  • Nuts and Legumes are good protein sources too. – Tom Kelly Feb 1 '17 at 12:15
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If you want to gain lean weight - instead of a mix between lean weight and fat -, then you need a high protein diet. Researchers don't seem to agree on exact numbers, but, for adults undergoing regular weight training, most aim at higher than 1g/lb of bodyweight (2.2g/kg for those under the metric system).

So, not only you need to ingest more calories than your TDEE (estimate yours here) to keep on gaining weight, but you also need to keep a high protein ratio, as well.

The best sources for piling up protein in a vegan diet are soy protein (usually 20-24g of protein per 30 grams), wheat gluten (70-75g per 100 grams) and spirulina algae (arguably 10-20g per 30 grams). Other sources might include peanut butter, other nuts and beans, but bear in mind most of those sources have low protein ratios.

Of course, changes in your diet should be discussed with your dietitian. Exercise is also an important factor, since high protein diets have been proven not to provide additional benefits for sedentary adults.

  • I intentionally left out protein sources that aren't real food, but I've personally tried (and approved) both rice and pea proteins, they are both popular and fairly cheap in North America. – Ramon Melo Feb 1 '17 at 15:29
  • +1 -- would appreciate a citation on the last claim. – djechlin Feb 8 '17 at 18:35
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I would like to answer this question both for vegetarians and vegans from the Ayurvedic viewpoint (the only difference being vegans do not take dairy).

Ayurveda is a system of well-being and medicine that originates in India, and it recommends a vegetarian diet. According to Ayurveda, one can gain weight by eating vegetarian food that is grounding, warm, oily, smooth, stabilizing, and substantive. Other factors like a regular daily schedule and a light exercise routine are also involved.

It is recommened to eat three heavy meals at the same time everyday.

You can read more at this article:

...You will want to orient your diet around healthy, whole foods that are deeply nutritious. Choose foods that are warm, moist, oily, grounding, nourishing, smooth, and stabilizing, over foods that are cold, dry, light, or rough. Favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes over the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Build your meals around staple foods that naturally taste sweet, such as fruits, grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, and vata-pacifying meats. Nourishing and rejuvenating dishes such as Sweet Potato Halva and Urad Dal (Split Black Gram) are fantastic, as are substantive soups and stews. You can also include grounding, nutritive snacks in between meals. For instance, fill a jar with dates, pour warm Ghee (clarified butter) over them and let the ghee solidify. Eat one or two of these ghee dates in the early morning or any time between meals for a rejuvenative boost of energy. Other supportive snacks include soaked and peeled almonds, soaked cashews, and date shakes. Experiment with what works for you and keep snacks handy so that you can reach for quality nourishment rather than a quick fix of empty energy (i.e., sugar or junk food).

This page gives a list of fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes etc to be preferred and avoided for weight gain.

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