Saturday, 25 August 2012 18:10

How To Gain Weight on the Vegan Diet

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It might seem strange to do an article on gaining weight when most people are concerned with losing it, but I've received several questions from women and men who are struggling to keep weight on the plant-based diet. I don't have any experience with this personally (aside from writing this article for veg men), so I turned to my friend Junghwa Chung Detlefsen (whose name you may recognize from some videos) for advice because she has dealt with and overcome this challenge. She wrote up a great piece entitled, "Gaining My Health Back to Life The Vegan Way":

"Hi everyone! My name is Junghwa and I've always been a huge fan of Eco-Vegan Gal. This past summer, I was really lucky to intern for Whitney. I am very honored and lucky to do a guest post and answer one of the questions that Whitney's reader asked her. The question was,

I was wondering if you may have any advice on gaining weight. I am not a vegan but I rarely eat eggs or milk products. I have high metabolism and it is hard for me. I eat constantly and still won't gain. People always assume I am anorexic and I hate it. So any advice would be greatly appreciated."

I can relate to these questions because I was concerned about them myself even about a year ago. Long story short, I was really sick with stomach issues starting from senior year of my high school to the end of my college years. I went to many different doctors and treatments to gain the weight to be in the healthy range. I have always been on the thin side throughout my youth but it became really serious when suddenly I lost so much weight in short period of time. My body was rejecting all the very important nutrients and I became very sick. Being underweight is a serious problem because it could lead to many illnesses, heart failure, depression, cancer and even death. I am very thankful to have gained my health back. I still suffer from sensitivities to many foods but I am full of energy and life.

Here is some advice I have for anyone out there who needs to gain weight the healthy way:

1. Eat foods that are higher in calories. (not junk food and fast food)
In order to gain weight, you need to eat more than you burn. This was hard for me because I get full very quick. So, I chose foods that are dense. These include nuts, nut butters, avocados, oils, granola, high-calorie condiments (vegan mayo, oil based dressings) and dense food bars. Add these to all your meals. Add one tbsp more of oil than you are used to. If you ate only one fourth of an avocado, trying eating half in the morning and the rest in the evening. Important thing is that it's not just about the calories but nutrients as well. So try not to choose empty calories.

2. Eat and snack often:
I snacked every two hours when I was trying to gain health. Even if I wasn't hungry, I ate. Rather than thinking 'OMG, I have to eat again?', I focused on enjoying the flavors and textures.

3. Have balanced meals:
I didn't focus too much on the serving amount but I always had a combination of proteins, vegetables, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in my meals.

4. Eat more dried fruits than fresh:
Dried fruits are higher in calories and less in water content, meaning you don't get full as fast. For example, choose raisins over grapes and dried mango slices over fresh mangos. Fresh fruits have high water content, which can lead to fullness quicker.

5. Drink your food:
Fresh fruit juices are high in calories and also in vitamins. Meal replacement drinks and smoothies work too. You can add in fruits, protein powders and even organic silken tofu!

6. Have a snack before bedtime:
My favorites were banana almond butter sandwich and protein shake (when I didn't have much time to prepare).

7. Cut back on cardio / working out:
I used to be addicted to working out. This isn't healthy because too much of anything is bad. So I cut back drastically on running and other forms of working out. This helped me to not burn as much calories and focus on gaining my health. After I gained some weight, I started weight training to gain muscle mass (but not from the start).

junghwa graduation

I hope these tips could help you to gain your health back. I have never been so happy with where I am right now. Not only did I gain health, but also self-confidence and positive outlook on life.

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to send me emails at junghwadetlefsen (at) gmail (dot) com. I blog over at AnAppleADay, so you can visit me there as well.

Thanks for reading, EcoVegaGal readers!

~ Junghwa

 

We hope this helps those who need it and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below!

Header photo by Janine on Flickr

Read 41823 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2012 03:49