The Vegan Diet: Advice For A Hardgainer

The popularity of the vegan diet has stood the test of time and is arguably still one of the most popular approaches to food today. With all the amazing and colorful fare to choose from, it’s kind of funny how many people are still scared to go this route because they think there is nothing to eat.

The reality is quite contrary to this. If you cut out meat, fish, eggs and dairy, you are still left with an abundance of other options that can easily sustain you and keep you as fit as a fiddle.

Now fast forward to hardgainers. As the name implies, a hardgainer is a person who has a hard time putting on weight. Animal proteins are often looked upon as the holy grail to add slabs of beef to your frame in situations like this, but that’s not an option when you’re vegan.

The good news is, you can definitely gain size without meat if you do the right things and make smart choices on a daily basis. This will require consistent attention to detail and at least a moderate amount of discipline.

In case this sounds like an arduous task, here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction.  

Choose your foods wisely.

There are foods out there in the vegan world that would be considered superior when it comes to bulking up. Sure, leafy greens and steamed broccoli are power-packed from a nutrient perspective, but they don’t offer much in the calorie department.

You want more substance with your meals. Make sure to include a good amount of beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, avocados, potatoes and pasta to achieve this. Then you can have the greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts and asparagus on the side to boost the nutrient profile.

Also, make sure to focus on the quality of foods that you consume. Protein, for example, is the building block of muscle; regardless if it comes from an animal source or not.

When you are vegan and trying to bulk up, it is in your best interest to include some foods like quinoa, goji berries, tempeh, edamame, tofu and chia seeds because they are plant-based, complete proteins.

They are “complete” because they contain all of the essential amino acids, which are what proteins are made up of in the first place.

Progressively eat more calories.

Gaining weight is much like losing weight. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be patient and disciplined. It makes sense that going from 2,000 calories a day to 5,000 calories is unrealistic.

If you try to eat that many more calories, you will end feeling bloated, sluggish and possibly sick to your stomach. A better idea is to gradually increase the calories over time, so your body can adapt.

And there’s no need to reinvent the wheel either. Stick to three meals and day and track how many calories you are consuming in them for three or four days. Once you know the average intake per meal, add 100 and eat that many more calories.

For example, if you determine you are averaging 700 calories per meal, make your new total 800 calories. After two weeks, check the scale and see if you’ve gained any weight. If so, keep your calories the same.

Check again every two weeks and when you stop gaining weight, add another 100 calories. Continue to follow this pattern until you reach your goal weight.

Shake up your diet.

If you are not much of a food prepper, you can get a lot of work done through the medium of shakes, or smoothies if you want to get technical. Plus, you can easily add ingredients to make them higher in calories.

The easiest way to up the content is by making them with a milk alternative and adding peanut butter, coconut oil, bananas, hemp seeds, berries, chia seeds or dried fruit.

You also have the option of using a quality vegan mass gainer, like VEGANMASS™ as a meal in itself. Use that for a base and then put your additional ingredients into the mix to boost the calorie content even more.

Utilize add-ons with your meals.

Once you finish a meal, you can easily slap another 100 calories onto it by having a tablespoon of a nut butter of your choosing. That is the standard calorie content across the board for most nut butters.

You can also find various companies that have squeezable pouches with nut butters and they are often flavored with chocolate, maple, vanilla and honey. These are usually more in the 200-calorie range and you can have them as tasty desserts.

Another option is to sip on a vegan-friendly beverage with your meal like a ready-made shake, coconut water or fruit juice. Liquid calories are still calories and they can come in handy when you’re a hardgainer.

Lastly, add vegan cheese, pine nuts, beans, liquid coconut amino acids and crushed up tortilla chips to salads, side dishes and main courses to up the calorie content.

Snack your way to a bigger body.

When it comes to packing on weight, you really don’t have to change the basics that much. You can get everything you need with three meals a day. But, it couldn’t hurt to slip some snacks in between your meals to increase your overall calorie intake too.

Nosh on some raw veggies with hummus, celery with nut butter and raisins, coconut yogurt with berries or flax crackers with salsa.

Don’t forget to work out correctly.

Obviously if you are a hardgainer, your goal is to add some muscle to your frame. Well that actually starts in the gym. Food alone is good at upping your calories, but you still want to include some iron.

By lifting weights, you not only promote muscle mass gain, but working out can also boost your appetite. That, in turn, will help you eat more food.

Focus on doing compound exercises that recruit multiple joints and muscles working at the same time. These spark the most amount of mass gain.  

Bench presses, deadlifts, squats, lunges, military presses and pull-ups are good examples of compound exercises to include.

Closing Commentary

If you have been vegan for many years and have struggled to pack on size or if you are brand new to this concept, just know that you can fill out your shirts and pants by taking the right steps.

Much like anything else, you need to put a good amount of work in and make some sacrifices. But with a little bit of time and consistency, you’ll get into a rhythm and achieve the body size you’ve always wanted.