Being on a vegan diet can be so good for your health, however, you need to make sure that you get enough calories, so you do not end up feeling deprived of energy. While there are plenty of foods that are high in calories for vegans to eat, most of us do not think of this straight away.
So, today, I am going to talk you through the many options you have to get plenty of calories in your diet so that even on the most strict vegan diet, you are getting all you need.
Let’s take a look at the foods which are jam-packed full of calories, so you know what will help you put on a few extra pounds as a vegan.
Going On A Weight Gain Diet As A Vegan?
Most of the time people will be talking about losing weight, however, it is just as important for some people to gain weight. In fact, being underweight is just as dangerous and full of health risks as being overweight.
Most high-calorie recipes that people will put up will often include dairy, even if they do not include meat, which is no good for a vegan, so you need to get a bit more inventive with where you get your calories from.
There need to be high-calorie options for every diet to ensure that no one’s dietary requirements end up meaning they are drawing the short straw. So, here we discuss what high-calorie foods are available for vegans.
Why Might Vegans Need To Gain Weight?
It is important to consider the risks of unintended weight loss in adults, and why it is such a risky problem. Excessive weight gain is so often the focus of diet discussions, but excessive weight loss is a big problem.
Vegans do not eat meat or dairy, or any foods which contain animal by-products, so it can be very restrictive, and due to this, the nutrients and calories needed by the human body can be a bit more tricky to get.
For this reason, it is not unheard of for some vegans to be malnourished, and underweight due to not properly inspecting their diet and looking at what is actually in the foods that they consume.
Preventing unintentional weight loss and promoting being at a healthy weight is pivotal in the maintenance of independence and healthiness.
For vegans, gaining weight means taking in more calories, and foods that are high in fat content will usually have the greatest amount of calories per food amount.
What is great about most of these high-calorie vegan foods I will talk you through in a moment is that they are full of heart-healthy fats, so they are actually much healthier all around.
The Best Vegan Foods That Are High In Calories
Let’s take a moment to look at the best vegan foods which are high in calories. Whenever you look to buy food for nutrition, including calories, always look at the label of the package for this information.
Note that the individual calorie counts of these foods can vary from product to product, and they will not always contain the same amount of calories in every packet that you buy, especially when bought from different stores, sellers, and brands.
Let’s start off with Walnuts. Walnuts are brilliant and high-calorie nuts. They are pretty hefty when it comes to calorie intake, but they also have the benefit of being a good source for Omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the issue with any nut is that people can be allergic to nuts. You can have a specific walnut allergy, and if this is the case you can switch to a different nut, as most nuts are high in calories. But, we will talk more about nuts in general later on.
Peanut butter is a favorite in a vast majority of households, and it can be a great addition to ice cream, smoothies, oatmeal, shakes, fruit, toast, or on a spoon. It will give you around 188 calories for a simple 2-tablespoon serving, and there are 16 tablespoons per cup, so a full cup of peanut butter will give you loads of calories.
Dried plums, aka prunes, will give you a good 209 calories per half a cup, and not only do they give you plenty of calories, but they are chock-a-block full of fiber too, so do your bowels a favor.
If you are not a fan of prunes, you could swap them out for other dried fruits, as most will be high in fiber and calories.
The main thing you want to look for with dried fruits is that the water is gone, so you actually get more fruit per volume. It could take you ages to eat several pieces of fruit, but dried fruit can go down easily. The only downside is that these are usually slathered in sugar!
Who doesn’t like avocados, am I right? These tasty (technically) fruits are a brilliant source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and they are a great way to get your calories in. Avocados are actually really versatile foods as well, as they fit in really well to a vast array of dishes.
You could add them to a salad, a cooked meal, or pop one in a smoothie!
You can just cut them in half and eat them with a spoon too if you fancy a snack. Topping them with some herbs and spices as well can add a bit extra flavor to a typical plain avocado. These great fruits will provide you with a brilliant 240 calories per cup.
Sometimes a beverage is going to hit the spot where food won’t. HIgh-calorie beverages are a much better option if you want to add in some extra calories to your diet. With so many plant-based milks you cannot really go wrong.
Different plant-based milks will vary in their calories, but soy and oat milk have some of the highest counts of calories of the plant-based milk options, and if I am honest… oat milk and soy milk are delicious!
Soy milk can give you a good 131 calories per cup serving. In contrast, unsweetened almond milk will only give you a measly 37 calories per cup. So, this is a cue to keep an eye on nutrition facts before you buy plant-based milks!
Coconut cream is basically just a variety of canned coconut which will give you a good 240 calories per half a cup.
Coconut is pretty high in calories anyway, coconut cream is much easier to mix into other foods and apply to dishes. You also do not need to spend ages trying to bust a coconut open either.
Coconut cream goes well in soups, smoothies, oatmeal, entrees, and desserts.
Any type of coconut would be mixed into a dish to pack some extra calories into an already calorie-thick vegan dish.
Most of us do not tend to think of olive oil as really having any calories in it, it’s just a cooking oil, right? Wrong! Plant-based oils are a brilliant way to incorporate calories into your diet.
Olive oil is a classic and a favorite, it is also high in heart-healthy fats too, while giving you a fantastic 238 calories per 2 tablespoons.
You can use olive oil when you are cooking up a tasty vegetable dish or any other food type in a frying pan. Add it to a sauce, salad, or noodle dish. Add it to hummus or perhaps make a balsamic vinegar dressing to add something different but high in calories to your next meal.
You could also use other vegetable oils if you do not like them or are getting bored with olive oil. Try corn oil, canola oil, avocado oil, or peanut oil for something different.
Vegetable Oil Spread
Vegetable oil spreads will be made from different plant-based oils, these often come from safflower, soy, corn, peanut, and so on. These are made to provide a tasty vegan alternative to butter or margarine.
A popular version of these spreads would be Smart Balance spread which is very commonly used by vegans, and if you used only 2 tablespoons of this vegetable oil spread per day, you would be adding 164 calories to your diet.
Which is pretty good for something as simple as a simple vegan margarine substitute.
Remember, however, when you are buying a vegetable oil spread for a high-calorie count, always avoid a product that is labeled as ‘light’, you are looking for more calories, not fewer!
Rice is a brilliant option for those who want to increase their calorie intake. It can be served up in so many ways, it could be a part of the main meal, an entree, or on the side.
There are even some recipes that incorporate rice as a dessert! Which is pretty cool!
White rice will give you a good 206 calories for every cup. White rice will also be lower in fiber than brown rice, but this is beneficial if you are trying to increase your calories as you will not start to feel full quite as quickly.
Feeling full too soon can be a big problem among those who are trying to gain weight so avoiding things like brown rice is important.
Sweets/ candies are always high in calories and also give an extra bit of flavor to most dishes.
Out of these, agave will give you a good 240 calories per quarter cup you use. This is delicious and it is versatile because if you want to add some extra calories to your fluid intake, you could just mix it into a cup of hot tea. (Yum!)
A medium-sized baked potato will give you around 163 calories.
Having a baked potato is very tasty and very easy, especially if you have had a rough day and cannot think of what to eat. You can serve these up in a soup, side dish, entree, or as a main.
Have your potatoes in any way that you want. While baked potatoes are great you could have them mashed, whole, sliced, shredded, diced, or chopped and you can dress them in so many ways.
Personally, I would recommend boiling them and then cooking them in some vegetable oil spread, with some freshly chopped garlic and a bit of vegan cheese on top, baked in the oven. These can be delicious!
Adding vegetable oil spreads to these potatoes (as suggested) will increase your calorie intake for you as well!
Ground Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, so are good for your heart. They are also great for calories as they will give you a good 148 calories per quarter cup.
These taste great added to baked goods, soups, cereals, and smoothies alike. Flax is also a great fiber source to help your bowels stay healthy too, and contribute to heart health and controlling your blood sugar!
Quinoa will give you around 222 calories per single cup. This does have a bit more fat than a majority of grains which does help it level up when it comes to calories.
It is also pretty high in protein for grain as well. A cup will contain 4.4 grams of protein overall.
Quinoa is a delicious grain that you could incorporate into side dishes, salads, and soups, but it also works well as part of an entree dish too!
Dates work as a super sweet and tasty addition to many dishes and types of dishes. They are high in calories but are also good for you as they are high in iron, fiber, and potassium alike.
They will give you 207 calories per 1.2 cup per each serving, which adds up to around 10 dates
Dates can be eaten diced, as a snack, but into dishes like desserts, oatmeal, smoothies, entrees, and more!
This is a personal favorite of mine. Seeds and nuts are always high in heart-healthy fats, and pumpkin seeds are one of these. Simultaneously they are also a great source of magnesium.
Pumpkin seeds also provide a great source of around 142 calories per half cup. These are great to put in a salad, add to hot cereals, fresh bread, entrees, or as a snack… which is my preference.
Nuts/ Nut Butter
I have spoken about nuts and a type of nut butter already, but I wanted to reiterate that this does stand for all types of nuts and nut butter. However, you should always check over the calories and nutritional value on the packet.
Walnuts have one of the highest calorie counts, however cashews, pecans, and almonds all have a high-calorie count.
Tahini is made from ground-up sesame seeds and is a popular food type in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It is high in protein fiber, fats, and calories.
A single tablespoon will give you 89 calories, which doesn’t seem like much, but I have never seen a dish requiring less than 2-3 tablespoons of tahini.
The most common use of tahini is in hummus.
Legumes include lentils, chickpeas (thinking about hummus), and beans. They all contain a decent amount of fiber, protein, and calories. Black beans are a great legume with 227 calories per cup (cooked).
This food group is also high in protein, vitamins, and minerals too, and brings a good amount of fiber to the table too!
We spoke of normal potatoes, let’s now think about sweet potatoes. A single cup gives you 180 calories with vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, and manganese. It is delicious (usually better than normal potatoes in my opinion) and can be served up in so many ways!
Calorie Counting: A Conclusion
Counting calories is different when you want to gain weight, but it is beneficial. Ideally, a woman should be getting a good 1800 calories per day, and a man 2,000, or more if they are highly active.
Consider how all these foods can fit into your diet to ensure you are meeting your calorie goals and nutritional goals.
Can You Gain Weight On A Vegan Diet?
You can gain weight on a vegan diet, it is totally possible, but you need to ensure that you are eating the right foods for this to happen, high calorie foods such as nuts, seeds, potatoes, rice, and so on will help you put on some pounds.
How To Stop Losing Weight On A Vegan Diet
If you are losing weight, consider what and how much you are eating. Introduce more high-calorie foods such as seeds, nuts, potatoes, and so on.