There have been plenty of talks on the benefits that going plant-based can have. It would be a stretch to call it a plant-based “fever” amongst the lot, but we are getting there. Why wouldn’t it? We are part of a generation where moving around is not exactly a requirement. Everything that you could possibly need can be delivered to your doorstep, be it food or a pen-holder. Plus, it is not like the work-life balance has gotten any better- we are so pressed for time that we often end up ordering out and not taking care of ourselves i.e. exercise.
This blatant disregard for health and wellness from our end will have its repercussions down the line. Some of the lucky few are coming to realize the hole that they are digging themselves into and have started to look for a way out. One of the effective and rewarding ways is to stick to plant-based food!
The line between weight loss and plant-based diet has been drawn by many researches. But what do you do when you need to gain weight and not lose it?
In Should Be Greater Than Out
For those who aren’t aware, weight gain occurs when you take in more calories than you can burn. Only once you eat a surplus of calories, can your body have a surplus of it- More calories in than out.
This is the equation that applies to anything that you eat, and plant-based foods don’t have special reservations in this regard. But the fact that you searched for this means that you have found it to be difficult…
Getting Primed Mentally
There is no shortage of weight loss tips and strategies from women’s magazines and videos online. One says this, and the other says that. What you may have been hand-fed would sound something like this:
- Eat less and workout more
- Don’t unnecessarily snack in between
- Eat slowly for the food to settle down in your gut
- Use smaller plates
- Don’t drink into your calories
Did I hit the nail on the head with these? This mindset might work for certain kinds of diets but it is not the Holy Grail that one needs to stick to. If you are going plant-based, then your “rules” should look more like this:
- Eat more
- Snack more
- Have more smoothies
- Use the bowls!
What am I reading?!
Eat Less With More
Eating a diet that is focussed on weight gain means that, you are taking in more calories than you presently are. Of all of the things that take up your gut real estate, high fiber foods are the biggest contributors and make you end up feeling full. But at the same time, fibers are low on calories. This means that you end up feeling bloated and full, even though you could have had more calories. If you are sticking to plant-based meal prep, then you might have realized that there is plenty of fiber to go around!
What is the way around this?
It is the calorie that is present in a unit amount of food. Some have more calories for the same weight, while others have less. The trick to gaining a healthy weight is to have more of the former. Let us take an example of:
Rice and legumes: 120-130 calories per 100 grams
Soy products: 100-200 calories per 100 grams
Vegetables: 25 calories per 100 grams
Fruits and starchy vegetable: 60-80 calories per 100 grams
Nuts: more than 500 calories per 100 grams!
What this means is that you aren’t really taking in too much of calories if you are chomping down on a large bowl of salad and veggies. There is no doubt that fruits and vegetables are an essential for any diet, be it plant based or not, but if you only stick to that then you are bound to not tip the scale. There is a need for you to balance the bulk of the foods that contain more calories in the same volume.
It may be counterintuitive to consume calorie-dense foods, especially when you are easing into the weight-gain mindset, but it is only a matter of time before you are able to incorporate it into your diet.
Strategies For Healthy Weight Gain
When you are dwelling into a plant-based weight gain diet, you need to make subtle changes. You can try to add in peanut butter spread on fruits and veggies- peanuts are calorie rich and can help you boost your caloric intake. Add in flax seeds to your meals. Add in more nuts and avocado to your salads. Mix in cooked grains into the soups and curries.
Don’t be worried if your food intake isn’t much at all, in the beginning. Your body might take a while to get oriented towards lower fiber and more calories. It is ok to go slow and steady. Gradually increase your intake and you will start to notice healthy weight appear!