People transition to raw vegan diets for all sorts of medical conditions. It might be asthma or cancer, but it can also be as simple as being underweight. Even though one is parting ways with fattening dairy products and cholesterol-raising meats, it is still very doable to gain weight on a raw vegan diet.
For an ideal weight gain, an additional ½ to pound per week is desirable. A 250-500 calorie surplus is needed per day. The raw food diet consists of a lot of fibrous fruits and vegetables, so common sense tells you that it is primarily a weight-loss diet. It is, however, not particularly difficult to find raw foods that are filling and can exceed one’s regular calorie intake for those who desire weight gain. Livestrong.com suggests at least one of the following every day for healthy weight gain: one cup of mixed nuts (886 calories), five medjool dates (330 calories), or ½ a cup of hummus (200 calories).
I would recommend increasing your calorie intake not by adding more nuts, due to their high fat content, but by adding the other high calorie raw foods such as fruit. One banana is already 105 calories. Post-exercise snacks are also ideal for replacing the calories burned: smoothies made with bananas and other fruit gives quality carbohydrates and calories. One cup of nuts or seeds would be quite a bit of fat so I recommend only the amount of nuts or seeds you can hold in one hand in a day.
Skinnylimits.com also has a helpful list of calorie-dense raw whole foods. The website suggests the following as proper carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake for healthy weight gain: sunflower seeds (818 calories per cup), chia seeds (138 calories per ounce), hemp seeds (162 calories per ounce), pumpkin seeds (285 calories per cup), pecans (196 calories per ounce), pine nuts (909 calories per cup), Brazil nuts (184 calories per ounce), walnuts (185 calories per ounce), coconut (1405 calories per average-sized specimen), avocado (234 calories per cup), banana (105 calories per average-sized specimen), mango (201 calories per average-sized specimen), and sweet potato (114 calories per cup). When portioned properly and combined with other raw vegan meals, these foods are helpful for desired results. Dried fruits are also a minor suggestion, though fresh is always best when going raw.
For those of us on the low-fat raw vegan diet, eating nuts but limiting one’s consumption of them, and eating more fruits for calories and energy would be best.
Healthy servings of carbohydrates for those who follow a high raw vegan lifestyle but also include some whole cooked plant foods can be found in beans and sweet potatoes, which can easily pile on some calorie intake numbers.
If we’re still on the subject of healthy weight gain, it is highly recommended that one stays as far away from trendy vegan junk food that is invading the shelves of supermarkets. The label “vegan” on packaging is tempting, as is the thought of binge-eating. It is always best to avoid soy and coconut ice cream, vegan frozen pizzas, vegan pastries, etc. Today there is even lots of raw packaged junk food containing unhealthy ingredients. One such ingredient is agave syrup which is used as a sweetener but actually no better than high fructose corn syrup. We don’t need to make junky exceptions to your raw food diet to gain the needed weight.
Lewis, Andrea. “How to Gain Weight on a Raw Vegan Diet.” Skinnylimits.com. Web published October 08, 2014.
Cespedes, Andrea. “Gaining Weight on a Vegan Diet.” Livestrong.com. Web published July 18, 2017.
Written by Erik Abdullah and Karen Ranzi, M.A.