Gaining weight can be incredibly difficult and often involves modifications to both your diet and lifestyle.
Eliminating animal products from your diet makes it even more challenging to put on weight and can require you to make strategic food choices.
That said, there are plenty of nutritious vegan foods that can add the extra calories to your diet needed for weight gain.
Here are 11 high-calorie vegan foods that can help you gain weight.
Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats and calories, making them an excellent choice if you’re looking to gain weight.
For example, walnuts pack 185 calories and over 4 grams of protein in a single 1-ounce (28-gram) serving (1).
A daily handful or two of nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans can add enough calories to your diet to support healthy weight gain.
Nut butters, which are high in calories, are a quick and convenient option as well — though you should opt for natural varieties free from added sugar or oils. Add nut butter to snacks, sides or smoothies for a boost of protein and calories.
Summary Nuts and nut butters are especially high in calories and protein. They can be enjoyed in a number of ways.
Avocados are renowned for their creamy texture and delicious, mild flavor.
They also boast an impressive nutrient profile and help promote healthy weight gain by supplying plenty of heart-healthy fats and fiber.
Just one avocado boasts about 322 calories, 13.5 grams of fiber and almost 30 grams of total fat (2).
Avocados are also rich in a range of micronutrients, including vitamin C, folate, pantothenic acid and potassium (2).
Try adding half an avocado to your morning smoothie, spreading one on a slice of sprouted bread or cubing it to sprinkle on salads or omelets.
Summary Avocados are rich in calories, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’re also an easy way to boost your intake of healthy fats.
Quinoa is a healthy pseudo-grain loaded with protein, fiber and many other nutrients your body needs.
It’s also high in calories, as 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa holds about 222 calories, 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber (3).
Quinoa is one of the few complete plant-based sources of protein, meaning that it provides all nine essential amino acids. Your body is unable to produce these on its own and must obtain them from food (4).
Quinoa also supplies a good amount of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and folate (3).
It functions as a satisfying side dish and can be added to soups, stews and salads for an easy way to squeeze in more calories.
Summary Quinoa is a complete protein, providing all the amino acids your body needs. It also contains a good amount of calories, fiber and micronutrients.
Made from toasted and ground sesame seeds, tahini is a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines that is high in protein, fiber, healthy fats and calories.
Just 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of tahini boasts approximately 89 calories, 2.5 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of fat (5).
Incorporating a few tablespoons per day into your diet can effectively up your calorie intake and promote healthy weight gain.
Tahini has a paste-like consistency that’s similar to peanut butter.
It makes a great addition to wraps, sandwiches and salads. It can also be made into a flavorful dip, stirred into soups or blended into a creamy dressing and served over steamed veggies.
Summary Tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds, is high in protein, healthy fats, fiber and calories. It has a creamy consistency and works well as a spread, dip or dressing.
Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil is well known for its health-promoting properties.
Monounsaturated fats have been shown to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, reduce blood triglycerides and help improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes (6).
Olive oil is also high in antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that prevent oxidative damage to your cells and reduce your risk of chronic disease (7, 8).
Plus, with 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat in a single tablespoon (14 grams), olive oil can also be a healthy way to add extra calories to a meal.
Drizzle it over cooked veggies, mix it into a salad dressing or add it to marinades to bring a burst of flavor and calories to your meals.
Summary Olive oil is high in calories, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It can be added to cooked veggie dishes, salad dressings and marinades.
Dried fruit is a great way to gain extra calories, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Exact nutritional content can vary based on the type of fruit, ranging from prunes — which have 209 calories in a half cup (87 grams) — to raisins — which have 247 in a half cup (83 grams) (9, 10).
Studies note that dried fruit is rich in fiber and antioxidants and supplies micronutrients that are 3–5 times more concentrated than in fresh fruit (11, 12).
Because dried fruit is also high in natural sugars, it’s best to combine it with a nutritious protein source to minimize the potential effects on your blood sugar.
Mix your choice of dried fruit with coconut yogurt or oatmeal for a high-calorie breakfast, or try it with nuts and seeds as a tasty trail mix. You can also add it to protein shakes.
Summary Dried fruit is high in calories, fiber and micronutrients. Consider combining it with a quality protein to cut the impact of its high sugar content.
Legumes, such as lentils, beans and chickpeas, all pack a good amount of protein, fiber and calories.
Black beans, for example, pack 227 calories and 15 grams each of protein and fiber in 1 cooked cup (172 grams) (13).
Legumes are also generally high in important vitamins and minerals, including folate, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium (14).
Try adding beans to vegan meatballs or burgers, as well as salads, soups, casseroles, dips and spreads.
Summary Legumes — which range from lentils to black beans — are high in calories, protein and fiber, as well as many important vitamins and minerals.
Sweet potatoes are a popular starchy vegetable favored for their vibrant color, delicious flavor and stellar nutrient profile.
They’re high in calories and fiber, plus a number of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
One cup (200 grams) of cooked sweet potato contains 180 calories and 6.5 grams of fiber (15).
A single serving can also knock out your entire daily needs for vitamin A — and give you ample vitamin C, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6 (15).
Try this orange root vegetable roasted, baked, mashed or grilled.
Summary Sweet potatoes are high in calories, fiber, vitamins and minerals and can be prepared in many different ways.
Vegan smoothies are a quick and convenient way to get a concentrated dose of calories in a single serving.
If you use a nutritious source of protein like vegan protein powder or soy yogurt, you can maximize the potential health benefits.
Nut butter, dried or fresh fruits, avocados, almond milk, coconut oil and seeds are all excellent add-ins for a nutritious, calorie-dense smoothie.
Drink your smoothie between or after meals instead of as a meal replacement to maximize your calorie consumption and support weight gain.
Summary Vegan smoothies are an easy way to increase your calorie and nutrient intake. For best results, blend a few high-calorie ingredients with a good source of protein.
Rice is a cost-effective, versatile and calorie-dense carbohydrate that can promote gradual weight gain.
It also provides a bit of extra protein and fiber, in addition to several important vitamins and minerals.
One cup (195 grams) of cooked brown rice gives 216 calories alongside 5 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber (16).
It’s also a good source of manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and niacin (16).
You can combine rice with a serving of protein for an easy meal on the go.
Rice can also be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated for use for several days. While opinions differ on how long you can safely store rice, recommendations range from a few days to a week.
Summary Rice, which is high in calories, also offers protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It can be combined with a good source of protein and enjoyed as part of a nutritious snack or meal.
Coconut oil has garnered significant attention in the health world thanks to its beneficial effects on everything from cholesterol levels to brain function (17, 18).
As it’s rich in calories, it can also help you gain weight.
In fact, a 1-tablespoon (15-ml) serving of coconut oil packs 116 calories and 13.5 grams of fat (19).
Coconut oil is easy to use and can be swapped for most other fats and oils. It can also be mixed into smoothies or added to sauces and dressings.
Summary High in fat and calories, coconut oil is associated with numerous health benefits. It’s also versatile and can replace most other oils or fats.
Plenty of high-calorie, nutrient-dense vegan foods can make gaining weight easy and fast.
Incorporating these foods into your meals and snacks can boost your calorie consumption and promote weight gain.
Be sure to combine these foods with other nutritious ingredients — including fruits, veggies, proteins and whole grains — for a healthy, well-balanced diet.