I’ve been often asked how someone could gain weight with raw vegan foods, as initially, when you adopt a raw vegan diet, you will most likely lose weight as your body detoxifies wastes it has accumulated over time. I have never given this question a lot of attention until 3 weeks ago. My cousin Loulou asked me how she could gain weight in a healthy natural way and a promise has been made, but before answering this question, I would like to highlight three things:
1. If you are underweight, inherited genes can be one of the contributing factors. Other factors could include health problems, side effects of treatment for certain diseases, lack of nourishment, stress, lack of sleep, or over exposure to the toxins found in everyday pollutants. you might have mood disorders, low immunity system and low energy levels. This can make you a lot more prone to infections and may cause slow recovery from illness. If you are a female, you might suffer a hormone imbalance which will give you fertility issues and pregnancy complications. So, if you are really underweight, it is really crucial to do something about it. At the same time, I do want to mention that a natural weight might be 5-10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kg) lighter than what is recommended in the conventional charts. However, these charts are not always accurate as people differ in bone size, bone and tissue density, musculature, etc. Also in a research that has been made among the longest lived people in Europe, it was found that they were typically thin people weighing between 122 and 130 pounds (56-59 kg). This indicate that the less weight you carry the longer you live. We still have to discover an obese centenarian. If you are NOT underweight, but just want to look good, be fit and more toned, then this post will definitevly give you a good guideline how to do that.
2. It’s Not What You Eat, but What You Assimilate and the Power of Detoxing: Gaining weight is not the really problem usually, but proper nutrient intake is. When you have that working properly the digestive system will work as efficient as possible to digest and assmilate the nutrients your body needs. This process will return your body to its natural weight and sometimes this means gaining weight. Detoxing is nature’s best way to have a better assimilation of your nutrients. The inability to gain weight when eating raw plant foods is usually due to an unhealthy intestinal tract, which hinders food absorption and causes paracitation. Mucus on the intestinal wall will eventually be dislodged over time if one eats exclusively raw foods and green salads daily. However, the process may be increased through detoxing by doing colonics combined with a cleansing program. If you have a parasitic infection, you can combine detoxing/colonics with “burning out” the parasites with daily meals containing: garlic, onions, hot peppers, ginger and spicy greens.
3. If you have a significant amount of weight to gain, please consider to do a full health check as often it might be an excessive existence of parasites in your GI (Gastrointestinal) tract and a too thick mucoid plaque on the walls of your intestins which are complicating the absorption process of the necessary nutrients. So before starting the below tips blindly, please consider the following:
- Your Doctor: Have a full check-up at your health practitioner. The best is to find a local MD/health practitioner who is or understands the vegan lifestyle. He will understand your challenge much better without advising you to use toxic processed food.
- Consistent Eating: Healthy weight gain (like losing weight) is something that comes slowly and then it happens quickly. So if you’re just starting, remember that consistency is crucial.
- Mind-Set: Last but not least, having the right mind-set tools to achieve your goals can be the difference between a walk in the park or a walk on fire:
- Be Specific of Your Goal: Before the how, there must be a strong why. Why do you want to gain weight? Write down what it will cost you if you don’t change and write down which pleasures will it give you if you do gain weight. The list can include anything you like, and can be spread over time – for instance, what will life be like in 1, 5, 10, 20 years if you gain weight and become stronger and fitter and start a new healthy lifestyle? If you achieved your weight gain and being fit goals, how would this affect you? And if you did not achieve them, what would your life be like then. The list could look something like this:
If I Achieve My Weight Gaining Goal:
- I will have loads more power to achieve the things I want in life
- I will reinforce my brain that I can achieve anything I want
- Clothes will look better on me
- I will have energy all through the day
- I will have the body of my dreams
- My confidence will be through the roof
- I will have more choices to buy that dress/shirt I have always wanted
If I do Not Follow on My Weight Gaining Goal:
- I will be thin for the rest of my life
- I will have less energy to do the things I want to do
- I will not be able to carry/play with my children too long
- I will have less confidence
- I will still be too embarrassed to wear x, y, z
These are only some examples so you can get the picture. Be as detailed and as emotionally charged as possible. Imagine and throw yourself into the future and compare both situations and you will be surprised on how much of a motivating effect it can have. Be as visual as possible and aim high with your expectations!
Then visualize these pleasures by making a dreamboard.
Make it Conscious: Take before and after photos! The fastest way to correct a habit is to be aware of it in reality and not only after the facts. The University of Wisconsin-Madison chose 43 students to take part of the “conscious experiment”. They needed to take photographs of all their meals and snacks before they are eating. The researches concluded that taking photographs are more effective than keeping a food diary. So, use your phone or camera to take a snapshot of the meal you’re just about to eat.
- Make It a Game: The Hawthorne effect which is also used in the corporate world to get goals achieved smoothly. There is a child in everyone of us and we love do things that are fun, don’t we? Have fun, go crazy, make it a play and you will look forward to absorb this new lifestyle.
- Make It Competitive: Remember that the fear of failure and losing face can be a great motivator. In this post I explain how to use fear to your advantage to achieve your goals! Would you work harder to earn $100 or to avoid losing $100? The potential loss is a greater motivator than potential reward. Knowing this, can set you up for success by including the risk of public failure, so post it on your facebook, twitter, etc. Tell it to your friends and parents and let them know when and how you will do it to make yourself consciously and unconsciously aware of what you promised.
- Make it Small: The magic of baby steps. If you want to run a marathon, don’t start with one hour training a day, but start with 15 minutes a day. Choosing one hour automatically build in the excuse of not having enough time. You likely would have 15 minutes a day and that one change (smallest meaningful change that created momentum) will lead you to buy running shoes, subscribe to a jogging club and eating healthier. These subsequent decisions are referred as “consonant decisions,” decisions we make to be aligned with a prior decision.” Same works for gaining weight.
- Make it Temporary:“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotles. It’s much easier to tell yourself that you gonna do something only for 30 days than for a lifetime. The funny part is that your brain will accept a new habit if it is repeated each day for 21 days (without missing a day). Dr Maxwell Maltz wrote in his bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics. Originally a Plastic Surgeon that it took 21 days for amputees to not feel phantom sensations in the amputated limb. He also discovered it took 21 days to create a new habit. Since then the ’21 Day Habit Theory’ has been used in many self-help trainings. I have used this trick many times to my benefit and so could you to gain more weight by implementing the below tips.
12 Healthy Raw Vegan Ways to Increase Your Calories Intake and Weight
1. What Gets Measured Gets Managed
There is a reason why I put this point as number one. I cannot mention enough how important and fundamental it is that you measure. To manage my measurements, I use a fat skinfold instrument with www.dailyburn.com to better understand my food intake. Don’t forget to keep it simple. Make it sustainable and not only obtainable.
2. Eat More Gorilla Food. According to raw food expert, David Wolfe, the secret to gaining strength and weight by eating a raw plant-food diet is to eat green-leafed vegetables and plant fats together and fewer sweet fruits. Think of the strongest animal per pound. The elephant, the gorilla, and the hippo. These are all animals that possess fantastic muscular power. In his book, L’Homme, Le Singe, Et Le Paradis (Humans, Primates, and Paradise), Albert Mosseri describes: “The gorilla is not interested in eating so-called protein foods. How can they develop all that muscle mass, weight many hundreds of pounds, eating only green vegetables and fruits? This fact is of great importance.” Since gorillas eat nearly 80% green-leafed food and have a similar digestive system to humans, we can conclude that eating plenty of green-leafed vegetables increases strength and muscle mass. All the building blocks necessary to construct and energize your body are present in plants. Out of the 22 amino acids (which are essentials for building muscles) found in the body, 8 must be derived from food. The body is capable of recycling and manufacturing the other 14 amino acids by itself. All 8 essential amino acids are packaged in abundance in raw plant foods, especially green leaves. Raw plant fats are “fatty.” Your body will absorb just the right amount of fat on your body to give you excellent proportions and a good shape. They also add weight indirectly by providing fuel for working the muscles to build muscle mass. However, eating more fats alone will not cause weight gain, greens must be added. Fats activate the body to assimilate the amino acids and minerals from greens.
3. Eat More Calories Than You Burn
It sounds so simple, but it can be difficult to eat a lot of healthy food, especially in the beginning. Stick to it for only 21 days and your body will adapt very soon. So what is the best way to start this:
A. Increase the Size of Your Meal: Eat 10% more of each meal than you already do (so, if you usually have a slice of a raw vegan pizza with some salad at lunch, eat 1,5 slice of pizza)
B. Eat More Calorie Dense Foods: Like superfoods , nuts, nut butters, avocados, specific whole grains like quinoa, and coconuts. These foods will easily add caloric density to your meals, making it easy to take in more energy without eating more food than you can. You can pre- digest your food outside your stomach by making smoothies. You can try making one with a banana, 2 tbsp. nut butter, some spirulina or spinach for the protein and fresh nut milk or one with spirulina, celery, banana and apple as a super slow energy release smoothie or another one of my favourite is with spinach, blueberries and coconut water, which can be an excellent pre-training smoothie. There are many delicious raw recipes that are high in their caloric density including raw cakes and ice-creams. Who said that going raw is boring? 😉 Raw vegan smoothies offer energy without taking too much energy from your digestive system and therefore make it easy to get more calories in.
C. Eat Less Often: On a raw food lifestlye, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts are light and easy to digest, so you get hungry faster. Slowing the metabolism will allow you to increase your weight. There is great value in avoiding snacking. The way to gain weight on a raw vegan diet is to eat more food, less often. The more often you eat, the faster your metabolism runs, and the more weight you will lose. The less often you eat, the slower will be your metabolism, and the more weight you will retain.Eat more per meal gradually as the estomach and your whole GI need to adapt step by step to this growth of food intake.
Healthy fat must make up at least 25-40% of your overall food intake for the day if you want to gain some weight, so implement more avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butters, seed butters, coconut oil, hemp oil, flaxseed oil & virgin olive oil. You can use them in your salads or in your smoothies as some of the above might taste a bit awkward in the beginning, especially hemp or flaxseed oil by itself.
3. Digestion and Priobotics: Enzymes and probiotics are one of the key elements that assist your body to digest and absorb the nutrients that you take. Kefirs, nut cheeses and fermented vegetables (pickled) are great ways of putting healthful microorganisms into your gut. You can take enzymes and probiotics 15 min before every meal, but I prefer to add (fermented) Sauerkraut with organic apple vinegar in my salads for my daily probiotic shot. Another way to help your body to digest and thus absorbs the food that you take is by soaking it in water, for example, hard seeds, nuts and beans might be difficult to digest unless soaked (This process can take from 20 minutes to 24 hours depending on the seed/nut).
Thank you Mina Shahriary for the picture
5. Become Strong with Weight Resistance and Kettlebells: This is probably THE best way to gain weight (or to lose weight). Become strong!!! The fastest way to absorb the nutrients better and deeper is by doing weight resistance excercises. Weight Resistance training eliminate momentum and ensure constant load on the muscles. Whenever on a weight gaining mission, I combine weight resistance training with the Kettlebell swing, also called the godmother of all core exercise.
6. Dried Fruits: You can use all kind of dried fruits, especially Himalayan Figs. Add them in your smoothies as it is a high calorie dens fruit and is considered one of the healthiest choices for weight gain. Soak them in water the night before (better digestion) so you can have them in your smoothie throughout the day. You can also use the soak water in your last smoothie of the day.
7. Hemp Protein: Added to superfood Maca. Animal protein is carcinageous, but vegetable protein is mostly only absorbed when needed. Beside that hemp seeds and hemp oil is used in anti cancer treatment, it is used by many vegan athletes as a basis for their protein shake.
8. Bananas: I use bananas because of their high amount of calories and as a base for my smoothies. I mix them with spirulina, gojiberries and coconut water or coconut oil.
9. Algaes: Did you know that algaes produce around 80 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere. In my last post about Spirulina you could read that Algaes are the most complete protein source on earth, containing all essential amino-acids and also provide a long list of micro-nutrients, including several vitamins like D, C and E, some of the B complex and minerals like selenium, zinc, iron, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. More than any animal protein.
10. Alkaline Foods: Another healthy way to gain weight is to eat more alkaline foods like raw green leafy vegetables, non sweet fruits, sprouts and (wheat) grasses. Alkaline foods raise the amount of oxygen that your blood takes in. If you are worried about getting enough protein, then alkaline raw leafy vegetables have tons of protein. Here is a list of alkaline foods that can guide you in your quest.
11. Ginger has been utilized for a long time to treat various intestinal problems. It is used for stomach aches and cramps and nausea. Ginger is also used to improve a poor appetite. Most importantly, ginger improves appetite by calming the stomach and digestion the food by regulating the flow in the stomach.
What would you like to see more of?
I’m constantly looking for suggestions and ideas on what I could share/discuss with you next.
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