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7 day vegan/vegetarian meal plan for weight gain

27 Jul 2021 • 7 min read

In a world that seems full of people who want to lose weight, it can be hard to get useful, practical tips to gain weight, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan.

This 7-day meal plan is based around a 3000kcal (average) intake, to help you pack on some pounds while enjoying some seriously tasty meals.

You get to enjoy an abundance of nutrient-rich plant foods, healthy servings of fat, protein and fibre, because weight gain doesn’t have to come from unhealthy foods.

You can also swap and change the meals from day to day, or bulk cook just a few of them to save on time. It’s quite flexible.

Summary

  • This 3000kcal vegetarian/vegan meal plan could help you add excess calories to your diet and gain weight the healthy way

How to gain weight healthily

The recommended calorie intake for the needs of most women is 2000kcal, and most men 2500kcal.

Of course, everybody has a different calorie need, which depends on multiple factors like, body size, activity level, fitness goals and more. E.g. a 5’2 woman working an office will need significantly less calories than a 5’10 female firefighter.

And men tend to need more calories than women in general (even if they are the same height).1

That’s why we have made this sample meal plan include 3000 daily calories, ensuring the average person following it will be consuming enough excess calories (500-1000kcal) to put on weight.

Summary

  • You need to make sure you consume more calories than you burn to gain weight
  • There are several factors that increase your calorie needs like, being tall, being active, being male

How many calories a day should you eat to gain weight?

There are several factors to consider when estimating your daily calorie needs, including:

  • Activity: active jobs, exercise and other lifestyle factors can increase your calorie needs
  • Age: as we get older, our bodies burn less calories when we are resting2
  • Gender: even when men and women are the same height, men usually burn 5-10% more calories while resting3
  • Height: the taller and heavier you are, the more calories you will need to stay at the same weight

One of the most effective methods for gaining weight is to estimate how many calories your body is burning on a daily basis and eat more than that (around 500-1000 surplus calories).

Summary

  • You should try to estimate your daily calorie needs and then add 500-1000 calories a day on top of that to gain weight sustainably and healthily

Is a 3000-calorie diet for everyone?

As mentioned above, the average daily recommended calorie intake for men is 2500kcal and 2000kcal for women.

However, if you exercise most days or are often on your feet all day, you’ll probably need more than the average person.

Just like athletes are likely to need even more due to their muscle mass and training regimes.

So, the average man or woman could see weight gain from this 3000kcal daily calorie intake, whereas taller, bigger, younger, and more active people may find this only maintains their weight.

If that’s the case, but you still fancy trying this meal plan, you can just increase the portion sizes or add in an extra snack or two.

Summary

  • No, it is not going to meet the needs of all people but it could help most average men and women to gain weight by increasing their calorie intake by 500-1000kcal a day

Risks of following a high-calorie diet

If you simply focus on consuming excess calories and nothing else, junk food and unhealthy foods are the easiest go-to.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying junk food and unhealthy food if you eat a generally healthy, balanced diet the rest of the time.

But, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, protein and healthy fats should make up the majority of your diet, as they not only provide your body with energy, but also vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients.

Summary

  • It’s easy to eat lots of calories with unhealthy foods like fast food and sugary food, but it is not healthy or sustainable
  • Aim to increase your calories with healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, proteins and healthy fats

43 of the best weight gaining foods

If you want to make sure you gain weight the healthy way, the following minimally processed foods should make up the bulk of most of your meals:

Approximate calories (kcal) per 100g:

Plant-protein*

  1. Tofu – 88kcal
  2. Chickpeas (raw) – 132kcal
  3. Peas – 88 kcal
  4. Lentils – 116kcal
  5. Chia seeds – 440kcal
  6. Nuts (e.g. roasted hazelnuts): 645kcal
  7. Nut butters (e.g. peanut butter): 567kcal
  8. Wholegrains (e.g. wholemeal bread): 234kcal
  9. Tempeh: 150kcal
  10. Other soya products, e.g. soya mince (342kcal)
  11. Protein powders (150kcal)
  12. Eggs are also a great source of protein if you are vegetarian – 143kcal

Grains

  1. Rice (cooked) - 100kcal
  2. Pasta (cooked) – 160kcal
  3. Oats – 371kcal
  4. Breads – 265 kcal
  5. Quinoa (cooked) – 120 kcal

Healthy fats

  1. Olive oil – 884kcal
  2. Nut butters (e.g. almond butter) – 626kcal
  3. Almonds – 612 kcal
  4. Brazil nuts – 683kcal
  5. Flaxseeds (milled) – 508kcal

Fruits

  1. Bananas – 100kcal
  2. Avocados – 115kcal
  3. Apples – 40 kcal
  4. Berries – 60 kcal
  5. Pears – 60 kcal
  6. Grapes – 55kcal
  7. Pineapple – 50kcal
  8. Mango – 63kcal
  9. Grapes – 60kcal

Vegetables

  1. Sweet potatoes (cooked) - 90kcal
  2. Peppers – 25kcal
  3. Butternut squash – 41kcal
  4. Courgette – 27kcal
  5. Broccoli – 35kcal
  6. White potatoes (cooked) – 77kcal
  7. Cauliflower – 30kcal
  8. Kale – 35kcal

Dairy/vegan alternatives

  1. Cow’s milk – 60kcal
  2. Greek yoghurt – 120kcal
  3. Kefir – 61kcal
  4. Cheese - 350kcal
  5. Their vegan alternatives (e.g. soy milk): 34kcal

*You can substitute some of the vegetarian/vegan proteins for lean meat, fish or other unprocessed animal proteins

Summary

  • Healthy, minimally processed foods like protein, grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables are some of the best healthy weight gaining foods

24 foods to avoid when gaining weight

Although eating a large pizza, sides and a drink, could set you back 3000 calories in one fatal swoop, your body is not getting all the nutrients it needs to thrive.

While there’s nothing wrong with indulging your cravings when they hit, it shouldn’t become a daily habit as your body may struggle to function at its best.

Here are some of the other foods that will help you eat more calories, but should be avoided (for the most part) if you want to gain weight in a healthy way:

  • Fast food: burgers, kebabs, chips, takeaway Chinese and Indian foods, etc.
  • Fried foods: chips, chicken nuggets, onion rings, doughnuts, mozzarella sticks, etc.
  • Sugary foods: sweets, milk chocolate, ice cream, cakes, puddings, etc.
  • Soft drinks: fizzy drinks, sugary lattes / coffees, energy drinks, fruit juices, etc.
  • Unhealthy carbs: crisps, garlic bread, pastries, sugary cereals, biscuits, etc.

Summary

  • Fast foods, fried foods, sugary foods, soft drinks and unhealthy carbs should still be avoided for the most part, even if you want to gain weight

Handpicked content: How to gain weight healthily

Healthy weight gain meal plan

Try this 3000kcal (average) a day meal plan to gain weight see if it can help you achieve weight gain the healthy way.

Feel free to swap the meals around or only cook a select few in bulk, it is totally up to you. Each meal’s calorie and fat content are listed next to it, so you can swap similar meals for one another, e.g. 500kcal porridge for 500kcal yoghurt.

**Please note that all calorie and fat estimations are approximate and will differ if you use different brands / make substitutions. Use it as a guide meal plant rather than an exact science.

Dietary guide:

(V) vegetarian

(V*) vegetarian with vegan option

(Ve) vegan

Monday

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast Coconut & banana almond butter oats (Ve) 707kcal 36.8g
5 tbsp rolled oat flakes 178kcal 4.1g
300ml Alpro Coconut Original yoghurt 60kcal 2.7g
2 tbsp almond butter 236kcal 20.8g
1 large banana 121kcal 0.1g
20g pumpkin seeds 113kcal 9.1g
Mid-morning snack Honey nut fruit yoghurt (V*) 581kcal 42g
1 tbsp raw honey (or vegan agave nectar) 68kcal 0g
6 Brazil nuts 205kcal 20.5g
1 medium apple 94kcal 0.87g
100g Co yo coconut yoghurt 215kcal 21g
Lunch  Green vegetable fritters with tomato salsa (V) 622kcal 44g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner Avocado toasts (V*) 536kcal 35.1g
1 average avocado 266kcal 27.3g
2 slices wholemeal bread, toasted 160kcal 1.9g
1 tsp chilli flakes 9.2kcal 0.38g
1 large egg, boiled (or scrambled tofu for (Ve)) 82kcal 5.5g
1 average tomato 19.5kcal 0.13g

Daily total:

3094 kcal

177g fat

Tuesday

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast Vegan homemade granola + yoghurt and berries (Ve) 548kcal 46.7g

Vegan dark chocolate & pecan granola

225kcal 15.2g
150g Co yo coconut yoghurt 323kcal 31.5g
Mid-morning snack Deliciously Ella double chocolate caramel cups (Ve) 244kcal 11g
Lunch 

Cauliflower, egg and sweet potato curry (V)

822kcal 52g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner

Hearty vegan mushroom and leek pie + steamed green vegetables (Ve)

734kcal 34g

Mushroom, leek and parsnip pie with flaky pastry crust

684kcal 34g
150g steamed green veg 50kcal 0g

Daily total:

2995 kcal

180.3g fat

Wednesday

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast

Vegan fry-up (Ve)

611kcal 18.5g
Mid-morning snack Honey nut fruit yoghurt (V*) 581kcal 42g
1 tbsp raw honey (or vegan agave nectar) 68kcal 0g
6 Brazil nuts 205kcal 20.5g
1 medium apple 94kcal 0.87g
100g Co yo coconut yoghurt 215kcal 21g
Lunch 

“Posh” beans on toast (V*)

554kcal 17.5g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner

Black bean burger with guacamole and chipotle mayo (Ve)

636kcal 29g

Daily total:

3030 kcal

120.6g fat

Thursday

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast Coconut & banana almond butter oats (Ve) 707kcal 36.8g
5 tbsp rolled oat flakes 178kcal 4.1g
300ml Alpro Coconut Original yoghurt 60kcal 2.7g
2 tbsp almond butter 236kcal 20.8g
1 large banana 121kcal 0.1g
20g pumpkin seeds 113kcal 9.1g
Mid-morning snack

Vegan homemade granola + yoghurt and berries (Ve)

548kcal 46.7g

Vegan dark chocolate & pecan granola

225kcal 15.2g
150g Co yo coconut yoghurt 323kcal 31.5g
Lunch 

Courgette and asparagus salad with pumpkin seed pesto (V*)

338kcal 30g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner

Hearty vegan mushroom and leek pie + steamed green vegetables (Ve)

734kcal 34g

Mushroom, leek and parsnip pie with flaky pastry crust

684kcal 34g
150g steamed green veg 50kcal 0g

Daily total:

2975 kcal

161.1g fat

Friday

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast

Vegan breakfast muffin (Ve)

561kcal 32.7g
Mid-morning snack Honey nut fruit yoghurt (V*) 581kcal 42g
1 tbsp raw honey (or vegan agave nectar) 68kcal 0g
6 Brazil nuts 205kcal 20.5g
1 medium apple 94kcal 0.87g
100g Co yo coconut yoghurt 215kcal 21g
Lunch 

Vegan Macaroni Cheese with a chilli and garlic crumb topping (Ve)

636kcal 29g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner

Chipotle black bean and quinoa chilli (V*)

490kcal 22g

Daily total:

2916 kcal

139.3g fat

Saturday

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast

Green spinach pancakes with mushrooms & sweetcorn (Ve)

408kcal 12.5g
Mid-morning snack

Vegan homemade granola + yoghurt and berries (Ve)

548kcal 46.7g

Vegan dark chocolate & pecan granola

225kcal 15.2g
150g Co yo coconut yoghurt 323kcal 31.5g
Lunch 

Chickpea and pea kedgeree (Ve)

479kcal 10g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner

Smoky tofu fajitas with spicy tomato salad (Ve)

781kcal 47g

Daily total:

2864 kcal

118.3g fat

Sunday (Vegetarian)

Meal Recipe Calories Fat
Breakfast

Sweet potato pancakes / waffles (V)

758kcal 10g

60g mashed, cooked sweet potato

54kcal 0g

2 medium eggs

124kcal 8g

Sprinkle of cinnamon

0kcal 0g

120g plain white flour

419kcal 1g

½ teaspoon baking soda

0kcal 0g
Splash of unsweetened soya milk 4kcal 0g
1 tbsp peanut butter 92kcal 1g
1 tbsp maple syrup  41kcal 0g
75g blueberries 24kcal 0g
Mid-morning snack Honey nut fruit yoghurt (V*) 581kcal 42g
1 tbsp raw honey (or vegan agave nectar) 68kcal 0g
6 Brazil nuts 205kcal 20.5g
1 medium apple 94kcal 0.87g
100g Co yo coconut yoghurt 215kcal 21g
Lunch 

Smashed Avocado on Wholegrain Rye (Ve)

650kcal 30g
Snack Strawberry protein milkshake (V) 648kcal 13.6g
129g serving strawberry performance gainer protein powder 459kcal 4.6g
300ml whole milk 189kcal 9g
OR    

Vegan peanut butter protein shake (Ve)

570kcal 16.6g
30g vegan vanilla protein powder 136kcal 2.2g
400ml soy milk 128kcal 7.6g
50g peanut butter 306kcal 6.8g
Dinner

Aubergine and red onion quinoa pasta bake  (V*)

662kcal 14g

Daily total:

3299 kcal

110g fat

To conclude

  • Everyone has an individual calorie need, and if they consume over that amount, they will gain weight
  • Weight, height, occupation, activity level, age and sex can increase or decrease our calorie needs
  • The average calorie-intake recommendation for women is 2000kcal for women and 2500kcal for women, which suggests this 3000kcal gain weight diet plan could be successful for some
  • This 3000kcal gain weight meal plan could add 500-1000 surplus calories a day, which can help you to gain weight sustainably
  • Increase portion sizes or add in a few extra snacks if you know you need more calories than that, e.g. you are tall, you’re very active, you’re young and healthy

Handpicked content: 5 high calorie foods for healthy weight gain

 
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 27 July 2021

bhupesh-panchal

Bhupesh Panchal

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
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