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Want to know how to gain weight as a vegan woman? This is the ULTIMATE Vegan Weight Gain Guide to becoming a thick vegan! Here where I give you 7 tips on how to maintain and build curves eating a healthy plant-based diet.
Reading Time: 13 minutes
Editor's Note: The following article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to prescribe or treat any type of medical condition or disease. It is not intended for people with eating disorders, pregnant women, women who are nursing, infants, or children. Please consult a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical advice.
"I want to go vegan but I don't want to lose my butt!"
This is what I used to think before I went vegan. After all, a vegan doesn't eat any animal flesh (including sea animals) or animal secretions' (milk and eggs). So how was I to hold weight on with just eating vegetables?
Related Content: Vegan for Beginners
Well through trial and error (my personal anecdotal evidence), and some researched studies, I know that healthy vegan weight gain is more than possible.
My Vegan Weight Gain Body Transformation
On my About Page I share my body transformation from weight loss to weight gain on Meet Gina Marie. For this article, I will focus solely on my journey to gaining back healthy weight while on a vegan diet.
The Before Pictures
In the first picture, I weighed between 100 to 105 pounds (at my lowest I got down to 98 pounds!). My waist was 26 inches and my hips were 30 inches. I wasn’t fully vegan yet but I mainly ate a plant-based diet with the occasional fish, eggs, and chicken.
I became overly obsessed with being healthy, cleansing, detoxing, and being thin! Although I never considered myself to have an ED (eating disorder), some might consider this a form of orthorexia (1). (Please note if you are suffering from an ED, seek professional help).
I would freak out about every piece of food and wouldn't touch a carbohydrate to save my life. I was always tired from eating too little calories and a lack of carbohydrates. Plus I did not workout.
The Now Picture
The picture on the right is what I look like today. I am 100% full vegan! I fluctuate between 130 pounds to 140 pounds (I am 5 feet tall). My waist is 30 inches and my hips are 40 inches.
It took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to gain my curves back in a healthy way while eating vegan. There were NO resources out there teaching this back then.
But I now have a perfect balance between having curves and still eating a healthy plant based diet. I amsharing that knowledge with you!
Related Content: Go Vegan and Keep Your Curves Podcast
What is Weight?
Weight is our birthright. It validates our existence here on Earth. Just think of the phrase "it doesn't hold much weight." That is the same as someone saying "they don't give it much proof of existence."
From a metaphysical viewpoint (and maybe even a psychological one), most people who desire to gain weight have a desire to prove something or to be seen.
Why Do Women (and Men) Like Curvy Bodies?
A desire to have more curves isn't just about vanity, it is also science. Most women desire a curvy figure because evolutionary speaking, it signifies youth, good health (proper nourishment), and fertility.
Most men are attracted to a curvy figure for the very same reasons. (2).
Avoid Unnatural/Unhealthy Weight Gain Methods
With the recent trend of surgically enhancing butts, it is easy to be tempted to take a seemingly "quicker" route to achieve your desired look such as getting BBL. And often even with these surgeries, people are not satisfied often leading to body dysmorphia. (3)
Not only is surgery very risky (4), it's also expensive.
Another solution women opt for is eating all kinds of high-calorie junk food. In my Vegan Calorie Dense Foods article, I go into detail of why this is a mistake because you risk gaining weight in undesirable places along with health issues.
Don’t add waste to your body. The goal is to accomplish HEALTHY vegan weight gain. BUILD NATURAL CURVES that fit YOUR SPECIFIC BODY SHAPE and become healthier while doing so.
7 Vegan Weight Gain Tips
I broke these tips down into 3 sections: Diet, Exercise, and Mindset.
Part One: Diet
1. Eat Calorie Dense Foods
When I first started my vegan weight gain journey, I would literally stuff my face all day. A lot of times I would eat even when I was not hungry. That was until I discovered calorie-dense foods. (5)
Calorie dense foods are high in calories, but small in portion size. The most calorie dense foods are ones that are high in healthy fats because 1 gram of fat has 9 calories vs 1 gram of protein and carbohydrates has 4 calories.
In my Vegan Calorie Dense Foods article, I emphasis the importance HEALTHY high fat calorie dense foods.
It is very easy to over consume high fat foods because of their density.(6) So high fat "junk food" like potato chips or deep fried foods (yes including those delicious fried oyster mushrooms), should be consumed sparingly.
Examples of healthy high fat plant based:
- nut butters
- nuts and seeds
- some oils (to be used sparingly)
These foods are awesome additions to add to a meal that might be low in calories like salads or green smoothies because if you try to increase your food portions right away, your mind (and stomach) will automatically reject that idea.
By adding calorie-dense foods to your meals, you will give yourself a caloric boost without increasing the volume.
Ease your body into eating more without the overwhelm.
2. Increase Your Protein Efficiency
A vegan talking about protein is NOT an oxymoron. Protein is very important for your vegan weight gain goals.
Protein is NOT automatically synonymous with animal flesh though it is promoted that way. Protein is the collection of 20 different amino acids; 11 of those are naturally synthesized by the body and the remaining 9 you must get from food sources.
We call those "Essential Amino Acids." (Any thing labeled "essential" in nutrition means you have to get them from food sources.)
So what we really are acquiring are amino acids not protein per se and those amino acids are abundantly found in plant-based foods. And yes you can build muscle with plant based protein.
A recent study (7) found that when it comes to building muscle, a steady plant based high protein diet works just as well as your typical animal flesh diet that is promoted.
Now when I say increase your protein efficiency, I am not just referring to increasing the number of grams you consume. (Not entirely at least.) I am referring to the quality of the protein you take in that allows maximum absorption.
Examples of the best plant-based proteins include:
- beans & legumes
- grains (including pseudo grains like quinoa)
- clean vegan protein powders
A Note on Protein Smoothies...
Protein smoothies are a great and convenient way to meet your protein needs.
Protein smoothies in general are a great vehicle for weight gain because you can really pack in A LOT of calories.
My favorite vegan protein powder is Organic Hemp Protein Powder. Hemp protein has given me great results and it's affordable.
Its content is 50% protein. It has all the 9 essential amino acids and it's a great balance of omega 3s and omega 6s. It's very easy to digest.
I consume hemp powder in smoothies and I also use hemp seeds sprinkled in my salad at times. OK enough gushing over hemp, on to tip #3.
3. Consume "Curvy Carbs"
EAT YOUR CARBS! EAT YOUR CARBS! EAT YOUR CARBS!
I hope I said that loud enough.
I coined the term "Curvy Carbs" because they are CRUCIAL in your vegan weight gain goals, even more so than protein. In fact, protein needs carbohydrates in order to work.
If you are to starve your body of carbohydrates, especially after an intense workout, it will cause your body to use protein as a primary energy source (which is the job of carbohydrates). Over time, this can break down the muscle proteins and totally contradict the curves you are trying to build. (8)
Yes, I know carbohydrates have gotten a bad rep. But carbs are NOT your enemy. They are your number one source of energy. The key is to get the RIGHT type of carbohydrates. Your carbs should consist mainly of whole foods of both simple carbs and complex carbs; not processed refined carbs.
I want to make this very clear…
- white pasta
- white bread
- white sugar, etc
are NOT the type of carbs I am talking about. Those are dead foods and extremely detrimental to one's health. (And can cause havoc on your teeth). When I say carbohydrates I'm referring to vegetables, fruit, and grains.
Healthy simple carbohydrates digest quickly and only take a few minutes to fuel your body. An example of a HEALTHY simple carbohydrate is fruit. This is why you might see some folks eat a banana right before a workout because it gives them a quick fuel source.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest giving you sustainable energy throughout the day. Examples include:
- whole grains (rice, oatmeal, Kamut, etc)
- sweet potatoes
- baby red potatoes
- yucca root
- sprouted wheat or gluten-free bread
- gluten-free or whole wheat/sprouted wheat pasta
Remember carbohydrates are not your enemy if you are eating the right kind. Without a healthy amount of carbs, you will NOT build curves.
Part Two: Exercise
4. Strength Train
Strength training is the number one way to sculpt your body, achieve vegan weight gain, and build curves (naturally that is).
This entire talk about building curves is essentially all about building muscles. Sometimes I giggle because I will have men tell me on social media, how they want to try my recipes, but don't won't curves.
Rest assure fellas, you don't have enough estrogen for that so I think you are okay. But for my ladies, when we build muscle, IT SHAPES AND DEFINES OUR NATURAL CURVES. (9) So repeat after me; "muscles are curves, muscles are curves, muscles are curves!"
Okay you get the point lol
Sprinters vs Marathon Runners
Marathon runners do not weight train. Their primary focus is to run far and fast for as long as they can. So when they are in the gym, their workout regimen consists of ....well, running.
On the other hand sprinters primary focus is to move with force and power. So their workout routine includes weight lifting which in turns gives their body more curves and shape. This is a prime example of why lifting weights is CRUCIAL in building curves.
"But Gina I do not want to get big and look like a man!" Lifting weights will NOT make you overly muscular. It’s very difficult for men to become super muscular without body enhancements and they naturally have testosterone. So we ladies have nothing to worry about.
Nothing looks more curvier than nice glutes. Some of the best weight lifting exercises you can do to build a nice butt are:
- glute bridges
- donkey kicks
- hip thrusts
- leg press
- leg curls
When lifting weights make sure you lift heavy RELATIVE TO YOU. You will hear this "lift heavy" advice often, but what folks fail to mention is what's heavy to me, is not necessarily heavy for you.
Do not go to gym squatting 100 lbs if you never even squatted 20 lbs. This is what I call "Ego Lifting": when someone lifts a lot of weight they can't handle just to "show out" in front of others.
Practice the correct form first. I went from a 36-inch hip to a 40-inch hip NEVER lifting more than 40 lbs! How is this possible?
Because your body does not know "weight" by numbers. All it knows is tension and failure. You want to make every rep count and burn out your muscles. This is called "reaching muscle failure" and that is how it will grow.
Of course, as you get stronger you will require heavier weights for your muscles to actually work. But please START AT YOUR LEVEL. Challenge yourself yes, BUT NO "EGO LIFTING."
A Brief Note About Cardio
Cardio is not the best for building curves (muscle), however that doesn’t mean it should totally be ignored as it’s extremely healthy or overall health.
If you want to keep your curves while doing cardio do exercises like stair stepper, elliptical, or walking on an incline at a slower pace on a treadmill while activating your glutes!
Part Three: Mindset
5. Have the Right Vision
Where your mind goes, your body follows. If you believe in your mind that you can accomplish vegan weight gain, your body will follow suit.
The reason I was able to keep going on my journey is that I had a STRONG belief that I could build curves without consuming animal products. PLUS I was determined to prove naysayers wrong.
That mindset motivated me to do the necessary actions needed (dieting and exercising) even when progress was slow. Have a vision for yourself how you desire to be and always keep that image constantly in your head.
Also, stay positive.
You cannot hate yourself into a new body. You cannot look like anyone else. But you can be the best version of YOURSELF. You can be the curvy version of YOU.
Transformation, whether physical or otherwise, comes from within. Your cells respond to all stimuli, that include the words you speak. So change your mindset! Be kind to yourself. Use your mind to visualize and hold the belief that you can accomplish your goal!
6. Rest and Relax
Rest is an overlooked factor in this "grind till I get it' society."
They even have a hashtag for it,
#TeamNoSleep. This is a HUGE NO-NO. The recovery process is essential in vegan weight gain.
Too much stress in the body and in mind can lead to burning out. You have to make time to RE- CREATE YOURSELF (aka recreation). Life can be very difficult. On top of our everyday issues, transforming something as personal as your body can be overwhelming.
If you are overstressed, you could potentially kill your results because foods do not digest well when you are stressed. Undigested food means nutrients can't properly nourish your body. Gains can't grow in a space where there is restriction.
Relaxation allows your mind to be at ease which allows your muscles to be in that relaxed state.
Also get enough sleep. Studies show that (10) "sleep deprivation decreases the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways, favoring the loss of muscle mass."
So make rest and relaxation a CONSISTENT part of your routine.
7. Be Patient and Consistent
Yes ladies, patience really is a virtue.
I know how frustrating it is to want something and not have it especially in this internet instant society we live in today. Everyone is selling "21-day booty programs" and "7-day shrink your waist wraps." All lies and all gimmicks that do nothing but leave you feeling as if something is wrong with your body.
It also creates a sense of desperation. But the truth is to achieve your weight gain goals, you must be patient and WAIT. Nothing can be built overnight including your beautiful body.
Thoughts and mental images have the capacity to transform your feelings in an instant. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the physical realm.
It takes a repeated amount of effort OVER TIME of thinking, visualizing, eating, exercising, and recovering. Just good old fashion consistency, discipline, sacrifice, and hard work. Those things NEVER go out of style.
I won't do you a disservice and sell you hype that you can grow 3 inches in your hips in 30 days. You will not find any microwave fads here. Just honest advice on what it takes to really build the body you desire.
What keeps you patient is enjoying the process. Enjoy the new foods you discover. Enjoy the new muscles you can now feel in your body. Enjoy feeling more energized and fit. The results will take care of themselves.
Also, be consistent.
I could get on here and tell you all the "tips" and "secrets" I have done to keep my curves as a vegan. But the key to it all is CONSISTENCY.
We hear these things, we say these things...but do we actually do these things??? The only way you will see results is if you are consistent overtime. Not for 1 day or for 1 week. But EVERY SINGLE DAY over MONTHS until it becomes habitual and just apart of your everyday lifestyle.
Don't workout 1 day a week and then take the next 3 weeks off. Don't eat what you're supposed to one day and then not get the right amount of calories the next. It's the daily habits that build on top of each other that will help you reach the results you’re looking for.
Bonus Tip: The Importance of Digestion
Digestion isn't often discussed in weight gain circles but it's IMPORTANT because you want to make sure the food you are consuming is actually getting absorbed.
What good is eating a meal high in protein if your body isn't absorbing that nutrient? When you improve your gut chemistry, you increase your chances of good health and successful healthy weight gain.
Some ways to improve your digestive system are:
- Up Your Probiotics: Particularly stuff like homemade raw sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking enough water helps you digest foods high in soluble fiber (like beans) and break down food so your body can absorb nutrients.
- Drink Smoothies: Smoothies are pre-chewed food so they are easier to digest. Plus you can add a lot of calories to a smoothie which is good for curves.
Vegan Recipes for Weight Gain
Here’s a list of some recipes for you to incorporate in your vegan diet for healthy gains.
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- Parsley Smoothie
- Lentil Meatballs
- Vegan Lentil Loaf
- Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
- Lemon Tofu Sheet Pan Dinner
- Creamy Kamut Pasta
7 Vegan Curve Building Tips Video
You can view the full-length Vegan Weight Gain Tips video on YouTube. This video was recorded and uploaded in 2018 when I mentioned I been vegan for 6 years. As of the year 2022, I have been a vegan for 10 years.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on February 20, 2018, but was republished with new photos, new tips, and resource links on January 14, 2022.
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© Gina Marie Hoskins. Vegan With Curves. All Rights Reserved. Unless noted otherwise, all images, recipes, & content are copyright protected and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. My images and written content are NOT to be used without prior permission. Read full Copyright Disclosure.
Medical Disclaimer: The following article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to prescribe or treat any type of medical condition or disease. It is not intended for people with eating disorders, pregnant women, women who are nursing, infants, or children. Please consult a qualified healthcare professional for personalized medical advice.