Shoveling plants down your mouth but not gaining any weight? Eating enough food to support muscle growth on a vegan diet can be, well, let's face it:
Now there's one truly awesome 'hack' that allows you to add easy-to-consume calories and that is drinking instead of chewing your calories.
And in today's post we will take a look at how to create your own highly effective vegan mass gainer. If you are looking for the convenience of a plant based weight gainer powder, I've compiled a brief roundup with the best options.
#1 The Protein Works
#3 GNC Pro Performance
#4 Nutiva Organic
Top 4 Vegan Mass Gainer Powders
The reason why I prefer making my own vegan weight gain shake is that the majority of these products are made from stuff we don't want to put in our bodies. Animal-derived ingredients such as whey or casein or egg protein, and also sh*tty plant-based ingredients in the form of cheap carbohydrate (sugar) powders.
While there aren't too many of them, if you do some digging there are in fact a few decent plant-based alternatives. Here are 3 of the best vegan mass gainers that I recommend if you want something convenient to help you reach your daily caloric goals:
1. The Protein Works (Editor's Choice)
The Protein Works created a true plant-based champion with this weight gainer.
Packed with 27 grams of protein per serving, this vegan mass gainer surely knocks off its competitors.
The superior blend of pea protein, brown rice protein and soya protein, makes it an effective supplement to grow lean muscles and promote its fast recovery.
The Protein Works also provides well-balanced macros with its vegan carbohydrate blend.
This vegan mass gainer is also naturally high in fiber that supports a healthy digestive system, along with other essential nutrients such as omega 3, vitamin B3 and zinc.
To summarize, The Protein Works is a powerful supplement that is perfect for someone who wants to bulk up in a vegan way. It's safe, effective, great-tasting, and affordable for those who want to have gains.
Per serving (100 g), you get 4.6 g fat, 48 g carbohydrates, and 27 g of protein.
2. True Nutrition Vegan
Having looked through all of the vegan options, the True Nutrition Lean Bulk Formula is a good plant based weight gainer that I've come across. The reason why this product is so awesome is due to the minimalistic approach - the only three ingredients in this blend are as follows:
Oat starch powder, pea protein isolate, rice protein concentrate.
That's it. No weird ingredients, preservatives, sweeteners, coloring or other bullsh*t. You know exactly what you put in your body, which is all-natural from your vegan weight gain shake.
On the whole it's a no-frills blend of quality plant-based carbohydrate and protein! You can buy this vegan weight gainer supplement completely unflavored or add whatever flavor you desire such as chocolate fudge brownie, cinnamon bun and vanilla among others.
Per serving (30 g), you get 113 calories, 1.6 g fat, 10.9 g carbohydrates, and 14 g of protein.
3. GNC Pro Performance
The GNC Pro Performance Complete Vegan Gainer Formula is a really long product name but it definitely lives up to it's promise by packing a powerful calorie and protein punch.
That's a LOT of plant-based calories and protein in one shake, which is what we are indeed after. And according to users, this vegan weight gainer supplement also tastes really good due to the cocoa powder and natural sweeteners (stevia) used.
While a tad more pricey than other similiar products it might be worth it if you're looking for something really calorie-dense and tasty!
In contrast to the bare-bones approach with the Truenutrition blend, this powder contains a bunch of different ingredients.
Protein blend: pea protein isolate, white bean, quinoa, brown rice concentrate, flaxseed , whole algal and chia seed meal.
Carbohydrate blend: pea starch (as Carb10™), sweet potato powder and something called ModCarb™ consisting out of oat bran, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, chia.
Fat blend: flaxseed powder, sunflower oil, safflower oil, chia seed meal.
This vegan weight gain powder has a balanced mix of protein, carbs and fats you have compounds that can potentially increase gym performance such as ElevATP and betaine, and a blend of digestive enzymes to help you break down and absorb the nutrients. Per serving (145 g) you get 570 calories, 11 g of fat, 70 g of carbohydrates, and 50 g of protein.
4. Nutiva Organic
Nutiva Organic is as the name suggests a 100% pure organic and vegan supplement.
This vegan protein powder for weight gain is marketed as a complete source of fatty acids, amino acids, and protein.
This product is naturally extracted from hemp using a 'cold press extraction' which results in a clean protein powder. It is full of Omega 3 and antioxidants without the use of harmful chemicals. You can never go wrong with Nutiva Organic when you choose this supplement as your partner in gaining weight.
What I like about this vegan protein powder for weight gain is that it's got a super clean ingredient list (no filler, sweeteners or junk) with only hemp protein as the main ingredient.
Per serving (30 g) of this vegan mass gainer, you get 15 g of protein and 8 g of fiber. It's one of the obvious choice in terms of choosing the right plant-based supplement.
In summary, this vegan weight gainer would be a great choice if you also want to have enough fiber in your body. Gaining weight is as important as losing the toxins too.
How to Gain Weight as a Vegetarian?
There are many hurdles to overcome in your quest to building a great vegan physique:
Getting adequate amounts of plant protein, supplementing nutrients such as vitamin B12, progressive heavy (and smart) training, convincing friends and family that you're not dying from malnutrition, not eating too much and not eating too little...
The last bit about 'not eating too little' is something that I know many of you struggle with. If want to put on any significant amount of muscle mass, you will have to be in a caloric surplus i.e. eat more calories than you burn.
Any vegan hard gainer will have a particularly hard time with this endeavor as whole plant food as a rule of thumb aren't very calorically dense. For example: to obtain 1000 kcal from broccoli means you'd have to eat 3 kg or 7 lbs of vegetable matter - pretty rough. 1000 kcal from cheese on the other hand would be about 250 grams which is a LOT less food volume.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that you are burning calories at the gym that also needs to be replenished. If you can relate to these difficulties, you can also look out for a guide that you probably will want to implement in your life.
You can also watch this video to learn more tips on how to gain weight as a vegan.
Why Do You Need a Vegan Weight Gainer?
I don't believe there are any strict definitions of what constitutes a "vegan mass gainer". So here's one that I just made up: "A mass gainer is a high-calorie liquid which helps you put on muscle."
Getting in the calories you need (while not wanting to kill yourself because you are too full) is a hell of a lot easier by drinking calories instead of chewing them.
What are the Ingredients?
A vegan weight gainer typically takes the form of a beverage made up out of two - potentially three - key components:
Your body needs adequate protein (the basic building blocks of muscle fiber) in order to support growth and repair of new muscle tissue. Right around 1.6-2.2 grams protein per kg body weight has been shown in studies to maximize muscle growth - and adding some extra nutrition to a vegan weight gainer can make it a lot easier hitting these targets each day.
An extra boost of carbohydrate in your vegan weight gain shake provides the energy that allows for a high training intensity in the gym (which means more gains) and moreover these calories help contribute towards a caloric surplus which promotes an anabolic, or muscle-building, state.
And no don't worry, a surplus coming from carbohydrate won't automatically make you fat. This has been debunked over and over again as keto/paleo/low-carb bullsh*t. In fact, it's been shown that overfeeding with fat leads to greater body fat gain compared to overfeeding with carbs!
3. Healthy Fats
It's not uncommon to find a vegan weight gain powder with some healthy fats thrown in for good measure. A few grams of fat sprinkled in will boost total calories, and it's crucial for healthy hormonal function such as testosterone which increases rate of muscle growth.
Should You Buy One or Make One Yourself?
That is a great question. Glad you asked!
Ultimately what you choose to do will come down to your needs and personal preference.
If you value convenience and simplicity, then it would make most sense to purchase a vegan weight gain powder that you can whip up in seconds in a shaker with some water or plant milk of choice.
Alternatively, you can easily make your own by adding a bunch of calorie-dense plants in a blender and make a DIY vegan weight gain shake. In my humble opinion, I believe the latter option to often be a much better idea as it's going to be more budget-friendly.
Also, you know exactly what you put in your body (guaranteed to contain no dubious fillers, artificial sweeteners or shitty ingredients). Lastly, it is likely to be more nutrient-dense compared to a refined carbohydrate + protein powder but you do you.
If you decide to create your own shake or smoothie, you can follow the recipe below as a guide.
DIY Vegan Protein Shake Recipe
Okay so you're ready to go from skinny to not-skinny and need a decent weight gainer shake to help you out on your mission. First let's look at how to make your mass gainer using a blender or any similar device.
Here's a generic recipe that will work really well:
Of course feel free to exclude things that you don't need or want and include other plants that you want to put in your body.
For instance, you may not need the extra protein so in that case go ahead and omit the supplement. Or you can add an anti-inflammatory component to your smoothie if you want.
You can do that by adding 1-2 tsp of turmeric with some black pepper to enhance the absorption of the bio-active compound curcumin. In regards to the beans and lentils, don't knock it until you've tried it on your vegan weight gain shake. It actually tastes pretty damn good and adds a bunch of nutrient-dense calories (and a heaping serving of amino acids for enhanced muscle synthesis).
Here are two examples of how to tailor this recipe for your needs and goals:
This beauty right here was made from 2 cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), 2 ripe bananas (frozen for milkshake quality), 1-2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder, about 6 pitted dates and about 1 cup of soy milk.
Depending on quantities used, the total caloric content will vary, but this comes out to roughly 800-900 calories.
The protein content on this recipe is at a whopping 45 grams! And it tastes amazing!
I believe this vegan weight gain powder recipe was something like 1 can white beans (drained and rinsed), 2 bananas, 200 g of frozen mango and pineapple, two tablespoons of flax seeds, two handfuls of kale and then water for desired texture.
This comes out to roughly 600 calories with 20 grams of protein or so.
With the tropical fruits, dark leafy greens and flax seeds you also get a bunch of nutrients and beneficial compounds such as omega-3's, calcium, vitamin K, lignans etc.
Alright that's about as many words as I can write about liquids made out of plants with plenty of calories and protein. I hope some of what I wrote will aid you in the quest for an awesome vegan body!
MASS GAINER SHAKE
The Protein Works
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