Shovelling 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...
... 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.
(Looking for the convenience of a plant-based weight gainer powder? Below I've compiled a brief roundup with the best options).
TrueNutrition Vegan Bulk Formula
For an extra 5% off your order, use our coupon code during checkout 'VEGANLIFTZ'
GNC Pro Performance Complete Vegan Gainer Formula
CB3 Organic Carbohydrate Powder
Bulking Up on a Plant-Based Diet (Is Not Easy)
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 hardgainer will have a particularly hard time with this endeavour as whole plant food as a rule of thumb aren't very calorically dense.
Case in point:
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 there's one hack that you probably will want to implement in your life:
The Solution: A Vegan Mass Gainer
I don't believe there are any strict definitions of what constitutes a "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.
A mass gainer typically takes the form of a beverage made up out of two - potentially three - key components:
1. One part protein.
Your body needs adequate protein (the basic building blocks of muscle fibre) in order to support growth and repair of new muscle tissue.
Right around 1.6-2.2 grams protein per kg bodyweight has been shown in studies to maximize muscle growth - and adding some extra protein to a vegan weight gainer can make it a lot easier hitting these protein targets each day.
2. One part carbohydrate.
An extra boost of carbohydrate 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 bullshit.
In fact, it's been shown that overfeeding with fat leads to greater body fat gain compared to overfeeding with carbs!
(3. One part healthy fats).
It's not uncommon to find mass gainers 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 weight gainer smoothie.
In my humble opinion, I believe the latter option to often be a much better idea as it's going to be:
1. More budget-friendly.
2. You know exactly what you put in your body (guaranteed to contain no dubious fillers, artificial sweeteners or shitty ingredients).
3. It's likely to be more nutrient-dense compared to a refined carbohydrate + protein powder
But you do you.
If you are in fact looking for a quality weight gainer powder - go ahead and scroll down to the section where I outline the best ones.
Generic Recipe for a DIY Vegan Mass Gainer
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 similiar 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 protein powder.
Or if you would like to add an anti-inflammatory component to your smoothie, add 1-2 tsp of turmeric with some black pepper to enhance the absorption of the bio-active compound curcumin.
And in regards to the beans and lentils, don't knock it until you've tried it. 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. And a protein content at a whopping 45 grams!
And it tastes amazing. That too.
I believe this 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.
Top 3 Best Vegan Mass Gainer Powders
The reason why I prefer making my own shakes is that unfortunately, the majority of weight gainers 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 shitty 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 vegan alternatives.
Here are three different ones that I recommend if you want something convenient to help you reach your daily caloric goals:
True Nutrition Vegan Bulk Formula
Having looked through all of the options, the True Nutrition Lean Bulk Formula is the best plant-based mass 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.
No weird ingredients, preservatives, sweeteners, colourings or other bullshit. You know exactly what you put in your body, which is natural plant ingredients.
Per serving (30 g) you get:
On the whole it's a no-frills blend of quality plant-based carbohydrate and protein!
You can buy this completely unflavoured or add whatever flavour you desire such as chocolate fudge brownie, cinnamon bun and vanilla among others.
Another pro is that it's pretty damn cheap, especially if you buy a bunch of them as you get a bulk discount!
(For an extra 5% off your order, use our coupon code during checkout 'VEGANLIFTZ')
GNC Pro Performance Complete Vegan Gainer Formula
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.
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 powder, quinoa powder, brown rice concentrate, flaxseed powder, whole algal powder 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.
To this 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:
That's a LOT of plant-based calories and protein in one shake, which is what we are indeed after. And according to users it 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!
CB3 Organic Carbohydrate Powder
CB3 Organic Carbohydrate Powder is as the name suggests a 100% pure carbohydrate powder.
It's marketed as a natural post-workout drink to replenish glycogen stores and that would indeed be a suitable way to consume this product.
But what I'd suggest you do is to mix this up with a vegan protein powder of choice and voila, you've got yourself a pretty decent vegan weight gainer shake with both quality carbohydrate and protein covered!
What I like about this powder is that it's got a super clean ingredient list (no filler, sweeteners or junk) with only organic stuff:
Organic sweet potatoes, organic oats and organic coconut sugar.
That's a good mix of fast and slower acting carbohydrates... and both the oatmeal and sweet potatoes will add a boost of beneficial nutrients e.g fiber.
Per serving (30 g) you get:
Obviously it's not particularly rich in protein seeing as there are no protein-dense ingredients.
In summary, this would be a great choice if you need a product with a bunch of carbs, and also if you want to design your own mass gainer by mixing this with a protein powder of choice.
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!