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High-calorie vegan foods

11 high-calorie vegan foods for healthy weight gain

Gaining weight on a vegan diet can be challenging. Here are 11 high-calorie vegan foods to help.

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11 high-calorie vegan foods for healthy weight gain
Last updated on December 23, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on August 22, 2023.

Avocado, quinoa, and tahini are among the calorie-rich vegan options that can aid in healthy weight gain.

11 high-calorie vegan foods for healthy weight gain

Putting on weight might be a challenge, and changing both your diet and daily habits can be essential.

Going vegan adds another layer to this challenge, making it crucial to select foods wisely.

However, there are several wholesome vegan foods packed with calories to help with weight gain.

Check out these 11 calorie-dense vegan foods to help you gain weight.

1. Nuts and nut butter

Nuts are packed with protein, good fats, and calories, making them a top choice for those wanting to put on some weight.

For instance, just a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of walnuts gives you 185 calories and over 4 grams of protein.

By consuming a couple of handfuls of nuts daily, be it almonds, cashews, walnuts, or pecans, you can significantly up your calorie intake for healthy weight gain.

Nut butter is another calorie-rich alternative that’s both easy and quick. Just be sure to go for natural versions that don’t contain extra sugar or oils. You can spread nut butter on snacks or blend it into smoothies for that extra protein and calorie punch.

Summary: Nuts and nut butter are high in calories and protein and can be enjoyed in various ways.

2. Avocado

Avocados are celebrated for their smooth consistency and subtle, tasty flavor.

Packed with nutrients, they also promote healthy weight gain due to their abundant heart-friendly fats and fiber.

12 proven health benefits of avocado
Suggested read: 12 proven health benefits of avocado

A single avocado provides approximately 322 calories, 13.5 grams of fiber, and nearly 30 grams of fat.

Additionally, avocados are a treasure trove of vital micronutrients like vitamin C, folate, pantothenic acid, and potassium.

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For an added nutritional kick, blend half an avocado into your breakfast smoothie, spread some on whole-grain toast, or dice it up to top off your salads or omelets.

Summary: Avocados are a nutrient-dense fruit containing high amounts of healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa is a healthy pseudo-grain loaded with protein, fiber, and many other nutrients your body needs.

It’s also high in calories, as 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa holds about 222 calories, 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Quinoa is one of the few complete plant-based protein sources, meaning that it provides all nine essential amino acids. Your body cannot produce these on its own and must obtain them from food.

Quinoa also supplies much manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and folate.

It functions as a satisfying side dish and can be added to soups, stews, and salads for an easy way to squeeze in more calories.

Summary: Quinoa is a complete protein, providing all the amino acids your body needs. It also contains a good amount of calories, fiber, and micronutrients.

4. Tahini

Made from toasted and ground sesame seeds, tahini is a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and calories.

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Just 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of tahini boasts approximately 89 calories, 2.5 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of fat.

Incorporating a few tablespoons daily into your diet can effectively increase your calorie intake and promote healthy weight gain.

Tahini has a paste-like consistency that’s similar to peanut butter.

It makes a great addition to wraps, sandwiches, and salads. It can also be made into a flavorful dip, stirred into soups, or blended into a creamy dressing and served over steamed veggies.

Summary: Tahini is a nutritious paste made from sesame seeds with a creamy consistency that works well as a spread, dip or dressing.

5. Olive oil

Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and is well known for its health-promoting properties.

11 science-based health benefits of olive oil
Suggested read: 11 science-based health benefits of olive oil

Monounsaturated fats have been shown to increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels, reduce blood triglycerides and help improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Olive oil is also high in antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that prevent oxidative damage to your cells and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

Plus, with 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat in a single tablespoon (14 grams), olive oil can also be a healthy way to add extra calories to a meal.

Drizzle it over cooked veggies, mix it into a salad dressing, or add it to marinades to bring a burst of flavor and calories to your meals.

Summary: Olive oil is a healthy option to add flavor to cooked vegetables, salad dressings, and marinades. It contains monounsaturated fats and antioxidants but should be consumed in moderation due to its high-calorie content.

6. Dried fruit

Dried fruit is a great way to gain extra calories, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The exact nutritional content can vary based on the type of fruit, ranging from prunes — which have 209 calories in a half cup (87 grams) — to raisins — which have 247 in a half cup (83 grams).

Studies note that dried fruit is rich in fiber and antioxidants and supplies micronutrients that are 3–5 times more concentrated than fresh fruit.

Because dried fruit is also high in natural sugars, combining it with a nutritious protein source is best to minimize the potential effects on your blood sugar.

Mix your choice of dried fruit with coconut yogurt or oatmeal for a high-calorie breakfast, or try it with nuts and seeds as a tasty trail mix. You can also add it to protein shakes.

Summary: Dried fruit is high in calories, fiber, and micronutrients. To reduce the impact of its high sugar content, try combining it with a quality protein source.

7. Legumes

Legumes, such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas, all pack a good amount of protein, fiber, and calories.

Black beans, for example, pack 227 calories and 15 grams each of protein and fiber in 1 cooked cup (172 grams).

Legumes are also generally high in essential vitamins and minerals, including folate, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium.

Try adding beans to vegan meatballs or burgers, as well as salads, soups, casseroles, dips, and spreads.

Summary: Legumes, such as lentils and black beans, are rich in calories, protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

8. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a popular starchy vegetable favored for their vibrant color, delicious flavor, and stellar nutrient profile.

Sweet potatoes: Nutrition facts & health benefits
Suggested read: Sweet potatoes: Nutrition facts & health benefits

They’re high in calories and fiber, plus several essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One cup (200 grams) of cooked sweet potato contains 180 calories and 6.5 grams fiber.

A single serving can also knock out your entire daily need for vitamin A — and give you ample vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6.

Try this orange root vegetable roasted, baked, mashed, or grilled.

Summary: Sweet potatoes are a nutrient-dense root vegetable that can be cooked in a variety of ways.

9. Smoothies

Vegan smoothies offer a speedy and handy method to consume a rich dose of calories in just one drink.

By incorporating healthy protein sources such as vegan protein powder or soy yogurt, you can boost the overall health value.

Adding ingredients like nut butter, both dried and fresh fruits, avocados, almond milk, coconut oil, and seeds can make your smoothie both nutritious and high in calories.

To get the most calories, enjoy your smoothie as an addition to your meals rather than a substitute, aiding in weight gain.

Summary: Vegan smoothies are a convenient way to boost your calorie and nutrient consumption. For optimal outcomes, mix a few high-calorie components with a good protein source.

10. Rice

Rice is a cost-effective, versatile, and calorie-dense carbohydrate that can promote gradual weight gain.

It also provides a bit of extra protein, fiber, and several essential vitamins and minerals.

One cup (195 grams) of cooked brown rice gives 216 calories alongside 5 grams of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber.

It’s also a good source of manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and niacin.

You can combine rice with a serving of protein for an easy meal on the go.

Rice can also be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated for use for several days. While opinions differ on how long you can safely store rice, recommendations range from a few days to a week.

Summary: Rice is a nutritious food that is high in calories, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It can be combined with a good source of protein to create a healthy snack or meal.

11. Coconut oil

Coconut oil has risen to prominence for its positive impacts on aspects like heart health and cognitive function.

Suggested read: 10 evidence-based health benefits of coconut oil

Given its high-caloric content, it’s also an ally for those looking to gain weight.

Specifically, a 1-tablespoon of coconut oil delivers 116 calories and 13.5 grams of fat.

Integrating coconut oil into your diet is straightforward. You can exchange it for most cooking fats or oils, blend it into smoothies, or stir it into sauces and dressings.

Summary: Packed with fat and calories, coconut oil boasts various health advantages. Its flexibility allows it to substitute most other cooking oils seamlessly.


Many vegan foods are rich in calories and nutrients, which can help you gain weight quickly.

Adding these foods to your meals or snacks can increase your calorie intake and gain weight.

Just remember to mix these with other healthy items like fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains for a balanced and nutritious diet.

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