Some vegetarians struggle to maintain a healthy body weight because the fruits and vegetables that they commonly eat are naturally low in calories. To gain 1 lb., you must consume 3,500 calories more than you burn. Therefore, eating a mere 125 calories more than your body burns each day will result in a weekly weight gain of 1/4 lb. Though 1/4 lb. may not seem like much, this slow, steady weight gain will produce an annual gain of 13 lbs. without making drastic dietary changes. Consult with your doctor before making adjustments to your diet, however, especially if you are being treated for any medical conditions.
Determine how many calories you burn on a daily basis. To do this, add your basal metabolic rate to the amount of calories you burn daily through exercise. Both of these figures can be determined by consulting a dietitian or utilizing a variety of free online calculators that can be accessed through sites such as caloriesperhour.com.
Add 125 calories to the total number of calories you burn each day. The sum is the amount of calories you must consume to gain 1/4 lb. per week. For example, if you burn 2075 calories per day, you will need to eat 2200 calories per day to gain 1/4 lb. weekly.
Snack on healthy, calorie-dense foods. Instead of relying on carrot and celery sticks, add calorie-dense foods, such as dried fruit, peanut butter or nuts to your snacks. Dried fruits contain the same vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts, but they are more calorie-dense. Simply adding 1/4 cup of raisins, which contain 122 calories according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, to your day is nearly enough to illicit a 1/4-lb. weekly gain.
Dress your salads with olive oil and vinegar. This will increase calories and incorporate healthy omega-3 fatty acids into your diet from the olive oil. A single tbsp. of olive oil adds 119 calories to your meal, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
Add an extra serving of complex carbohydrates to your meals. Adding an extra 1/2 cup of brown rice to your meal adds 109 calories and 1.8 g of fiber to your meal.
Record your food intake in a journal, which can be as simple as a notepad or as complex as an online food diary. This will allow you to keep track of how many calories you're eating to ensure that you're consuming enough extra calories to gain weight.
- "Contemporary Nutrition"; Gordon M. Wardlaw and Anne M. Smith; 2007
- "Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies"; Frances Sizer; 2008
- "Basic Nutrition and Diet Therapy"; Staci Nix; 2005