Sticking to a vegan diet can make it challenging to gain weight without ingesting a lot of grains (oatmeal, wheat, rice) which are not good for your gut – and when you’re dealing with IBS or IBD, your body often cannot tolerate legumes (beans, lentils, soy, etc), so you can get locked in a downward spiral between your mind’s values and your body’s needs.

I advise vegans dealing with digestive issues to at least ingest some fish oil (cod liver oil is ideal) for the sake of their health – but this goes RIGHT back to that downward spiral I mentioned above between your values and needs. And so I’ve also put together some well-tolerated vegan ingredients you can use to create your own high-nutrient shakes:

Vegan Weight-Gain Building Blocks

Here are some gut-friendly vegan nutrients (no grains, no legumes) you can use as building blocks:

  • Udo’s, flaxseed, or MCT oil
  • Yacon powder
  • Lucuma powder
  • Sprouted chia powder
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Vegan Protein powder; rice, pea, quinoa or hemp protein (or Absorb Plus VEGAN)
  • Non-acidic fruit; bananas, peaches, mangos, papaya, pears, avocado etc.
  • Nuts; cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pistachio (raw nuts should be soaked and then slow-roasted to disable phytates and other anti-nutrients. If you can’t do this, then just use roasted nuts)
  • Seeds; pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame (chia and flax are also seeds but already listed above)
  • Coconut water
  • Nut, oat, or coconut milk (but no carrageenan) – cut with 1/3 – 1/2 water if too thick or heavy on the gut
  • Sweetener: stevia, luo han guo (monkfruit), raw honey, maple syrup (avoid sugar alcohols like xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol etc. as they can cause bloating/diarrhea)

Mix your choice of any of the above ingredients together and blend into a smoothie! Try to use 1 tbsp of healthy oil (start with 1 tsp and work your way up) per shake.

Here are some gut-friendly shake recipes that I like, but you can modify to get more calories in, or increase or decrease bulking agents, etc. as to your tolerance. The below measurements are more guidelines (as I don’t always measure when I’m creating my smoothies!), so you can adjust these ingredients as needed – some people prefer denser smoothies, and others a bit thinner. You can also add or decrease liquids in these recipes to your liking:

Brazilian Tango