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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vegan Weight Gainer revision, and more

As I had mentioned I've been playing around with the weight gainer shake we made up to aid in my calorie surplus. Through trial and error I have whittled away some unnecessary ingredients to make it easier to make and/or shop for. I found that it tastes fine without the agave nectar or the vanilla, so I've cut them out, and by removing TVP the shake is simultaneously less processed and less chunky, a trade I have found reasonable for the loss in protein.

In addition to these removals I have come across a superfood I really should have known about before now. While searching for seeds lower in fat than sunflower seeds, I discovered Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds).

Pepitas have more protein and less fat per calorie than any other seeds I've come across, have an excellent amino acid profile (which means they have all the amino acids your body needs) and they are rich in minerals (Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Phosphorus). A detailed nutritional analysis on Nutritiondata.com even rated their protein score as higher than eggs! (and instead of the whopping amount of cholesterol and nutrient void they have minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals).

Check out all their stats here. The only precaution I will add before anyone goes on an all pumpkin seed diet is that being a seed they are high in fat, so eating too many will make losing bodyfat difficult if that is your goal.


  • 1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (153/5/7/13/1)
  • 1 scoop NitroFusion, or similar protein powder (190/9/25/2/2)
  • 1 cup soymilk (90/7/7/3.5/1)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 banana (121/31/1/0/4)
  • 1 can canellini beans, rinsed [aka white kidney beans] (420/73/28/0/35)
  • [optional] cocoa powder to taste
Directions: Blend all ingredients to desired consistency

Total stats: 974 calories, 125g carbs, 68g protein, 18.5g fat, 43g fiber

Or, for an all whole foods shake omit the protein powder for stats like:
784 calories, 116g carbs, 43g protein, 16.5g fat, and 41g fiber

Either way, a great and highly nutritious shake with stats to match. I would even recommend a half serving of the whole food version to those looking for a meal replacement shake that would help weight loss or maintenance.

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Anonymous Jesse said...

Thanks for the recipe - I just made a post-workout shake with chocolate soy milk - everything else is the same - pretty good so far, maybe a bit too watery. My blender broke so I used my food processor which could not blend up the pumpkin seeds so much but it tastes ok and is definitely drinkable. Hopefully I'm on my way to great gains!

August 12, 2009 at 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for this... will give it a go!

August 31, 2009 at 3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on attempt #2 at a vegan diet. (Well, kinda - I continue to eat honey and recently decided to incorporate occasional seafood if it appears to be that the item in question was sourced in an environmentally sustainable fashion.)

Why attempt #2? I tried and quit once before. I'm a classic hard-gainer. I'm 5'10", currently 150 lbs. Pre-fitness/workout enthusiasm, I was literally only 120 lbs at this height. A nose on a stick, basically. I made it to 165 lbs as a carnivore and it took a long while to get there - a half-gallon of milk daily and a workout plan with an emphasis on 20-rep squats.

My conscience and knowledge of meat/dairy/egg production standards dictates that I stay firm about eating this way, but I immediately lose weight and I really, really dislike being thin. I eat a lot, but have a hummingbird's metabolism.

I'm 41 and recently sold the squat cage, as my back and knees no longer wish to cooperate. This shake is my latest experiment (paired with more bodyweight-resistance stuff). Just did an AM chest workout and now... I'm trying to choke down... a big glass of f-ing kidney beans and pumpkin seeds? Really? It's come to this?

April 6, 2010 at 5:07 AM  
Blogger Logan Kost said...

hey Derek, I was wondering what your thoughts on protein absorption are. I mean that in a per-meal sense. Do you think there is any limit to the amount of protein one should consume in a single meal? thanks for the awesome blog posts!!

April 8, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Anonymous Derek said...

Hi 5'10" 150. I see the dilemma you face. This weight-gainer is a great whole food way to up your calories and protein on a vegan diet, but there is no one easy answer if you have a really hard time gaining weight. That is unfortunate about the squats as they would help, but there are many other options available to you.

With anyone looking to gain weight, you have to create a calorie surplus, eat a lot of protein, and create a large demand on your muscles with heavy weight lifting. I emphasize heavy because calisthenics probably won't cut it. If you have access to a gym I would highly recommend utilizing machine multi-joint exercises you can use to safely max out your large muscle groups (legs, chest, back) with as much weight as you can handle for 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets plus a warm up. Doing this even 2-3 days per week will help create the demand you need to for your body to adapt.

As for calories, even the hardest gainer can gain weight if they eat enough calories. The trick is eating quality calories so you don't gain fat, and making sure you are consistent. A couple days a week for two weeks won't do much. I'd use our spreadsheet tool with bodybuilding selected, and enter the weight you want to be rather than where you are to get a starting point, try it for a couple weeks, and if that doesn't work increase from there. Hope this helps!

April 10, 2010 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

Hi Logan. I do think there is a limit to how much protein one can absorb in a single sitting, but I can't wager a guess because so many factors come into play. I imagine it depends greatly on the source of protein, how processed it is, what it is consumed with, the body's individual needs at the time it is eaten, and of course that person's metabolism/genetics.

That said, I would say you will probably absorb the most first thing in the morning since you've been fasting while you slept, and right after weight training. It would also make sense that you absorb more from a processed source eaten with carbs than any other way of eating it due to the easier digestion and insulin response, but that information comes straight out of the magazines and therefore may not be true.

In any case, I always try to err on the side of too much (though anything you don't need stresses the kidneys which have to excrete it) and I try to make the majority of my whole-food sources very high quality protein such as that found in soy, pepitas, and quinoa.

You're very welcome and thanks for reading!

April 10, 2010 at 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Steve M said...

Just came across this, interesting idea with the beans, I wouldn't have thought of that. Thanks for this.

July 31, 2010 at 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey derek, my name is Andrew. Ive been trying your beanshake recipe for a week now and have been noticing good results in weight gain. however, the white kidney beans are only 220 calories per can instead of 440. Just out of curiousity how much beans do u have in each of ur cans? mL? grams?

August 5, 2010 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

Hi Andrew,

I'm glad you're seeing results with it! The can volume varies a little depending on which store we shop at that week. I am currently using a 16oz can that totals 350 calories, so my above numbers are a little off. Also, I have recently been using half a can per shake instead of a full can to cut the fiber a little (makes it easier on the stomach) and I have been making up the calories with 2 tbps peanut butter. This takes the fat content up a bit, but it has been working well for me. Hope this helps!

August 8, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

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