One of the most common mistakes new vegans make is not eating enough calories. Because animal products are much more calorically dense than plant foods, vegans need to eat more food to consume the same number of calories.
When you’re just starting out, it can be really easy to under-eat if you don’t make a conscious effort. Here are some ways you can make sure you eat enough on a vegan diet.
Track what you eat
This is a fantastic way to get a read on how many calories you’re already getting. Track what you’re currently eating to see how much you actually need to bump up your food intake.
Apps like Cronometer not only tell you how many calories you’re eating but they also show your macronutrient ratio (carbs, proteins, fats) and micronutrient intake.
Cronometer has an extensive library of food items to log, though sometimes it does take a bit of searching finesse to find exactly what you’re looking for.
One danger I ran into while tracking my food was getting a little obsessive. Your portion size does not need to be exact and it is ok to estimate. I found myself on the verge of buying a food scale before my husband talked me down. If you’re ever in doubt, log the smaller portion size so you don’t accidentally track more calories than you really ate and run the risk of under-eating.
Once you get an idea of how many calories you naturally eat in a day, you can adjust your food intake to hit your goal. Keep tracking your food for a bit until you get a feel for just how much food is enough for you.
Increase your food intake
Getting in more calories may sound as simple as “just eat more food,” and it may be that simple for you. For others (myself included) it may take a bit more work to make a habit out of eating more.
One way to sneak in more calories without changing much about they way you currently eat is to simply add calorie-dense ingredients to the meals you already make.
Some great options are:
- Peanut butter
- Chia seeds
Another option for eating more calories is to increase your portion sizes. Instead of having one scoop of pasta, have two. You may find that your body will resist a bit because it is so used to eating a certain amount but over time it will adjust and the larger portion size will become the norm.
The method you choose for increasing your calorie intake will depend on what’s right for your body and lifestyle. Are you busy during the day so you rely on just a few large, calorie-dense meals? Does your body function better with several small meals spread throughout the day? Find the combination of ingredients and portion size that works for you and you’ll be satiated and thriving.
Have questions? Ask in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond!