Are you a new (or not-so-new) vegan wondering how to stay full on a vegan diet? In this post learn 8 tips to help get you full….and KEEP you full!
As someone who has been vegan since 2012, I LOVE helping other people go vegan….and stay vegan. But one of the biggest concerns I hear from new or transitioning vegans is “I’m ALWAYS hungry!”. When you first go vegan you are eliminating foods that are typically high in fat and protein. These same foods are also very satiating – they make you full, and keep you full. However, they can also be disease-promoting – saturated fats found in meat and dairy can, as well eating as too much animal protein, can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other inflammatory diseases.
There are some pretty easy changes that can be made to help you stay full on a vegan diet, however. These 8 tips should help you NEVER feel hungry on a vegan diet again.
How to stay full on a vegan diet? 8 Tips to Stop the Hunger
1) Make sure you are eating enough food
This may seem obvious, but oftentimes when you first go vegan you have given up a majority of the foods you have eaten most of your life. And…you have not yet figured out how to replace these foods. So if you are genuinely hungry, eat something!
It can also be helpful to track calories for a week or so. Check how many calories your body approximately needs each day, using a calorie calculator (such as this one from the Mayo Clinic), and then keep track of the foods and calories you eat each day, using a free calorie tracking app such as My Fitness Pal or Chronometer. This is not something you’ll need to do forever….but it can be helpful to ensure you are eating enough.
2) Make sure you are eating enough protein
Protein is found in most plant foods (where do you think cows and chickens get their protein?….from plants!). But some plants have more protein than others. These include beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds. And I know if you’re a new vegan some of these words (tempeh??) might be new to you. But Google recipes using these protein sources….they are delicious!!).
Another great source of protein when you are a new vegan is packaged mock meats you can find at the grocery store. There are vegan hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages…even vegan folded eggs!….to be found in the refrigerated or freezer section and all are good sources of protein. And seitan (made from wheat gluten – so not suitable for those with sensitivity to gluten), is another great source of vegan protein. It has a very “meat-like” texture and is very high in protein (comparable to beef or chicken). Seitan is an ingredient in some mock meats, and it’s also known as “wheat meat” or “mock duck”. You can buy it prepackaged….or make it at home (here is a favorite seitan recipe to try from food blogger It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken).
3) Make sure you are eating enough fiber
Fiber is found in all fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain carbs like brown rice, oats, whole-grain pasta, and whole-grain bread contain fiber. Focusing on these whole foods instead of processed foods with minimal fiber, will help keep you full.
Make sure when buying bread or pasta to look for “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” on the label. A label that just says “wheat” or “wheat flour” likely isn’t whole grain, and won’t have the fiber needed to keep you full!
4) Stock up on healthy snacks
Make sure to have a healthy vegan snack stash at home, in your car for when you’re hungry on the go, and at work.
Healthy vegan snacks include:
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts….whatever your favorite it!)
- Dried fruit (dates, raisins, figs)
- Granola and granola bars
- Dark chocolate
- Vegan protein bars
- Whole-grain crackers
- Fresh fruit
- Washed and chopped veggies (carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber)
5) Make sure you are drinking enough water
Staying hydrated is so important. Often we think we are hungry when we are really thirsty. Even the slightest dehydration can also cause headaches….and make you tired. Before you eat….make sure you’re not really just thirsty!
Studies (like this one from a university in The Netherlands) have shown that the more water you drink throughout the day, the more full – and the less hungry – you will feel.
6) Choose healthier fats from whole food sources
Healthy fats from whole food sources include avocado, nuts, and seeds. Fats take longer to digest and can keep you full longer, and fat sources from whole foods also contain fiber and protein, which are both satiating.
7) Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals is especially helpful when you are first transitioning to a vegan diet. It will give you the opportunity to look up new recipes, and learn all the AMAZING food options that come with this new lifestyle. And when your meals are planned out, you are more likely to stick with an eating schedule that will help prevent hunger!
And if you don’t like meal planning (and like to eat what you want when you want….like me!!), then make sure to stock up on a variety of foods that you can pull together easily for a meal. For me this is a Buddha bowl or salad!! I simply throw into a bowl my favorite greens or chopped veggies, canned beans, brown rice or quinoa, maybe some avocado, a sprinkle of pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and maybe a vegan dressing (pre-made or bottled from the grocery store)…voila!…easy, satisfying, and healthy meal. You can also keep whole grain pasta and jarred pasta sauce on hand, or vegan mock-meats to eat along a whole grain and veggie!
8) Eat a “satiating” food
According to a 1995 study from the University of Sydney, which tested and then ranked foods in terms of how satiating they are (satiating foods will get you full and keep you full the longest) – the winner was (drumroll please!!) the humble POTATO! Boil or baked potatoes were the most satiating (although French fries didn’t do so bad in the study either?!).
It’s thought that the reason potatoes are so filling is because they contain a certain type of plant fiber (resistant start) that takes a long time to digest – so it keeps you full for a long time.
Other satiating foods according to the study include oatmeal/porridge, oranges, apples, grapes, popcorn, whole grain bread, and bananas.