It’s not always the case that following a vegan or plant-based diet is good for your health and the environment. However, it can be difficult if you ignore your daily needs of macronutrients, also known as “macros,” which are Protein, Healthy Fat, and Calories. Losing weight is one aim for some people, but going plant-based may result in unwanted weight loss and persistent feelings of hunger for others, including athletes, active individuals, or those with larger bodies. It is entirely avoidable with a bit of effort and knowledge about where to get macros.
If you know what you’re doing, a healthy vegan diet full of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds should provide everything your body needs to sustain strong muscles, fuel a slim athletic physique, and support hard training.
A plant-based diet is based on eating nutritious whole plant foods. Still, it’s also typical for someone new to veganism to under-eat calories or winds up neglecting essential nutrients and filling up on processed garbage. Don’t be concerned! With a little bit of nutrition knowledge and a few simple food adjustments, you’ll be able to eat a well-balanced vegan diet in no time. Here are some strategies for eating a healthy vegan or plant-based diet while remaining consistent.
How can you determine if your meal plan is insufficient?
“I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong.” I hear this from many of my clients, who know that something is off with their nutrition but don’t know what it is. There are a few physical indications that you may be failing to feed your body adequately on a vegan diet. Here are some things to watch for.
Plant-based diets are lower in calories than animal-based diets. If you’ve recently switched to a plant-based diet and started losing weight unintentionally, you may be consuming fewer calories than you require. In other words, you’re probably malnourished.
Protein is one of the essential nutrients for appetite control. If you don’t eat enough protein on a plant-based diet, your stomach may rumble continuously.
Low energy levels are expected: not eating enough, missing out on micronutrients such as iron or Vitamin B12, and so forth.
Brittle hair, nails, and bones: Calcium or protein deficiency might be to blame if your hair or nails are constantly breaking. If you’ve had unexplained bone fractures, your eating habits may be out of balance.
These warning signals are an indication that something is wrong. Begin by consulting with your doctor and making any necessary dietary changes.
What is a proper vegan macro breakdown?
The primary nutrients, or “macros,” in a diet are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The following macronutrient proportions are what you should consume to develop a healthy vegan diet:
- Carbohydrates: 45–65% of total daily calories
- Fat: 25–35% of total daily calories
- Protein: 20–30% of total daily calories
The number of calories you consume each day will differ based on your age, overall size, and diet goals. To provide a quick estimate, someone who consumes between 1,600 and 1,800 calories each day should aim for:
- 180- 290 grams of carbs
- 60- 90 grams of fat
- 80- 130 grams of protein
Plant-based foods contain lots of carbohydrates, which are more than just starches. You can find healthy complex carbs in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes as the significant energy source for exercise.
Fats are required for organ preservation and act as a source of energy for lower-intensity exercise. Avocados, oils, nuts, and seeds are all excellent sources of unsaturated fat. Protein is also necessary for muscle growth and overall strength. Soy products like tofu, tempeh, soybeans, edamame beans, legumes, in general, are plant-based proteins.
You should pay extra attention to the following micronutrients on a plant-based diet. All nutrients are necessary, but some focus on a vegan diet. If you think you’re lacking any vitamins or minerals, have your doctor do a simple blood test to see whether you need supplementation. You could be missing out on these tiny elements.
Vitamins A (beta carotene), B12, C, and E are responsible for generating energy in your body. Vitamins are essential nutrients that assist our bodies to function correctly by helping them develop and maintain healthy cells, tissues, organs, and systems. Micronutrients such as iron participate in the formation of red blood cells; without enough red blood cells being generated, we become fatigued. Foods like lentils, chickpeas, oats, and tofu can help you get all the iron you need.
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that aids in forming red blood cells and the production of energy. It’s primarily found in animal products, but vegan sources include nutritional yeast, fortified plant milk, and fortified cereals.
Calcium and Vitamin D: These nutrients are essential for bone health as you get older. Calcium is found in dairy products, but soy, green vegetables, and nuts contain it. The primary source of Vitamin D is sunlight. However, vitamin D absorption rates differ depending on skin color and exposure to the sun. Mushrooms are a great vegan source of Vitamin D, although many people add supplements to avoid shortages.
Vitamin D is difficult to acquire without a supplement, and most people require 600 IUs per day. The suggested calcium intake is 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day, with beetroot, beans, lentils, and deep green leafy vegetables like kale, rhubarb, and spinach all containing calcium. If you consume foods like edamame or figs that don’t provide enough minerals, you may wish to consider vitamin supplementation.
Your sample plant-based meal plan
Let’s combine these macros and micros to make a well-balanced day of vegan eating. Follow the meal and snack plan below to ensure you’re providing your body with everything it requires.
- Tofu Scramble with Mushrooms for a Vitamin D Boost for Breakfast
- Sesame Quinoa and Tofu Thai Bowl for Lunch
- Hummus and veggies or Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas as a Snack
- Evening meal: Vegan Black Bean Burger with Kale Salad and Roasted Cauliflower
If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough of certain nutrients, speak with a Registered Dietitian knowledgeable in plant-based diet planning to help you create a meal plan that meets your expectations and activity level.
Read our blog about The Difference between Plant-Based and Vegan Diet?