How Do Vegans Get Enough Calories?

David Beaver

There are numerous advantages to eating a vegan diet. However, here is a preconception that eating only plant-based foods makes maintaining or increasing weight more difficult.

It may be difficult, but it is not impossible, which is why we are here to show you how to eat enough calories as a vegan. Increasing muscle mass on a plant-based diet does not have to be difficult. As with any diet, you must be mindful of what you eat and plan ahead of time. Here are some pointers to help you get enough calories as a vegan!

It's all about the Meal Prep Baby

To ensure that you're eating enough calories to support your training, I'd recommend using a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal to plan out your meals. If you plan ahead of time, you can learn how to consume enough calories on a vegan diet and whether you need to supplement or add another meal or snack.  This is important for both your calorie and macronutrient intake.

We've already done a blog post on this but lack of protein, which is commonly associated with animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy is another common misconception associated with a plant-based diet.  The truth is there are hundreds of plant-based ingredients that are high in protein; it's just a matter of recognising what they are and making sure you get enough on a daily basis. Vegan-friendly foods that are high in protein include:

  • Soy 
  • Lentils 
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Beans and peas 
  • Natural Oats 

By meal preparing in advance, you can incorporate a range of these ingredients into your meals to ensure that you're getting sufficient calories, protein and essential vitamins.

On them days when you are just too busy or tired to cook, try our plant-based ready meals to ensure that you're getting enough calories from your vegan diet while also saving time and making saving you from a mountain of dirty dishes!

How do vegans get enough calories?

Go for Foods that are High in Calories

Next, whilst you are learning about eating enough calories on a vegan diet, you'll also need to keep in mind that if you're trying to bulk up or gain mass, you should be eating meals that are calorie dense to ensure that you are consuming a surplus number of calories. This is true  for omnivore or those who are fully plant based!  It'll come as no surprise that  high fat foods are also typically the most calorie dense, so choosing healthy fats is an excellent way to consumer additional calories while still sticking to a healthy diet. Plant-based foods with a high fat content include:

  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Olive oil 
  • Peanut Butter
  • Avocado 
  • Tahini

In addition to  foods that are high in fat, there are also calorie-dense plant-based foods that are rich in carbohydrate and protein, such as:

  • Lentils 
  • Oats 
  • Rice 
  • Quinoa 
  • Pasta 
  • Noodles

While learning how to consume enough calories as a vegan, it's important to choose high-calorie items in addition to eating more.

Do you think that your plate is already overflowing? Reconsider. There are loads of  ways to add calories to your meal without piling food if you are a vegan. For instance, 30g of walnuts (which isn't much) delivers 180 calories and a lot of healthy fats.  By adding a few walnuts, you can add around 200 calories to a meal.  One idea for a pre-workout meal is crushing them up and sprinkling them over a salad or using them as a topping on toast with nut butter. 

You can also increase the number of calories in your vegan diet by cooking your meals in a different way.   For example, cook your meals in olive and coconut oil instead of lower-calorie alternatives like light sprays and if you really want to increase your numbers, you can add extra virgin olive oil as a dressing.

So, as you will see, veganism provides loads of different health benefits, and whilst it may be more difficult to consume a high-calorie diet, this should not deter you from opting for plant-based cuisine. It simply takes some time and a little bit of learning.  Hopefully we have shown you that there are other high-calorie, protein-rich diets besides animal products.  In reality, following a plant-based diet allows you to find a variety of calorie and nutritionally dense meals that may benefit your health an support your training goals.

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