Always Hungry? Tips For Feeling Full On A Plant-Based Diet
New vegans often struggle with being hungry eating a plant-based diet. If you’re feeling hungry, it doesn’t mean a vegan diet isn’t right for you.
Usually, it’s one of four problems that have an easy fix. Taking the time to identify what problem you’re having makes it easier to find a solution.
Below I’ll go over the most common reasons that you’re a hungry vegan and the best tips for feeling full on a plant-based diet.
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Why Are You Hungry On A Vegan Diet?
Many times when someone transitions to a plant-based vegan diet, they say they’re hungry all the time and the cravings are intense.
There’s one of three problems most likely happening. Once you understand the potential issues, it’s easy to make a few changes and stop those hunger pangs.
Problem #1: Not Eating Enough Calories
Yes, believe it or not, this is the most common reason why someone who is newly vegan is constantly hungry.
They don’t realize that the food they’re now eating is less calorie-dense than what they were eating before. Meat and cheese have a lot more calories than a meal made only of vegetables.
Problem #2: Trying To Be Too “Healthy”
Another misconception that keeps you from eating enough calories is the mindset that vegans only eat salads. Not every meal has to be super healthy.
If all you’re eating are small salads, in an attempt to lose weight, I can guarantee that you’ll be ravenous by the end of day 2.
Problem #3: Not Drinking Enough Water
While not always the case, sometimes when you feel like you need to eat something, you’re actually just thirsty. Water makes you feel full without giving you any calories.
Also, if you’re dehydrated you’re going to feel sluggish and tired. Sometimes your body even confuses mild dehydration with hunger signals.
Problem #4: Not Eating Enough Fiber Or Protein
Fiber is filling and if you aren’t eating enough of it, you’re not going to feel full even if you got enough calories.
That’s why you can still feel hungry after devouring a bag of kettle chips. Fiber-rich foods take longer to digest so you’ll feel full longer.
For protein, it’s unlikely you’re protein-deficient but protein is one of the most satiating foods. Protein decreases your levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and increases hormones that make you feel full.
11 Tips For Staying Full On A Vegan Diet
Now that you know the most common problems for your hunger, I’m going to share the solutions. Not all of these will be relevant for every potential problem so it’s good to know the reason behind your hunger pangs first.
1. Eat Larger Portions
You may not realize that when you switch from SAD (standard American diet) to plant-based, you need to make your portion sizes larger.
The reason for this is that plant-based foods are much lower in calories than animal-based foods.
You can feel safe increasing the amount of food you’re eating without fear of gaining weight unless you’re slathering your vegetables in oil or nut-based creamy sauces.
Mentally, you may still be portioning your vegan food out like side dishes instead of main meals. So give yourself the vegan perk of getting to eat greater quantities of food.
2. Drink More Water
Are you hungry or just thirsty? Actually, even your body may be slightly confused if you always jump straight for the food.
For someone who isn’t used to slowing down and paying attention to their body’s signals, it can be good to drink a glass of water, wait 15 minutes, and then reassess whether they were truly hungry.
If you want to stay hydrated but want to skip the soda, try out sparkling water with fruit essence. For some reason the bubbles help trick your mind into feeling more full.
3. Take Your Time When Eating
If you eat quickly then your body may not have enough time to register that it’s full. It can take 20 minutes after eating for your body’s signals to catch up.
This is why eating slower has it’s advantages, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. If you scarf down your food, you may find out 20 minutes later that you overate.
Another way to slow yourself down is to start your meal with a light soup. By its nature, soup is a slower-to-eat dish and may involve waiting for it to cool down between bites.
4. Eat More Fiber
Fiber takes a while to digest and prevents insulin spikes. By making sure to eat more foods with fiber, the fuller you’ll feel for longer.
Fiber is also important for digestion. The bulk helps keep food flowing through your system so you’re less likely to get constipated.
Some easy ways to get more fiber is through beans (which also add protein), whole grains, and leafy greens. Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and are easy to sneak into your meals.
5. Eat More Protein
Protein is one of the most filling and satiating foods you can eat. As a vegan, getting your protein from beans and legumes is important.
Protein is a macronutrient that keeps you full by reducing the hunger hormone ghrelin. Even for people who don’t love the taste of beans can usually stomach them hidden in dishes.
Here are some vegan foods that are high in protein:
Blend lentils up into a soup or pasta sauce. Crumbled tempeh can be seasoned and cooked to mimic ground beef used in tacos and casseroles.
Instead of rice, cook and season quinoa the same way. Spirulina can be added to your smoothies.
6. Eat More Fats
Fats are the most calorie-dense foods you can eat but they help with nutrient absorption as well as feeling full. The key is to not overdo it.
Merely a tablespoon of oil in salad dressing or half of an avocado in a meal is enough. If you’re not getting enough calories then increasing the amount of fat even more is a great way to reach higher calorie levels.
Healthy vegan fats:
- Olive Oil
- Nut Butters
- Coconut Oil
Peanut butter is the most well-known nut butter but there’s also cashew butter and almond butter. Sunflower seed butter is an option for someone who is trying to be nut-free.
Err on the lower end of added fats if you’re trying to lose weight. Fats are essential to eat but adding too many will quickly overshoot your calorie goal.
Fats also help with nutrient absorption. Here are a few of my favorite vegan food combinations that work to boost absorbable nutrients
7. Add More Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates are foods that take longer to break down in your digestive system. These include whole fruits, oats, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and even potatoes.
Potatoes especially have a high score in satiety which means you feel more full per calorie. Usually people think of potatoes as unhealthy but it’s quite the opposite as long as you don’t fry them or slather them in oils.
Oatmeal is a complex carb that’s easy to make for breakfast. If you’re concerned about adding tons of sugar to make oats palatable, check out these tips on how to sweeten oatmeal without sugar.
8. Choose Filling Snacks
If you like snacking throughout the day, your choice in snack will contribute a lot in whether or not you feel full.
You’ll want to stay away from empty calories that do nothing but make you hungrier. Instead, go for snacks that have some protein in them.
This could be a handful of nuts, baked chickpeas, kale chips, or air fried seasoned potatoes.
If you’re new to air-frying, this is my favorite. You’ll save so many calories!
9. Drink Bulked-Up Smoothies
Smoothies are great because you can hide an entire bunch of greens using only one ripe banana. I swear, you can’t even taste the greens after.
Other ways to bulk up your smoothie are to add quick oats, chia seed, flax seed, hempseed, and even beans. While it may sound strange, you can add cooked chickpeas to your smoothie without compromising flavor.
This will up your smoothie’s fiber, protein, and nutrition profile.
10. Make Sure Your Mind Is Active
A lot of times we trick ourselves into thinking we’re hungry when in fact, we’re only bored. We’ve created these food associations that trigger us to mindless eat.
Sitting on the couch in the evening could trigger you into thinking you’re hungry for a snack when really, it’s become a habit. Habits are tough to break but the easiest way is to keep your mind active on something else.
This could include doing something with your hands while watching tv so that your body isn’t sitting there motionless. I’ve known people who’ve taken up knitting and crochet to keep their hands active when they’re restless.
After time, you’ll break the food association and instead have a different non-food link.
11. Get Used To Not Feeling Stuffed
It can take a little bit to get used to not feeling stuffed; especially if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s often a mindset change that helps most with normalizing this.
Take on the Japanese routine of only eating until you’re 80% full. This will give your body enough time to realize it is in fact, completely full and you don’t overeat.
Take some time to recognize true hunger and not food want’s or addictions.
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Why Do You Feel Tired On A Plant-Based Diet?
There are two potential reasons that you’re feeling tired on a vegan diet:
- Vitamin B12
If you’re feeling tired, you may be low in vitamin B12. This vitamin is ESSENTIAL for your body and the only way to get it is through supplementation.
This liquid morning multivitamin is full of B vitamins to boost your energy.
For people that eat meat, the animal’s feed has B12 added to it so humans get it second-hand.
Traditionally, humans got B12 naturally from bacteria in the soil. They’d inadvertently consume small amounts of dirt from the food they were eating.
Nowadays, our grocery store produce is too clean and our soil has changed so it’s best to take a daily supplement. Here is my family’s favorite B12 vitamin spray.
Another reason you could be tired is due to lower levels of iron. If you’re not replacing what you typically ate in meat with iron-rich foods like beans, then you may not be getting enough iron in your diet.
Once you’ve identified the underlying problem of your hunger, you can start trying some of the above tips to help stave off your hunger.
Becoming a vegan doesn’t mean that you have to starve yourself or only eat healthy food. The best way that you’ll stick to a new way of eating is by giving your body what it needs.
You’ll most likely need to eat more food on a vegan diet since plant-based food is nutrient-rich but less calorie-dense.
If you’ve transitioned to a vegan diet and felt constantly hungry, what did you do to stop it?