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A vegan diet is a fantastic way to lose weight and become healthier, but not everyone wishes to lose weight on the diet. In fact, some people struggle to maintain their weight, and this can be a problem for those who are already quite lean. So here’s how you can go vegan without losing weight.
See, the problem with a plant-based (healthy) vegan diet is that people are used to eating certain sized portions and a certain volume of food. And when you start eating healthily, you may not adjust the portion sizes accordingly to maintain your body weight.
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of water content and are generally low in calories. When I see family or friends try to diet, they’ll make these tiny little salads which are very energy-deficient. It’s no wonder why so many people fail on diets.
With a vegan diet, you can successfully lose weight, maintain it, or even become a bodybuilder if you want to.
It’s simply about choosing the right foods to eat.
How to maintain your weight
Studies have shown that when a person starts a vegan diet, they’ll dramatically decrease their calorie intake. Even when compared to vegetarians, vegans are often found to be leaner and healthier on average.
Unless you’re being intentional about trying to really go for calorie-dense foods and drinking lots of fruit smoothies which are loaded with sugar, you’ll most likely lose weight without even trying.
That’s awesome for someone who is a bit on the heavier side, but for people who already have a low BMI, it can lead to concern from family and friends.
If you’re new to a vegan diet, then it might be a bit confusing trying to figure out which foods you should eat that are both healthy and calorie-dense. So let’s take a look at some of the healthiest calorie-dense foods on a vegan diet to help you maintain your weight! 🙂
After you finish this article, also check out my guide on how to start a vegan diet for some more tips!
Vegan foods that are high in calories
- Beans – I eat a variety of beans in my diet. They provide a lot of calories and are a great source of protein and fiber, as well as being one of the foods which are associated with longevity!
- Avocado – Every morning I start my day with an avocado! It is super healthy with its healthy fat profile and can be added to so many different foods. You can simply spread it on some bread, add to your plate of steamed vegetables. What I do is have wholemeal bread, avocado, Mexican bean burger and a small number of raisins. Quick, tasty, and easy!
- Nuts – Nuts are packed with nutrition and calories. Eat a variety of nuts like walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts. I like adding them to my oatmeal.
- Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and calorie-dense. They are a very healthy food, so include them often in your main meals and drizzle them with a bit of olive oil to help add extra calories and absorb the beta-carotene.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – High in monounsaturated fat and oleic acid which are anti-inflammatory and healthy. Just one tablespoon (13.5 g) of olive oil has 119 Calories.
- Vegan protein drinks – Drinking protein powders with meals and after workouts is a great way to maintain muscle and healthy body composition.
- Healthy treats – Vegan organic chocolate can be eaten sparingly to help maintain a higher weight.
- Smoothies – Smoothies can be a great way to get a lot of calories fast and easy. Green smoothies also rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. To boost up calories, try adding avocado and seeds to your smoothies.
As you can see, iceberg lettuce doesn’t make it on the list! In order to maintain weight, you’re going to have to think differently about portion sizes and perhaps even track your calorie intake to see how many calories you’re getting. You might be seriously underestimated your calorie intake on this diet.
It’s very common for people to undereat significantly on a vegan diet and feel weak and dizzy. I think this is why so many people quit the diet. They make simple mistakes which could be easily avoided.
Get enough calories
To determine whether or not you’re getting enough calories, you can use different calculators online which will estimate how many calories need to maintain your bodyweight.
It’s a pretty simple concept: eat enough!
But I know from first-hand experience that eating enough calories on a plant-based, vegan diet, can be quite difficult because most of the foods are very low in calories.
When I first started a CR diet, I would have these huge bowls of vegetables which would take me literally an hour to finish. Seriously!
My stomach would be so full after the meal, but yet I was still losing a significant amount of weight each week. It never felt like I was restricting my calories at all. It felt like I was eating more food than ever before.
And sure, I was eating a far bigger volume of food than I was used to eating, but even then the total calorie intake for a typical day was barely 1500k/cal per day.
Now think about what I said earlier with people new to eating this way… They will normally have the same sized dishes, with a few chopped up lettuce leaves, tomatoes, a small potato, and a carrot stick. This is simply not enough food.
On a vegan diet, you have so many options. Be open-minded and explore new things!
How much are you exercising every day and what type of exercise?
If you like running, martial arts, or any other energy-intensive activity, these can take up a lot of calories, so you need to make sure you’re compensating by adding in extra calories.
You can also simply find a better balance. Maybe if you run a lot, but not competitively, cut back a bit and focus on other types of exercise like yoga, weight training to build muscle.
Going on a vegan diet, eating healthily, and training your body can get you an awesome physique in no time!
It will also help stimulate your appetite! 🙂
Other ideas to maintain weight
So now you have a better idea of the types of food you should include your diet to maintain your weight, let’s take a look at how you can adjust your daily habits as well.
- Eat your meals at set times, and don’t miss them
- Include healthy snacks in between your meals
- Studies have shown that eating with other people increases food intake by up to 18%
- One known trick is to use larger plates when serving food
- Use herbs in your diet like peppermint, ginger, cinnamon, chamomile, lemon balm, and others, which can prevent nausea and stimulate appetite. Adjusting to larger food portion sizes can be difficult, but these should help
- Don’t drink large amounts of water before meal time (fruits and veggie have a lot already!)
- Make sure you don’t become deficient in vitamins and minerals which may reduce appetite. Zinc deficiency is one well-known cause of loss of appetite and vegan may be at risk.
Getting used to the larger portion sizes can be a difficult part. As I said earlier, I would eat so much food my stomach would be bloated and yet there was barely 500 k/cal in the meal.
Your stomach can adjust over time, so gradually increase your meal sizes if you have to.
How not to do it
It might be tempting to go for the junk food to get those extra calories, but don’t do it. Be conscious about what you’re putting into your body.
Occasionally, it is fine to eat these foods, but the majority of your diet should be healthy. If you do this, you will maintain a healthy body weight, look great, and drastically reduce the risk of disease.
You may also even live a lot longer than average.
There are plenty of vegans out there who only eat junk food and are putting their health at risk. Junk food is junk food no matter if it’s vegan or not.
Be the best example to others by taking care of yourself in a healthy way.
A vegan diet can be an extremely healthy way of living and fit almost any type of lifestyle if done correctly. There are however many pitfalls which can be easy to fall into.
For a person to be successful on a vegan diet, it can take a bit of time adjusting and learning some of the basics.
With the right information, you can successfully maintain your weight on the diet and be in control of your health.