Eating a plant-based diet has been gaining momentum in raising in popularity, not only because people have started awakening to a more gentle world, but because recent studies, along with real-life cases have demonstrated the plethora of health benefits that it brings. Nevertheless, transitioning to this lifestyle may not be the easiest of experiences you go through (as it hasn’t been for me).
One of the first side effects you might notice is the instant flow of energy and a sense of lightness in your body. At the same time, the heightened intake of fiber can lead to way too frequent trips to the toilet, combined with bloating, and the constant feeling of lack of satiety. The latter is most often experienced as a side effect to the fact you are now eating foods with a lot lower calorie density than you used to.
Does this mean you should give up your vegan diet, along with all the advantages it brings?
Not at all! There are simple, practical steps that will serve as a quick and effective remedy to this situation.
While there are many reasons why you may become hangry (hungry and angry) while trying to eat more plant-based, much of this can be attributed to not eating sufficient energy (ie. calories) and nutrients on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
You need to think of it this way: Often when we choose to make drastic changes to our diets, there is an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies because we are either consuming less of a food group or not consuming it at all.
Again, keep in mind that how much you should consume is attributed to your gender, age, size, activity level or with any medical conditions you may have.
Most people believe that you can only meet all your protein, iron and B12 needs on an omnivorous diet, but this is not true – even in active people and athletes. You can read more about that here.
1. Increase Satiety In The Brain On A Cellular Level
How to do this? Start with real food! Real foods on a plant-based diet include: vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, non-refined (whole) grains and pseudograins, legumes, and fruits. These foods keep the body satisfied on a cellular level greater than any processed food out there. They’re packed with different nutrients, each one containing minerals like magnesium and chromium that reduce blood sugar levels, along with special amino acids the body can use to reduce hunger signals in the body. Healthy fats from real, whole foods also increase satiety in the brain and on a cellular level.
The easiest and less time-consuming way to achieve that is by Downloading The Complete Vegan Recipe Solution – featuring 145 delicious, satiating vegan recipes that are designed with your health in mind! They are perfectly balanced to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet!
2. Eat a Variety of Plant-Based Foods Throughout the Day
It used to believed that a plant-based protein had to be combined with another plant-based protein to make a complete protein source. This is what they would call combining complimentary proteins. A single plant protein (ie. beans) was considered incomplete, meaning it lacked all essential amino acids (ie. beans are often low in methionine) or was low in one of the essential amino acids. Therefore, plant sources were believed to have to be combined with another protein to become a “complete” source. This was why it was recommended that vegetarians eat their lentils with rice!
Amino acids are what make up protein. They are the building blocks of life and we need protein for many of our bodies’ functions. Our bodies make nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Animal sources; such as chicken, beef, pork, fish and eggs deliver all nine essential amino acids. Soy and quinoa are two plant-based proteins that deliver all nine essential amino acids.
Most plant-based foods have either less than all nine amino acids or are lacking in one or more, however most of them contain at least some of every essential amino acid. Legumes (ie. lentils, kidney beans) tend to be lower in methionine, and most other plant foods tend to be lower in lysine. Within our bodies, we have consistent amounts of proteins and these essential amino acids. Therefore, the verdict is:
As long as you keep eating a variety of plant proteins throughout the day, you can get all the amino acids you need on a vegan diet. More information here. Here is a sample one-day vegan meal plan to better explain what I mean:You can start your day off with whole grain toast, nut butter and berries, followed by a tofu stir-fry on brown rice for lunch, hummus, whole wheat pita and raw vegetables for snack, and quinoa and bean salad for dinner.
Do you notice how in the above (and very simplified one day plan) there are different types of plant proteins (whole grain bread, nut butter, tofu, hummus, pita, quinoa and beans) at each meal or snack? This is what experts mean by saying, “consume a variety of plant proteins throughout the day.”
In past practice, I found that when I advised clients to eat multiple, higher plant protein sources, they often felt more satiated and less hungry. The same goes for myself and my family when I prepare us vegan meal.
3. Choose plant-based foods that are higher in protein.
If you are someone who is not used to eating vegan foods, you might find after eating you still feel hungry. This is because…
Not All Proteins Are Created Equal
Another common misunderstanding of plant protein vs animal protein is the ratio of protein quantity is not 1:1. For example, a 3-ounce serving of steak will have about 22g of protein. A half cup serving of chickpeas will have about 7g. If you are used to eating the steak, a half cup of chickpeas will probably not make you feel satiated. However, eating one and a half cups of chickpeas is a lot of chickpeas to reach that 22gs you’d get from steak. Most people I know will experience bloating and gas from eating that many chickpeas because consuming all that fibre at once would be hard on their digestive systems.
This is why I advise choosing foods that are higher in protein to feel of fullness. A higher plant protein option would be soy products, such as tofu, tempeh or soybeans.
Because soy products have all nine essential amino acids, this is a common plant protein source I recommend.
Also, when I recommended to people to eat more than one kind of plant protein source, they are less likely to complain about feeling hungry a half an hour later.
Here is an example of a meal that would feel more satisfying:
½ cup of chickpeas (7g protein), 1 cup of quinoa (8g protein) with a higher protein source such as 3 ounces firm tofu (8g protein). These three high protein sources have 23g of protein total in a meal. Not to mention, it also has about 12g of fibre, which would also help with fullness and digestion!
It’s easy to just munch throughout the day, but ultimately, this never really satisfies us like meals do. It’s important to sit down and enjoy at least two meals a day, and try not to just snack our way through the day to get by. If you can, work three whole meals into your day however possible, making sure to get enough calories from healthy foods, and sneak snacks in between your meals if you find yourself still hungry. Whether you eat grain free, gluten-free, soy-free, raw, or any other type of variation of a plant- ased diet, it’s still important to work some well-balanced meals into your day so your body gets what it needs. See our recipes for ideas for all kinds of delicious plant-based options!
5. Limit Salt and Oil
Salt and oil are not evil, however, too much salt can cause your body to want to eat more than it is really hungry for. Salt ignites the taste buds, which is great to flavor our dishes, but we should learn to adapt to the taste of foods just as they are without shaking salt in, or on top of, all our dishes. High salt intake from has been linked to high blood pressure, and can lead to overeating on unhealthy foods quite easily, never leaving us really satisfied. Oil is also fine to cook with on occasion, but it isn’t a whole food either. Oil also doesn’t really keep us full, nor does it provide the body with much nutrition. It can also lead to digestive strain for some, which may still leave the body craving real, nutrient-dense food after a meal. If you use oil, choose olive or coconut oil, and use a small amount each day, or use whole olives and coconut butter (or just real coconut meat) instead. Instead of excess salt, use herbs and spices.
6. Take good care of your blood sugar
Just winging our meals through the day will leave anyone hungry in a hurry! When blood sugar levels drop it leaves a person more prone to grab something in a hurry to steady insulin levels in the body. It’s important to be prepared on a plant-based diet by having some go-to, quick and healthy meals you can eat on a regular basis, along with preparing yourself for a day at the office where you’ll need to be sure to have some healthy options on hand. Keep whole foods like fruit, nuts, and seeds in your desk, work bag or purse, and be sure you have a recipe roll of inexpensive, healthy to-go snacks that are easy to grab and go in just minutes. This will help you stay satisfied and help you take care of your blood sugar too.
A one-stop solution to easily implement all of these tips is The Complete Vegan Recipe Solution! 145 delicious, satiating vegan recipes that will keep you happy, healthy, and bursting with energy, while optimizing your weight.
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