So many vegans cite the benefit of the diet as a way to lose weight, which is great for those who need to. But what about those of us looking to maintain the same physique, or with health problems that make it dangerous to slim down? You don’t have to sacrifice your tastes, ethics, or health to gain weight.
1. Get nutty
Cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios – all pack a punch of protein and fat. Season them with salt and wasabi or mix them with your favorite dried fruit and dark chocolate chips. Either way, you’re reaching for a healthier snack than chips. And if the salty crunch and trail mix get stale; start exploring all the wonderful uses of nut butters beyond the PB&J. Banana and almond butter smoothie? Throwback to grade school with “ants on a log”? The sky is the limit.
2. Midnight snacks
Have you ever run into dieters who avoid anything besides water an hour before bedtime? That’s because when we sleep, our bodies burn fewer calories. We can use this to our advantage by eating a snack rich in protein, fat, or carbs right before bed. So before you brush your teeth, reach for some whole-grain toast or chips with store-bought or homemade hummus, an apple with peanut butter, or chips and guacamole.
3. Know which vegan foods have fat – and which ones you like
On a vegan diet, we only have a few sources of fat. To avoid missing out on them, it’s worthwhile to get to know them: Avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils. Make sure to have some high-fat food every day. A whole avocado with salt and chili powder makes a great afternoon snack, and a tofu or tempeh stir-fry with veggies is a wholesome and fat-friendly dinner. Seeds are a concentrated source of nutrient-dense calories. Sprinkle chia, hemp,or flax seeds on your oatmeal.
4. Liquids, liquids, liquids
Fool yourself into getting more calories by opting for easy-to-consume smoothies and drinks. Silken tofu makes a base for fruit smoothies that are high in protein and fat. You can also try a rich chocolate soy or coconut milk for an indulgent treat that’s a great source of protein. And don’t forget, if you’re making a smoothie, to toss in some chia seeds or nut butter. See Carrie Forrest's Chocolate Cherry Bomb Smoothie, for example (shown above).
5. Be smart about beans
Legumes are a varied source of proteins and vitamins, but make sure you’re getting the most out of them by pairing them with a grain. Rice and beans, a quinoa-lentil chili – there are so many hearty dinners to explore. Jamaican Red Beans and Rice (above), cooked with coconut milk is an easy and yummy example.
A vegan diet is about compassion, health, and enjoying delicious food. By just being a little mindful of your habits, you can stay at the weight you want by eating the food you love. Happy snacking!
- Are you a vegan athlete that needs more calories and nutrition? See also The High Performance Vegan Athlete: It is Possible!