Some people struggle with constant hunger as a new vegan. But this doesn’t have to be an issue that ruins you! I’ve been vegan for 14 years now, and I can speak from experience with the following suggestions on how to get full and stay full as a vegan.
Here are 11 tips for staying full as a vegan:
- Eat more protein.
- Eat more fats.
- Eat bigger portions.
- Eat more fiber.
- Eat potatoes.
- Add oats or beans to your smoothies.
- Slow down while eating.
- Have nuts or nut butters on hand as snacks.
- Drink more water.
- Six more filling foods to eat more of.
- See the positive in not feeling stuffed all the time.
In addition to explaining these 11 tips and why they work so well, I’ll also explain which tips to focus on if you want to maintain or gain weight, and which tips to focus on if you’re trying to lose weight. Because honestly, some ways of filling yourself up will contribute a lot more calories than others!
What’s Happening When You’re Hungry on a Vegan Diet?
There are two big possible reasons I can think of why you may be feeling hungry on a vegan diet. If you’ve been feeling hungry and losing weight, then you’re probably experiencing a good deal of problem #1.
If you’re not losing weight, or if you’re happy with the amount of weight you’ve been losing, then you can focus more on just solving problem #2.
And don’t worry too much if you don’t know which is the bigger problem for you. The 11 tips below should help you feel more full either way.
Possible problem #1: You’re not getting enough calories overall.
This can happen because a lot of vegan foods are less calorically dense compared to animal-based foods. So you’ll eat the same sized portion as you’re accustomed to eating as a non-vegan, but it doesn’t fill you up as much when it’s vegan food.
This situation may cause weight loss, which a lot of people enjoy about a vegan diet, but it can also cause hunger when the caloric deficit is too big. And some people, like athletes, don’t want to lose weight, and so this is concerning to them.
If this is your problem and you want to prevent weight loss as a vegan, then focus on tips 2, 3, and 8 below. But all of them should help you.
Possible problem #2: You’re not getting enough protein, fiber, or water.
Water and fiber contribute to your fullness without adding calories. And protein adds fullness without adding any more calories than other macronutrients.
So if you want to feel more full but still keep losing weight (or at least make sure you don’t gain weight), this is the problem you need to focus on solving: You need more water, fiber, and protein.
If you want to feel more full while still losing weight, almost all of the tips below should help you—but be careful not to over-do tips #2 and #8.
1. Eat more protein.
Protein is known to be the most satiating macronutrient. And vegan diets can be lower in protein, especially if you’re not eating many beans or soy products.
My biggest recommendation would be to find some ways that you love to eat tofu. It’s an awesome food you can fit into so many different recipes because you can season it any different way.
The amino acid profile in soy is complete, and it’s the plant food with the most similar protein to animal protein in terms of its bioavailability.
I make scrambled tofu probably 5 times a week. It can be extremely quick to make, it’s nutritious, and I love it. It keeps me full even when I’m trying to lose weight and keep my total calories low.
If you don’t love the idea of adding tofu to your diet, look at other beans or pulses: beans-and rice-dishes, tempeh (fermented soy), peas, soy milk, refried beans, lentils, hummus—lots of options!
You can always add vegan protein powder to your diet, too, if needed! (This one is my favorite brand and flavor, from the ones I’ve tried.)
Given that nutritional yeast is just used as a topping, it won’t be your number one source of protein—but every little bit helps!
2. Eat more fats.
Fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient. Fat contains roughly 9 calories per gram, compared to the 4 calories per gram in protein and carbs.
This means that if you’re not getting enough calories in your diet, the quickest way to get more is to add fats to your meals and snacks.
So snack on nuts. Add peanut butter to things. You can smear peanut butter on top of just about anything.
Tofu, mentioned in #1 is also great for this tip. (Tofu has a lot of protein and fat.)
Avocados are a great source of fat, too. You can create all kinds of salad dressings, dips, and sauces by mashing up avocados and adding other ingredients to help flavor it.
And of course, cooking in oil or adding oils can also be a big source of fat, although oils will typically include fewer additional nutrients compared to the whole foods mentioned above.
Of course, when you add a lot of calories from the extra fat, you may end up gaining weight over time. So don’t go overboard with this particular tip if you’re watching your weight.
I went through a phase when I was adding peanut butter to everything, and I definitely put on a little weight. So I cut down on the peanut butter and got back my more defined abs.
3. Eat bigger portions.
When you switch to a vegan diet, you may need to just eat bigger meals. This is because a lot of plant-based foods are just lower in calories than their animal-based equivalents.
Vegetables, in particular, are extremely low in calories. So if you want to make a salad into a main course, you need to make it huge! Really huge!
But even with starches like rice and beans, you may need a bigger portion than you’re accustomed to needing when eating animal-based foods.
Think of it as a nice bonus you get for going vegan: You get to eat more quantity of food!
4. Eat more fiber.
Foods rich in fiber take longer to digest, and they help control your blood sugar levels. This will help you feel fuller for longer.
Not to mention, fiber is just a very important part of a healthy diet that the far majority of people don’t eat enough of.
So when it comes to your carbs, try to eat complex carbohydrates and whole grains rather than highly processed carbs.
If you add beans, you’re hitting this tip AND tip #1 (more protein) at the same time!
Whole grains will also help you massively increase your fiber intake. Wheat bran cereals are some of the most fiber-rich foods you can find.
Caution: Increase your fiber intake gradually. If you add a lot of additional fiber at once, you’ll likely run into some vegan farting problems (yes, I have a full article on vegan farting).
5. Eat potatoes.
Potatoes have the highest score of any food on the “satiety index,” which measures how full a food makes you feel, per calorie.
I remember hearing this tip from a bodybuilder who was cutting his body-fat levels before a competition: Potatoes will help you stay full on fewer calories.
If it’s a good enough tip for a bodybuilder, it’s a good enough tip for me!
There are so many options for how to prepare potatoes for a vegan diet. Mashed potatoes are a great option, and you can easily make them vegan with non-dairy products instead of the typical milk/butter added.
6. Add oats or beans to your smoothies.
Fruit smoothies are healthy, but all the calories come from sugar, which can be digested pretty quickly, especially when it’s blended up. So it’s nice to add complex carbs to your smoothies to help you feel full for longer.
I’m a big fan of putting oats in my smoothies. They blend up just fine, and I can’t taste them too much in the final product.
Beans in a smoothie might sound weird, but it actually works pretty well. Again, the taste is not very strong, so it can blend into whatever else you’ve got going on.
The only big tip I have for adding beans to your smoothie is to beware of the salt content. Canned beans can have a lot of salt. And you don’t want a super salty smoothie! (Ask me how I know.)
So try to use beans that are “reduced sodium” or “no salt added.” Or at least beware of the other potentially salty ingredients you might also be adding with them (peanut butter, soy milk, protein powder, etc).
7. Slow down while eating.
If the problem is that you don’t feel full by the end of your meals, then slowing down may help.
I remember seeing a study that said soup makes people feel more satiated than the same amount of food in a different form. The researchers believed that the satiety impact was due to the fact that people are forced to eat soup slowly due to the temperature and the form it takes.
Eating slowly allows your feelings of fullness to catch up to how much food you’ve actually eaten.
So if you want to feel more full from the same amount of food, stop wolfing down your food!
Make yourself chew a certain amount of times. Eat more fiber-rich foods that require more chewing. Maybe even try some eating meditation where you savor every bite!
8. Have nuts on hand as snacks.
The quickest vegan snack to help you satiate your hunger, in my experience, is nuts. Cashews. Almonds. Walnuts. Pistachios. Whatever!
One handful of nuts can be enough to significantly address feelings of hunger that are coming on. So they can do a lot more for you than something like an apple, and in less of the time.
Alternatively, you can just grab a spoon and get a big spoonful of peanut butter. You’ll get 100 to 200 calories in a big mouthful of peanut butter!
When I’m in a rush to leave the house, and I realize I didn’t leave enough time to eat or pack food, I will just eat a big spoonful of peanut butter.
It’s kind of funny, but it works! It’s an efficient, satiating, energy-dense snack!
(As I mentioned with #2, these added calories can lead to weight gain over time, if consumed in excess. So don’t go overboard with nuts if you’re watching your weight.)
9. Drink More Water.
Water can help fill your stomach up without contributing any calories. So this is a good tip for those of you trying to lose weight without feeling so hungry. Stay hydrated.
Recently I’ve tried filling up a gallon jug of water each morning, and then I refill my glass from it throughout the day. That way, I know when I’ve had a gallon of water each day.
And actually, I have found that sparkling water (like mineral water, club soda, or seltzer water) will help alleviate your feelings of hunger even more.
10. Six more filling foods to eat more of.
• Oatmeal has lots of soluble fiber with water absorbed into it, making it very filling without being a high-calorie food.
• Soup usually forces you to eat slower, and studies suggest soup may stay in your stomach longer than other foods, causing satiety that way, too.
• Beans are packed with fiber and protein, so they’re a no-brainer for filling up as a vegan.
• Quinoa has a good amount of fiber and protein, too, for a grain.
• Coconut oil is thought to help reduce appetite due to the fat being in the form of medium-chain triglycerides, which can turn into ketone bodies. (I don’t know much about the science behind this, but I believe it!)
• Popcorn has lots of fiber and it can be low in calories (if you don’t add a lot of oil).
11. See the positive in not feeling stuffed all the time.
And just remember: You don’t want to over-eat so much that you feel stuffed. It can be really nice to feel full but not overly stuffed after a meal.
For some people, what they need when going vegan is a change of perspective (rather than a list of satiating vegan foods or anything).
It’s okay to feel a little lighter after your meals. It’s one of the potential benefits of going vegan.
I remember in some of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s diet books, he talks about how eating a whole-food plant-based diet leads you to feel “true hunger” rather than being food addicted like most people are.
So realize that the feeling you used to recognize as “full” might not actually be a healthy, ideal feeling to have every day after each meal. It’s possible.
So lean into this feeling, try to appreciate it, and see if that affects how you feel at all, too.
Related: Feeling Tired on a Vegan Diet, Too?
If you feel tired, it could be a number of different things, and you might want to talk to a physician or dietitian. Be aware of the potential for iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies on a vegan diet.
But if you’re hungry and tired, it may be due to simply not eating enough calories.
Again, the calorie density of many vegetarian and vegan foods is simply a lot lower than animal-based foods. That’s why people often lose weight when going vegan.
But you can always add calories to your diet. Just increase your portion size, meal/snack frequency, or caloric density (eating more fats, #2 above). Or do all three of those things!
I’m not very experienced in low-carb dieting, but I also think if you limit your carbs too much, then that can cause feelings of fatigue. So you could try adding fruit, beans, and whole grains for more healthy carbs in your diet, too.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.
2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).
If you found these tips helpful and don’t want to forget them, save the Pin below to your Pinterest “Vegan Tips” or “Plant-Based Diet” board!