The 5 biggest mistakes vegans make with their nutrition
Updated: May 22
So, here’s the deal: I’ve been vegan since 2003. That’s back when the one vegan option at restaurants was a plate of iceberg lettuce topped with a few tomato slices. Obviously, we’ve come a long way since then!
In working with my awesome vegan clients, here are the 5 biggest nutrition mistakes that I see and hear about all the time – and how to fix them.
#5: Being a “junk food vegan”.
We all know that “vegan” does not automatically mean “healthy”. Hey, French fries, Oreos, potato chips, and Skittles are all vegan!
As one of my new clients recently e-mailed me, “I have no clue what my body needs for fuel. I've been eating vegan for a few years now, but I'm a junk food vegan.”
Don’t deprive your body of what it needs – and sabotage your fitness goals – by eating too much nutritionally empty food.
Make sure you take time to assess the nutritional quality of your diet. Track all the food you eat for a week (in an app like MyFitnessPal) and take a look at your overall calories, macros (ratio of protein, fats, and carbs), and major nutrients.
Wanna go into much more detail? Download my free 32-page ebook that shows you how to track your food, calculate calories, and set macro goals on a vegan diet. You’ll even get step-by-step instructions – complete with a printable grocery list – for how to prep a week’s worth of super healthy vegan dinners in 60 minutes or less.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY:
#4: Cutting out animal products you used to eat without replacing them.
If you just cut out all the animal products you used to eat and don’t replace them with a variety of plant-based foods, you’re setting yourself up for nutritional deficiency. You’re also creating a negative mindset of deprivation (as in, “I can’t eat that”, “I avoid that”) instead of creating a positive mindset of abundance (focusing on what you can eat more of, including foods you’ve never tried before).
Need inspiration for healthy eats? I created a free vegan grocery list that contains more than 350 healthy items. I bet you’ll find some delicious foods you’ve never tried before! Rye berries, anyone? Or freekeh? (Did you even know that’s a food?) Amaranth, orca beans, shirataki noodles, farro, wakame, nutritional yeast? (OK who am I kidding with that last one, all vegans already use nutritional yeast on everything, right? RIGHT?)
#3: Not having a bulletproof “food architecture” in place.
Your “food architecture” is your environment and the habits you’ve built that determine what – and how – you eat. The more bulletproof your architecture, the more likely you are to maintain your health and reach your goals.
I get all my clients to create a consistent meal prep routine that supports their fitness goals. Schedule some time each week to prepare a large batch of a healthy vegan entrée and some grab-‘n’-go snacks. Also plan your meals ahead (I even put them into my calendar, just like my workouts) and for bonus points, make use of time-saving options like a slow cooker or a grocery delivery company.
Check out my book, Vegan Vitality, for more info on how to build a bulletproof food architecture that’ll support your vegan nutrition superpowers.
#2: Not thinking critically, with an evidence-based mindset.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of complete bullshit that’s often associated with veganism: cleanses, detoxes, alkaline diets, juicing, and a host of fad vegan diets like 80/10/10, Raw til 4, fruitarian…the list goes on.
All these things are not supported by research, based on major misunderstandings of how our bodies work, and sometimes even harmful.
To make sure you’re doing something that actually works and isn’t harming your health, join our awesome community on Facebook where I keep you in the loop with legit research, de-bunk BS fads, and show you what to do instead. Also make sure you’re following plant-based organizations like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which present evidence-based information.
#1: Your nutrition isn’t aligned with your physical activities or your fitness goals.
Most physically active vegans (or those who want to be active) don’t know how to create a nutrition plan that supports their level of activity and fitness goals. You need to make sure you’re getting the right number of calories, as well as the right nutrients and ratios thereof. If you don’t, you could be sabotaging your fitness results, plus it could be dangerous for your body!
By the way, some athletes go vegan mainly to enhance their athletic performance. Done right, with careful attention to your nutritional needs, that can be very effective! Keep in mind that your diet will be different based on your preferred physical activity. For example, a strength athlete eats very differently from an endurance athlete. The former would focus more on protein, and the latter more on carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, most people – vegan or not – don’t have (or follow) a nutrition or fitness plan. Which is why most people in our population are overweight and unhealthy.
To avoid that, download my free food logging, calorie, and macro e-book. Learn how to set a calorie goal based on what you’re working toward with your fitness and physique, and get the low-down on macronutrient ratios. Don’t forget, you’ll also get full instructions for how to prepare a week’s worth of vegan dinners in 60 minutes or less!
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY:
About the author:
Founder of the KI Healthy Living Academy, Karina is your go-to vegan health and fitness coach, providing a friendly kick in the butt that inspires and motivates you to live your best, healthiest, most plant-strong life. Author of 3 books, speaker, award-winning and certified online coach, 17-year vegan, and lover of chin-ups, Karina works tirelessly to ensure her clients skyrocket their energy, confidence, and plant-based health superpowers. Learn more about Karina (and what she's up to when she's not kicking clients' butts) here.