The Vegan IIFYM Diet: Healthy Eating Strategies

The vegan diet can be difficult especially when trying to follow IIFYM & counting calories and macros. There are many benefits of following a plant-based diet, such as the lower risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

A common misconception with this type of diet is that it has to be restrictive. In reality, you can eat anything as long as you know your caloric intake and macro breakdowns!

You will need to track what you’re eating on an app like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer in order to stay on top of things.

We’re going to go over the entire process for getting your vegan iifym diet off the ground, step-by-step.

First, however, we have to start off with an important note.

Vegan IIFYM is NOT a Diet

IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) or Flexible Dieting as some call it, is not a diet in itself. Rather IIFYM is a dieting style.

For example, the Keto diet is a diet with restrictions and guidelines. Same with the Paleo diet.

However, you can follow the Keto diet and still follow IIFYM or flexible dieting.

That’s the difference.

All that IIFYM is “saying” is that you can eat anything you want (no restrictions) so long as the foods you eat fit your calorie and macronutrient budget.

Therefore, if you wanted to have something to eat (i.e., dairy-free ice cream) but your diet said you “couldn’t have it,” IIFYM says otherwise.

So, feel free to have all the plant-based protein and carbs you want. Just make sure “it fits your macros.” 😋

Alright, with that disclaimer out of the way, the first step with your diet is to figure out your calories based on your fitness goal.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Calories & Macros (Free IIFYM Calculator):

Below is a free IIFYM calculator.

It asks you about your fitness goal so choose accordingly.

I want you to pay attention to your protein intake and calorie intake as those are most important for your success.

A healthy and balanced diet might require more attention to other macronutrients than just protein and micronutrients.

With that being said, we’re just going to be focusing on the main vegan protein sources, and other macros.

Step 2: Choose Your Plant-Based Sources

Now that you have your newly calculated calories and macros, it’s time to break them up into a yummy plant-based diet plan.

Best Vegan Protein Sources

Some great Vegan Protein Sources Include:

Tempeh is a great vegan protein source because it’s high in protein, low in carbs and calories.

Seitan is also a great vegan source of protein because it has the same macros as lean beef! Plus it contains 18g of protein per 100 grams.

Chickpeas are another good choice if you’re looking for quality plant-based sources of proteins on a vegan diet plan. Just be sure to watch how much sodium they contain on an iifym diet approach.

Tofu is probably one of the most popular Vegan Protein Sources out there due to its versatility and taste compatibility with many different dishes/meals while also being very affordable. It’s versatile enough that you could even use tofu in your morning oatmeal.

Chia Seeds – one ounce of chia seeds contain 11 grams of healthy omega-rich fats as well as five grams each of high-quality protein and dietary fiber making them a great vegan and vegetarian source of omega-rich healthy fats.

Flax Seed – the flaxseed is one of those seeds that contain high amounts of plant-based protein as well as essential amino acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. Flaxseeds also contain two types of important vitamin B’s: thiamin (B) and riboflavin (B). These vitamins are very difficult to obtain from food sources so this makes flax seeds an excellent addition to any vegan or vegetarian diet!

Hemp Seeds – even though hemp does not actually come from the cannabis plant it still has many powerful properties including being rich in all 20 known amino acids which include nine out of the ten essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce on their own. Hemp seeds also contain high amounts of omega-rich healthy fats, dietary fiber and it’s a complete source of protein which is rare in plant-based sources.

Spirulina – Spirulina is one of those superfoods that has been around for thousands of years from ancient civilizations such as Aztecs who used spirulina to boost energy levels and strength before battle or sporting events. Just like chia seeds, spirulina contains many powerful antioxidants including beta carotene (a type of vitamin A), zeaxanthin (another antioxidant) plus potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Peas – Peas are an excellent vegan protein source packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Just one-half cup of cooked peas provides eight grams of protein.

Quinoa – Quinoa has become an increasingly popular vegan food source due to its high amount of plant-based complete proteins all nine essential amino acids needed by our body for proper nutrition. Quinoa seeds are also gluten-free making them easier to digest than most other grains that aren’t gluten-free.

Lentils – lentils have always been a part of many ancient diets since they can be grown in dry climates with very little water so it means they flourish even when there’s not much fresh vegetation around! Lentils are an excellent vegan source of important vitamins including vitamin K, folate, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B-12.

Almonds – Almond butter is a great vegan protein source that can be used with crackers or celery sticks as well as being an excellent addition to smoothies for extra protein! This nut makes it on our list of vegan foods high in healthy fats including omega-rich fatty acids, calcium, potassium magnesium phosphorus selenium zinc copper manganese iron fiber. So technically almonds are both plants AND nuts making them the perfect example of how versatile iifym dieting can truly be when done right!

Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are yet another vegan source of both omega-rich healthy fats and protein. Just one ounce contains almost six grams of plant-based complete proteins which can help you recover from your strenuous workouts even better!

Edamame – Edamame is a vegan-friendly food that is packed with fiber, protein, and vitamins which can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Edamame also contains glycine which helps the body’s immune system.

Meatless protein options are becoming increasingly more common than ever before. There are many reasons for this including environmental factors as well as ethical ones that keep people away from slaughtering animals for their own food source.

An example of this is Beyond Beef products which have been recently added to the US Army’s Meals Ready-to-Eat (MRE) packs. Soldiers can now enjoy a 100% plant-based meat product that has all of the essential amino acids needed by their body for proper nutrition and recovery after those intense workouts!

Another example is the Morning Star brand that offers meatless meatballs, wings, patties, and more which are all made with non-GMO soy products.

This is yet another reason why any diet can be ideal for iifym but it’s still important to make sure you’re consuming healthy fats as well as enough protein on a daily basis!

Vegan Protein PowderPLANT+ Legion Protein Powder

“Plant+ is a 100% natural plant-based protein powder with 10 additional nutrients that vegan and vegetarian diets, in particular, tend to lack.”

It’s a rice and pea protein powder and tastes better than all the other vegan protein powders I’ve tried. Make sure to take it with almond milk. I’ve found that almond milk or oat milk is a great substitute that makes your protein shakes taste better.

Quick Note On Plant-Based Protein Powders:

Plant-based protein powders should consist of a pea and rice protein blend. This ensures your diet contains a complete amino acid profile to boost muscle recovery after an intense workout while also helping you reach your daily macros!

Soy protein powder is NOT vegan protein powder.

I’m going to tell you the reason why people should stay away from soy protein powder:

Soy-based proteins are not as easily processed and absorbed by the body as pea and rice-protein-based proteins. This means you’re actually consuming more calories trying to digest the soy-based protein which will slow your weight loss progress.

Best Vegan Carb & Fat Sources:

Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are one of the best vegan sources of carbohydrates. They provide about 100% of your daily requirement for vitamin A which helps with mood, stress resistance, improves immunity, and boosts immune function. Sweet potatoes also help your body produce serotonin which can regulate your mood and keep you happy!

Brown Rice – Brown rice is an excellent source of carbs & protein for vegans. It also contains more vitamins and minerals than white rice, so it’s a better option for people who are on a vegan diet. One cup of cooked brown rice has 4 grams of protein which is the same amount of protein found in one egg.

Whole Grain Pasta/Noodles – Whole-grain pasta and noodles are a good source of vegan carbohydrates because they’re gluten-free. They also provide much higher levels of dietary fiber than white pasta and noodles which can help people feel fuller for longer, reduce your blood sugar spikes after eating, regulate blood sugar levels, and keep you regular. Whole-grain pasta is made with 100% whole wheat flour which contains much more fiber than regular wheat flour (10g vs 1g).

Quinoa (high in protein) – Quinoa is a super-food grain that’s high in protein, fiber, and high in vitamins and minerals. It cooks quickly and has the bonus of being gluten-free. Quinoa is also a great source of iron which is an awesome way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients into your diet.

Beets (high in natural sugar) – Beets are a good vegan carb source because they’re high in natural sugar – or fructose. They’re also high in iron and potassium which provide the body with energy and helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Avocado (good fat, high fiber) – Avocados are a good vegan carbohydrate source because they’re high in fiber. Fiber helps with normal bowel movements, heart health, cholesterol levels, weight management, and even mood management. Avocados are also high in omega-3 fatty acids which help alleviate depression, reduce joint pain or inflammation, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and maintain healthy skin.

Cauliflower Rice – Cauliflower rice is the perfect substitute for white or brown rice in some dishes. It’s also a great way to get more veggies into your diet!

Cauliflower rice has about half the calories of white or brown rice, and it’s high in fiber, vitamin C, and other nutrients. The best part is that cauliflower tastes just like regular cooked rice when you cook it with water or broth instead of oil or butter. You can use it as a base for all sorts of different dishes: fried “rice,” curries, pilafs, stir-fries – you name it! If you’re following a diet and want to eat healthier without sacrificing taste or giving up your favorite foods – try it out!


Peanut Butter
– Peanut butter is a great vegan food choice because it’s high in protein and healthy fats. It also has tons of different variations so you don’t get bored with the taste. It can be eaten as a dip, spread, or even used as a topping!

Step 3: Make Your Vegan Meal Plan

The vegan food list above is a great tool for creating a healthy and satisfying meal plan. It’s important to eat from all the different food groups in order to maintain good health.

A well-balanced diet ensures that you get all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs each day.

In addition, it helps prevent nutrient deficiencies which can lead to serious health problems such as anemia or osteoporosis. That means you need protein, carbs, fats – not just vegetables!

Now what you need to do is figure out what foods you want to have (and don’t want to have).

From there, figure out the calorie and macronutrient content of it with an app like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer.

You can do this easily with the barcode scanner found within MyFitnessPal or through a simple search within the MyFitnessPal Food Database.

This makes it super easy to find out what foods have the most calories and macros that you need.

Once you figure that out, the easier it’ll be to build your vegan meal plan.

For example, if you have 1500 calories to eat for the day and find that 1 cup of brown rice has 150 calories, then you can plan out how much brown rice you can have per day per meal.

You would do this with every food (i.e., sweet potatoes, quinoa, tofu, etc.) until you reach your limit of 1500 calories.

You would also look at the macronutrient content of the foods you eat.

For example, if you need 150g of Protein per day, then make sure the foods you consume have a good amount of protein so you hit your daily goal.

Include everything you want to have including:

  • cooking oils
  • sauces & condiments
  • everything that has more than 30 calories per serving basically (trust me, these little things add up).

Step 4: Track Your Macros With A Food Scale & MyFitnessPal

If you’re on a diet, there is one tool you should definitely invest in: a food scale. It’s the best way to be sure of how many calories and macros your vegan food has!

A good quality digital food scale will cost about $25-30, but it is totally worth it.

Here’s a video on how to use a food scale in tandem with MyFitnessPal:

YouTube video

Keeping track of your macros will help you lose weight, gain muscle mass, and feel healthier. It also ensures that you’re getting enough protein every day! If not, then it can lead to nutrient deficiencies or other health problems so keep an eye on this one!

The vegan food list above is a great tool for creating a healthy and satisfying meal plan. It’s important to eat from all the different food groups in order to maintain good health.

A well-balanced diet ensures that you get all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs each day.

In addition, it helps prevent nutrient deficiencies which can lead to serious health problems such as anemia or osteoporosis. That means you need protein, carbs, fats – not just vegetables!

Now what you need to do is figure out what foods you want to have (and don’t want to have).

From there, figure out the calorie and macronutrient content of it with an app like MyFitnessPal or Cronometer.

You can do this easily with the barcode scanner found within MyFitnessPal or through a simple search within the MyFitnessPal Food Database.

This makes it super easy to find out what foods have the most calories and macros that you need.

Once you figure that out, the easier it’ll be to build your vegan meal plan.

For example, if you have 1500 calories to eat for the day and find that 1 cup of brown rice has 150 calories, then you can plan out how much brown rice you can have per day per meal.

You would do this with every food (i.e., sweet potatoes, quinoa, tofu, etc.) until you reach your limit of 1500 calories.

You would also look at the macronutrient content of the foods you eat.

For example, if you need 150g of protein per day, then make sure the foods you consume have a good amount of protein so you hit your daily goal.

Include everything you want to have including:

  • cooking oils
  • sauces & condiments
  • everything that has more than 30 calories per serving basically (trust me, these little things add up).

Step 5: Track Your Progress

Few things are as motivating as seeing a number go down on the scale. But do you know why?

It’s because it means that your body is losing weight which will help improve many aspects of your life!

In order to track your progress, there are a few key areas you should focus on: tracking food intake with MyFitnessPal, and measuring body fat percentage and weight on the scale.

If you have a specific goal in mind, then measure yourself once per week so that you can see whether or not you are meeting your goals.

For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds in 3 months – track it!

You would do this by weighing yourself every day and taking the weekly average of all your daily weigh-ins.

This will give you a better look over the course of 12 weeks at how your weight has been fluctuating and if you’re headed in the right direction with your weight loss efforts.

If after week 3, you see that you’re not seeing much progress, something has to change. This is the benefit of tracking your daily weigh-ins and overall progress.

Common Misconceptions With The Vegan Diet

Vegan & vegetarian diets are more common these days and with good reason.

They’re associated with a number of health benefits including lower cholesterol, better heart health, and weight loss.

1) But one concern people have when following a vegan diet is whether or not they’ll get enough protein.

Well, if you want to make sure that doesn’t happen then there are some things you need to know about how vegans plan their meals and what they should include in them.

Here’s how:

The easiest way to get enough protein on a vegan diet is by eating legumes and beans.

These are high in fiber, low in fat, and provide the body with the essential proteins it needs for good health.

Do keep in mind that not all plant-based foods contain protein though so eat up!

Other than consuming more of these types of foods, you can also include tofu or plant-based protein powders into your daily meal plan.

These sources will help round out what you’re getting from other food groups like vegetables & fruits as well as whole grains & nuts/seeds which are rich in healthy fats too!

2) Another common myth with vegan diets is that they don’t taste great. This could be farther from the truth.

Plant-based foods are packed with flavor and there is no reason you can’t enjoy them.

With the right amount of seasoning and cooking methods, you can make any vegan recipe taste great.

With meatless protein options becoming more and more popular too, there’s no reason why you can’t get your fixin’.

I promise it’ll taste delicious too.

3) The last common myth is that eating vegan is too expensive​.

This may have been true 20 years ago, but not anymore – especially if you shop smartly at certain stores or grocery chains that run sales on produce fairly often (i.e., Trader Joe’s).

Plus, some plant-based staples like beans & rice are cheaper than meat so this will save you money in the long term as well! Now go out there and start enjoying all these benefits yourself today!

Flexible Dieting & IIFYM Book

Why choke down bland vegan protein and veggies when you can get the same results by eating your favorite foods? My new book tells IIFYMers everywhere how to achieve their goal of getting lean while still enjoying life with delicious foods.

Conclusion

The vegan IIFYM Diet is not only healthy but it can be delicious too!

With the right amount of legumes, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet, you can keep yourself feeling full while still getting all the protein that your body needs for good health.

And even though there are common misconceptions about how expensive a vegan diet can be, with some shopping savvy at stores like Trader Joe’s (which has sales on produce frequently), eating plant-based doesn’t have to cost more than an omnivorous one.

After reading this article, hopefully, now you know enough about what to expect from following a vegan meal plan so go out there today and see if it works for you!

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