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Getting proper nutrition is a common concern for people switching to a vegan diet. However, as long as you’re eating a wide variety of foods and ingredients, you should be getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need.
But besides getting your daily nutrients, some people want to make sure they are staying full and getting the energy they need.
Whether you need high energy meals for getting through a workout or just for getting through a particularly long day at work, let’s look at some ingredients you can incorporate into your vegan meal plan to help you do just that.
1. Nut Butter
Nut butters also contain a good amount of fiber. Fiber helps with your digestion and can keep you feeling full and energetic hours after a meal.
This ingredient is also versatile for a number of different recipes and high energy meals. You can spread your favorite nut butter on some toast, make a classic PB&J, throw a dollop into a smoothie, dip in some pretzel crisps, or just indulge in a spoonful in your kitchen at 2 a.m.
When picking a nut butter, be sure to check the ingredients. Some brands try and sneak in unhealthy ingredients like added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Stick to nut butters that have no added sugars or chemicals.
2. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit is the ultimate natural energy bar: they have the perfect combination of simple sugars and fiber. The fiber combined with the sugar will release energy over time, which will keep you feeling energetic for longer.
Different kinds of fruit also contain key vitamins and nutrients that serve to keep you energetic. Bananas contain great potassium and fiber, oranges give you a vitamin C boost, and apples take a while to digest to keep you feeling full of energy.
Fruit is also a great portable snack: a piece of fruit can be great on the go and is delicious all on its own.
You can also incorporate fruit into high energy meals as well. Try throwing fresh fruit into a salad or spreading your favorite nut butter on banana slices.
You can also make big smoothies filled with fresh fruit of all kinds to give you a sugar and fiber overload.
A side of fruit with any meal will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you moving.
Popeye downing a can of spinach in one gulp to instantly grow huge muscles can be your reality. Well, maybe not exactly like that, but spinach in high energy meals can and will give you a great energy boost.
A serving of spinach gives you vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and calcium. These nutrients help bring nutrients and energy to your muscles that will help during workouts and during long days at work.
One cup of spinach will also give you about 5 grams of protein. This can help build muscles, keep you full, and maintain blood sugar levels.
Spinach is another versatile ingredient that you can put into many different meals. Not everyone can gulp down canned spinach like our friend Popeye, and you don’t have to.
If you’re not a fan of the taste, throw a few handfuls into a smoothie. You won’t taste it, you’ll get the awesome energy and nutrients from it, and a green smoothie will make you feel super healthy (especially if you post yourself drinking it on social media).
Spinach can also be used in salads, pasta dishes, or simply steamed as a side dish.
There’s a reason you see bodybuilders and gym rats fitting oatmeal into their daily meal plans. Oats are a great carb source that is also cheap and easy to make.
Oats contain B vitamins, iron, potassium, and magnesium that provide you with high quality and healthy energy. Steel cut or rolled oats are usually the way to go: they both take a little bit longer to cook compared to instant oats, but their lower glycemic index and their ability to soak up liquid make them great to cook with in high energy meals.
You can go for a simple bowl of oatmeal, or you can get fancy and make your own granola bars and cookies with oats and dried fruit. Steel cut oats are often used in stuffing recipes as well because of their great texture.
No, this isn’t a typo of “cocoa”: cacao is similar to cocoa in that they are both made from cacao beans. Cacao is the raw powder that comes from the cacao bean. Cocoa, on the other hand, is a powder that comes from roasting the beans at high temperatures, which changes the molecular structure of nutrients and chemicals, thus destroying a lot of the benefits you get from cacao.
Cacao will give you that taste of chocolate without the added sugar or heat-destroyed chemicals. The taste of chocolate will give you feel-good endorphins to keep that high you got from your work-out going.
The high iron content will help bring oxygen to your muscles and organs that will make you feel alert and energized. Cacao also contains other energy boosting nutrients we’ve mentioned before, including:
Magnesium Antioxidants Chromium
Throw some cacao powder or cacao nibs into a smoothie or garnish your baked goods and your oatmeal with it as well for a sweet addition.
6. Chia Seeds
All seeds can provide you with great energy that will last you through your day. Chia seeds, however, have special benefits. These tiny black seeds pack a nutritional punch that is surprising for something that’s smaller than a pebble.
Chia seeds contain a golden ratio of fiber, protein, and healthy omega-3 fats. The fiber and the protein will work to release the energy of the chia seeds over many hours. The healthy fats can also boost your energy levels, and the lack of carbs will keep your sugar levels pretty constant.
These tiny seeds are virtually tasteless, making it easy to incorporate them into almost anything. You can mix them into a vegan yogurt, put them in a smoothie or a salad, sprinkle them onto some fresh fruit or on a piece of toast with nut butter (see how you can combine the foods on this list to create a super-energy-boosting-extravaganza?).
You can also make chia pudding by combining chia seeds with a liquid of your choice, usually a non-dairy milk. In a liquid, chia seeds become gelatinous and thicken up to form a pudding. This can make a great meal, and it happens to go great with other energy boosting foods like fruit, nut butters, and cacao.
As a food high in both protein and fiber, lentils definitely make our list ingredients for high energy meals. The fiber and the low amount of carbs in lentils can help stabilize blood sugar to avoid spikes and crashes of energy.
26% of the calories in lentils are pure protein, making it one of the best plant-based protein sources available.
Lentils are quick to cook and are another versatile ingredient for vegan high energy meals. Try replacing ground beef with lentils to make “meat” sauce. Lentil soup is another vegan favorite. A number of delicious Indian dishes use lentils as the main ingredient, including daal and curry.
Almond butter is great, but plain almonds are also making the list. These nuts are packed with great energy-boosting nutrients, including:
Riboflavin Protein Magnesium Copper Fiber Manganese
Almonds are also high in healthy fats and fiber to keep the energy in your system for a long time. They’ve also been shown to help regulate blood sugar. Almonds are a great snack food if you need a little burst of energy in between meals.
But almonds can also be used in a number of different recipes. Top chia putting or oatmeal with sliced almonds in the morning for a healthy vegan breakfast. Almonds also go well on savory dishes like in salads and pesto pasta. Don’t forget dessert with almond cakes and almond butter cups.
9. Brown Rice
Many of the ingredients we’ve listed so far are smaller components of large meals. If you need a base for some high energy meals, brown rice is an excellent option.
Brown rice can provide a good amount of calories combined with high fiber, protein, and carbs. Whether you have some as a side with tofu and veggies or you go for brown rice on your next Chipotle run, brown rice will give you great energy for hours.
10. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is another staple of bodybuilders and work-out addicts. They have a good reason for loving the sweet potato: the carb content is perfectly balanced with vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
The carbs will give you energy-boosting sugar while the fiber and nutrients will make sure you’re getting it over a long period, not just spiked all at once. Sweet potatoes are great simply baked in the oven, mashed up, or as sweet potato fries.
Try using sweet potato in curries and oven bakes with other veggies and brown rice for a powerhouse meal fit for everyone from a working mom to a bodybuilder.
Vegan High Energy Meals Are Easy with These Ingredients
While many people are concerned about their nutrition on a vegan diet, this list goes to show just how many different meals and ingredients can give you everything you need.
You don’t need to get bored or stuck in a food rut either: these ingredients are versatile and easy to use in dishes from Indian curries to a dessert smoothie.