If you are new to a plant-based or vegan diet, you might feel bloated and longing for more variety at first. Those feelings are totally normal – especially the bloat.
After you stop missing the variety of foods you ate on a standard diet, all that’s left to deal with is a little discomfort in the belly region. This is because as you increase your legume and veggie consumption, your body needs time to adjust and get used to your new habits.
With some simple tips and tricks, you’ll start to feel normal – and energized — again in no time.
Be patient, the bloat will subside
Have you noticed some extra belly bloat and that you are passing a little bit more wind than usual since switching to a vegan or plant-based diet? Don’t worry, that’s because your food choices probably look quite different now. It’s likely that your plate is piled high with veggies and whole foods, both of which are packed with fiber.
To break down these new, fibrous foods, your digestive system needs to do a little extra work. It helps to think of digestion like a workout: It takes time for your muscles to get stronger as you perfect your push-up, just like it takes time for your digestive system to adjust to breaking down the extra fiber. Once your body has adapted, your body will digest a bit faster and you’ll notice less bloating and consequently less flatulence.
Variety is the spice of life
The list of legumes is endless, however the nutrient profile of most is quite similar as most legumes are rich in protein, fiber, slow-digesting carbs, folate, molybdenum, magnesium and thiamine. Nevertheless, consuming a variety means you’ll profit from a slightly wider range of health benefits and ensure that eating vegan doesn’t get boring.
Protein content of legumes
Most beans and lentils have similar protein profiles so you can easily substitute them in recipes. In fact, the 8fit meal plan suggests alternative ingredients and allows you to swap beans for beans. So, on a day when you feel blah about red lentils, you can have white beans instead.
Here are the grams of protein per ounce of raw legume:
Soy beans: 10.2 g
Lupini beans: 10 g
Red split lentils: 7.2 g
Peanuts: 7.2 g
Cannellini beans/White beans: 6.9 g
Mung beans: 6.7 g
Kidney beans: 6.6. g
Navy beans: 6.3 g
Black beans: 6 g
Pinto beans: 6 g
Adzuki beans: 5.6 g
Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas: 5.4 g
Green peas: 1.5 g
Is soy harmful?
As you’ll see from the list above, soybeans have the highest concentration of protein per ounce but sometimes they get a bad rap for possibly doing more harm than good. However, most recent studies have shown no evidence that regular soy consumption is harmful. Make sure to reach for organic soybeans when possible.
As always, moderation is key. Eating more than 100 mg of soy isoflavones (the equivalent of 15 ounces soft tofu or 16 cups soy milk) may reduce ovarian function. But, it’s also been shown that consuming soy in moderate amounts might help with fertility, lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and decrease your chances of developing prostate cancer. If you’re unsure about the soy isoflavone content of foods, you might find this table helpful.
When you’re tired of legumes…
There is no need to eat legumes with every meal when you’re following a vegan diet as there are plenty more plant-based, high-protein foods out there. Nuts, seeds, whole grains and pseudograins (i.e. quinoa) will not only boost your protein intake, but they’ll also provide varying health benefits.
For the best long-term results, we suggest adding as many different plant-based foods as possible. Here are some options and their grams of protein per ounce:
Spirulina (dried): 16.1
Hemp seeds (shelled): 9.3
Pumpkin seeds: 8
Chia seeds: 7
Sunflower seeds: 6.5
Sesame seeds: 5
Rolled oats (uncooked): 4.3
Spelt kernels (uncooked: 4.1
Quinoa (uncooked): 4
Amaranth (uncooked: 3.8
Even though nuts and seeds are among the highest in protein, portion sizes should be limited as they are also rich in fat. Combine nuts with grains for healthy, slow digested carbs and be mindful to choose unsalted variants.
Test our 1 or 2-week vegan meal plan by adding them to your 8fit app.