Counting Macros

How To Count Macros on a Vegan, Vegetarian, or Plant-Based Diet

By Ted KallmyerUpdated June 29, 2022
vegan macro calculation

Counting macros while on a vegan or plant-based diet is a great idea because it ensures that you are giving your body all of the essential nutrients that it needs in order to thrive.

As a macros coach, I’ve helped hundreds of people meet their weight loss goals and muscle-building goals but there is some confusion when it comes to the right diet plan to follow if you’re vegan or plant-based.

Can you count macros when vegan or vegetarian?

The simple answer is yes, most definitely.

A macro-based approach can be used in conjunction with any dietary preference. The macro philosophy is about eating the foods you prefer and still reach your fat loss and/or fitness goals.

Eating vegan, plant-based, or vegetarian is no different.  However, there are some adjustments that can help make reaching your macro goals more realistic and manageable.

A Comprehensive Vegan Macro Diet Plan

Download my step-by-step guide to macro counting – exclusively for vegans, vegetarians, or those eating mainly plant-based.

Lose weight while eating a nutritious plant-based diet. 

  • Learn how to count macros as a vegan
  • Complete guide to tracking your plant-based macros
  • 10 full days of vegan & vegetarian meal plans
  • 25+ plant-based recipes
  • 130+ page ebook
  • Instant Download
“It helped me a lot to learn about food and how I can make easy meals. “
Kasia (lost 10 pounds + 2 inches from her waist)
Buy Now - $19

3 Tips for Vegan or Vegetarian Macro Dieting

The Best Vegan Macro Ratios

  • 25% protein
  • 45% carbohydrates
  • 30% fat

One of the most challenging aspects of doing this diet when plant-based is hitting the recommended protein target, especially if you are weight training or strength training.

While eating more protein has been shown to increase the rate at which muscle mass can be added, the human body can still build muscle with fewer grams of dietary protein although the process will take longer.

There are many great athletes that are vegan and you would never know it by looking at their physiques.

For vegetarians and vegans, a more realistic macro ratio would be 25-30% protein 40-45% carbs, and 30-35% fat.

This will make hitting your macro targets much more achievable when eating whole plant-sourced foods since most plant-based protein-rich foods also come with their fair share of carbs and or fat.

Fiber Grams

Since plants are often rich in fiber, vegans and vegetarians often get a lot over the course of the day. This is one of the reasons a vegan diet can be so healthy. However, if you are consuming 30-50 grams of fiber a day, you may need to eat more carbs to compensate for the indigestible nature of fiber.

On nutritional labels, fiber is included in a food item’s total carbs but much of the fiber you eat isn’t digestible and doesn’t provide the body with energy.

If you are active and trying to lose weight, it’s important that you are fueling that activity properly – avoiding too much of a calorie deficit.

Vegans should really eat about 50-75% of their fiber intake back as more carbs. For example, if you eat 50 grams of fiber in a day, you should eat an additional 37.5 grams of digestible carbs to compensate for the indigestible carbs that are included in your total carb goal.

The other option is to track net carbs but this can be challenging since most tracking apps track total carbs and not all foods have been calculated to show their net carb amount.

vegan meal

Sample Vegan Macro Diet Meal Plan

Here’s a sample rest day and a sample exercise day from a vegan flexible dieting meal plan. The calories and macros for the day are also included at the end of each day.

Rest Day


  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal (1/4 cup raw)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla Vega protein powder (or similar)


  • 1 banana with 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter


  • 1 cup Campbell’s Organic Lentil Soup (or similar)
  • 1.5 cups broccoli
  • 1-ounce walnuts


Stir fry: Saute the veggies in a nonstick skillet until they are slightly tender. Toss in the Seiten and seasonings. Stir till heated. Serve over cooked quinoa.

  • 5 ounces Seiten
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • Garlic, ginger, and soy sauce to taste.
  • 2 clementines (to offset undigestable fiber grams)

Total approx. 1547 calories


  • Protein: 99 g  (25%)
  • Carbs: 173 g (45%)
  • Fat: 51 g (30%)
  • Fiber: 34 g

Exercise Day


  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 1/2 cup vegan refried beans
  • 1/2 medium sliced avocado


  • 1-ounce almonds


  • 6 ounces Tofu
  • 4 cups spring salad mix
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 medium apple



  • 1 cup white beans
  • 2 cup zucchini
  • 3 mini sweet peppers
  • Sauté the above with 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 ounce whole wheat pasta (1 oz offsets the undigestible fiber grams )
  • Top with 1 cup organic marinara (Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 squares dark chocolate (72%)

Total: approx. 1940 calories


  • Protein: 119 g (25%)
  • Carbs: 204 g (42%)
  • Fat: 72 g (33%)
  • Fiber: 42 g

Getting Enough Plant-Based Protein as a Vegan

Even with adjusting macros in a way that requires less protein, some may struggle with knowing what to eat to get their protein grams in.

Plus, there’s the added difficulty of making sure you are getting enough complete protein since many plant protein sources lack all the essential amino acids.

A good rule of thumb is to combine plant proteins. Usually eating a legume along with a grain does the job nicely.


  • Beans and rice
  • Lentils and rice
  • Hummus on whole-grain toast

Seeds and nuts are high in protein and hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa are among some that contain complete proteins.

Here are some good resources for identifying good sources of plant proteins. (Some lists include dairy and eggs since some vegetarians eat those foods.)

  1. No Meat Athlete
  2. One Green Planet
  3. Eat This Not That
  4. 107 High Protein Vegan Recipes

The more densely the food is in protein the less impact it will have on your other macros.

Plant-Based Protein Supplementation

For those more interested in building muscle and strength training, a plant-based protein supplement can really help with getting some extra protein in. These supplements have come a long way over the years and there are many brands that taste delicious.

I suggest you choose a brand that is at least 20-30 grams of protein per scoop and one that’s low in carbs and fat.

Vegan Protein Brands

I tried The Plant Era and it’s lightly sweetened with stevia while using plant protein derived from peas and brown rice to provide a wide range of amino acids. It also includes vitamin B12 which often can be lacking in vegan diets. It comes in dark chocolate and strawberry basil flavors. You can try it or learn more here.

Another brand I’ve tried is Vega Sport Protein (see at Amazon).
Mezcla Bars are also a good option. They are plant-based and contain 10 grams of plant protein. I recently tried some and they are also delicious. A lot of plant protein bars can taste “gritty” but Mezcla uses pea crisp for a much better texture. Also, each bar is only 160 calories. Here’s their website.

Being a vegan or vegetarian isn’t a deal-breaker when it comes to macro counting and this is just another way this eating method embraces flexibility.

With a little planning and adjusting you can be successful in reaching your diet and fitness goals regardless of whether or not you eat meat.

FAQs about vegan weight-loss diets.

Do vegans count calories?

Not all vegans do, but if you are trying to lose or gain weight as a vegan, counting calories can be helpful for getting your energy balance right. You have to be in a negative energy balance (calorie deficit) for fat loss to occur. Counting calories or macros helps one achieve this.

Do vegans need to eat more calories?

No, vegans will have the same calorie requirements as other people with similar stats and activity. The only thing vegans need to account for is all the fiber they eat as discussed above. Vegans may need to eat more carbs to make up for the increased undigestable fiber they consume on a daily basis.

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, author, and macros coach. He has helped hundreds of clients reach their body transformation goals.


  • Heather Downing Sand

    Love this. Thank u!

  • V

    Hi, I am a dancer and believe I have relatively less body fat, but I want to lose excessive fat around my belly. I’ve been a vegetarian and occasional vegan for years. I started to eat less or no carbs about 2 months and my weight hasn’t changed. A week ago I combined low carb with maximum 1600 calorie, and I still don’t see any drop on my weight. My weight training friends all told me if I want to lose fat specifically around my belly, I have to cut the carbs. Do you suggest low carbs vegan/vegetarian diet while being caloric deficit? What do you think my problem is?

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi V, Belly fat isn’t the result of carbs but instead an energy balance issue. Dancing is a high energy activity, so I would guess that you aren’t fueling properly which can cause the body to hang onto some fat reserves and break down muscle tissue instead. If you need me to evaluate everything for you and get you on the right track nutritionally consider one of my coaching options.

  • Mary

    Hi, Is plant-based protein as good as protein from animals?

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Mary, It sure can be. Just make sure you are eating a variety of sources to ensure that you’re getting all the essential amino acids. Combining beans with rice is an easy way to ensure this.

  • Lucia

    I have recently starting vegan/plantbased diet but for some reason I am gaining weight. Calories are not crazy I use the myfitnespal app. I think i am getting to many carbs I am so confused. I am between 1400-2000 a day any suggestions.

    • Ted Kallmyer (Certified Macro Coach)

      Hi Lucia, If you’r gaining weight then you are in a calorie surplus. Carbs don’t cause weight gain unless you are eating them to the point that they surpass your TDEE. However, carbs do retain more water in the body, so if you’ve recently started to eat a lot more carbs then your water weight could have increased some.