So it’s no secret that I am super into nutrition. Ever since going totally plant-based (I wouldn’t say totally vegan since I haven’t cycled out some of my old cosmetics because makeup is EXPENSIVE to replace), I have this obsession with watching videos about nutrition, reading scientific research articles on the benefits of plant-based/vegan eating and I’ve also dabbled into the world of intermittent fasting.
Being a nursing student, health is really important to me and we are required to know a thing or two about nutrition. I wanted to set a challenge for myself to come up with the most nutrient dense meal plan I could, that will hit almost every macro and micro nutrient target, for as little calories as possible. It was an experiment for me to learn what the most nutrient dense foods were. I’m sure there are other, better combinations, which I’ll explore in the future but for a first try I was pretty impressed.
I started off by adding a Vitamin D supplement because it’s nearly impossible to hit this requirement without fortified foods. I also added a soy protein powder just to tip the protein requirement over the threshold. Otherwise I would have been just a few percent below. Instead you could add more beans, potato or an actual soy product into the meal. Or even Swiss Chard could be amped up to add some protein!
Here’s the screencap. I was pretty surprised I could hit everything in almost 1000 calories. Also a side note: I’m a pretty small person so if you see the 1500 cal restriction and freak out, that’s my BMR for my weight, age and height.
So pictured here is basically two meals: a salad and a carby main course. Overall there’s about 149 g of carbs for anyone interested in that. Not too much and not enough to make you gain weight. Also condiments like balsamic vinegar aren’t really part of the experiment, haha. Just my own curiosity if it had any nutritional content (which it really doesn’t).
So my final thoughts:
- Potatoes you could probably live off of. They had just about every nutrient in it, in a lot more than just 1-2%.
- Swiss Chard or other dark leafy greens are AMAZING. I had no idea how nutrient dense these babies were and it’ll definitely encourage me to eat more to hit my targets easily.
- Quinoa, Swiss Chard, Hemp Hearts, etc… almost every food in this list is packed with iron, which is important if you don’t want to supplement all the time. As a woman, iron is a harder target to hit since we need more than men so knowing which foods are high in it as a plant-based eater is essential. Swiss Chard scored the highest, FYI.
- Eating Hemp Hearts and Chia seeds is pretty essential to getting in Omega fatty acids. Without these two, I didn’t hit my target at all. I sometimes use an oil that has omega 3-6-9 on my salads but it’s higher in calorie than just eating chia seeds. Chia pudding = A++++
- Broccoli, which is my favourite veggie, is a super food. It is packed with nutrients and I am thrilled to see the results in this breakdown. Don’t mind me while I munch away on broccoli everyday from now on. I was surprised by the protein content, especially! They key with this veggie is to steam it for only a few minutes or else you’ll begin to denature the nutritional value. It should still be a little crunchy.
- Avocado is also surprisingly packed with just about everything, so don’t be afraid of this fatty treat because it is really, really good for your body. It also amps up the nutritional content of food you eat it with. Call that some cool nutritional science!
- Nutritional Yeast not only helps you hit your B12 target, it’s also loaded with protein and other healthy nutrients.