Whether you went vegan for ethical reasons, or because you wanted to lose a little bit of weight, most people associate a vegan diet with being lean. And science can back it up. An Oxford University study of 40,000 adults 1 found that meat-eaters had the highest BMIs, vegans had the lowest, and vegetarians or semi-vegetarians rounded out the middle. However, sometimes when people cut our animal products they don’t always lose weight, while some even end up gaining weight.
Here are five common reasons for that happening, as well as tips to avoid it, in order for you to enjoy both the health and weight-loss benefits of a vegan diet:
1. Your portions are too large
Foods that are healthy, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and avocado, contain raw materials that either fuel your body’s activity or help maintain, heal, or regenerate tissue, such as hair, skin, immune cells, and muscle. But we don’t need an unlimited supply of these nutrients. The amount needed is based on a variety of factors such as your age, gender, height, ideal body weight, and physical activity levels. For example, a tall, young, active male will require larger portions than an older, petite, sedentary female.
2. You're getting enough protein
Eating enough protein is key to maintaining muscle mass, which helps keep your metabolism going. Even on a plant-based diet, it's possible to meet your daily protein needs – it just requires a little strategy. One method to make sure you’re getting enough protein is to track your intake using an app like My Fitness Pal 2. Or, you can add more legumes (aka beans, lentils, and peas) into your meals as they’re a great source of plant protein. One cup of cooked lentils contains seventeen grams of protein, as compared to the eight grams found in a cup of cooked quinoa or a quarter cup of almonds. Adding a plant-based powder, like pea protein (made from yellow split peas) to a smoothie can also boost your intake by as much as twenty-five grams per serving.
3. Your timing is off
Meal timing is important and can have serious impacts on your waistline, whether you’re vegan, omnivore, or carnivore. Most people usually save their largest meal for the evening, when they're the least active. A more efficient strategy is to eat larger meals earlier in order to fuel the most active hours of the day. Skimping on food all day then gorging at night is a definite recipe for weight gain or. At the least, it’s preventing weight-loss, even if you’re vegan. Instead, try making your evening meals light but filling, such as sautéed veggies and chickpeas over a bed of greens and spaghetti squash.
4. You’re consuming plant-based junk food
Even when eating vegan, you still need to be careful about what you’re consuming treat-wise. Things like coconut milk ice cream and sweet potato chips might be “healthier” than the non-vegan counterparts but they’re still junk food that can add inches to the waistline. Plant-based frozen foods, desserts, and snacks can not only be high in calories, but they're often made with refined flour and added sugar, and stripped of nutrients and fiber. They’re fine when eaten as occasional treats, but if they’re consumed daily they easily pack on pounds. One study found that 3 processed foods can decrease post-meal calorie burning by nearly 50% as compared to whole foods. You can easily combat this by switching out processed plant foods for fresh snacks.
5. You’re drinking your calories
Unless it’s plain water, drinks such as kombucha 4, drinking vinegar5, green juices, chia drinks, coconut water, and alternative milk cold brew coffees can cause you to unknowingly sip hundreds of extra calories a day. A good rule of thumb to follow is if it’s not water or unsweetened tea, your beverage should count as part of your meal or a snack. Some of these drinks can contain a couple hundred calories. While it may not seem like a lot, to burn it off would require an hour of speed walking. It is best to stick with plain water, and anything else after that you should take a careful look at the ingredients, nutrition facts, and serving size, in order to decide if it’s a good fit for your body’s needs or not.
On top of exercising and eating a healthy diet, we recommend taking either NATURELO Garcinia+ Fat Burner with Garcinia Cambogia & Green Coffee Bean or NATURELO Apple Cider Vinegar with Keto Salts daily.
1. Diet and body mass index in 38000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans, 2003 Jun;27(6):728-34
4. Is Drinking Vinegar the Next Lemon Water? Here’s What to Know, March 02, 2017