You’ve probably heard that a strict vegan diet is one of the best approaches to eating for weight loss. As it turns out, there’s a fair bit of science backing this theory! Research points to an overall lower BMI for vegan dieters, as well as fewer health concerns linked to weight. Veganism is a path many people adopt as they search for a better way to approach changing their diet over the long term.
Despite a proven correlation to weight loss, however, many people become frustrated after going vegan. They’re not losing weight on a vegan diet—in fact, they might even be putting pounds on after the switch! It can be frustrating to make the switch to a plant-based diet, only to experience no change, or worse, negative change.
While simply adopting a vegan diet isn’t always enough to spur weight loss, there are a few common mistakes new dieters make that may be keeping them from shedding the pounds. Here are a few of the most common reasons you might not be experiencing vegan weight loss:
One of the biggest concerns of vegan dieters in general is getting the right amount of daily protein. Without meat, you’ll need to fill the void with beans, legumes, lentils and other protein-rich substitutes. The problem of getting enough protein is one vegetarian dieters will recognize and be more equipped to handle—however if you’re going from a regular diet to a vegan one, this is likely where your weight loss efforts are being stymied.
A lack of protein in your diet can negatively impact metabolism, leading you to feel lethargic and weak on a daily basis. This will also stunt your weight loss, as the body will start to conserve energy and maintain weight, rather than expend energy to burn fat stores.
Make it a point to add more lentils to your meals, eat almonds for a snack and get a daily dose of peas to ramp up your protein intake each day. If you’re still struggling, plant-based protein shakes are a good intermediate option as you learn more about crafting the right diet.
Meat and other animal food products are filling! We feel full after eating a steak or an omelet, which tells us we should stop eating. On a vegan diet, you’re not likely to experience this feeling of “fullness” in the same way, despite getting enough to eat.
Not losing weight on a vegan diet is often the product of overeating—or, eating until you feel “full.” For example, if you’re packing on a huge lunch of fruit, grains and nuts, with portions that exceed your body’s dietary needs, putting a big dinner on top of this will really inflate your calorie count. You might be eating better, but you’re also eating more.
Remember, weight loss is a simple equation: calorie intake must be lower than calorie expenditure, creating a deficit for weight loss to occur. Tone down your portions and serving sizes if you’re not seeing the vegan weight loss you expect.
If you’re not losing weight on a vegan diet, the culprit might not be what you’re eating—it could be what you’re drinking!
Drinking anything other than water or unsweetened tea is the equivalent of bombarding your body with calories it might not be ready to process. The 136 calories and 33g of sugar in the average soft drink will take you about an hour of light walking to burn off. Or, that vegan plant-based smoothie you’re drinking as a snack might contain an extra 300-400 calories you’re not considering.
These sneaky calories add up fast and make it hard to lose weight, even with careful dieting. Switch to water only or start counting your liquid calories to see if it helps jumpstart weight loss.
Did you know that Oreo cookies and most potato chips are vegan? It just goes to show, even on a vegan diet it’s easy to indulge! But overindulging can seriously cramp your weight loss efforts. Consuming too many foods that are high in salt, sugar or fat can leave you far short of achieving vegan weight loss.
Try to eat more raw snacks like carrots or cucumbers, and when you have a sweet tooth, cut up an apple instead of reaching for packaged foods. Opting for foods high in fiber can also help you build on good dieting habits.
If you’re pursuing weight loss through a vegan diet, make sure you’re avoiding these common pitfalls! Starting a new diet and not seeing results can be disheartening—rather than give up, it’s better to reevaluate, identify problems and make adjustments that yield better results. The pursuit of vegan weight loss is no different. Developing good habits will result in positive changes for your body!