Are you having trouble losing weight on a vegan diet? A lot of people think that as long as they eat vegan friendly food, it’s impossible to be overweight. Well, they invariably find out the hard way. While eating a vegan diet is healthy, it is possible to over indulge. Although, studies do show that vegans on average have lower BMI’s than meat eaters. This does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight simply by eliminating animal products from you diet.
There are several factors that contribute to weight gain while maintaining a vegan lifestyle. There are many processed foods available that are vegan friendly. Vegan friendly does not mean that they are healthy. Many vegan friendly foods are loaded with sugar and calories. Also, drinking calorie dense beverages can add pounds to your waistline. Additionally, not getting enough protein can lead to weight gain. Also, living a sedentary lifestyle can slow down your metabolism making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of 7 reasons why you might not be losing weight while on a vegan diet.
Eating Vegan Junk Food
This is the most common reason for people gaining weight on a vegan diet. The vegan lifestyle has grown in popularity in recent years. As a result, food companies have jumped on the vegan bandwagon. They see the vegan community as a great way to boost revenues. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to care whether their food is actually healthy or not.
These highly processed foods that have hit grocery store shelves are commonly referred to as “vegan junk food”. While they might be vegan friendly and look healthy on the box, they tend to be loaded with sugar and calories. Greasy potato chips are technically vegan! This can make it tough for anyone living a vegan lifestyle to maintain a healthy body weight.
When shopping for vegan friendly food, it’s best to stay away from the food isles. These are where the highly processed foods reside. If you are looking for healthy vegan foods just look in the produce section. Whole foods are a great way to get the nutrients and fiber that every vegan needs. Additionally, whole foods have much less sugar and calories than processed foods. This allows you to eat more without the accompanying guilt.
Drinking Too Many Calories
Drinking too many calories can be just as punishing to your waistline as eating too many calories. Vegans don’t just like to eat healthy, they like to drink healthy too. But is that healthy drink really healthy? There are many beverages that claim to be healthy. However, that’s not always the case. Some of these beverages can be loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, sodium, etc.
If you walk down the beverage isle of any grocery store you have probably seen an increasing number of healthy looking beverages. Some of these drinks include: Kombucha, drinking vinegars, green juices, chia drinks, coconut water, and almond milk cold brew coffees. Some of these “health drinks” are loaded with calories. Make sure to always read the nutrition facts on the bottle. When in doubt, just drink water. Staying hydrated will keep you feeling full and best of all, no calories!
Not Getting Enough Protein
Unfortunately, this is a common problem among many vegans. This is because vegan food tends to be lower in protein than animal products. As a result, many vegans aren’t getting adequate amounts of protein in their diet. Protein is important for building and maintaining muscle. When we build muscle our metabolism increases which results in fat loss.
According to Harvard, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For instance, if you weigh 155 pounds, simply multiply your weight by 0.36, 155*.36=55.8 grams of protein. That might not seem like very much but when you are eating low protein foods, it can be tough to reach. We recommend incorporating more protein rich vegan friendly foods into your diet. Some high protein vegan foods include: lentils, tofu, black beans, quinoa, soy milk and oatmeal. You can find more information on how to increase your protein intake while on a vegan diet here.
Portions Are Too Big
Eating too large of portions can be true for vegans and non-vegans alike. This tends to be a common reason among vegans who gain weight while eating vegan food. Eating vegan food can be very healthy and nutritious. Unfortunately, some vegans tend to over indulge. They think that because vegan food is heathy they can eat to their heart desires. Some vegan food is highly processed and is loaded with calories. Eating too much of these processed vegan foods will make it challenging to lose weight.
Everyone is susceptible to gaining weight if they are eating a caloric surplus. Remember calories in, calories out. Tracking your calories can be a great way to help monitor your caloric intake. There are many great apps available that can help you track calories. A couple calorie tracking apps that we recommend are MyFitnessPal and LoseIt!
Not Getting Enough Exercise
We know this one seems obvious but exercise is paramount to maintaining a healthy weight. Incorporating some resistance exercises will help to keep your metabolic rate elevated. Muscle is the single greatest modifiable factor in setting your basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest to keep you alive. In other words, the more muscle you have the more calories your body will burn at rest.
Furthermore, exercise makes it easier to maintain fat loss. People who lose weight without the addition of exercise are more susceptible to gaining the weight back. If it’s been a while since that last time you exercised, start small. Try starting with a quick 10 minute full body exercise every morning. There are some great 10 minute workouts available on YouTube, check them out!
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. According the CDC 1 out of 3 people is sleep deprived. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night for optimal health. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night can make it challenging to maintain weight loss. In a study done by Annals of Internal Medicine, participants who slept 5.5 hours lost less body fat and more lean body mass than those who slept for 8.5 hours. The sleep deprived participants also reported feeling more hunger.
Additionally, not getting enough sleep wreaks havoc on your fat cells. After just a few days of sleep deprivation your body’s ability to properly utilize insulin becomes disrupted. When your insulin isn’t functioning optimally fat cells are not able to remove fatty acids and lipids from your blood stream. This leads to excess lipids (fats) being stored in your liver and tissues. This is why it’s imperative to get adequate amounts of sleep every night. Your waistline will thank you in the morning!
Not Food Journaling
Keeping a food journal is a healthy practice that can help to keep you accountable with the food that you eat. Some vegans believe that because they are not eating animal products that they can indulge in vegan treats. This is one of the leading causes of weight gain for vegans. There is a prodigious amount of high caloric, high sugar, vegan treats available in stores. It’s ok to indulge in these treats from time to time but do not make it a daily habit.
Food journaling is simply writing down what you eat throughout the day. Writing down everything that you eat, keeps you accountable at the end of the day. It allows you to reflect on what you are eating, and what you shouldn’t be eating. It’s very easy to snack on unhealthy vegan foods when we are busy. Unfortunately, most of us are always busy! Getting started is very simple. Buy yourself a nice spiral notebook and start writing down everything you eat starting in the morning. It’s ok if you forget to write things down at first. This is a habit that will take a couple weeks to form. Here is a great example of what a food journal looks like.
What steps resonated with you? Let us know!