Were you planning to lose weight or transition to a healthier lifestyle overall? A vegan diet might seem like an option, but does it help?
A vegan diet can cause you to gain weight for a few reasons.
But don’t let that dishearten you from following it. When followed the right way, a vegan diet will help you maintain a healthy weight and benefit you in many ways.
As important as it is to know how to avoid gaining weight when following a vegan, plant-based diet, it is equally essential to understand what could be causing the weight gain in the first place.
Reasons That Cause Weight Gain on a Vegan Diet
Here are some of the reasons that could be causing you to gain weight instead of losing with a vegan diet. Once you relate to one or more of these reasons, you can read further to know how to avoid gaining weight.
Processed Vegan Foods
Processed foods, even vegan ones, have hidden sugars, refined carbs, salt, and unhealthy fats while lacking real nutrients or fiber. Eating more processed foods, almost addictively, is easy than going for home-cooked meals.
No Portion Control
Vegan foods are pretty easy to overeat, being delicious. However, just because vegan options are healthier, over-eating still introduces more calories beyond how much your body needs. In turn, you end up gaining weight or probably unable to lose weight.
Most vegan foods (lentils, beans, and quinoa) contain more carbohydrates than proteins. Finding a good source of protein that isn’t loaded with calories can be challenging. Protein helps keep you feeling full for more extended periods, preventing you from overeating.
Insufficient Vital Nutrients
Vegan diets typically lack nutrients (calcium, iron, protein, B-12) readily available from animal products. As a result, you could be at risk of nutrient deficiencies, leading to fatigue, lower energy levels, and slower metabolism, making it difficult to manage weight.
Any underlying hormonal imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, or thyroid hormone could be the root issue of your weight gain.
Often overlooked, common food sensitivities to gluten, nuts, tomatoes, corn, seeds, and soy, could cause bloating of the belly or hormonal-related weight gain. Consulting with a doctor and testing for food allergies will help sort it out.
Too Many Calorific Drinks
While it may seem like a better option to drink more juices, vegan lattes, smoothies, flavored coconut water, and sports drinks, these are packed with hundreds or even thousands of calories and lead to weight gain.
Too Many Vegan Desserts
Hard to believe, but vegan brownies may be packed with as many calories as the non-vegan versions, if not more. Likewise, healthy fats and vegan desserts with no portion control will produce excess calories.
Surprisingly, plant-based diets include whole-grain carbohydrates, just like animal products. There are carbs in fruits and vegetables, as in most vegan or vegetarian diet foods. Unknowingly, you end up with a high-calorie intake.
How to Avoid Gaining Weight on a Vegan Diet?
You can still enjoy and follow a vegan diet and continue to fit in your current dress size, perhaps even experiencing some weight loss. Here’s how you can prevent weight gain:
Eat in Moderation
A vegan diet or watching your portion sizes is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. A good practice is to fill a quarter of your plate with protein, a quarter with whole grains, and half with primary vegetables and some fruits.
It’s better to monitor your intake of naturally occurring high-sugar, high-fat plant foods while limiting refined foods. Also, check how many calories you consume in a day.
Avoid Vegan Junk
Not all vegan food is good for you. French fries, Oreos, and vegan ice cream might all be vegan, but consuming these in excess will result in weight gain. In addition, the vegan junk food options in supermarkets and cafes are loaded with refined sugar, fats, and carbs as much as their non-vegan counterparts. While you could occasionally have these as a treat, it is best to avoid regular consumption.
Add More Leafy Greens to Your Diet
Packed with nutrients and fibers yet low in calories, the leafy greens, including kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, will keep you feeling full with slower digestion of food. This is without the excess calories. A vegan diet loaded with leafy greens will prevent any weight gain.
If you’re not into salads, you could still sneak some leafy greens into your diet through smoothies, soups, burgers, etc.
Watch Your Oil Intake
To avoid gaining weight, try reducing the use of oil in your food. Sure, using oil lifts the flavor of your vegan food, but oils are nutrient-deficient and calorie-dense. The lack of nutrients and fiber results in your body absorbing it quickly, turning it into fat.
A good practice is to use about a teaspoon or two of flaxseed oil, avocado, or extra virgin olive oil at a time. You could use tahini, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice instead of oil for salad dressings.
Fewer Fruits, More Vegetables
While fruits and vegetables are the best whole foods for vegan diets, loading up on more vegetables (non-starchy kinds) with probably just a handful of cut-up fruits is recommended to cut down on calories.
A vegan smoothie of berries, banana, avocado, kiwi, protein powder, coconut milk, nut butter, and whatnot may sound all fancy and healthy. But, the calorie content is probably enough to last you an entire day, not just as a breakfast drink.
Using more vegetables and leafy greens are good alternatives for low-carb and more vital nutrients.
Avoid Artificial Meat Substitutes
The meat substitutes that are increasingly popular these days are heavily processed and loaded with refined carbs, added sugars, binders, and sodium.
Traditional soy-based products like tofu or tempeh are good alternatives for these meat substitutes. You get the micronutrients and proteins minus the high calories.
A Mindful Vegan Diet Works Wonders
Now that you’re aware of the several reasons you might be gaining weight or not losing any with a vegan diet don’t hold back. Instead, be mindful of what and how much you eat vegan foods, and you’ll reap the health benefits sooner.