Many people experience weight loss when cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs and starting a plant-based diet. But not everyone is able to keep losing weight over time and can even gain weight following some styles of vegan eating.
This article will guide you through some questions that you can ask yourself to determine if what you’re currently eating is making you gain weight, and if there’s anything you can start doing to boost weight loss and improve your health!
Here's a video I made for this topic if you prefer to listen/watch. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here if you like!
Question #1: Are you eating a lot of refined sugars or oils?
These are high calorie food ingredients that don’t satisfy hunger, can throw your hormones out of whack, cause weight gain and prevent weight loss.
When you frequently eat refined carbohydrates like sugar and “white,” grain and starch flours, this brings on an insulin response that sabotages weight loss. Insulin is a storage hormone, it causes fats in the blood to be stored in fat cells, and prevents muscle cells from burning fat for energy.
You don’t need to cut carbs completely and go on a low carb diet. Carbs from whole plant sources like fruit, grains, and starches fuel our nervous system and keep our mood in balance. But refined carbohydrates are not doing you any favours, so consider minimizing the amount of sugar, fruit juices, vegan desserts, and processed foods like bread, crackers, cookies, pasta, that you may be eating.
A good rule of thumb is aiming for mostly whole plant foods that have not been heavily processed or refined.
This goes for plant oils too! Just like sugar, they’ve been stripped of many essential nutrients to produce a high caloric food that doesn’t make you feel full and can cause inflammation and hormonal imbalance leading to weight gain.
Some plant oils like olive and coconut oil can be used in moderation, but if weight loss is a goal I strongly suggest you avoid refined sugars and oils!
Question #2: Are you meeting your micro-nutrient needs?
One of my vegan weight loss eBooks and the name of this website is the Micro-Vore Diet, because its all about getting enough of the vitamins and minerals that are often overlooked in most diets, including vegan ones. Micronutrients are needed in all body processes especially those important for weight loss.
For example, without enough of iodine your thyroid gland can’t regulate your metabolism. Your red blood cells need iron transport oxygen needed to burn fat for energy. B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, b12 and others are critical for transforming fat into energy and preventing fatigue.
Micros matter, and deficiency can be the greatest limiting factor in weight loss.
The best way of ensuring you are getting the micros you need is by choosing nutrient-rich foods, foods that have a lot of vitamins and minerals. In our Free Starter Guide on our website we have a list called the Top 24 Healthiest Plant Foods that features foods you likely already know are very healthy—like kale, spinach, and legumes—but also very common foods that are secretly extremely healthy!
When you start eating more these foods you’re going to notice your body feel more alive and have tons of more energy.
Question #3 is: Are your meals balanced in macros?
Macronutrients are the calorie-containing nutrients in food including carbs, fat, and protein.
I strongly believe that a balance between macros is the best strategy for weight loss because avoiding certain macronutrients often just leads to cravings, binging, and health issues down the road.
Say you start practising a low carb diet you might feel good for a while and then start to have sugar cravings and binge out on those refined carbs that are really bad for you.
If you follow a low fat, high carb diet you might find you have a lot of energy but maybe aren’t as satisfied after meals and have to eat more frequently. And then after a few months many people notice their skin drying up and they’re putting on weight even if they’re eating a whole foods diet.
It’s really not a good idea to deny yourself any macronutrient, because just like vitamins and minerals, they each play an important role in the body.
Having a balance between macros in meals makes them both energizing and satiating, they won’t spike your blood sugar, and when you start eating meals that satisfy for hours, you don’t feel like snacking and you don’t have cravings. In our guidebook we have a formula (above) that shows you what foods have what macronutrients, and how you can combine them in meals to achieve macro-balance.
Question #4: Are you moving enough?
Nutrition plays a huge role in weight loss but how we lose fat, is by burning it for energy. And the cells that are biggest consumers of energy are muscle cells.
When we engage in physical activity, and when our diet is set up properly, those muscle cells will be burning fat for energy which is what you want. You don’t want to be burning through your glucose, glycogen, or protein for energy, the kind of weight loss we want is fat loss.
So if you follow the tips that we’ve gone through so far, any form of exercise is going to be more effective for fat loss. Depending on your current body weight and health status, some forms of activity are going to be more appropriate for you.
Walking is a low intensity activity that most people can do every single day and it’s really great for weight loss so try to walk as much as possible.
Now if you can also incorporate some form of resistance training this is really good become it increases the amount of muscle that you have, and as we know are muscle cells are big consumers of energy. So lifting weights can be really helpful.
High intensity aerobic like sprints on a bike or when running can trigger fat cells to release stored fat, and boost your metabolism overall. But if you are not able to do that it’s completely fine to stick with walking, swimming, biking, and lifting light weights. Just start when you’re at because if you’re consistent you’re going to become fitter, and be able do more down the road.
So those are some of the most important questions you can ask yourself if you’re having trouble losing weight on a plant-based diet.
There are definitely other factors that can interfere with weight loss, like medical conditions, a hormonal imbalances, so if you are practising the tips we talked about and are still struggling, feeling really tired all the time, and putting on weight, please let your doctor know and get a blood test done. There could be an underlying issue that can’t be easily fixed with diet and exercise, and so it’s always a good idea just to know if anything’s off
For most people though, simple changes can make a huge difference in how you feel on a vegan diet and make it a lot easier to lose weight.
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Want help improving your health and losing weight on a plant-based diet? Explore our eBooks!
Fruit. Fat. Forage. is a 5 day raw food cleanse designed for detoxification and rapid weight loss! Read testimonies here.
The MicroVore Diet is a 14 day (and beyond) plan that contains micronutrient-rich and macro-balanced recipes for health and steady weight loss! Read testimonies here.