Why You're Not Losing Weight On Your Plant-Based Diet
You've heard all these wonderful stories of people having seemingly overnight transformations when switching to a plant-based diet, but the scales won't budge for you. What gives? You're eating healthier than ever before, you feel great, and you have that happy buzz from feeling cruelty-free. However, some sneaky factors might get in the way of your weight loss efforts - make sure you don't make these mistakes!
1. You're not paying attention to energy intake
You may have just switched over to your new lifestyle and loving the vegan buzz and vitality! But it's so easy to slip into the habit of eating 'healthy' food that is not necessarily 'weight-loss' food.
What is 'weight-loss food'? Food that will fall into this category will keep you fuller for longer, whilst having relatively fewer calories than other foods. For example, a vegetable like a pumpkin will fall into this category, because it contains a lot of water and fibre, and is very low in calories, so it makes an excellent choice when dieting compared to potatoes and other carbohydrates. An example of a not-so-friendly food is nut butter - it tastes delicious, has a high amount of calories and is incredibly energy-dense, so those calories are conserved in a small amount. One tablespoon of nut butter may have around 130 calories! If you're looking to lose fat, it's not the wisest choice. That's not to say you shouldn't ever have it, as it is full of excellent nutrients, it's just that for weight loss, you need to have a controlled portion or skip it in favour of more filling foods.
To lose weight (fat), you need to eat in a calorie deficit. Depending on your starting point, this can be up to 500 calories less per day, as a general standard. Every person is different, and you will have different calorie needs to your friends. Even if you are the same weight and height, metabolism differs between people. That's why you see some ladies easily losing weight on 2000 calories a day, whereas another will need to be eating under 1500 to make the same progress.
2. You're eating vegan junk foods
Similar to the above, vegan junk foods tend to have a lot of caloric density, so it doesn't take much for you to go overboard on your calories. It's not just about the calories, however, it's also the fact that processed foods taste AMAZING - so you just want to have more and more! Beware of fancy advertising that promotes 'vegan' and 'plant-based' foods like chips and cookies - just because they're vegan, doesn't necessarily mean they're good for you!
When you combine a hyper-palatable snack with high calories, you have a recipe for weight gain. Focus on eating nutritious whole foods, full of fibre that keep you satisfied for longer. There are many options for vegans that will keep cravings at pay - make sure to fill your diet with protein-rich choices like tofu, chickpeas, black beans, lentils and tempeh! The protein will blunt the insulin response when you eat carbs, so you can enjoy steady blood sugar throughout the day! Steady blood sugar means less sweet cravings, and better all-round energy that keeps you powering on through.
Want to have nutritious and filling meals that will satisfy your snack urges? Check out our recipes here. The Ultimate Plant Protein by b Raw also makes an excellent snack alternative - have alone or in your healthy shakes!
3. It's not fat; it's just bloating!
If you've suddenly upped your fibre intake, then this could be to blame for the scales not shifting. When you're bloated, you feel 'fat', you're rockin' the food baby, and you start to wonder whether you'll ever be able to fit into your favourite pants again. Bloating should be temporary - if it's in response to a food intolerance, it's a wise idea to have it checked out, so you can eliminate what's causing the problem. If it's just from too much fibre - the solution is easy - cut back on the fibre and build it up SLOWLY, so your body has time to adjust. Ensure that you're also drinking enough water during the day, and having enough electrolytes so that you have smooth bowel function. If you want to get rid of the bloat ASAP, make sure you stay hydrated, but don't chug down all your water at once, or this could make it worse.
Other options to quickly debloat:
- Go and enjoy a workout session that gets your heart rate up and gets you sweating
- Supplement with a greens powder that will help you detox and improve gut health
- Have a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- Give your tummy a massage
- Have a digestive tea
4. You went from a low-carb diet to a high-carb diet
If you were eating keto or low-carb before, you might have experienced some initial weight loss, and were probably thrilled! The initial weight loss is because carbohydrates hold water in the body, so when you cut these out, your body responds by shedding... yup, you guessed it, water. This might look like fat loss, but it's not! This is why both high and low carb diets are effective for fat loss. What matters more is what you will be consistent with over the long term, and what you enjoy more. The key to successful fat loss is managing energy intake, and also making sure that you're active throughout the day.
If you suddenly switched to a plant-based diet full of carbs, don't fret, the scales may move up simply because you're holding more water. It's not fat! Take a breather and enjoy your carbs. They will help with energy production, hormonal balance and all round good feelings!
If weight loss is your goal, make sure that you're not just using the scales to measure your success.
There are many ways to figure out whether your program is working for you:
- Take measurements
- Take before and after photos
- Have body scans done
- Feel how your clothes fit
- Are you happier and more confident? That's the most important part!
Long-term weight-loss is not as simple as going plant-based. You need to control your calorie intake, and ensure that you are following an exercise program that suits your needs. Having a plant-based diet is an excellent way to make sure you get enough micronutrients, and the best way to ensure you're getting plenty of filling fibre. By avoiding the mistakes above, you'll be well on your way to your body goals. Lastly, remember to make sure that you have enough protein so that you keep up your strength and muscle as you diet!