Slow metabolism on a vegan diet

by Soul
(London)

I'm female, 35 and I became vegan two years ago. I was eating a lot of food, more than usual, and even though I lost 8 kilos (17 lbs) in the first 15 months, I felt great and full of energy.

Since then I started gaining weight again. I nearly put the 8 kilos back on. I feel my metabolism has slowed down and anything I eat makes me fat. I feel tired and I have mood swings.

My diet in the last two years consists of whole grains, not much sugar, fruits, vegetables, nuts and some time chips, cupcake and processed food. I don't drink fizzy or drinks from cartons.

My breakfast has always been a sandwich with hummus, brown bread tomato and avocado.

I used to walk about 30 minutes to work and now I walk about 10 minutes.

I did a series of blood tests (including thyroid) but my GP said he wouldn't call me if the results were normal so I assume it was okay as I never got a call from him.

Has anyone had similar problem? Any advice?

Thanks!




Cathleen's response:

It's tricky to track the slowing of metabolism to any one particular thing, so the best I can do is offer several possibilities for why it might be slowing as well as a few ideas for how to jumpstart your metabolism.

Many people think that as you age your metabolism naturally slows, but studies show that it tends to stay fairly consistent your entire life. What does happen as we age is that most people start to have less muscle mass and more fat, which decreases the amount of calories you need to eat in order to feed yourself, which therefore slows your metabolic rate.

One of the key things you mention is that you used to walk 30 minutes to work (and presumably 30 minutes back), and you've cut that down to 1/3 the amount of exercise you used to get daily. This can make a huge impact on your overall health, as well as your weight.

I often see doctors and physical trainers recommending that people walk about 10,000 steps per day. If you're walking at a regular pace, about 3.5-4 miles/hour, for 30 minutes, you get about 3500-4500 steps in, both ways. Just that walking to work gives you enough exercise to keep off additional weight gain. Add in a bit of extra walking at work and home, and any gym exercise you do, and that could make a significant impact on your weight. If you can, I'd definitely recommend walking to and from work again.

If you do go to the gym to workout, I'd recommend some weight training to rebuild muscle. This isn't my specialty, but you can read quite a bit on the internet about muscle and how it reinforces your metabolism and causes you lose fat and gain muscle weight, all which will make you feel better in the long run.

As far as diet, I like to recommend you eat mostly these whole foods, in this order: a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Some whole grains (specifically wheat) can sometimes make people feel sleepy and can cause weight gain, so you might consider trying a month without wheat or other glutinous whole grains to see if that makes you feel less moody and tired. Also, I'm sure you could guess this, but if you try to go without chips, processed foods, and cupcakes for a period of time, you might also notice you feel much more energetic and could lose weight. Those foods have no nutritional impact on us and only take up calories and space that we could be using to fill our bodies with energy giving foods.

The last piece of advice I have is to make sure you are not skipping meals. You should eat breakfast within 90 minutes of awakening to jumpstart your metabolism. If you're not in the habit of eating breakfast, force yourself to eat a piece of fruit or a small bowl of oatmeal. Within a few weeks you will grow accustomed to this new habit and it will become part of your routine. I'm not sure if you do, but don't skip other meals either as it drags down your metabolism. Also, I like a midmorning and a midafternoon snack such as a piece of fruit, a small handful of raw nuts, a green smoothie, or a raw energy bar (made with only whole foods).

As a side note, I am glad to hear you went to the doctor for blood tests as sometimes slowing metabolism can be related to hypothyroidism, diabetes, or another serious issue. If the doctor did not call you back, you can rest assured that all is well.

I genuinely don't believe that the vegan diet itself could be the cause of your slowing metabolism, and I think that if you pick back up the habits you used to have and focus on nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains (perhaps without wheat), beans, legumes, and nuts, you will start to feel better again.

Please keep us updated!

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just one thing....
by: Anonymous

I agree with everything written, with one exception:

always, always, ALWAYS call your dr's office to be absolutely sure that your results are normal. many a time I have had tests overlooked or misinterpreted... you should probably familiarize yourself with the results anyway, and it doesn't hurt to request a paper copy to see for yourself. I may be over-vigilant, but I have reason to be. medical offices are often busy, and things can get overlooked, lost, or ignored.

Yep age will do it.
by: LyNel

I'm 71 & my whole family is VERY over weight. I'm the only one that isn't & the only vegan.

Here is my secret. Besides being a vegan I take 8 drops of Liqui-Kelp every morning. Then in my (hate breakfast) I make a smoothie, very small, & put in Tablespoon of Lechithin, Tablespoon of Safflower oil & Tablespoon of Sunflower oil. Apparently that is exactly why I have been slim my whole life long. I do have endless energy & suddenly I crave salads. I grew my own Russian Kale & Rainbow Chard. I'm thinking that is why I FINALLY got rid of the life long constipation problem. When my Kale & Chard finally got big enough to eat I dropped 19 pounds in 24 hours. You can guess what I was full of. Good luck.

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