Why haven't I lost weight as a vegan?
Why haven't I lost weight as a vegan?
I am a new vegan and very frustrated. I've been a vegetarian for 20 years and on January 3, I turned vegan. I made the change because I abhor the cruel practices; however, I was hoping to drop some weight. Instead, I gained weight.
A typical meal plans is as follows: soy protein bar and fruit or oatmeal with fruit for breakfast; sandwich with vegan deli slices, veganaise, 1/2 avocado and tomato slices and 1/4 cup trail mix (nuts and fruit) OR an Amy's meal with trail mix as a snack for lunch; and some type of sautéed vegetable mix with a grain or pasta for dinner.
What am I doing wrong? I don't count calories but I don't think I'm going over 1200-1300 cal a day. I'm thinking I need to take out the trail mix. I'm frustrated. Please advise.
To start, I want to applaud you for making a big change in your life for unselfish reasons. As far as losing weight, I totally understand your frustration, but I do ask that you give yourself a little bit of a break. It took time to put on any extra weight you have, and it might take some time to take it off.
I hesitate to give advice on health issues in a forum like this because a) I am not a doctor and b) I do not know your exact situation. There's more that goes into weight gain than simply food; including exercise, stress, drinking/smoking, and other emotional factors. In order to give you an answer, I am going to give some basic advice, but I definitely recommend you check with your doctor before making big changes.
You absolutely should be able to lose weight on a plant-based diet, but because there are so many amazing substitutions now available in every grocery store, it's easier than ever to eat an unhealthy vegan diet. If you eat primarily vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans, you will lose weight, barring the factors I mentioned above are neutral. Some people who are very overweight will see changes just by substituting in vegan products in place of their old animal favorites. I've heard of people who just ate veggie burgers instead of cheeseburgers and lost tons of weight. Other people will need to push it a bit with a more whole foods-based diet and skip all processed food to see changes.
The meal plan you described seems like it would be a good interim plan for someone who is switching over from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet. You are using substitutions for meats, which can be psychologically helpful when someone still wants that meat flavor, but they are not necessarily the best for someone looking to lose weight. I'm going to go through your meal plan and make some suggestions and ask some questions. You are welcome to comment back with answers, or just ask yourself these questions.
Breakfast: "soy protein bar and fruit or oatmeal with fruit"
I personally don't eat protein bars unless I’m in a situation where I can’t find any real food and need a quick snack (like when traveling). You get plenty of protein from a plant-based diet, so don't feel that you need to eat supplements in order to eat enough protein.
I do really like oatmeal for breakfast, but are you adding any sugars or salts to it or eating it plain? Adding a teaspoon of 100% pure maple syrup should be fine, but any refined sugar is not going to help you. Are you using homemade oatmeal from old-fashioned oats or the packets of instant oatmeal that are loaded with sugar and preservatives? What kind of fruit are you having with it? You should always opt for whole fruit rather than canned.
Lunch: "sandwich with vegan deli slices, veganaise, 1/2 avocado and tomato slices and 1/4 cup trail mix (nuts and fruit) OR an Amy’s meal with trail mix as a snack"
Sandwiches with deli slices are good for people making the transition, and they are fine every once in a while, but eating them every day will not help you lose weight. I would also stay away from veganaise for the time being, until you reach the weight you are most comfortable with. Additionally, while avocado and nuts are great for vegan snacks, but because they have healthy fats in them, they are better for people looking to maintain or gain weight.
A good deal of any sandwich is the bread and often bread is made with enriched white grains, which means that all the healthful parts of the grain are stripped down and then nutrients are added back in to make it healthy. There are a few healthy breads on the market, and to find those, look for all the ingredients in the bread to have the word "whole" first, and that there are no added sugars in the ingredients. Or, you can learn how to make your own bread. I have an ebook with my favorite vegan bread recipes that might be helpful for you.
As far as Amy's meals... they can be very tasty and convenient when you are in a pinch, but when you are focusing on losing weight, it's better to stay away from processed and/or frozen foods.
A good option for a lunch would be a cup of low-sodium (preferably homemade) vegetable soup and a salad, or a bean puree like hummus with a variety of vegetable sticks and a side of tabbouli. You can learn to make these quick dishes very easily and you can often find these pre-made in grocery stores. Again, watch out for any ingredients you can't read on the package, and stay away from anything with a lot of sodium. You could also pack yourself from leftovers from dinner the night before for a lunch.
Dinner: "some type of sautéed vegetable mix with a grain or pasta"
I think what you mean by a "vegetable mix" is something from a package, right? In general, stay away from whole foods in packages. It's just as easy and inexpensive to buy the actual leafy plant product as the frozen one, and it's so much better for you.
A great dinner plate will show ½ plate full of vegetables, which can be a mix or just one vegetable, ¼ plate of a gently cooked whole grain and ¼ plate of a bean. The closer you can stay to the original whole food with this, the better for your body, and the quicker you will lose weight.
For instance, you can take a can of beans that you rinse completely and sautée them with some garlic and olive oil and fill ¼ of your plate with it. You can then cook some quinoa and put that in another quarter of your plate, and then fill the remaining section with sautéed fresh vegetables, and you have a complete dinner.
The options are endless for this if you simply vary the grain, vegetable, and bean, and it’s so easy.
I hope this gives you some new ideas. It’s such a broad topic that it can be hard to completely answer your question in just a few paragraphs. There is an abundance of information on weight loss on Vegan Nutritionista, so I hope you will look around and check it out. And never despair; you’ve only just begun your journey and there is plenty of time to change your body for the better while staying true to your beliefs in the horror of the animal industry.
You might want to check out the ebooks I wrote with meal plans dedicated to one month’s worth of workday meals, there is one made for fall/winter produce and spring/summer produce. I also have a popular ebook with my easiest recipes, called Vegan Cooking for Beginners.
I hope this helps. Keep us updated and good luck!