3 common mistakes newbie vegans make that lead to weight gain

Following a vegan diet won't automatically mean you will lose weight.
Following a vegan diet won't automatically mean you will lose weight.

Newbie vegans hit some common dietary roadblocks, says dietician Cynthia Sass. Here are some of the diet traps you need to be alert to if you’re considering a plant-based lifestyle…

1. Eating everything labelled “vegan”

First, plenty of foods can be vegan without being good for weight loss. “Healthy, filling vegan diets require knowledge and planning,” says Sass. “Twenty years ago, eating vegan meant lots of whole grains, produce and pulses, like beans and lentils.” Now the aisles are packed with higher-kilojoule short cuts, like mock meat and cheese products, and it’s easy for new converts to assume that any item with an “All Vegan!” label will be somehow better.

Read more: 11 things you didn’t know were totally vegan

But eating processed foods means “you’ll miss out on fibre, which slows down digestion, keeping you feeling fuller longer,” says Sass. She adds that fibre is important because it feeds the good-for-you gut bacteria associated with weight management.

2. Going crazy with those portions

Even if you do stick to the healthier vegan fare, it’s easy to overdo it on portion size, given the health halo sported by “clean” but kilojoule-dense foods like avocados, cashews and coconuts. Sass had a female client whose breakfast was a jumbo smoothie bowl that “probably had about 2 926 kilojoules and then she’d be sedentary all day.” Vegan or not, “anytime you eat more than you can burn, the surplus will either prevent weight loss or cause weight gain.”

Read more: “I’m a vegan – here’s exactly what I eat in a day”

3. Not getting enough protein

Another kilo-adding culprit? Skimping on protein, which is needed to maintain the muscle mass that helps keep your metabolic rate up, explains Sass. Too little could lead to a loss in muscle tone.

Read more: 8 vegan food swaps that are total game-changers

And finally, in the life-ain’t-fair department, dietician Virginia Messina points out that if you’re already eating a healthy diet with generous amounts of fibre, good carbs, like whole grains, and fruit and vegetables, you’re less likely to see a stark difference on the scale when you drop all animal foods. Someone who goes from egg-and-bacon sandwiches and hamburgers to a well-rounded vegan diet, though, may start losing weight more easily.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

Image credit: iStock 

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