Can Vegans Be Overweight?
People often turn to a vegan diet because it is believed to be healthy. Moreover, there is a general conception that being a completely plant-based diet, it includes less fat as compared to a meat-based diet. Though this is logical and true still, there are vegans and vegetarians who tend to be overweight. Think of elephants. They are vegan yet huge in size! So, veganism does not guarantee a magically lean and thin figure. There are certain factors that prevent you from achieving that perfect, hourglass figure. Your natural built or body structure is particularly important in this regard. Some people have a naturally heavy built but this does not mean that they are overweight or fat.
Nevertheless, if you are not careful, you can end up gaining weight even with a vegan diet. This means that there are certain rules and restrictions in a vegan diet, too. Hence, when embarking on a weight loss diet, you need to pay attention to aspects like your overall calorie intake, portion sizes, and of course, the nutritional value of the foods you eat.
Listed below are the most common culprits that can make you gain weight even with a vegan diet.
Fried and Fatty Foods
French fries, potato chips, bagels, and so on are all vegan foods. Nonetheless, they are fried and fatty junk food items that promote unnecessary weight gain. So, if you are planning to switch to a vegan diet, think of better options than these. For instance, you can have healthy salads, roasted nuts and seeds (in moderation), and a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you are going for the change in diet particularly for the purpose of weight loss, limit your consumption of calorie-dense foods, even if they are vegan. Needless to say, steer clear of sodas.
• Bread and Pasta
After switching to a vegan diet, most people solely rely on bread, pasta, and various other processed foods such as processed vegan burgers, hot dogs, mock meats, pizzas, etc. to satiate their hunger. As you can see, this definitely does not comprise a healthy and wholesome diet. Hence, you should look for better alternatives such as homemade whole wheat and grain bread, pancakes, breakfast porridge, oatmeal, cooked dark green vegetables, hummus, fortified cereals, fortified dairy substitute, vegan yogurt, and the same. Occasionally, you can go for dishes prepared from soy meats and vegan cheese.
• Fruit Juices
More often than not, vegans and vegetarians commit the mistake of taking fruit juices in excess. Most fruit juices, however, are loaded with sugars. Thus, you should prefer to have more whole fruits instead of fruit juices. Another advantage of bringing on nutritious fruits is that they are rich in fiber which makes you feel fuller for longer and helps move fat through your digestive system, thereby giving it less opportunity to be absorbed.
• Olive Oil
Olive is much healthier when compared to butter and other types of oils. But, more often than not, people tend to drown their food in olive oil instead of using it moderately. This is not recommended because although it is the best option, it is not calorie-free or fat-free. One tablespoon of olive oil contains about 119 calories and 14g fat. Interestingly, you can also use vegetable broth or vegetable juices like that of carrots and tomatoes for sautéing. Besides, while baking, you can replace oil with vegan margarine or pureed tofu. For sauces and dressings, you can use cooked and pureed white beans or ground flax seeds soaked water.
• Huge Portion Sizes
Most vegan restaurants serve huge portion sizes, which in turn encourages overeating. This is very much against the weight loss rule that states that one should eat a little less than one’s hunger or appetite. Apart from avoiding overeating, it also promotes digestion. This, however, does not mean that you should starve yourself! When turning from an omnivorous, or even from a vegetarian to a vegan diet, you will have to increase your portion sizes to some extent. You cannot expect the same amount of fullness from different diets.
Here’s a tip. Opt for protein and fiber-rich vegan foods. They shall help you feel fuller for longer. Beans are extremely helpful in this regard. Finally, to facilitate healthy weight loss, you also need to incorporate a good exercise regime in your routine. Plus, lead a healthy life by taking proper sleep and rest, reducing alcohol intake, developing the habit of eating nutritious and filling breakfast, hitting the bed two to three hours after your dinner, etc. After all, although your diet plays an important role in staying fit and maintaining overall wellbeing, there are various other aspects as well that you cannot ignore.