3 Common Mistakes Newbie Vegans Make That Lead To Weight Gain
Newbie vegans hit some common dietary roadblocks, says dietician Cynthia Sass. Here, 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 Bos With Those Portions
Even if you do stick to the healthier vegan fare, it’s easy to OD 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.”
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.
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.