The days of the vegan stereotype as a weak, pale, hippy are long gone. Nowadays veganism is mostly associated with vitality, glowing skin and healthy looking body. Weight loss can be one of the many benefits when first transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, yet for some, this is not a desirable side effect. People, who have a genetic predisposition to losing weight quickly, or those who have worked hard building up muscle mass and may be worried that they are not able to maintain it on a vegan diet.
So here are a few tips on how to go vegan, feel great and not lose weight.
How to Switch to a Vegan Diet Without Losing Weight
Eat more calorically dense food
Plant-based whole foods generally have a lower calorie density than animal products or highly processed foods. Of course, there are plenty of vegan junk food option out there, but there are also many healthy, calorie dense plant foods that can help maintain a healthy weight when going vegan, such as:
Whole foods that contain healthy fats
Plant-based fats are a great source of energy. They are essential for cell function and growth, help maintain muscle tissue and aid with muscle recovery. Dietary fats are necessary to transport fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, and K) through the bloodstream, and preserve a healthy hormone balance in the body, which is essential to maintaining muscle and general body mass. Healthy plant-based fat sources include nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, olives, coconuts, tahini, flax and chia seeds, cacao nibs, and dark chocolate.
Also good for keeping up energy levels are complex carbohydrates. These are broken down slowly and therefore release energy in form of glucose into the bloodstream for a longer period of time at a more consistent level. Complex carbs are a source dietary fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestion and a lot of the time when people face problems maintain weight, it’s a result of an unhealthy digestive system. The bacterial flora in our gut has a much bigger impact on our physical and mental health than most people realize. An off-balance gut flora can heavily impact the body’s ability to gain, lose or maintain weight, which is why a fiber-rich diet is vital for those struggling with weight loss or weight gain. Here are some high fiber complex carbs to help with that:
Examples of high fiber foods include potatoes and sweet potatoes, root veggies (carrot, parsnip, beetroot, etc.), pumpkin and squash, whole grain bread (try spelt or rye), whole grain rice and pasta, oats, and fruit (both fresh and dried)
Yes, vegans can get their protein and no, it’s not difficult at all! Protein is a vital component of every body cell and creates essential enzymes as well as hormones whilst also maintaining and repairing muscle cells. Even though humans need a much smaller amount of protein than most assume, it can still aid with maintaining a healthy weight and muscle mass when switching to a vegan diet. Some good vegan protein sources include:
Some good vegan protein sources include nuts and seeds, beans, legumes, lentils, peas and chickpeas, sweet corn, tofu, quinoa, amaranth, dark leafy greens, spirulina.
Eat larger amounts and monitor calorie intake
Plant-based foods are naturally a lot higher in water content which is why the number of calories you get per 100g is often smaller in comparison to animal products. This is good on the one hand (you can eat more!) and can be difficult on the other (you have to eat more). Eating larger amounts of food can be daunting but is necessary when switching to a vegan diet.
The stomach is a muscle that can expand immensely. It may also be helpful to monitor your daily calorie intake in order to ensure that you are eating enough. There are plenty of apps and trackers that make it easy to stay on top of your daily calorie intake, such as myfitnessplan or cronometer.
Don’t stress yourself
Transitioning to a vegan diet can be a huge change for the body and it will respond in one way or another. Temporary weight loss or gain is a common detox symptom. In the beginning, it can also be tricky to figure out the right balances of food groups, nutrients, and amounts to eat. Each body is different and it will take some time to figure out what works for you. Don’t stress yourself too much. This lifestyle is all about showing compassion too all living beings, which includes yourself.
*If you are concerned about your weight and overall health, always consult a medical professional.
Author: Fenna Uden