Many studies and countless success stories have shown that a vegan diet can help you lose weight effectively and without leaving you hungry all the time.
Healthy vegan foods work so well for weight loss because they are usually low in fat and calories while being high in fiber.
This means you can eat a lot of food without consuming many calories. Plus, the fiber will keep you satiated for hours.
Still, some people eat vegan with the goal of losing weight and don’t experience any success.
The reason is that not all vegan diets are created equal. How you implement veganism has a lot of influence on whether you archive your weight loss goals or not.
So, if you are vegan and want to lose weight but haven’t, here are 10 reasons why you are not losing weight on a vegan diet.
Note: Although you’ll read the word diet a lot in this post, I encourage you to think of a vegan diet as more than just a temporary medium for weight loss.
Instead, it’s a lifelong change in eating patterns. A vegan diet is not a lose weight quick scheme. Instead, you’ll experience healthy weight loss and maintain a healthy weight more easily.
1. You eat a lot of highly processed/refined foods
Highly-processed and refined vegan foods, such as vegan meat and cheese alternatives or wheat bread/pasta, may be super delicious and convenient.
However, these products make it easy to consume a lot of calories without noticing. Moreover, you often feel hungry again a few hours after eating.
Many highly-processed vegan foods contain a lot of oil, which is the most calorie-dense food there is. A single tablespoon contains more than 100 calories.
Additionally, through all the refining and processing, a lot of fiber (as well as other nutrients) is lost.
Fiber promotes satiety and helps keep you full for hours, which means you’ll be less prone to (unhealthy) snacking.
Highly-processed and refined vegan foods are fine to enjoy every once in a while.
Still if your goal is to lose weight, most of your plate should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
2. You focus too much on calorie counting and not enough on calorie density
Counting calories is a common practice among those who want to lose weight.
However, doing so can leave you hungry, unsatisfied, and cause you to not enjoy your meals because all you do is concentrate on a number.
A much better option is to focus on calorie density. Calorie density is the number of calories that are contained in one gram of food.
For example, French fries have a very high-calorie density, whereas strawberries have a very low calorie density.
100 g french fries (medium serving) have 312 calories, while 100 g of strawberries (⅔ of a serving) have 33 calories.
Thus, you could eat almost 10x more strawberries to consume the same amount of calories contained in one serving of french fries.
This simple example illustrates that if you only look at the calories and set the goal to not exceed that amount, your portion sizes will likely be tiny, unsatisfying, and unsatiating.
But if you look at calorie density and choose a food that has a low density, then you can eat a much larger and more satisfying amount.
3. You are not eating enough veggies
If you want to lose weight, it can be effective to make vegetables the main focus of your dish. Most vegetables are low in calories and fat yet have a high nutrient density and are rich in fiber.
Thus, making them the main star of your meal will fill you up and make your weight loss journey more comfortable.
A helpful guideline is to make sure veggies make up half of your plate. Bonus points if they are leafy green veggies or non-starchy vegetables.
4. You are drinking your calories
Beverages, such as sugary drinks, sports drinks, store-bought fruit juices, and alcohol, are tricky because you can easily consume a few hundred calories without noticing.
For that reason, they can stand in the way of your weight loss success.
A much healthier, super delicious, and calorie-free alternative to sugary drinks is infused water.
There are endless possibilities, but one of my favorites is a combination of blueberries, mint, and lemon slices.
Sports drinks are usually only necessary for very active people and athletes. If you don’t fall into that category, you might want to rethink consuming them or only enjoy them occasionally.
Homemade juices and smoothies provide more health benefits than store-bought ones. Plus, they can be an excellent way to increase your intake of fruits and veggies.
Still, depending on what you put into them and the amount you consume, they can contain a lot of calories. Thus, it can be a good idea to limit your daily consumption to 250 ml (1 cup).
Alcohol is a lot higher in calories than we often think, and they are all empty calories. For health as well as weight-loss reasons, it is a good idea to minimize alcohol consumption.
5. You are not eating enough fiber
Fiber can be one of your best friends on your weight loss journey because it promotes satiety. As a result, you’ll likely eat less because you start to feel full sooner and because you’ll stay full longer.
The most fiber-rich foods are:
- Whole grains (such as oatmeal and whole-wheat pasta)
- Legumes (such as chickpeas, red lentils, black beans)
- Vegetables (such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes)
- Fruit (such as figs, raspberries, and pears)
Centering your meals around these foods will promote health as well as weight loss.
Moreover, fiber has a lot more health benefits than just supporting you on your weight loss journey. If you want to learn more, you can check out this article on the health benefits of fiber.
6. You are not exercising enough
In theory, weight loss is easy. All you need to do is burn more calories than you consume.
What you eat plays a vital role for your health and can impact how difficult or easy your weight loss journey is.
Still, to lose weight, ultimately, what matters isn’t the source of the calories but whether you burn more than you eat or not.
Typical weight-loss diets focus on (severely) restricting the number of calories you consume, which tends to leave you feeling hungry and possibly deficient in nutrients.
A better option is to reduce the number of calories you eat by cutting out empty calories (and replacing them with low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods).
At the same time, you should increase how many calories you burn by exercising more.
Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean you need to go for a run every day (unless that’s what you love to do).
The kind of exercise you do isn’t all that important. What truly matters is that you enjoy doing it and, thus, do it regularly.
Just going for a walk every day can be a great exercise. But so can be dance, at-home workouts, yoga, or working out at the gym.
You don’t have to go crazy either. Simply set the goal to meet the recommended exercise requirements of 150 minutes light to moderate exercise or 75 minutes vigorous exercise every week.
If that seems unattainable right now, do 10 minutes every day. Once that has become a habit, start exercising more every day.
7. You are not planning and prepping your meals
To help you stay on track and be less tempted by cravings, it helps to plan your meals and make use of meal-prepping and batch cooking.
Of course, it’s not necessary to plan out every little detail of what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it, but it helps to have a basic plan.
At the beginning of the week, take 10-15 minutes to think about which meals you’ll have this week and on which weekday you will have them.
Do your best to ensure the majority of your ingredients are whole foods.
Additionally, meal prepping and batch cooking can be helpful and time-saving. Set aside a few hours once a week to prep the ingredients you’ll need for all your meals this upcoming week.
For example, cook all the whole grains (rice, quinoa, etc.) and legumes (chickpeas, black beans) you’ll need as well as wash all the fruits and vegetables you’ll use.
This way, cooking will take significantly less time during the week, and sticking with a healthy diet will be much easier.
8. You are not eating enough protein
It is a common misconception that vegans suffer from protein deficiency. However, as long as you consume adequate calories every day and eat a varied diet, you don’t need to worry about being deficient.
Still, protein has a satiating effect, so enjoying a diet high in protein will help you stay full longer and make losing weight a bit easier.
To increase your protein intake, it’s not necessary to use protein powders. Ideally, whole foods are your option of choice.
Here are some plant foods that are particularly rich in protein:
- Legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, etc.)
- Hemp seeds
Try to incorporate them into your meals regularly and enjoy the satiating effect.
If you are worried about meeting your protein requirements as a vegan, you can read all about getting enough protein on a vegan diet in this post.
9. You are not eating enough whole grains
There is a common myth that carbs promote weight gain. But actually, whole food sources of carbs such as whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Moreover, consuming three servings of whole grains every day will aid you on your weight loss journey as they’ll keep you energized and satiated.
What gives carbs a bad reputation are refined carbs such as wheat bread, wheat pasta, white rice, etc. These are highly-processed, and as a result, many valuable nutrients and fiber are lost.
Thus, you may eat more than you’d need to nurture your body because it takes longer for the feeling of satiety to set in.
Further, refined carbs are metabolized differently in the body, so consuming them in excess can promote weight gain.
10. Your portion sizes are too big
Most vegan foods are low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber, so you can eat until you are full and satisfied.
Still, if weight loss is your goal, you want to make sure you are not overeating either because, in the end, you lose weight when you burn more calories than you consume.
I don’t encourage calorie counting, but I do think it’s helpful to review serving size guidelines.
If you have oatmeal, do you know how many oats are in one serving? The nuts and berries you add, do you know how large a serving of each is?
If you are unsure, look up the serving sizes guidelines of the nutrition organization in your country.
Or you can use your hands as a guide: What fits into the palm of your hand is one serving.
The exceptions are small foods (such as berries) or cut up foods. Here you’ll know the size of one serving by making a bowl out of both your hands.
Put your meals together with these serving sizes in mind and then observe. Do you feel full after your meal?
If so, stick with the guidelines. If not, adjust each serving size and make a note for further reference.
You can follow a similar process with all meals you put on your plate. Start with a smaller portion, eat it, and then see how you feel.
Are you still hungry? Go get some more without feeling guilty. Are you full? Put the leftovers in the fridge.
Observing yourself and learning how much food you truly need to feel full and satisfied will be a helpful tool in your weight loss journey and when you want to maintain your weight.
Alright, we covered 10 reasons why you are not losing weight on a vegan diet; here is a quick review.
Summary: 10 reasons why you are not losing weight on a vegan diet
What do you think stands in the way of you reaching your weight loss goals?