Vegan diets conjure up images of lean, healthy folks, happily chowing down on massive bowls of leafy green salad.
And science backs this image. In a large study of 40,000 adults, conducted by Oxford University, vegans were found to have the lowest BMIs among any of their peers, while meat-eaters, not surprisingly, had the highest.
But not every vegan sees the same results after cutting out animal products from their daily diets. Some don’t see changes at all, and some can actually gain weight. If you’ve made the switch to vegan in attempt to shed pounds, here’s what you might be doing that could be sabotaging your efforts.
Reason 1: Your overestimating portion size
Sure, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains are healthy food our bodies require to fuel new cell growth, and regenerate healthy hair, nails and muscles, but we don’t need an infinite amount of these nutrients. The amount we need depends on personal factors such as height, weight, age, sex and activity level.
Remember that just because overnight oats with chia seeds, almonds and bananas is a healthy breakfast, does not mean that you should be exceeding your recommended daily caloric intake for it. It’s still excess calories, and excess calories, no matter how healthy, will still make you gain weight.
Reason 2: Your eating too late at night
Vegan or not, when you eat matters. Try to top-load the early parts of your day with more calories. That way you can burn them off during your active hours.
Eating a monster salad before bed, no matter how healthy, still means excess calories sitting in your stomach while you sleep — one sure way to a larger waistline.
Reason 3: You’re still eating junk, not enough protein
Oreos and Ritz crackers are technically vegan, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Not all vegan foods are created equal — and to get that lean vegan body, you’ll have to learn the difference.
Stick to the foods low in refined flours and added sugars like sautéed veggies or broth-based soups. Protein helps keep the metabolism running, so make room for plenty of lentils, beans, peas and quinoa, too. If you get a hankering for something sweet, go for a piece of fresh fruit, or even a bit of dark chocolate.
Reason 4: You’re drinking your calories
Coconut milk, kombucha and green juices can all pack a hefty dose of calories. If you’re drinking a beverage other than water, unsweetened tea or coffee, those calories must be counted as part of your meal.
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