A well-balanced plant-based diet has been associated with a myriad of health benefits. Several scientific research proved that going vegan can reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, for example.
Having said that, improper eating habits and lifestyle can increase your body weight even when you’re on a vegan diet. Here are other reasons why you’re gaining weight on a plant-based diet.
Consuming Processed Vegan-friendly Food
Do you like snacking potato wafers? Not all vegan-friendly products are nutrient-dense. Fried and processed vegan foods lack “real” nutrients. Instead, they contain addictive ingredients, including refined carbs and hidden sugars.
Many busy bees tend to opt for these processed vegan foods because they tend to last longer. They even thought that they’re “healthier” treats just because they’re “vegan-friendly.” But it’s a big NO.
Doing so, unfortunately, will only result in weight gain due to the products’ excess salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Worst is, these products can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even obesity.
Another misconception is opting for “fruit” packaged and fizzy drinks. Sure, they can be vegan-friendly, but they’re not health-friendly. These beverages are loaded with artificial flavors and colors, sugar/aspartame, and other preservatives. Here’s what you should do:
- Always check the sugar content and the labels of each drink.
- Opt for cold or freshly pressed beverages.
- Order drinks with no added sugar or salt when eating out.
- Don’t order mocktails; they’re typically made of flavored sugar syrup.
- Drink moderately.
Preparing Food in the Wrong Way
Preparing your vegetables in the wrong way can also lead to weight gain. We’ve mentioned that fried vegan-friendly snacks aren’t healthy at all. The same happens when frying your veggies, as well.
More often than not, frying or deep-frying foods will eradicate the value of any food. The amino acids, macronutrients, micronutrients, and other crucial nutrients, can get denatured when cooked at high temperatures. Plus, too much oil can spike cholesterol levels and eventually result in weight gain.
Here’s a couple of reminders on how to prepare your veggies in the right way:
- Add less salt (a pinch will do) or nothing at all
- Avoid foods with a higher sugar content
- Go for cooking sprays
- Blanch or sauté food
- Bake or grill instead of frying
- Put less dressing in your salad
- Prevent overheating oil (a must-do)
- Steer clear of overcooking
It is ironic, but yes eating less can result in gaining more weight. Eating too little can actually weaken your thyroid. As mentioned, when you’re suffering from low thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level, you’ll gain weight even more.
In addition to a low TSH level, skipping meals for more than three hours can turn your system into a famine mode. What happens is that your system turns everything into fat, resulting in fat accumulation.
What you should do is to vary your diet. See to it that you’re feeding yourself properly each meal. Eating properly means consuming nutrient-rich foods until you’ll feel satiated, rather than stuffed.
Consuming Less Protein
Let’s be honest. One reason why many individuals are not yet into a vegan diet despite its nutrient content is that it doesn’t provide adequate protein. Even the plant-based protein isn’t a complete protein, which means it doesn’t have all the essential amino acids that allow your body to function effectively.
What happens if you’re low in protein? Your muscles will become weak since protein plays an important role in your muscle growth. But among all, you’ll be suffering from metabolic slowdown and fat accumulation, in which the common result of these is weight gain.
Sure, hemp has been gaining the spotlight these days. Many registered dieticians and medical experts claimed that it’s the only “complete” plant-based protein. The issue is, not all governments are open to the hemp industry. If you can’t use hemp products, we’ve got you covered.
In every vegan meal you’ll have, make sure that you’ll secure 2-3 kinds of plant-based protein sources. You choose from beans, lentils, mushrooms, nuts, pulses, or seeds. Again, avoid frying. Apart from grilling, baking, blanching and sautéing, you should try steaming your veggies with one of these rice cooker and steamer combos featured at ConsumerJar.
Having Less Sleep
Let’s say you’re preparing your food and eating properly. However, if you’re having less sleep, you will still gain weight. Sleep deprivation is like not consuming enough protein. It slows down your metabolism, which eventually results in weight gain.
Further, sleep deprivation lowers hormone leptin or the so-called “satiety or starvation hormone” and increases hormone ghrelin or the “hunger hormone.” Meaning, you’ll crave more and expend less energy when you’re short on sleep, which can result in weight gain.
Your diet isn’t the only one to be blamed for your weight gain. There’s a big chance that it’s your underlying hormonal imbalance, be it cortisol, thyroid hormone, progesterone, estrogen, or testosterone, that caused your weight gain. The most common symptom of low thyroid is sudden weight gain. After restricting yourself from food and you’re still gaining weight, it’s best to see a doctor.