1) Low protein. Yes, I said it. When your looking to lose fat, having sufficient protein is important on many levels. First of all, it will help satisfy and keep hunger signals regulated. Secondly, protein is highly thermogenic. Your body burns calories while digesting and utilizing it. For fat loss (for the active person..meaning exercise is a part of your weight loss strategy) protein set at 1g per pound of body weight, will aid muscle mass retention and encourage the body to utilize fat for energy needs. Also see my post on Leucine and the Vegan Diet.
2) Calories are too high. Vegan meals can be a beautiful source of highly nutritious foods, but it is easy to rack up a lot of unassuming calories. Let’s face it, when you omit animal products, those missing textures are replaced by things such as nuts, seeds, avocados etc. Yes even though they are healthy, they can add extra calories. Just because its vegan does not mean portion control shouldnt matter. Any excess calories you consume beyond your expenditure will be stored as fat. That is just the bodies’ natural way.
3) Low fibre. If you a vegan, or a vegetarian that doesn’t eat vegetables. Not only are you depriving your body of vital micronutrients, but your also cheating yourself of FIBRE a macro nutrient. Fibre is a game changer, not only can it negate up to 7 calories per gram, but it feeds the good bacteria in your colon, and helps eliminate toxins and cholesterol from the body. Get your recommended 25g per day.
4) Hidden sugar, fillers, texturizes and other anti-nutrients. Just because you found a store bought cupcake that is “vegan” does not mean your food is healthy or that it will help you loose weight. All it means is the product contains no animal product or bi-products. It is a restriction. Guess what is vegan and adds alot of flavour? Sugar. Even worse (and CHEAPER then sugar) is high fructose corn syrup. There are more than 30 different names that companies use for sugar to make the ingredient list sound healthy. Evaporated cane juice is an example. High fructose corn syrup (aka glucose-fructose) is unbound chemically, so it can spike your blood sugar even FASTER then fructose. So be careful the next time you pick up a store bought bag of vegan cupcakes. These “foods” will put you on the same path to diabetes as will the traditional version.
5) Artificial Trans Fats. There are no naturally occurring trans fats in vegan foods. However last time I checked ‘food producers” are very concerned with taste and cost. Artificial trans fats is the process of taking a liquid plant fat and “hydrogenating” to turn them into a soft solid. These trans fats contribute to flavour and texture. However trans fats are often stored by the body. This is because, on a chemical level, they are foreign. They are not what the body is expecting nor does the body know how to utilize them. In other words THEY ARE NOT NATURAL.
6) Low post workout protien: After a training session or strenuous activity, your post workout nutrition is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. I often hear confessions like “I don’t eat after my workout because I feel like I am “un-doing” all that hard work”. Let’s just throw that idea out the window. After exercising, your body is in a “catabolic” state. It’s in breakdown mode. By consuming a PWO meal containing a proper ratio of protein and simple carbohydrates, we replace depleted muscle glycogen quickly and provide nutrients (protein) to stimulate muscle repair. We want the body to use our excess fat for energy not muscle.
7) CLA: Conjugated linoleic acid is a fatty acid high in dairy and animal products. When your not eating any source of this, your missing out on a fat burning power house. You can get CLA vegan sources in safflower oil. Factoring sources of CLA can help you achieve your fat loss goals. See more on that here https://authoritynutrition.com/conjugated-linoleic-acid/
8) Omega 3: The importance of Omega 3 for health, are too extensive for me to cover in this post. Lets just say a few key words like anti-inflammatory, cellular health and heart health to name a few. Omega 3 is an essential fat, meaning your body can not make it, therefore, it must be obtained from the diet. Looking at how Omega 3 helps fat loss specifically, know that it is metabolized differently in the body. The best source of Omega 3 is fish oil. Fish eat algae, conveting it into fatty acids. Therefore work is done for you. If your obtaining plant sources of Omega 3, you rely on your body to make the conversion properly. The problem is, our bodies do not always absorb and convert fats into the pathways that we want. I personally use a cold pressed flax oil for a source of Omega 3 and take a teaspoon, multiple times a day with food, to increase the probability my body will absorb it. Consistency is key.
9) Under eating: Otherwise known as starvation mode. This sounds contrary to my point that it is easy to over indulge calories on a vegan diet. If you are only eating lettuce all day every day you will not be getting anywhere near your caloric demands. There is no way your body is going to give up it’s body fat. It simply slows down your metabolic demands to preserve. Possible encouraging it to store as much as possible. Eat often and eat enough!
10) Low energy: One of the many markers that your not eating correctly is anemia. If you only eat sugar, pasta and bread because its vegan, your going to end up constipated and sick and very tired. If your pale, tired and exhausted you need to re-examine your diet. Look at your nutrient levels and get some blood work done. There is a lot of great vegan sources of iron, such as leafy greens. I recommend adding spinach and kale into smoothies and salads, also your dr can offer iron supplement. If you do not have enough energy for your day you can’t expect to be able to effectively workout.