Sunday, 02 October 2011 22:07

EVG Community Q&A: Overweight On The Vegan Diet

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Question:
I've been overweight most of my life, became vegetarian and with a lot of work, lost over 70 pounds. Almost 4 years ago I became vegan and gained quite a bit of weight back. I've kicked up my workouts, I've tried green juicing, I've visited a nutritionist... nothing has worked. The nutritionist had me cut my workouts, try different sized meals, etc., but in the end, she suggested my body just really doesn't like me being vegan. I'm wondering if you have had any experience with this type of dilemma. Can a person's body really be programmed to not lose weight on a vegan diet? I've read so many success stories of "I became vegan and dropped weight instantly" and my story is the opposite. I'm struggling with what to do. I'd really appreciate any ideas/thoughts/suggestions you'd be willing to share.

Answer:
I began by asking the reader some more questions. I discovered that she:
  • Eats a mainly unprocessed, low carb and sugar diet, which is about 30% organic. 
  • She is allergic to peanuts but has not tested positive for any other food.
  • Does cardio exercise 2x a day every day, and does some strength training and yoga
  • She's tried fruit and vegetable fasts, master cleanse and soup diets
  • Her thyroid test came back normal
  • Cutting out oil and fat left feeling hungry and her skin too dry
It's a very frustrating scenario, especially since her nutritionist is unsupportive of the vegan diet. She already hitting the health marks of healthy eating and exercise, so why isn't she loosing weight? I was stumped, so I reached out to the EVG Facebook community for their advice, and this is what I received:
  • Cut the gluten (seems like she already has)
  • Cut the soy
  • Cut out oil, salt and sugar, which would exclude things like almonds and avocado (try the anti-candida cleanse)
  • Try the raw food vegan diet for at least a month
  • Have grains in moderation (especially refined)
  • Increase fiber and protein intake
  • Count calories and don't overeat/focus on portion control (keeping a food journal was suggested)
  • Take digestive enzymes and a probiotic
  • Go off the birth control pill
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Get tested for problems of thyroid, endocrine, adrenals, as well as candida and vitamin/mineral deficiencies
  • Check for hormonal imbalance, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Metformin or acupuncture were suggested)
  • Check for insulin resistance (going low carb could help)
  • Consider emotional stress in life (rebirthing therapy was suggested)
  • Programs recommended: Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. McDougall
  • Books recommended: The Pleasure TrapEngine 2 DietAgeless by Suzanne Somers (hormone related) and The Perfect Gene Diet by Pamela McDonald
I love this advice from my virtual pal Natala Constantine of Vegan Hope, who has lost over 200 pounds on a healthy vegan diet:
I've yet to hear about someone that can not thrive and lose weight as a vegan, just like everyone else though they need to watch what they eat and how much of what they eat. On the other hand, if she starts eating animals/animal products again she puts herself at a lot more risk of the diseases that are caused in large part by eating animals, in fact I'd say she'd be a lot worse off. She just needs to: readjust her nutrition, eat less calorically dense foods. Her calories should largely come from the following: vegetables, fruit, whole grains/starches and then nuts as a condiment (if at all), and things like non-dairy milk should also be used sparingly. The worst things she can eat (aside from animals) would be anything with oil, and lots of nuts/seed products, smoothies are not a great choice when trying to lose weight and of course highly processed junk.

Being overweight is a frustrating situations and losing weight takes time and patience. Nutritional guidance is always useful, and the above recommendations should be tried slowly and while paying close attention to the body's response. It may take a combination of many of those methods, and as you see some of it conflicts. Ultimately, loving your body is key, as is consuming nutritious, high quality foods to make sure you're healthy inside no matter how you look on the outside. 

Got any more advice? Let me know in the comment section and I'll add it in!

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