YOU’RE VEGAN, BUT WHY ARE YOU SO FAT?

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How to avoid weight gain on a vegan diet.

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Being vegetarian/vegan isn’t a guaranteed fast track to a thin body and a clear conscience; like any person, veg or not, you still have to actually be mindful of what you’re putting into your body. It’s easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian or vegan, just like it’s easy to be an unhealthy meat-eater.

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According to Body On Track Nutritionist Maggie Mangiel, vegetarian/vegan meals are naturally lower in fat and calories than the average western diet, due to its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. “However, done the wrong way, it can be a recipe for weight gain and shortchange you on important vitamins and minerals, ” said Mangiel.

Those trying to keep their weight down must get the right balance between carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Unfortunately, most veg eaters like to fill up on carbs and it’s not always the good kind. Even things that are considered “veg” are often genetically modified, high in fat/oils, processed ingredients and so incredibly refined, you might as well just pour a bag of granulated sugar into your mouth.

The dietary plan you follow, whether or not it’s healthy or good for weight loss depends on nutritional value, portion sizes, and overall calorie intake. Protein is a key factor in weight control because it boosts satiety, preserves muscle and revs up metabolism. Because plant protein doesn’t get digested and absorbed as readily as some animal proteins, vegetarians generally need more, about 15-20 percent of total calories or about 60-80 grams per day.

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Try to avoid processed meat substitutes. Instead keep it au naturel — quinoa contains 8 grams per cup; almonds 7.5 g per quarter cup, lentils 17 g per cup and if you do dairy, 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt packs about 20 g.

Some vegetarians will go nuts on cheese. For example, cheddar cheese packs four times the calories and nine times the fat of skinless chicken breast. That’s why vegetarians who live on grilled cheese, cheese pizza and mac and cheese often gain weight going veggie (in addition to all those refined carbs, yikes!).

If you keep dairy in your diet (preferably organic), limit yourself to one cheesy meal per day with a max of 1 oz of real, fresh cheese, and stick with nonfat milk or yogurt and plenty of meatless proteins like beans and tofu at other meals and snacks.

If bread and pasta are staples in your vegan diet, it’s no wonder your pants are feeling a little snug. Avoid over eating bread/pasta dishes. There’s nothing wrong with eating them; it’s just that they’re high in calories. A dinner roll will run you over 200 calories, and although one cup of cooked pasta is a little over 200 calories, plates tend to be two or three times larger than an appropriate serving size.

And the biggest food item that packs on the pounds are vegan sweet treats. Goodies made without butter and eggs are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol free, but they’re typically just as high in calories. Case in point: 1 large vegan chocolate chip cookie = 480 calories.
Even strict vegans should limit splurge foods to a few hundred calories per day, just like omnivores.

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Here’s a kick-start to eating a veg meal plan that will slim your waistline and reduce the numbers on the scale.

BREAKFAST:

  • tofu/tempeh scramble
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal sprinkled with 1tbsp hemp powder
  • tofu scramble
  • warm lemon water with 2tbs Bragg’s Apple Cidar Vinegar

SNACK OPTIONS:

  • 1 small apple with 1 scoop peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup Quinoa salad: celery
  • almonds
  • cliantro
  • chopped red onions
  • shaved coconut
  • pumpkin seeds
  • lime
  • Olive Oil & vinegar

LUNCH OPTIONS:

  • Salad made with 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup kale
  • tofu
  • 3/4 cups brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dried cranberries
  • 3 slices avocado
  • 1 tablespoon slivered walnuts with Olive Oil and vinegar dressing
  • 4 ounces of Fruit & Veggie smoothie: 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 kale leaf (do not use kale stem)
  • 1tbs ground flaxseed
  • 1tbs hemp
  • one shot of omega-3 or 1tbs coconut oil

SNACK OPTIONS:

  • 1 cup fruit salad
  • 3/4 cup tomato & cucumber salad

DINNER OPTIONS:

  • Veggie stir fry: 1/2 cup diced bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons onion
  • 1/4 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • garlic and other preferred seasonings with Quinoa
  • Green Tea
  • Oven-roasted veggies: in a baking dish
  • place large slices of sweet potato or yam (with the skins)
  • squash
  • asparagus
  • turnips
  • parsnips
  • carrots
  • onions
  • whole garlic cloves etc.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and rosemary
  • then roast until tender

LATE NIGHT SNACK:

  • 1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup strawberries

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