Generally, individuals who transition to a vegan lifestyle will lose weight at the beginning because they are cutting out cholesterol and increasing their intake of high-fiber grains. However, eating vegan does not equate to being healthy. If you are not eating balanced meals or living off pizzas and ice cream for example, then you are at risk for deficiencies and not hitting your weight or fat loss goals.

Here are 6 reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight as a vegan.

1. Setting Unrealistic Goals

Healthy weight/fat loss will take time. You did not gain the weight overnight, so do not expect to lose it in a few weeks. This will not motivate you. Set reasonable goals for yourself and record them consistently.

Set SMART goals for your weight loss.

  • Specific – Know exactly what you want by defining your goal-maybe it’s an old outfit you want to fit back into or maybe you just want to feel better in your skin. Know roughly how much weight you want to shed, then factor in the process and results.
  • Measurable – Know how you will track your progress. For example, measuring your weight measurements, or endurance to exercise, among others.
  • Attainable – You should have access to the required resources, including the time to reach your goal. Also, you should have the right motivation to take you through the journey.
  • Realistic – The goal should be within reach.
  • Timebound – If you want to lose 20 pounds in 3 months, set small mini goals that will help you track your progress. Go for habit changes that you can live with forever.

2. Not Consuming Enough Protein

Prioritizing protein at meals can help increase levels of satiety (the appetite-reducing) hormones GLP-1, peptide YY, and cholecystokinin while reducing your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Protein will help you reduce the hunger hormone and boost several satiety hormones. This leads to a major reduction in hunger and is the main reason protein helps you lose weight. It can make you eat fewer calories automatically. Proteins also boost satiety, reducing hunger pangs.

 3. Skipping Meals

You CAN’T skip meals, this will 100% NOT help with your weight loss journey!  Not eating enough can eventually drive your body into starvation mode. This triggers the body to store calories as fat cells. Rather than shedding pounds, you will likely put on belly fat.

4. Not Documenting Your Progress

Documenting your weight loss motivates you to stick to the journey. When you take measurements and photos, you notice the changes that your body is going through. Otherwise, it gets hard to keep a track of progress, so always make sure you document your pics on a weekly basis for motivation!

5. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Lacking sufficient sleep will increase your levels of a craving hormone called ghrelin and diminish levels of the satiety hormone called leptin, which could prompt binge eating and weight gain. The goal is to get 7-9 hours of sleep routinely.

 6. Not Getting Enough Veggies

If you’re not eating veggies, you might be eating foods with a higher fat content and caloric density. Veggies are low in calories (low in energy density but HIGH in nutrition). Therefore, one can eat more and feel more satisfied with fewer calories. Kale, Spinach, Beetroots are loaded with fibers AND packed with nutrition. They also are high in volume and flavonoids, both of which fill your belly up without adding calories. Aim to start your meal with greens, it does NOT have to be a salad!

Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN