Many people presume that eating a plant based diet means they won’t ever have to worry about gaining weight again.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. If you feel like you haven’t lost the weight you’d hoped, or even gained a few pounds from this otherwise amazing lifestyle, then maybe it’s time find out where you’re going wrong. We will discuss this in this post and also give you a list of the best weight loss snacks for the plant based diet.
Weight gain on the plant based diet
Eating plant based may not always be the holy grail to weight loss like so many believe. Unless you take the time to understand plant based nutrition, you may run into problems. Also, lots of other factors can come into play and there can be many reasons why your weight may not be shifting, or even rising. These include the following:-
1. Eating too many high fat foods
You may find yourself over-eating high fat foods in the form of avocados, nuts, seeds and nut butters (easily done) more than you did before. These are all healthy foods, but MUST be eaten in moderation with strict portion control if you don’t wish to gain weight!
2. Not enough protein
Not eating enough high protein foods, and instead eating too many carbs as a result, can be another leading cause of weight gain. Lots of people make the mistake of not fully understanding nutrition before they embark upon their plant based diet, and therefore substitute their usual animal based proteins such as dairy, fish, meat and eggs for extra potatoes, rice, pasta and bread to fill themselves up.
Instead of doing this, you need to be sure to use high protein plant based foods such as pulses, lentils, edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, quiona, buckwheat, hemp, wild rice, millet and amaranth as your source of protein (along with nuts and seeds in moderation).
3. Eating too many refined carbohydrates
Refined carbs come in the form of free sugars such as white sugar, white bread, pasta and rice. Even so called ‘healthier’ sweeteners such as agave nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, date syrup and brown rice syrup must still be eaten in moderation. A lot of plant based and vegan snack foods are marketed a being ‘refined sugar free’, but they are still being sweetened with other sugars and are still high in calories and low in nutrition.
Try to make sure your carbohydrates come from low GI, complex carb sources such as brown rice, pulses, lentils, buckwheat, quinoa, wholegrains, sprouted grains, sweet potatoes, squashes and other starchy veggies. Everything must be in its whole and unadulterated form. Nothing extracted, as in the case of your refined carbs where the nutritious husks and fibers are removed.
4. Eating too many oils
Again, oils need to be kept in their whole and natural form as much as possible if you wish to keep your weight down on the plant based diet. That’s why eating ‘whole foods plant based’ is the better way to go for over all health, fitness and weight loss.
Whole foods plant based by definition means keeping all foods whole, including fats. Fats are often extracted from their whole source, as in the case of olive, coconut, sesame, canola, hemp, sunflower, and all the other oils that are on the market today.
Yes, some of them are much healthier than others of course; for instance, some people swear by a glug of good quality olive oil daily for health benefits. This may be fine, as long as it’s beside an otherwise healthy diet.
It’s all the excess oils that are playing havoc with our health and weight. Cooking and frying in excess oil (for example) is a habit that most people are set into, but this can pretty easily be changed or drastically cut down without too much pain with a few simple hacks.
Dry frying, air-frying, cooking in broth, water or liquid aminos are all great substitutes for using oils. If you don’t desperately need the oil, then leave it out.
Low fat/whole food examples:-
- It’s easy to make fat free chips and roast potatoes by boiling first, shaking in a pan to ruffle the edges with some flour, then simply dry bake in the oven. They literally taste the same!
- Make roasted veggies with a little broth, seasonings of choice, and balsamic vinegar. They come out sticky and delicious, especially if you choose starchy root veg such as beetroot, parsnip, carrots, butternut squash and sweet potato.
- You can use tamari sauce, chili, garlic, ginger and a little broth of water to stir-fry your vegetables.
- Use 100% nut butters, tahini, smashed avocado or hummus for sandwiches, wraps and rolls instead of very unhealthy margarines.
- You can substitute oils and margarines in your baked goods with apple sauce, homemade plant milk, and smooth nut butters.
- Make lots of soups, stews, casseroles and broths because you literally need NO OIL for any of these. Just throw them all into a slow-cooker, saucepan or casserole dish and you will never know the difference.
- If you need to sweat down onions and garlic for the based of you dish (many dished require this), then you can simply do this in a little hot water. It’s really easy and you just keep adding splashes of hot water as you go until you reached desired softness.
Weight Loss Snack Ideas
When it comes to snacks, it’s all about moderation. You should try to stick to only a couple a day; and even incorporate a few together to make a meal. Some of the higher calories snacks can indeed be a breakfast or a lunch in themselves.
Use this snack list alongside our FREE one week meal plan for great results!
- Green smoothie – of banana, spinach, heaped tsp ground flax seeds, 1 x date, low fat plant milk (250 cals).
- Couple of squares of dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao solids (60 cals).
- Handful of goji berries (80 cals).
- Handful of dried fruits and/or nuts – unroasted, unslated and unsweetened (150 cal).
- Blueberry, raspberry or mango nice-cream – 1 x cup of frozen fruits of choice blended with nut milk to desired ice-cream consistency. Just add the milk to your blender very slowly so you don’t make it too runny. You can also do the same thing with JUST sliced and frozen, very ripe bananas. OR you can add a banana in with the fruits for a more substantial snack, which will then count as 2 snacks (100 cals with only 1 portion of fruits, 200 cals with 2).
- Green superfood powder shots such as spirulina, wheatgrass, barley grass and moringa should be drunk daily as an extra assurance of nutrition (you do not need to count this as one of your actual snacks due to very low calorie content).
- Plant based protein shakes. 1 portion as per packet instructions (between 100-150 cals).
- 1 x cup of mango or pineapple chunks with 2 x tbsp of coconut yoghurt, topped with grated lime zest (cals 150).
- 1/8th of a fresh coconut (100 cals).
- 2 oatcakes with 2 x tsp of tahini or nut butter (cals 150).
- Handful of homemade trail mix – made from raw nuts, seeds, dried fruits and coconut flakes. Or you can eat your homemade granola as a dry snack too (cals 100-150).
- Roasted kale chips – Flatten out your washed and dried kale on a couple of big roasting trays, sprinkle with a little seasoning of your choice (optional), and cook on your oven’s lowest setting until crisped and thoroughly dried out. You can also prepare these in a dehydrator, if you own one (cals 50).
- Toasted tamari pumpkin seeds – Heat a frying pan or skillet to high heat and add a good splash of tamari or soy sauce, keep heat high then add a handful of pumpkin seeds. Keep on the move with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until they are browned and a bit sticky. Serve either hot or cold (cals 150).
- Ginger and tamari fried tofu pieces – Cut 100g of plain tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Add to a hot frying pan with good splash of tamari or soy sauce, then fry your tofu pieces with a sprinkle of ground ginger until crisp and golden on all sides. The is a super HIGH PROTEIN snack! (cals 100).
- Roasted spicy chickpeas – Rinse and dry a can of chickpeas in a clean dish towel. Add to a roasting pan with spices (cumin, garlic salt and paprika are a good combo), then roast in a medium-heat oven until dried out and crunchy. Usually takes around 40 minutes, but you can roast them to your own taste. 1 can makes 2 portions (cals 175).
- Homemade protein balls. Mix in a blender 1 x cup of dates, ¼ cup of desiccated coconut and 1 x cup of almonds, pecans or walnuts until the whole thing sticks together. Add some cinnamon or other spices if you like. Roll into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball and roll in more desiccated coconut or cacao powder to coat. Store in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. 1 x ball per portion (cals 140).
- Fried pineapple – Dry fry in a non-stick pan on a medium heat your 1 x cup of chunkily chopped pineapple until caramelised on all sides. It should turn lovely and sticky on it’s own without the need for syrups or anything added (cals 80).
Avocado and Chocolate Pudding
INGREDIENTS – Serves 2
- 1 x very ripe, large avocado (chilled is better)
- 1 x tablespoon of cacao powder
- Two tablespoons of nut milk
- Few drops of pure vanilla extract
- Tiny pinch of salt
- 5 tablespoons of either maple, agave or date syrup. You can keep this dish completely whole foods by adding 2-3 whole medjool dates to the mix instead of syrups, but you will need a dash more milk.
- Add all ingredients to a high speed blender, liquids first so nothing sticks on the bottom. Don’t add too much plant milk, as you can always add more as you go to get the right texture.
- Whizz up until completely smooth.
- Chill again if necessary and serve. 1 portion of this pudding counts as 2 snacks! (cals 250 per portion).
- Freeze very ripe, sliced banana in a plastic container.
- In a powerful blender add a couple of tablespoons of coconut yoghurt/cream with 2 x medium, frozen sliced bananas, then just whizz on high speed until you get an ice-cream texture. Use very ripe bananas for this as it will make all the difference to taste and texture. Eat immediately as this does not freeze well once it’s made.
- You can also add vanilla essence or other flavourings if you like. This counts as 2 snacks (cals 250).
Blueberry Sorbet and Chocolate Chips
- 1 x cup of frozen blueberries (the pre-frozen shop bought ones work best)
- ½ cup of coconut yoghurt/cream (you may need to keep adding a little more as you go slowly to get the ice-cream texture you are looking for). To make this lower calorie, use plant milk
- 2 x small squares of dark chocolate chopped small
- A dash of maple syrup if you prefer it sweeter, it will depend on how sweet your blueberries are. This counts as 2 snacks (cals 250).
- Simply put all ingredients in a powerful blender and whizz on high speed. The frozen fruits will freeze up your yoghurt/milk as it blends.
- Serve immediately. This doesn’t freeze well either.
Eating the ‘right’ kind of snacks on your plant based diet can make all the difference as to whether you lose or gain weight, along with keeping you general diet as whole food as possible. You will fell 100% healthier, fitter and energetic as a result, and you’ll find the plant based lifestyle a great way to keep you, your family and the planet in general a better place in general.
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