A vegan diet may be healthy and ethical, but it can pack on pounds if you’re not careful. This more restrictive kind of a vegetarian diet is becoming increasingly popular, with many new vegan restaurants across the country and lots of vegan foods on grocery store shelves.
While this eating style is often naturally lower in fat and calories than the average American diet, due to its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, vegan diet doesn’t guarantee weight loss. In fact, it could actually cause weight gain if you’re not careful. No matter what dietary plan you follow, weight loss depends on nutritional value, portion sizes, and overall calorie intake. Here are some foods common in a vegan diet that have the potential to pack on pounds.
Non-dairy smoothies and protein shakes
These are a popular item in vegan restaurants, especially since getting adequate protein on a vegan diet can be a concern. Generally made from fruit and soy milk, these drinks are healthy. The problem is size, they are served in massive cups, which is especially problematic if you’re drinking one of these as a snack. The calories can rack up quickly.
Coconut oil, milk or yogurt
Coconut products are very high in saturated fat, the type that can increase bad cholesterol, as well as calories. It’s used as cooking oil, as a creamy base for soups and stews, and as a non-dairy ice-cream alternative, but it should be used judiciously, not as an everyday food source.
Generally made with soy protein or bean paste, these are certainly better than your average potato chips, but you can’t eat just one! Much better choice is kale chips, just be sure to control your portions.
Granola is on the top of the list of calorie-densed health foods, just one quarter cup have more than 200 calories. While the nuts and dried fruits in granola are healthy, think of it more as a meal enhancement rather than a meal.
Vegan cupcakes, cookies, muffins, cakes, and pies can have just as much fat, sugar and calories as their butter and cream counterparts. Treat these like you would any indulgence.
At the end of the day, the optimal diet for any one person depends on a lot of things. This includes age, gender, activity levels, current metabolic health, food culture and personal preference. Vegetarian diets may be appropriate for some people but not for others.
Angelina Jolie discussed her bad experiences with this type of diet “I love red meat. I was a vegan for a long time, and it nearly killed me. I found I was not getting enough nutrition.”
One more fact: There are 90,000 persons in the US that are 100 years or older but none of them are vegetarians.
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