Vegans as a general rule, whether you know this or not, are the only group as a whole of normal weight. At least according to one large study. All other groups, including vegetarians were overweight.
This is not surprising. Eating whole plant foods are calorically less dense than eating a mixed diet heavy with meat, dairy and eggs. Everyone knows this intuitively. Broccoli contains roughly 34 calories per 100 grams. Bananas contain 89 calories per 100 grams. But perhaps even more importantly, let’s take a look at equivalent foods. A veggie burger contains roughly 177 calories per 100 grams compared to a meat patty which contains 238 calories per 100 grams.
Thus it appears that eating a whole plant foods vegan diet is naturally lower in calories per 100 grams compared to a mixed diet. But this is not the whole story. It appears that a vegan diet can also help stave off weight gain even when eating the same calories as those on an omnivorous diet. In other words, animal products might be more weight gaining than equivalent vegan diets.
With all of that said, being vegan may give you an advantage against gaining weight as you age, but it is by no means the elixir to a slim body. You see, weight management is simply a matter of energy or calorie management. If you eat 3,500 more calories than you require you will put on a pound of fat. It really is this simple. At least over time.
So if you want to become a fat vegan, just eat more calories than you need. And this is not hard to do. This is why we have an epidemic of overweight and obesity in the Western world. Just eating a 100 calories more than you need everyday, and doing this consistently will pack on 10 pounds in a year.
Conversely, eating 100 calories less than you need each day consistently will result in the loss of 10 pounds per year. And this is really easy to do. This is a banana’s worth of calories each day.
Now of course, if you’re eating a lot of vegan junk food like candies, chips and other processed foods, then you’ll find it much easier to eat more than you need. But what I want to point out is that it is possible to become a fat vegan by eating healthy food too.
Some vegan gurus would like to suggest that if you eat fat free vegan or if you eat an 801010 raw vegan diet that you can eat as much as you want and not gain weight. This is nonsense. Yes, it might be harder to gain weight on such a filling diet, but it is possible.
It might even be uncomfortable to get fat on such a diet just by the sheer bulk of food you need to eat, but it can be done. If you need to eat 2,000 calories per day to maintain you weight then eating 21 bananas a day instead of 20 will have you putting on weight over time. This is how the body’s physiology works.
Now granted, there is an energy cost to converting carbohydrates to fat but it is way less than 100%. In other words, not all excess carbohydrates are turned into heat or metabolized away. Dr. McDougall for example seems to think that 30% of carbohydrate calories are used up when converting to fat. That still leaves 70% to become fat.
Big deal, you might be thinking. Who is gonna eat more than 20 bananas a day or more than 7 300 gram potatoes per day to get more than 2,000 calories? And you’d be right. That’s a lot of eating, and boring eating at that.
The problem is, it offers a false promise. Food needs to be enjoyable. If you can eat a no added fat vegan diet, then good for you. I find it boring and miserable. But more than that, if you need to lose weight because you’re a fat vegan, or you can’t figure out how you turned into a fat vegan, then you’ve maybe bought into the false idea that you can eat as much as you want on a low fat vegan diet and not lose weight.
This is not true, and more than that it’s harmful. The best way to lose weight is to manage your calories. Eat the delicious vegan foods you want, choosing healthy options most of the time, but limit your calories so you don’t over eat. It is also kinder and more enlightened not to overeat in any event, because it recognizes the fragility of life and the interconnectedness of all of us in sharing our planet’s resources.
Look, I was a fat vegan. I was fifteen pounds overweight by BMI. I got as high as 26.5 BMI. And I know why. I ate too much food.
So count your calories and eat less than you need on a daily basis and you’ll lose the weight. Do it consistently. You might be surprised by how NOT hungry you can feel on a reasonable calorie quota. The idea is to be NOT hungry but to also be NOT full. There’s a great midway point between hunger and stuffedness that is the sweet spot to lasting weight management.
Eat what you want. Eat moderately, and if you’re having problems with your weight then count calories so you can relearn what you really need on a daily basis. And remember, it is better for the environment. We are literally eating the earth, so don’t eat more than you need 🙂