“I Went Plant-Based and I’m Gaining Weight. What Gives?” Our Nutritionist Weighs In
Q: One of the reasons I am eating plant-based is to lose weight, but I am actually gaining on a plant-based diet. How can I turn this around?
A: I hear this all the time, so first things first—let me assure you that you’re not alone. Generally, weight changes are accompanied by some sort of shift in eating patterns and/or lifestyle. Moving towards a plant-based diet not only requires an adjustment to the types of foods you’re eating, but it also entails changing how you plan and shop for your meals. Those changes may cause some confusion about the right types of foods to eat to keep you full and satisfied, or you might have some trouble finding on-the-go options or choosing healthy options at restaurants.
This uncertainty and confusion may cause you to overeat or eat some not-so-great plant-based foods that are lacking in, well, plants. After all, there are plenty of processed foods that are plant-based, but that doesn’t make them good for you.
In order to keep your weight at a healthy level, think about the quality of the foods you’re putting on your plate. Select a balance of whole foods that incorporate healthy fiber-rich carbs, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, lean proteins, such as beans, legumes and soy products, and healthy fats, like oils, nuts and avocados. As a rule of thumb, try to fill half of every plate (or bowl) with fruits and veggies, a quarter with protein and a quarter with starch, such as whole grains or starchy veg (like sweet potatoes or butternut squash). Here is an example:
Breakfast: Tofu scramble with veggies (protein + veg) +a slice of whole-grain toast (starch) + a side of fruit
Lunch: Leafy green salad (veg) + lentils (protein and starch)
Snack: Hummus (protein and starch) + raw veggies or a small portion of nuts (fat)
Dinner: Brown rice (starch) + roasted veggies with pesto + tempeh (protein)
Eating these types of foods will ensure that you aren’t overeating one macronutrient or loading up on plant-based junk food, which can cause weight gain. Plus, eating a well-balanced diet with healthy carbs, protein and fat will keep you full, so you won't be tempted to have an extra scoop of coconut-based ice cream later!
Email your questions to info@TheBeet.com for answers to anything you need to know about eating plant-based and trying to be healthy. We will make sure that Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, answers all your questions. Rizzo is an NYC-based registered dietitian, food and nutrition writer and national speaker. She has a master’s in nutrition and exercise physiology from Columbia University, and she specializes in sports nutrition as well as plant-based diets.