Why Your Vegan Clients Can’t Lose Weight

by Dr. Michael Rahman ND | Follow on Twitter

Being vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean being healthy.

IT SEEMS TO MAKE SENSE THAT SOMEONE WHO has been on a vegetarian or vegan diet might find it easier to lose weight than his or her carnivorous friends, but actually the opposite is true for many people.

Although it is true that a plant-based diet is perceived as healthy, it is only as healthy as the environment in which the plants were grown. Your client may not be aware of the cancer-causing issues created by eating fruits and vegetables grown in mineral depleted soils, pesticide treated fields and in hot houses over-stimulated with hormones that accelerate their growth.

Your vegetarian client may also not be aware that very few plants count as a “whole food” and that almost 99% of plants available to eat on this planet do not have full amino acid profile. A full amino acid profile is needed for human bodies to manufacture protein and that’s why food combining is recommended for anyone that does not have meat, cheese or any other type of food with a full amino acid profile in their diet.

Some Vegans Are Insulin Resistant

This is not to say that “clean eating” or vegan living is bad for your client. It just means that you should be fully versed in teaching your clients in how to combine grains, legumes and vegetables to create a full protein profile so that their body requires fewer carbohydrates to run efficiently. Even vegan-based carbohydrates can become fat, especially if your client is insulin-resistant and does not process starches properly. Starches convert to carbohydrates that are unused by the insulin resistant body and the result Is weight gain.

Watch Out for Health Foods

Many vegetarian and vegan health foods actually contain a great deal of sodium and sugar that can raise blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If you look at the labels of many fat-free products you will see that added flavour and “mouth feel” usually provided by animal fats and dairy products has been replaced by sugar, sodium and even chemical flavourings.

Even if the source of the fat in the product is some kind of oil, it is not always healthy oil. Keep in mind that an oil is a fat and that eating a product glutted with oil in the name of improving the taste and texture of a vegetarian product still adds hundreds of calories to your daily diet.

It’s About Consuming Whole Foods

Advise your client to stay away from pre-packaged vegetarian foods and to consume “whole foods.” Choose organic product if available and wash them before eating (just in case of bacterial or pesticide contamination during transport). Whole foods are raw whole vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods. Advise them to stay away from anything refined, especially refined flour and refined sugar.

Note from the editor: Dr. Teta would argue that many people nutrient deficiencies and supplementing with protein bars, shakes or supplement may be healthier than eating only a “whole food” diet. Read “The 5 Worst Weight Loss Tips” here.

Junk Food Vegetarians

Junk food is widely available for vegetarians. That is why so many practitioners find themselves treating heavy non meat-eaters. For many vegetarians, loading up on pasta and pastries is justifiable because “at least I am not eating meat!”

Even though they aren’t consuming meat these junk food vegans are consuming foods that are problematic for them in many ways and that might even cause them to gain weight.

You can still be a vegan and be fat and soft because you have not been exercising. Exercise in combination with the right diet is crucial as well, or you will simply be an overweight vegetarian.

The point is that keeping weight off is not a gimmick nor is it ever going to be the result of simply staying off of meat or dairy.  It has to be a long-term life style choice that includes exercise and eating nutritious foods.

Vegetarians and vegans are quite prone to the psychological lows that come with gaining weight so you must offer them lots of encouragement. They often blame their own bodies when it seems that “even the vegan diet” is not working. The next thing you know they are back in a vicious cycle of eating junk food in order to self-medicate for feelings of inferiority brought on by the condition of obesity itself!

About the Author
Dr. Michael Rahman ND

Dr. Michael Rahman's practice focuses on biological medicine and its treatment of chronic diseases, from fibromyalgia to cancer, and healthy age management. His practice interests also include naturopathic cosmetic care, blending naturopathic medicine with cosmetic approaches and technology that enhance health and beauty. Dr. Rahman founded Pinewood Natural Health Centre in Toronto in 1997 and expanded his practice into the Durham Region in 2003. Dr. Rahman also founded the Pinewood Institute for the Advancement of Natural Therapies in 2005. He is the principal instructor teaching mesotherapy for pain management, cosmetic mesotherapy, and advanced homotoxicological approaches to disease to naturopathic doctors across Canada and the United States