Eating Vegan May Be Hurting Your Weight Loss Goals
This is not speaking to those who are vegan due to religious reasons or personal beliefs, but to those who believe eating a vegan diet will help them lose fat, or trim up. I personally do not believe a vegan diet is always the best choice fat losing fat, or increasing lean muscle mass, and here’s why:
Are you Insulin Sensitive Enough?
Both muscle and fat cells have insulin receptors, this is so the cell can vacuum in glucose energy for either storage (fat cell), or for ATP energy and repair (muscle cell). Carbohydrates will increase or spike our blood sugar, and the more carbs you have the more your blood sugar spikes. When blood sugar increases, insulin is also spurted out in order to bind to the sugar and take it to where our body needs. This is either for immediate energy, or it gets stored in our liver, or as fat within our fat cells. If you carry a lot of body fat and low lean muscle mass, then your overall body composition has a higher ratio of fat cells than muscle cells. This also means you have a higher ratio of insulin receptors on team fat, vs. team muscle.
Now let’s pair this with a high carbohydrate diet, such as a vegan diet. A high carb diet, or 4-5 meals per day where the caloric intake is primarily from carb and fat, with the plant based amino acids coming from carbs. This is certainly a diet that will rise blood sugar as well as insulin level high, and this is bad news if you have a higher amount of fat cells i.e. more insulin receptors on team fat to trigger and get excited to absorb.
This is the main reason why I do not recommend a vegan diet to people who need to lose a lot of body fat, especially in the beginning stages. A vegan diet is very high in carbs, so for those who do not have the body composition to handle the constant carb influx i.e. high body fat % and low lean muscle mass, which means they could be insulin resistant. As humans, we want to be insulin sensitive, which means our insulin receptors are responsive to insulin therefore readily absorbing the sugar energy into cells. If our receptors are insulin resistant, then they do not pick up or absorb blood sugars well which means the energy is brought to the liver for storage, or packed into fat. Insulin resistance will happen in those with a lot of body fat, history of weight issues, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. Eating a high carb diet is not the correct diet for those who have a lot of fat to lose, and a vegan (or vegetarian, but more vegan) diet just happens to be one that is very carbohydrate heavy, therefore not the best choice for overweight individuals.
Do You Lift Enough Weights?
If you want to improve insulin sensitivity as well as eat a diet that can easily handle a higher carb influx, then I strongly suggest to stark building and packing on lean muscle. You have over 600 muscles in your body to pack on mass, you have TONS of room to put it all. The bulking excuse is getting old, if you see someone bulk up from weights its because they are likely programming it that way, and eating to bulk. Weight training does not make you bulky…bad food, a high calorie diet, bad programming, and no cardio will make you bulky. Weight training for hypertrophy, i.e. increasing muscle size, will only improve your muscle cell to fat cell ratio. 9/10 weight loss problems all stem from a body composition that is low in muscle mass, and then too much body fat due to improper and inconsistent diet and exercise. If you hit the weights and try to improve how much muscle you have on your body, you will improve your overall insulin sensitivity. I don’t mean body weight circuits at home 3x per week, I mean investing in a gym membership and learning how to lift weights and use machines for a purpose (i.e. hypertrophy), not just for exercise. It’s a skill just like anything else, stop thinking it is a “mans thing” only…you are only limiting yourself.
On top of this, the more muscle you have the higher your resting metabolic rate becomes, so you burn more calories at rest. This can lead to further fat loss even in your sleep, if your caloric intake is in check. The less body fat you carry, and the more muscle you grow means you have improved what your body is made out of, and can now tolerate more carbs. The carbs can now be used by the muscles to grow more muscle, vs. risking being “won” by fat cells.
At the end of the day, shifting your focus to becoming stronger and more powerful should be the main objective. If you focus on trying to become stronger for your overall health, independence, general safety and well-being…then you will lose weight overtime. There is no magic diet category, or certain food group you need to eat or avoid that will make you lose fat fast, or increase muscle mass. If you are eating the right way consistently, and working out HARD for muscle hypertrophy, then topping it up with a bit more cardio and activity…you will find the lbs dripping off of you. Do not flip flop diets, keto is not the answer, tea is not the answer, spicy foods are not the answer, nor is an all vegan diet. A vegan diet may be branded and marketed as health, but just because the food looks really pretty and trendy does not mean it is healthy for YOUR bodies current composition. Lose the fat, increase muscle…and it will open up a World of food doors for you with limited restrictions.