Can you help me put together a vegan weight loss plan? I am a 21-year-old graduate student and have lead a fairly healthy and active lifestyle since high school. I became vegan about 2 years ago and, within the last year, have begun working out 5 days a week (running, elliptical, stair stepper, Zumba classes, some weights, etc.). I have definitely lost weight, but feel that I might have reached a plateau. I increased my workouts so that I average 5 hrs a week and am always looking to cut calories from my already restricted diet. I would like to lose a little more and be more toned. How can I do this and still maintain my sanity? Thanks! Morgan. [via Ask Questions]
It is not easy to come up with a vegan weight loss plan that works. The reason why a typical vegan weight loss plan is difficult to follow has to do with the fact that it is often low in protein and high in carbohydrates. Compared to a traditional weight loss program, a vegan weight loss plan is constrained by vegetable sources of protein and other limitations that make losing weight harder.
Having said that, something like The Kind Diet explains how vegans can successfully lose weight without really focusing on weight loss. But you probably want to know what you can do right now to start losing weight again, right? You need to shake things up. Since you have not mentioned how many calories you consume daily, I do not know if you need to cut calories, but even if you do not, you can move those calories around a bit, which will keep your body from adopting to a certain number of calories.
In other words, use the Calorie Shifting Diet to keep your body on its toes. To make things a bit more interesting, in addition to the Calorie Shifting Diet, you need to cycle carbohydrates. Say hello to the carbohydrate cycling. Because a vegan weight loss plan is high in carbohydrates, it seems reasonable to assume that your body is expecting to receive a relatively high amount of carbohydrates every day, which, together with the same amount of daily calories and limited protein sources, can easily create a weight-loss plateau.
What else can you do? It is great that you exercise about 5 hours a week, but I sense that your diet needs a bit more attention. Get your diet under control first, and only then focus on exercise, not the other way around. What do I mean by this? Do you know how many calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat you consume daily? If you do not, write down everything you eat for two weeks to have those numbers handy. People tend to underestimate their calorie intake. Do not ever go below 1,300 calories a day, but if you are overweight and you are not losing weight, you need to pay a close attention to how much you actually eat every day.