Healthy Veg Calories to Avoid Weight Loss
How to keep weight up on veg diet, eat healthy too
I recently started changing my diet. I am juicing fruits and veggies and cutting out meat. I feel GREAT! I am very excited about my new, far healthier diet.
The only problem is that I am losing weight. While this is generally considered a “good” thing, I’m not overweight and I would like to maintain the size I am.
Do you have any advice regarding good calories and how I can keep the weight on in a healthy way?
Thanks so much!! ~Max R.
Savvy Vegetarian Advice:
Most people I’ve heard from consider weight loss the #1 benefit to a veg diet. But I have heard from a few like you who are alarmed by the weight loss.
From my own experience, I know that vegetarian or vegan diets are no quarantee of weight loss. It’s just that many new veggies naturally embrace low calorie foods like salads and smoothies with enthusiasm – they are fabulous! – but tend to neglect carbs and high fat foods, so they take in fewer calories.
That’s ok if you want to lose weight, but to maintain a healthy weight, you need a balanced nutritious diet which includes plenty of fresh veggies and fruit, but also whole grains, beans & tofu, nuts & seeds, a reasonable amount of added fat – and enough total calories.
What’s a reasonable amount of fat?
According to the latest nutrition theories, you should consume 10 – 15% of your daily calorie intake as fat. On a 2000 calorie diet, then, 200 – 300 calores should come from fat. Ideally, most of that would be fat from foods.
Meat and other animal foods such as dairy are often high in fat, which is why omnivores usually have no problem maintaining or increasing their body weight. When you cut animal foods out of your diet, you need to eat some high fat foods to get enough fat in your diet – unless you WANT to lose weight!
Most plant foods have some fat - some just have more than others.
1 Tbsp of added fat in the form of unprocessed cold pressed oil such as olive oil, coconut oil etc has about 150 calories, plus essential fatty acids and a few other nutrients which your body needs – in tiny amounts. So it makes sense to get most of your fat from nutritious foods such as avocados, coconut milk, nuts & seeds, and whole soy foods like tofu or tempeh.
Consult the list of high fat foods in the advice post How to Gain Healthy Weight on a Vegetarian Diet. And consider other ways to boost your calorie intake enough to maintain a healthy weight.
Each meal should include both carbohydrate and protein rich food, plus a bit of fat in addition to the fruit and veg. Grains and legumes (beans & lentils) together are the healthy alternative to meat. Except for B12, they replace the nutrients in meat, but not most of the fat. So that’s where the high fat foods come in.
By the way, carbs are important foods, worthy of respect. Unless you’re (diabetic, you can get carbs from all forms of grains and high carb veggies. Whole grains especially have valuable nutrients not plentiful in other foods, plus they’re high in fiber, so they digest slowly and sustain your energy for several hours. If you’re not getting enough carbs in your diet, your body will burn fat for energy – which you don’t need.
Try tracking your calorie intake for a week, using a free service like nutritiondata.com. Adjust what you’re eating and the serving sizes to bring your calories up to a level that keeps your weight up.