Are you giving the scale some side-eye because you aren’t seeing results? Find out the top 10 reasons for weight-loss frustration while on a plant-based diet

You set unrealistic goals

I stepped on the scale and immediately grunted in annoyance. The number showed no signs of weight loss. Nothing. Not even an ounce of difference.

I had diligently followed my diet and workout routine for exactly one whole day. Surely 24 hours of dedication should’ve paid off, right? That scale had some nerve!

Maybe you’ve been there too. Hoping for immediate results after starting a new diet. But like most things in life, good things take time.

Sure, it might be nice to set a goal of losing 20 pounds in 20 days. It sounds good. But it’s completely unrealistic for most people.

Instead, if weight loss is your goal, the CDC recommends losing 1-2 pounds per week. They’ve found gradual weight loss helps people lose weight and keep it off longer. That’s what we want, right?

Oftentimes, losing weight requires a mindset shift and a lifestyle change. Those things take time. Be patient with yourself.

Setting realistic goals can help you stay motivated over time. Celebrate the little successes you have. Otherwise, you’ll quit too soon, and you’ll never see what you’re really capable of.

As you start a plant-based diet, take your time, be patient with yourself, and make small decisions each day that set yourself up for success. Lasting weight loss takes time.

You are eating too much

Portion control. Portion control. Portion control.

I know your trail mix is chock full of essential vitamins and minerals. I see those dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. I know they’re good for you.

But I also know each serving is full of calories and high in fat. And it’s probably more than you think.

The package gives you a serving size for a reason. Pay attention to it.

The best way to fight against endless eating is to pre-portion your food at the start of your day. Instead of plopping the whole bag of snacks on your lap while you zone out to your favorite show on Netflix, grab a cup and portion out one serving. Put the rest of the bag back in the pantry and save those calories for another day.

Meal-planning on a plant-based diet is a great way to keep yourself on track. When you have a plan, you can make sure you’re getting enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And you can avoid binging on easy-to-grab junk foods.

Be sure to plan meals that will fill you up with protein and fiber that will help you feel full for longer.

These are some great foods to incorporate into your weekly meal plans:
Beans (black beans, pinto beans, chili beans, etc.)
Starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.)
Leafy greens (kale, spinach, lettuces, etc.)
Fresh fruits (bananas, apples, strawberries, oranges, etc.)
Whole grains (whole grain bread, brown rice, etc.)
Nuts, seeds, etc.

Eating healthy, whole foods is a great way to lose weight on a plant-based diet. But remember to keep an eye on serving sizes and calories to avoid overeating.

You can find out more information about a plant-based food pyramid and serving sizes here.

You are drinking too many calories

Are sodas considered plant-based foods? I mean, technically, yes. As long as they’re dairy-free and don’t contain animal products, they fit in a vegan diet, as well as other plant-based eating plans.

But are sodas going to help you achieve your weight loss goals? Probably not.

Ironically, even diet drinks with zero sugar and zero calories can sabotage your plans to lose weight. In fact, according to Penn Medicine, diet sodas

may actually lead to weight gain. They can also mess with your gut bacteria, which leads to all sorts of digestive issues. Yikes.

The best thing to drink is always going to be water. Your body craves it. It’s essential for healthy living.

Remember, by the time you actually feel thirsty, you’re probably already a little dehydrated. So stay ahead of it, and drink lots of water throughout the day.

Here are some tips to help you take in more water:

Carry a reusable water bottle wherever you go. Having water conveniently in front of you might be enough to stop the urge to grab a soda or juice when you’re feeling parched.
Set a goal for how much water you want to drink per day.
Set a reminder on your phone to drink water at certain intervals.
Add slices of fruit or vegetables to your water to give it a subtle flavor.
Drink a glass of water before you eat a low calorie snack or whole meal.

Drinking more water is still one of the best things you can do for your health and weight loss goals. If you find yourself gaining weight on a plant-based diet, take a look at not just what you’re eating, but what you’re drinking too.

If you’re looking for a plant-based, caffeine-free drink to replace your morning coffee, check out Kaffree Roma.

You are not consuming enough protein

If you’re just starting a plant-based diet, it might be a good idea to track the amount of protein you’re getting each day. Until you get the hang of the foods you’re eating, it might be hard to know if you’re getting enough protein.

Some of the best sources of plant-based proteins are lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, and whole grains.

Try this protein calculator to help you determine a healthy amount of consumption based on your height, weight, age, and activity level.

If you’re looking for delicious, meat-free protein options, check out these protein-packed foods from Atlantic Natural Foods:

You are not working out

The foods you eat have a huge impact on the scale, obviously. But being active while eating a plant-based diet is an important component of healthy weight loss too.

Physical activity helps you burn fat and increases your metabolism. Working out also releases endorphins that help you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re more likely to make better choices for your overall health and wellbeing.

So instead of cozying up on the couch after dinner, get outside and take a walk. Grab the dog and go for a hike in the woods. Play tag with your kids at the park.

Incorporating movement throughout your day will add up and get you closer to your health goals. You don’t have to run a marathon or bench press your bodyweight to see results.

Find a workout routine that is fun and fits into your schedule. Sign up for a yoga class with a friend or search YouTube for 20-minute workout videos to do at home.

When you look forward to working out, you’ll be more likely to stick to your goals.

You are eating vegan junk food

Just because a bag of chips says it’s vegan-friendly, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Shocking, I know.

Sometimes, the two terms seem to become synonymous. But that’s just not the case.

The goal of whole-food, plant-based eating is to focus on healthy foods and avoid processed junk.

Vegan junk foods are often filled with sugar, fats from oil, and other additives, much like non-vegan snacks.

Instead of devouring half a cup of vegan ice cream (approx. 260 calories), swap it for a lower calorie option, like one cup of plant-based, flavored yogurt (approx. 100 calories). You can eat more and still consume fewer calories.

Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, even during snack time, can help you reach your weight loss goals.

So nix the processed foods. Instead, grab some veggies and hummus or a bowl of fresh fruit when hunger strikes.

Choose snacks that contain fiber and protein from whole plant foods. That combo of protein and fiber is helpful for losing weight.

You are skipping meals

Skipping meals might seem like a good idea if you want to decrease your calorie intake each day. But that often backfires when you take in excessive calories at other meals to make up for the one you skipped. That leads to weight gain.

Instead, eating several, well-balanced meals can help you stay on track.

Meal-planning can help you stick to your daily calorie goals and lose weight on a plant-based diet. You can make sure you’re eating enough of the good stuff: veggies, fruits, and whole grains.

So don’t skip meals. Irregular eating patterns can actually cause you to consume more calories over time.

You are not preparing your food the right way

Are you eating a vegan diet and just not seeing results on the scale? It could be the way you’re preparing the food.

Unfortunately, plant-based foods doused in high-cal dressings and loaded with sugary sauces can lead to weight gain.

Instead, you want to eat healthy, whole, clean foods with minimal sauces. That doesn’t mean your meals have to be boring. Swap the sauces for spices, and get a boost of flavor without the extra fat, oil, and calories.

Limit the amount of olive oil you use when preparing your food. It’s high in calories, which could lead to gaining weight.

You are not getting enough sleep

There is a strong connection between the amount of sleep you get per night and your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. 

Getting enough sleep helps your body relax and decrease stress levels. Too much stress can lead to overeating. So if you find yourself stress-eating your way through the day, maybe it’s time to hit the hay a little earlier each night.

Set sleep goals for yourself, and make them a priority. Sometimes self-care means going to bed at 7:30 or sleeping in till 10:00. Sleep deprivation could have major effects on your mood and disposition.

Give yourself time to wind down at the end of the day. Take a bath. Put on calming music. Dim the lights. Light a candle. Grab a book and settle in.

Your body craves appropriate amounts of rest in order for its cells to grow and thrive. If you’re gaining weight on a plant-based diet, your body might be telling you it needs more sleep.

You are not documenting weight loss

This might sound silly, but did you write down your goals before you started?

Keeping track of your weight loss each week can help you achieve your goals. You’ll be able to see your progress and feel encouraged by the small changes on the scale. That’s something to celebrate!

Without documenting your starting weight, it might be a little fuzzy about how much poundage you’re actually losing. You might miss out on an opportunity to celebrate that success. You don’t want that.

Deciding to lose weight on a plant-based diet is a great way to move toward better overall health. Look back at all the reasons you started this journey, and be proud of the progress you’re making.

You’re on your way to a healthier YOU.

Looking for healthy, plant-based meals for your whole family? Check out these delicious recipes from Plant Based Pantry.

Written by Aftan Hoffer

I’m a self-proclaimed flexitarian, living in Lancaster, PA with my vegetarian husband and our two picky, omnivore toddlers. We’re also a foster family, so the number of chairs around our dinner table can change from time to time. Meals at our house involve a variety of foods, so everyone has at least one thing they’re excited to eat. No one wants a battle at mealtime.