On the other hand, you may also gain weight
Don’t let the word “vegan” on a snack or box of frozen “meat” fool you—weight loss isn’t always one of the benefits of a vegan diet. Vegan bars and processed proteins are loaded with additives, processed sugars, fat, sodium, and calories. For example, a small bowl of frozen vegan chili has 80 more calories and 30 more grams of carbohydrates than a small bowl of chili from Wendy’s. “Just because the word ‘vegan’ is on a product doesn’t mean it’s calorie-free,” Dr. Applegate says. “It is not a prescription for skinniness.” Processed foods are still processed foods, vegan or not. Here are 14 things to know if you’re going on a vegan weight-loss diet.
You may lower your risk of disease
One of the biggest benefits of a vegan diet is that it can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, thanks to phytonutrients, a substance found in fruits and vegetables that provides various kinds of health boosts. “You’ve got that low calorie intake with that high nutritional quality,” Dwyer says. “That’s where you’re really optimizing your energy and digestion, and giving your body what it needs to be healthy.” Scientists conducted a literature review of 27 different studies that looked at people following plant-based diets and found that people who ate vegetarian or vegan diets combined with nuts, soy, and/or fiber lowered their cholesterol by up to 35 percent. Another literature review discovered that vegans reduced their total cancer risk by about 15 percent and vegetarians decreased their heart disease risk by 25 percent compared to meat eaters.
You may feel fatigued
Fatigue could be an immediate sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Humans do not naturally produce vitamin B12, so we must rely on animal products for our daily dose. Cows and sheep have bacteria in their stomachs to make B12 for them. What’s more, people are less able to absorb vitamin B12 from foods as they get older. Experts recommend taking a vitamin B12 supplement, sprinkling a little nutritional yeast on popcorn, or consuming B12-fortified foods like soy milk and vegan breakfast cereal. Watch out for these other sneaky signs of a vitamin deficiency.