6 reasons you might have gained weight on a plant-based diet when your goal is to lose weight

It can be disheartening.  You embrace a plant-based diet with the hopes of not only getting healthier, but shedding a few pounds and you  are looking forward to slipping into your jeans a little more easily.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, a few days in you step on the scale and the numbers are up.  What’s with that?  Here’s how ‘Jo’ put it in a recent posting:
I began the 21-Day Kickstart and have been following it pretty closely. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost a year now and decided I would try to move closer to vegan. I was hoping it would help me lose some weight. I’ve been exercising pretty regularly but haven’t seen any change on the scale. I don’t eat out much at all. Make all my own food. I eat whole grain breads and pasta. Lots of fresh veggies and fruit.Am I missing something?  gourmetJo
Here are 6 reasons you might have gained weight on a plant-based diet when your goal is to lose weight
Not to worry Jo, it is usually enot too hard to find the root of the problem. And it may just be a matter adjustment time.
Here is my expanded response to Jo.

Hi gourmetJo,

This happened to me as well when I switched to a low fat vegan diet.  Actually, I gained 2 lbs in the first month. And this was after decades of a vegetarian diet!  So the changes for me were eliminating dairy, free fats (expelled oils), and minimizing higher fat foods vegetable foods such as avocados, nuts, and olives.

The 2 lbs came on pretty quick, stuck around for a month, and then in the month directly, after I dropped them.  Then the next month I dropped 2 more lbs which became a 4 lb. weight loss, a net loss of 2 lbs during that time.  Keep in mind I was not overweight since losing 50 lbs several years ago and my weight stays within a 3 – 4 lb range.

Here are 6 possible reasons you may have gained weight: 

Arrow Our bodies need adjust time. We always dread the idea of weight coming on fast but want it to go OFF fast, aren’t we something?  Give it some more time.

Arrow Increased fiber content.  If your diet plant-based diet changes include a step up in dietary fiber (usually does, did for me) then you have more fibrous content in the digestive track which holds water in the gut. This can translate to poundage by the scale, but not body fat poundage. So you may be losing fat yet holding a bit of water in the system.

Arrow Carbohydrate binds more water in our system than protein, so if your macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein and fat) content has shifted to a higher percentage of carbohydrates, this can explain water weight as well. I look at it as getting hydrated, especially for those coming off a dietary plan that is too steep in protein, which purges water from the system. You may be re-hydrating – which can be a good thing.

Arrow  Watch for hidden fats  that can easily sneak into your diet with oils, nuts, seeds, and high fat vegetables and fruits.  These rapidly climb the calorie density of your diet and can result in weight gain or stalled weight loss. See Is the fat you eat the fat you’ll wear?

Are you drinking smoothies? Smoothies are an easy way to overshoot our daily calorie need because of the disruption of fiber that happens in the process of making a smoothie a smoothie.  This disruption of fiber impacts the satiety of the smoothie contents.  You don’t get the same result as if you had eaten the vegetables and fruits whole.  This article went on the Plant-Based Fitness Expert Blog about that very phenomenon if you’d like to take a look:

To smoothie or not to smoothie? The skinny on blending your fruits and greens

I’ve received several replies, emails and comments on facebook in response to the smoothie post. One of the responders said she had started doing big smoothies every day since last October. She reported that she has gained 6 lbs not knowing why.  She’s thrilled to have the smoothie insight and is investigating the connection.  And she’s promised to keep me posted.

   Are you including regular servings of  TVP (textured vegetable protein) and soy meats?  These items can contain big servings of hidden fats and sodium without the fiber advantage of whole foods.  Stick to whole foods and limit these items to occasional condiment or decoration.

I hope you find this encouraging! Give it time, take care and have compassion for your body.  Keep getting support for positive changes!  And you too will experience the slender, energetic joy of a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

Have you an insight from your own experience about weight gain with a dietary switch that you’d like to share?  Please post in comments below.

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  1. What a great list and you’ve given me several things to consider in my eating. I have been ‘stuck’ at a weight for a certain amount of time and have about 15 lbs more to lose. This gives me a checklist to go through. Thanks so much!

    I also found the smoothie article really enlightening!


    • Lani

      Thanks for your post Gwen. Be sure to let me know what you find out once you go through the checklist.

  2. For me it is always bread. Doesn’t matter if it is whole grain – I swear there are days when I could eat my body weight in bread! :) So I limit it drastically and if the pounds start to creep up, I omit it entirely.

    • Lani

      Nanette, you are not alone with the bread and unless a gluten allergy, it’s all about the calorie density.

      Starchy veggies/intact whole grains around come in at around 450-500 cal/lb

      In contrast, processed grains such as bread (even if their whole grain) are around around 1200-1500 cal/lb. Quite the difference!

      Switching out more intact whole grains and starchy veggies sure can make a difference!

  3. I actually weigh considerably more following a no-oil vegan diet than I did when I meticulously followed Weight Watchers. But I DON’T CARE. I am so much happier. I’m not starving all the time and then binge eating or compulsively overating because I am nourished. Really nourished for the first time in my life. And I loathed weighing and measuring food all the time and recording everything that I ate. What a relief!

    • Lani

      Hi Wendy, boy I hear that. That was my dream – to get out of the madness of micromanagement. I can see we are a match! WW has helped a lot of people yet also left a lot of damage in its wake. So glad to hear you’ve found a pathway that is so life-affirming. No wonder we get along so well! Thanks for popping in!

  4. Thanks for the info. For me I think it was the smoothies as I was having a huge one every morning. Since switching to the soaked steel cut oats with fruit in the morning I feel much more satisfied and have no trouble not eating again until lunch time. I used to get really hungry and need something mid morning.

    I also have to watch my nut intake. I have been plant based whole food for about 13 months, lost about 20 lbs. and then put 3 back on this past fall, so I will start watching a little closer from now on.

    • Lani

      Hey Sibyl, those nuts will do it for me too! I am glad you were able to make a simple tweak that looks like it will deliver for you. Keep me posted and thank you for coming in to share today.

  5. For me, it has been missing the stuffed stomach feeling I had on a meat diet and trying to replace it with overloading (binging) on a plant-based diet. When eating whole foods, plant-based and no-added-oil, we don’t ever get that stuffed feeling that comes with an animal product diet so we can, if we’re not mindful, try to overeat to compensate. The lighter feeling we have is great but it’s not what we’ve been used to eating.

    • Lani

      Shirley, you make a good point – the full is ‘different’ yet once you’ve made the switch you realize how much better plant-full feels because it is not accompanied by the heavy dullness of a higher fat, higher protein, more processed food diet. I’ve seen movie footage of blood flow after a high fat meal compared to a low fat, plant-based and the cell walls become sticky with the fat in the system. This slows down the blood-brain connection and no wonder there is foggy thinking after a rich meal.

      I do find that with time, finding out “plant-ful” sorts itself out. We just need to be patience and not worry about it too much, and have more good food available if and when we need it.

      thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. All the blogs i read guaranteed weight loss if I stuck to the plan. I gained weight. I assumed I was the only person ever that gained weight eating this way. I found these tips helpful. Thank you. Would you recommend tracking by inches rather than by weight then? I am referencing the topic of fiber actually causing a slight weight gain.

    • Lani

      Hey Nova, multiple measures can be helpful, meaning weight and the measuring tape. Of course the most accurate would be body composition testing, yet even those can vary based on the method used. Personally, I tracked the weight and just waist measure and the waist is where I’ll go up first when I gain. Waist measure wasn’t going up with my weight that first few weeks so I had the sense it was just as I noted in the article with the fiber content. The reason I took my weights and measure was to be able to help others with my own experience later, just as has been the case for you. Glad it helped. You don’t mention how much time has passed for you. Incorporating the tips I’ve given and letting time do what it needs to do will make a difference. Keep me posted.

  7. I’m wondering if you can help with this problem. I am a relatively new vegetarian of about a year. And about 3 months ago, I went on a total and complete plant based diet. I have horrific gas and bloating! I never had any of this while I was eating meat, chicken, fish. I’ve been eating high fiber for 15 months now and you’d think it would get better, but it’s getting worse since I went on an all plant diet. (zero oils). I exercise, drink lots water etc. I’ve been eating potatoes, chickpeas as mock chicken sandwiches with tofu mayo and w.w. bread. I probably eat 1-3 slices of bread/day. Baked beans, black beans, brown rice, squash, mushroom gravy made with w.w.flour, peas, cucumbers, banana ice cream. But I just can’t figure out why I’m so miserable. My stomach looks like I’m 9 months pregnant. Thank you!

    • Lani Muelrath

      Nancy, you might want to see if there are any food sensitivies that could be exacerbating your problem, such as wheat or gluten. Try isolating out some of the beans, or check cooking methods. Do canned beans work better for you? That may mean better cooked beans are good for you –

      Simpler food combinations, eating more slowly, smaller meals, separating cruciferous veggies from beans – these can all make a difference, depending on the individual. There is just going to be more digestive tract activity with all the fiber – yet there are ways to mitigated and engineer the process.

  8. Hi Lani,
    In this article you talk about smoothies as being a possible cause for weight gain. Yet the very bottom of the page takes us to another page on your site, where you show Julianna Hever’s green smoothie and recommend it, as well as other smoothies. And listening to the recent broadcast, the good doctor is not in favor of smoothies.
    I make them and enjoy them so I’d really like to understand. To me, there seems to be a contradiction.

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Fran,

      Thanks for your note. Actually, no conflict.

      If you’ll notice, the date on the green smoothie recipe video article is July 19, 2011, well in advance of the research-generated article “To Smoothie or Not to Smoothie” published January 18, 2012 – 6 months later. “To Smoothie or Not” provides important information for those using smoothies that may help them if there is an issue with weight, calories, or satiation. It doesn’t meant no one should ever have a smoothie, or that I am telling people what to do. The idea is to give important information so you can make your own decision based on your own needs and health.

      Even though I do not recommend them as regular way to eat, especially for those with weight challenges, I still enjoy a smoothie on occasion.

      Perhaps it would be a good idea to put a link at the top of the smoothie recipe page for more about smoothies – what do you think?

      Looking forward to your thoughts and ideas,


  9. Thanks Lani. Yes, I do think it would be a good idea to add a link – perhaps something to the tune of – smoothies when people are trying to lose weight – or something like that.

    all the best

    • Lani Muelrath

      Great idea Fran – thanks again for your thoughts, I really value your input.

  10. Lani,

    Sometime ago I located a pg. on your site for rules regarding maximizing weight loss by Dr. McDougall. Yesterday I tried to find it again but so far I have struck out, do you still have rules? Also unable to find Mary McDougall’s recipes.


  11. Lani,
    I’m new to your site and found this article very informative. I believe, as I have suspected for a while, that due to my higher fiber intake I am holding water in my tummy region… how do I neutralize the bloating? Thank you in advance.

    • Lani Muelrath


      You can try slowing down as you eat and chew a lot – and work your way up slowly to the higher fiber if you need. And give it time.

      So glad you found it helpful and nice to meet you!


  12. I am very glad to see this article, since I have had disappointing results on a plant-based low fat vegan diet. I started on this diet after losing 100pounds following a heart attack. I have had disappointing results on my cholesterol numbers and it has really given me lots of trouble with my blood sugar numbers as well. I recently switched to Dr. Joel Furhman’s plan – the nutrarian approach – and am doing much better. His theory is that even tho we are eating a vegan diet, we can still not be getting enough nutrients – especially if we are eating any packaged foods. He allows more nuts and seeds and fruit, but limits starches to beans. He suggests a salad for every meal. This is what I’ve been doing and have found much less cravings and resulting urges to binge eat. I think that we have gotten too used to eating too many foods that are not healthy for us. I don’t think grains are good for anyone struggling with their weight. And I have found as a type 2 diabetic, I can’t eat a diet that is starchy. I think it is an individual adjustment and each person has to find out what works for them. If the diet you are following is not working, you must try other things until you find what your body needs. It’s too bad that the diets are put out there as being the solution for everyone – because that’s just not true. It should be more tentative. Sure, it’s better than the Western diet – but many people with health problems have not been on the western diet for years. They have been trying many things. I think it’s all individual.

  13. I too have gained a large amount of body fat since going completely plant based; no oil, dairy or animal products or sugar. I am very depressed about it.I need to eat the beans and grains and starchy veggies to feel satiated along with some fruits and very small amounts of nuts or avocado on only a few occasions. At times I think of going back to my fish based diet with some eggs to get back my firmer body I had before this diet. I don’t over eat and don’t do smoothies. I weigh the same but am much more flabby.I have become self conscious of my belly. I work out every day and walk a lot. Nothing helps. It’s totally this plant based diet change. I think I’ll take a year off from it and get my body back and let you all know. Sure if I starve my self with lots of veggies and salads I could maybe lose the belly but I can’t stand being hungry. The only thing that helps feel full is the whole grains and starch veggies. Ground flax etc cause too many bathroom trips.Beans always cause way too much gas but I eat them anyway for years. Most of the plant based doctors out there doing this a long time are men. The few woman I have seen look unwell. Any one else had this problem since going plant based? Even in the China Study I’m sure the rural Chinese ate plenty of fish.

    • I forgot to add I eat tuns of veggies and greens and once in awhile tofu or tempheh. The only bread I eat infrequently is the Engine 2 tortillas. I have oatmeal almost every day for breakfast, not instant with some fruit and soymilk. I really believe this is a healthy way of eating but I am always thinking about food for a year now where I never did before on my animal diet. I am always hungry even after a huge satisfying meal..within 3 hours I want more. I liked when I ate my fish how I could go 6 hours and not think about food. I’m torn as what to do. I don’t like cooking nor have the time so a quick grain with beans and greens or veggies is the norm. Getting sick of it. What to do.

      • Lani Muelrath

        Hi Jenna,

        Sorry to hear about your difficulties. Without seeing detailed food diary and activity and workouts, it’s hard to troubleshoot. Changes in body composition are due to excess calories and a change in exercise habits, sometimes hormones play a role too – so it can be a variety of things.

        If you want to get to the bottom of the problem and move forward with plant-based diet but are unclear about what to do, I would recommend you work with a plant-based dietitian to help. Taking a look at how your activity levels have changed can be helpful, too.

        Personally, what made the difference for me with a whole foods plant based diet – in terms of making energy and weight management easy – is to be sure I am eating enough of the starchies and beans. I detail this in the Fit Quickies: 5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts quite extensively, which may also be a good resource for you in finding your way. I wasn’t eating enough of them, found myself hungry a lot of the time, and struggling with weight managment. Once I ‘got’ it about them, things changed!

  14. I’ve been slowly switching from a vegetarian diet to a plant based diet. I’ve been tracking my calorie and nutritional intake (I got into this habit for losing weight, lost 50lbs in the last two years).

    I’m 100% on the plant based diet now, and I’ve noticed at the end of the day I’m barely at 900 calories. During my weight loss, I was always told we need at least 1200 calories a day, otherwise we are starving are bodies and could actually gain weight. Does this apply for a plant based diet? I’ve been forcing myself to eat more on the plant based diet even though I’m not hungry to reach at least 1200 calories but I’ve noticed a slight weight gain. I’ve read that on a plant based diet you should just eat as much as you need to, so is it alright if I only eat 900 calories in a day?

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Lindsay,

      It can be very easy to miscalulate our calorie counts – that may be part of it.

      Is there a problem that you are trying to troubleshoot?

      And wow congrats on the 50 lb weight loss – we’re twins!

      Are you exercising, by the way? Muscles need challenge to stay!


  15. Hi,I’ve been eating fat free,salt free ,plant based food but gaining weight.??.
    I am moving moderately in my job but don’t work out much.
    I am really disappointed as I love eating this way .i eat beans ,some times sweet potatoes ,huge salads and cooked veggies.I have been a fatfree ,salt free ,whole plat dieter for some time now.
    I am premenopausal with normal thyroid levels .what should I do ?

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Robyn,

      Without knowing more about a week or more review of daily eats, it would be a long shot to assess the problem.

      Every person needs to find their level of quality of diet to read their weight goals. Have you read the Nutrition Chapter in Fit Quickies? I recommend you start there as you will find over 30 pages of revelation, analysis and insights into my own challenges with weight and how I am able to eat a plant-based diet to overcome them. Do you have a copy of the book?

      The Plant-Based blueprint will also help – it is free as a gift with purchase of Fit Quickis (See “the Food” page in the navigation bar) and will give you lots of insights as well.


    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Robyn,

      It is difficult to answer your questions without a clear picture of what you are eating each day, what the time frame has been, and what gain you are talking about – according to the scale? Body composition? Working closely with someone to help you troubleshoot would be the next step if you still are having difficulties. There are plant-based dietitians who can help and I also serve as food and eating coach should you need more assistance.


  16. You know who this diet is good for? People working out intensively for hours a day. The guys you read on “Mark’s Daily Apple.” The Crossfit people. The triathletes. For them this diet is perfect.

    For those of us in the real world who have obligations, weight issues, and not a lot of time for working out, this diet is a disaster. And try being in menopause – at that point, all bets are off on a high carb diet. Talk about a train wreck of a plan.

    I gained 4# in six weeks doing the “McDougall” diet. I ate 2/3 starches (potatoes or rice) with 1/3 veggies like McDougall says will “work for everybody.” When that didn’t work to get weight moving, I changed it to 50/50 starch/veggies. I cut my fruit to one cup of (lower carb) berries per day, sometimes I would skip the fruit altogether. No oils, no animals, no junk food, nothing off plan. I made the Jeff Novick “SNAP” meals for the “calorie density” angle – didn’t work.

    I walk 1 hour per day and also have a fairly active day job in which I’m sitting/standing/walking constantly throughout the day, and I try to do some toning videos 1-2 times a week.

    I put on 3/4 inch around my waist during the time I did this plan. I was more bloated than I ever remember being, even compared to the SAD diet I did years ago. Like the above poster, I tracked my calories and couldn’t hit more than 1,100 to 1,200 in a day, which is still below my BMR of 1500-1600, and yet I GAINED.

    I’m now doing a low carb diet with fish, chicken, eggs, low fat string cheese occasionally, piles of non-starchy veggies and still one fruit per day. I lost 7# in 3 weeks and I feel much better than I did eating 80% carbs.

    All those dense carbs don’t work for everybody. Obviously, the advocates of this WOE don’t have solutions for the water retention that occurs with these huge amounts of carbs, or for people who can’t work out 5 hours a day. Sugar is sugar, it all acts the same way once it hits the inside of your body. Doesn’t matter if its a Snickers bar or a potato.

    The above poster mentioned the Furhrman diet, maybe I’ll look into that one. Maybe it will work better for me since it has some added nuts and fats. But 80%+ of carbs just wasn’t healthy for me. I’m looking to lose the 20 extra pounds I’m carrying around, not add to it!

    • Lani Muelrath


      Thanks for your note. Each individual must find the quality of diet they need to obtain their weight loss goals.

      Snickers bars and potatoes are not the same thing, it does matter.

      Without a complete food diary, it’s difficult to assess where the problem might be. And it can also make a difference what the dietary plan was previously.

      As John Robbins says in his endorsement of the Fit Quickies book: “…This is one exercise book that understands that you don’t have to exercise like a maniac once you get the food right. Highly recommended.” I aspired to a way of eating that would make exercise and workout time minimal – and counter that there is no need for “5 hours of exercise a day”. I am a person with “obligations, weight issues, and not a lot of time for working out” and found this dietary plan to solve these problems. I explain how to do this for those who are interested in eating a whole foods, low fat plant-based diet, and have found it to be unsurpassed in success with those I’ve coached and taught over the years – you can see it in the testimonials and reviews on my site.

      I wish you all the best of success in your endeavors to find the best match for you.

      Lani Muelrath

      • Same thing happened to me. Gained sooo much belly fat and found the beans and whole grains, mostly brown rice and qunioa backed on more body fat. My weight stayed almost the same but lost all my muscle. This whole food plant based vegan diet will cause a gee ration of people with more food disorders. I hope over time on a pale type diet I will recover . I like Dr. mark Hymans approach. I will cut out completely beans, legumes and all whole grains. I’ll check back here.

        • Lani Muelrath

          Pnina, the point is to take a look at transition features and errors that can be easily remedied. Whole plant foods without the addition of added fats and too much energy load in high fat plant foods can challenge weight loss – but low fat whole plant foods do not cause loss of muscle and beans don’t cause fat gain.

  17. Hi Lani,

    Until 2 weeks ago I was a meat-eater and had been all my life and then I decided enough was enough. Since, I have been on a vegan diet and it is going really well and is so much easier than expected. I have to admit that the main reason for me beginning all of this was one about weight. I had had enough of yo-yo dieting and realised that I needed to do something long term. I am 33 and active and regularly exercise about 2-3 hours of cardio a week with an hour of yoga and an hour swimming. I started using the 21 day kickstart diet to, well, kick start everything. I feel happy in my new diet switch and I’m finding out so much more about nutrition and foods than ever before and for the first , enjoying it! However, I am feeling a little let down by it at the same time! I haven’t lost a pound! Is it because I have made the switch too quickly from meat-vegan? The diet is supposed to make you feel more energised but I do not feel any different. I haven’t increased my sugar intake or overdoing it on the carbs ( 1-2 portions a day normally). I also haven’t had any alcohol at all in the 14 days and only one glass of Coca-Cola. Can you give me any tips please. I am going to continue this vegan diet even if I don’t lose any weight- I know it is a much healthier choice for my future- but, ultimately I do want to lose weight. I am taking Gota Kolu to help with circulation and also water retention but from what I have read this shouldn’t hinder the weight loss process at all. I have minimised all oils, am not eating nuts and only have a couple of sugars in a coffee every other day. AGH! I have ordered your Fit Quickies book and looking forward to building that into my workout too. I just wonder, as I haven’t found it mentioned anywhere really, how long you really need to give a meat transition to vegan diet before weight loss occurs. I understand it is different for everyone so will see how I go. Also, how on earth do you diet on a Vegan Diet? I will continue to be a Vegan, it is so much better I am sure but how I would diet on this is beyond me!! Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Catherine,

      Thanks for your note. I appreciate your enthusiasm and tenacity!

      You say at 2 weeks in : “I am feeling a little let down by it at the same time! I haven’t lost a pound! “. That is exactly what this post is about. Did any of the pointers connect for you?

      Some people have dramatic ‘results’ with energy levels and weight loss rapidly, others slower. I’m one of the latter and that’s why I want to encourage and explain for others. You are wise to look at the big picture and all the reasons for doing what you are doing.

      Has your Fit Quickies book arrived yet? It sounds like not – please study the Nutrition chapter for lots more tips to help and let me know how that goes.

      The oils were a big one for me with weight management. Some people need to eat really high quality with whole foods, minimal – if any – processed foods, and keep a sharp eye on high fat whole foods such as avocados and olives and nuts – to reach their weight loss ideal. And depending on how much you have to lose, it just may take a little more time.

      Thanks again for your post and I hope this helps – and let me know when you get the book! How did we meet – through the 21 day Kickstart?


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  20. Hi there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
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  21. I have to post my experience here as I have all but given up on my totally whole food plant based diet with no oils, no sugars, and only 10 walnuts a day with 1 tbls of either chia or flax…. the result….a fattier more flabby belly than I have ever had. No weight gain, just more flabby deep fat. I’m miserable about it so I keep trying harder. I have come to believe now that for me, a whole grain, bean and fruit and veggie based diet wrecks havoc with the distribution of fat in many. A year ago I had flat abs and tight muscles everywhere eating fish, eggs , veggies, fruits, with NO beans or grains. I guess the only way to reverse my problem is to go back to this diet which I’m seriously considering, even if less healthy. I am so unhappy with these body changes that I can’t sing the praises anymore of plant based. Read every plant book out there, took the Cornell plant based course…Perhaps there is a reason you will be hard pressed to find any society that lives totally on a whole food plant diet with no animal products. I am trying to convince myself it’s ok to start eating animal products again. I feel guilt and frustrated I have failed on this diet but I’m tired of this belly going nowhere.

  22. Well, I’ve been trying a plant based diet with no oil for 3 weeks. I started off with smoothies and salads then added quinoa and beans. I saw an initial drop of 3.5 lbs that first week. All week i ate only smoothies and salads . I added quinoa and beans the next week and gained back 2 lbs. Finally, I cheated over the holidays with 5 cookies and a cupcake over the period of a week. I am now back where i started with all the weight back. I think I lost only water weight. I’m frustrated and feel that the meal preparation is a lot of work with little results. I sabotaged myself with the cookies but I think I was gaining already with the addition of beans. I eat very low calories ..probably 1000-1200 as I dont really ever feel real hunger and have seen no success with addition of more food..healthy or not. Very frustrated and unsure if I should regroup and just make sure I have nothing outside of the plan or if its not for me. I have about 25-30 lbs to lose.

  23. These are my typical meals for several days:

    I eat 2 meals everyday as I am not hungry in morning. First meal around 11 or 12 can be a half cup of oats, half an apple, half a cup of blue berries, 1/2tbl of flax, chia and sunflower seeds and 10 gogi berries with 1/2 cup almond milk.

    Around 5-6pm I eat a huge salad of either mixed greens or kale with a quarter avocado, tomatoes and lemon juice with braggs.

    Other days it’s a kale smoothie with 75% kale, half cup almond milk, half cup blueberries and quarter banana with tble flax.

    Dinner tofu broccoli bok choy sautee or veggie soup and salad with 1/2 cup quinoa or brown rice.

    Another day it’s 1 slice ezekiel toast with 1 t/l raw almond butter

    Dinner soup and raw veggies with humus.

    So what’s the problem????

    I have developed a large lower belly with lots of visceral fat, the deep kind and I hate it. It’s the diet that is doing it yet I am certain I am not exceeding my calorie intake. I walk at least an hour a day and cardio at the gym almost every day for 45 minutes.

    So my experiment now is eating some animal product, chicken, fish and eggs to pray I lose this belly I have gained since going plant based.

    If I starve myself maybe I’ll lose the belly but am really really unhappy with the results of this :plant based fatty belly diet”.

    May be healthier but honestly, at this point I would rather be more unhealthy than have this belly:(

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  37. Hi! Thanks for these tips. I have been on a plant based diet for 2 weeks now and I have gained 1 pound. It is getting very frustrating! I still don’t have any energy and I have broken out in a rash on my chin and cheeks. Am I detoxing or is something wrong? I was a vegetarian before, so going plant based isn’t much of massive change, so I am confused as to why this is happening to me.
    I am not using oil, keeping the grains to a minimum, drinking juices, not smoothies. The only thing I think I might be doing wrong is putting salt on my food. Thank you for your article…it appears I am not the only one and maybe I just need to be patient.

    • Lani Muelrath


      This is exactly why I posted this article! Read through again, because as you note, there are several things that can explain the weight fluctuation. And keep in mind that we ALL fluctuate in weight every day – I can see a difference of 3 – 4 lbs, if for nothing else than the salt in my food. One pound is nothing – pull back for the broader view and give it more time.

      Without a food diary and conversation, it’s difficult to pinpoint but I encourage you, one week in is very early on. I also was vegetarian going in – yet still saw these shifts when I cut out oil and focused on whole plant foods – and I ate whole grain bread every day of my weight loss and still do. I know the angst of wanting the scale to budge but I KNEW I was doing the right thing and just kept doing it – it was those 4 -6 weeks that showed a turnaround. As a matter of fact, I actually made sure I ate too much rather than not enough so that I wouldn’t get hungry and start being interested in inappropriate fare. It really pays off over time!

      I also don’t know your current healthy, age, activity level – so all of this is on the surface. But it hopefully will assist and please keep me posted! As for the rash, it could be anything – maybe even co-incidental, or it could be food sensitivity if you are eating something new to your system.

      Keep me posted on your progress!


  38. I’d like to find out more? I’d want to find out more details.

  39. Hi Lani,

    I came here because I seem to be having similar problems with the starch-based diet. I was vegan for over a year but switched to the ‘Starch Solution’ since everyone was raving about the weight melting off as if by magic. I’m a month in, and I’ve followed the diet to the ‘T'(I even logged everything on cron-o-meter), have been exercising more, and drinking more water, and I’ve not lost a single pound. It’s so discouraging, especially considering how excited I was by all the positive testimonials. Is it possible that maybe some of us have poor reactions to starch? It’s a notion I prefer not to consider since I love potatoes, rice, etc. but I’m so disappointed that I can’t help but wonder if this diet just doesn’t work for everyone. Any ideas? Thanks.

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Courtney,

      Thanks for your note and sorry that you are discouraged. A month can seem like such a long time, can’t it? But big picture, it is a short period of time.

      And we also seem to grab on onto those ‘weigh melting off as if by magic” stories as if they are true of everyone but ourselves. This can work against us as we develop expectations and to be honest nothing has ever, for me, worked as ‘melting off’ and ‘magic’. Once we shift out of that mindset and see our individuality as just that, we are better off.

      With that as starting point, it’s difficult to coach a process for an individual without having all the details and facts. I can’t begin to tell you how many people I’ve coached who came to mw with “I’ve been eating perfectly for _________ and __________”. This is not to discredit your report, but to tell you there are many more people in this position than the “melt off” and “magic” people, plus – who are they? what is their diet history? How old are they” How long have they had a weight problem” and on and on, important elements of discovery in the coaching process.

      These are some ideas!

  40. Hi Lani.

    I’m 15 years old and have been a HCLF vegan for almost a year. No oil, no salt, minimal grains, some legumes, and VERY minimal processed foods. I eat what most vegan health gurus would call “the perfect diet,” primarily cooked & raw veggies, with fruit in the mornings.

    However, for this whole period of time, I have not only not lost any weight, I’ve put on a whopping 15 lbs. I don’t know what’s going on, and I’d really appreciate your input.

    Here’s what I typically eat in a day:
    Breakfast: 32 oz. strawberries blended with 1 cup almond milk + 17 oz water + 1 tbsp flaxseed
    Snack (if wanted): 8 oz baby carrots or cherry tomatoes
    Lunch: Oil Free Salt Free Veggie Stir Fry (usually 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup broccoli, 1 white onion, 3 cups kale, 2 cloves of garlic, & spices)
    Snack (if wanted): 2-3 cups raw White mushrooms
    Dinner: Some sort of fully raw salad or raw zucchini pasta

    I also drink a cup of green tea or hot lemon water after every meal.

    Please help me. I went from 135 to 153 in less than a year, and I don’t know what’s going on.

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Madison,

      Thanks for your note and it sounds like you are having challenges with matching your eats to your goals. It might be a good idea to consult with a plant-based dietitian who could work with you specifically on a food plan. For instance, you say you ‘eat what most vegan health gurus would call the perfect diet’ yet you minimize grains and eat primarily cooked and raw veggies, and ‘some’ legumes. I am not aware of minimal whole grains being a vegan health guru standard, and mostly vegetables and raw vegetables can make it difficult to get the calories we need on a daily basis, which can show up as stored hunger and inspire make-up eating. You don’t mention this, but a year of low calorie consumption without break would usually not result in a weight gain – and if that is the case, then it may be quite likely that something else is going on, beyond the scope of answering in a blog post. Keep me posted on how this progresses for you!



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