Dad Bod Vegan Weight Gain: The Struggle is Real (The War against Saturated Fat, Not Just Cholesterol)

It’s been over a week now since I revealed that I can barely fit into most of my pants anymore, as I have gradually gained weight; even though I’ve been a vegan since March 2013. While my size 31 pants comfortably fit for the first couple of years of my vegan lifestyle, that began slowly changing around the time my wife become pregnant with our daughter, in June 2015.

I began eating more desserts with my pregnant wife, like vegan chocolate bars and vegan cake. The calorie increase didn’t stop after our daughter was born in April 2016, or since then.

It didn’t help that I found a loophole in the vegan lifestyle in that it’s actually fairly easy to eat at Mexican restaurants. Most Mexican restaurants cook their food with vegetable oil now, instead of lard. And most Mexican restaurants have a veggie fajita option. So I would just order that, without the cheese or sour cream. (But that’s still a lot of oil!) Plus, most Mexican restaurants around here have cheap Margaritas. (That translates as extra sugar!)

Yes, I had been living the life of a vegan king.

I had taken advantage of all the ways to increase my fats and proteins without eating any meat, eggs, or dairy. All the while, I was never consuming more than 0% of my daily cholesterol intake. And I was so successful, that I gained enough weight to keep from fitting in to my pants.

So how do you lose weight when you’re already a vegan, but only 3 pounds away from being overweight?

This past week, I went back to the mindset of when I first became a vegan 4 and a half years ago. I asked myself, “What was I doing then, that I haven’t been doing the past couple of years?”

Ultimately, 5 things came to mind:

1.      I was mountain biking back then, not running.

2.      I wasn’t consuming as much chocolate or peanut butter or sweets.

3.      Instead of having the equivalent of a glass of wine or 2 a day, I only had that much per week.

4.      I was actually eating lunch every day; typically leftovers from dinner the night before. Compare that to the past couple of years, I’ve either just eaten oatmeal or sometimes Ramen.

5.      I wasn’t drinking orange juice back then, as my eczema was still remission at the time. 

So to simplify that even more…

I was A) doing exercise that engaged more of my muscle groups, including my core, B) I was consuming less saturated fat, and C) I was consuming less sugar, whether in the form of desserts or alcohol.

This past week has served a sort of trial run for figuring out how I need to make adjustments to what I thought was already a strict diet.

One of the huge discoveries I made this week is that by default, I was subconsciously consuming foods with higher amounts of saturated fats; despite consuming 0% of my daily cholesterol allowance. It was my body’s way of finding ways to consume extra calories, since I had stopped eating a solid lunch.

I realized that the cocoa powder, peanut butter, and coconut milk had high percentages of my daily saturated fat intake; along with the chocolate I was consuming in my oatmeal each day. In theory, I was easily consuming more than 100% of my daily saturated fat intake each day.

On top of that, the sugar from the alcohol and the orange juice was helping ensure that the extra saturated fat I was consuming was staying in my body.

And even with all the running I was doing, my body wasn’t getting the overall workout that mountain biking can do for me.

This are the things I taught myself this week. So obviously, there are permanent changes I have begun applying, which will get me back to my proper pants size of 31.

For my breakfast smoothie, I have switched to unsweetened vanilla almond milk; as almonds have much less saturated fat than coconuts. I have also switched to carob powder, as it contains zero fat, as compared to a decent amount of saturated fat in cocoa powers. And as for the peanut butter in my smoothie, instead of using a huge heaping spoon of it, I’m barely using a tablespoon of it now.

Similarly, for my oatmeal, I’m switching to almonds, instead of trail mix; which contains peanuts and dried fruit which is high in process sugar.

As for alcohol, I have literally been drinking only one ounce of wine after dinner; as a way of symbolically finishing my meal, and my calorie consumption, for the day. I have not consumed any vegan treats this week either. And I’m back on the mountain bike, as opposed to running.

I am proud to share my story with the world. This is the “before” part of the story. I will eventually get to the “after”, but first, I have to earn it.

In the process, I will prove that I can predictably get back to those size 31 pants, by permanently adjusting my lifestyle, and without going hungry.

And again, the obvious irony, is that while there are still people out there who believe vegans don’t get enough protein, I’m having to proactively and aggressively figure out how to lose the weight I’ve gained during the years of my vegan lifestyle.

If Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein, Why Can’t I Fit into My Size 31 Pants Anymore? 5 Ways To Get Rid of My New “Dad Bod”

Amazingly, in the year 2017, there are still people who still assume vegans don’t get enough protein. They should just take a look at me then.

For the first time in the 4 and a half years I’ve been a vegan, and more than a year of being a vegetarian before that, I can no longer fit into my size 31 pants, which is the size I moved down to when I converted to the plant-based lifestyle. Even size 32 is becoming an issue now.

It would be one thing if I never exercised, but that’s clearly not the case. I have been very vocal about how for years now, I have been mountain biking, walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day, doing pull-ups, and even adding skateboarding to the mix this year.

Plus, all this summer, I have been running 2 miles, at least twice a week; even in 93 degree weather or rain.

Even this past Saturday while our family was on fall vacation, I ran down and then back up the mountain our cabin was on (the equivalent of 2 miles), without ever stopping. Later, I saw a very muscular guy who looked younger than I am, attempting to run the same course, but he had to stop to walk.

I’m healthy and I’m physically fit, especially for a 36 year-old… but I’m also gaining weight.

For a guy who consumes 0% of his daily cholesterol allowance, and who gets all his protein and nutrients from simply vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, it would be easy to believe that a guy like me would have no issues with my pants no longer fitting.

Clearly, I’m getting enough protein. And enough exercise.

The fundamental problem? I’m simply consuming more calories than my body actually needs; even with all the exercise and my 0% cholesterol vegan lifestyle.

If I am to get back to size 31, I suppose it’s a matter of deliberately changing my lifestyle again, in addition to remaining vegan and continuing my regular exercise routine:

  1. Eating smaller meals and not going back for seconds.
  2. Not having vegan desserts anymore, like cashew ice cream and vegan chocolate bars.
  3. Eating whole fruit after dinner, to take the place of going back for seconds or dessert.
  4. Using balsamic vinegar for salad dressing again, so I can further cut out oils from my diet.
  5. Nearly nixing alcohol intake all together.

I am currently 167 pounds, which nearly puts me in the “overweight” category. I am 3 pounds away from being overweight. I am not okay with this. For me, it’s an attack on my identity. I have control over my weight… my weight doesn’t control me. I don’t have to settle for an expanding waistline just because, “This is just what happens when you start getting older.”

It’s funny because, in theory, I don’t eat a lot anyway:

My homemade smoothie and black coffee in the morning, my oatmeal or vegan ramen noodles at lunch, and a solid meal at dinner consisting of whatever Italian or Mexican dish my wife prepares along with a dark green salad. And the equivalent of a glass of wine or two.

No meat, no fish, no eggs, no milk, no cheese, no yogurt.

But it’s time to reduce my intake, so that I can also reduce my waist size and comfortably fit into my size 31 pants again.

I am not a victim. I am victorious. I shall overcome!

So yeah… I think it’s safe to say that as a vegan, I’m getting enough protein.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars (Over the Past Year)

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

From the time I was my heaviest back in 2008 when I got married, I reached 178 pounds. That may not sound too heavy for a guy, but at 5’9”, I was actually “overweight” according the height/weight chart.

And I know… many people don’t like to take those charts seriously. But I do, on a personal level. Because at my heaviest, I also had health problems like eczema; as well as constant sinus pressure, and reoccurring sinusitis, and pet allergies.

My theory is that with the extra weight on my body, along with it came health problems.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

On Thanksgiving Day of 2008 (a few months after getting married), I became like a faithful Jew and gave up pork and shellfish. That was the beginning of the slippery slope, as I found myself becoming a vegetarian by December of 2011.

By April 2013, I became a full vegan, and in the process, I accidentally went from a size 34 to size 31 pants. That summer I got down to 153 pounds, without even trying.

That means I lost 25 pounds in the process of getting healthy. Yet losing weight was never my goal; I just wanted to be healthy.

As you know, all my previously mentioned health problems have disappeared and remained in remission since becoming a vegan.

For the majority of these past 3 years of being a vegan, I leveled out and remained right at around 155 pounds. Until this past year…

With my vegetarian wife being pregnant from July 2015 to April 2016, she began craving “fun food”. So I began picking up vegan chocolate bars at Whole Foods Market on the way home for work.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

It began a normal thing for us to go through a whole bag or two of tater tots over the course of each week.

Keep in mind, we were still eating our normal healthy meals too. But ultimately, both the chocolate bars and the tater tots contained oil; which we typical avoid. Not to mention, the chocolate bars also contained extra sugar as well.

Remember what I always point out about veganism:

Being a vegan forces a person to consume 0% of their daily cholesterol; as the amount of cholesterol even in the fattiest vegan foods (cashews, avocados, and even oil) still never reaches 1%.

Even so, I was at 162 pounds when my daughter was born 3 months ago; which is about 7 pounds is heavier than I’m used to.

My size 31 pants were so tight in the waist that I asked my wife more than once if she recently had begun drying our clothes on a higher heat setting.

Nope. It was the all the vegan chocolate bars and tater tots over the course of the past year.

Chocolate Tater

Four weeks ago, I nixed those items from my diet, along with all fried foods, and gluten.

While I haven’t publicly announced I am now gluten-free in addition to being a caffeine-free vegan, it’s working for me so far.

I’ve lost 2 of the 7 pounds so far and I physically feel better.

So yes, it’s possible for a vegan to gain weight just by eating foods with more oil and sugar.

Granted, it took me an entire year to accidentally gain those 7 pounds. Now the question is, how long will it take to lose it all?

I refuse to buy a bigger pair of pants!

Super Lactate Me: The Results, A Month Later- My Weight Difference After Switching to Whole Milk

Read this, then decide whether or not you believe that switching to whole milk caused me to gain weight or not.

This is the anticipated follow-up to Super Lactate Me: Does Switching From Skim Milk to Whole Milk Really Cause You to Gain Weight?

Exactly a month ago, I switched from low fat milk to whole milk. I did a science experiment on myself to see if the traditional belief was true that “whole milk makes you fat.” Because in theory, that shouldn’t make sense. There are good fats and bad fats, and nutritionists say that milk fat on its own (not added with sugar, like in ice cream, yogurt, milk shakes, etc.) is good fat.

My weight a month ago, before whole milk, was 156.6 pounds.

My weight today, after whole milk, is…

Drum roll please…

157 pounds.

Yes, technically, I gained a fraction of a pound.  If you’re being really technical. Of course, you do realize, if I was using a normal scale instead of a digital scale, it may not have indicated any change in weight at all.

And let me just be perfectly honest and direct with you:  That fraction of a pound could be directly related to fraction more of a pound of water, or other disposable bodily substances, inside of me that morning compared to 30 days earlier .  Surely I don’t need to spell it out…

Here’s what’s really interesting.  I loved whole milk so much that I began drinking nearly twice as much milk than I did when I drank low fat milk.  Plus, I added even more fat into my diet by introducing string cheese (not the reduced fat kind) and by returning hemp seeds into my diet.  They are loaded with fat- but again, good fat.

So how has this experiment changed my life?  I consume more milk every day.  I switched from low fat sour cream to regular sour cream.  And I eat a lot more cheese now, knowing that dairy fat is not bad fat!  My wife was convinced and has now switched to whole milk, as well.

Dairy fat becomes bad when combined with sugar, or with meat (which is one of the reasons I observe a Kosher diet.)  But on its own, dairy fat is good and necessary.

Would this experiment have ended up differently if I consumed meat and cheese together in the same meals, which I don’t?  It’s very possible.

What if I still ate as much sugary snacks as I used to?  Again, I probably would have gained some weight.

But because I already abide by a strict, kosher Mediterranean diet, I’ll never know exactly how this “whole milk experiment” would affect someone else, who didn’t share my some wacky diet.

I’ll leave that experiment up to someone else.

What do you think?  Based on the results, would you say I’ve gained weight?  Or is the fraction of a pound irrelevant to the switch to whole milk?

What Not to Say If You Want People to Like You 101

Exploring the unspoken rules of conversation.


As an avid fan of clear communication and healthy human relationships, I have made myself overaware of the common courtesies of speaking in North American culture.  The problem with being so sensitive to the unwritten rules is that it can be much easier to become annoyed when other people break these rules.  Yet still, these rules exist.  Until now, they have remained invisible- but it’s time for a review of what we already know and hopefully live by.

Knowing when not to talk to a person. It’s not so much a “not before I’ve had my coffee” situation, as it is that many people (even if they are indeed “morning people”) do not enjoy engaging in conversation for the first hour of the day- especially if it involves hearing petty stories involving pet problems or car trouble.  Also, if a person seems quiet like they may be upset or stressed, do not say “Well, what’s wrong with you?!”  Instead, politely ask them if they want to talk about it.  If they say no, then say, “I’m here if you need me” and don’t talk to them until they talk to you.

Knowing what not to say. Refrain from pointing out obvious cosmetic flaws: recent weight gain (this includes pregnancy), hair loss, acne, scars.  The person may not ever forget your comment if it involves any topic like those.  They may never refer to you as a “nice person” again after that- but instead, you’ll be forever engrained on their “rude” list.

Knowing how to have an opinion yet not preach.  Many people are into healthy lifestyles these days, being much more aware of organic eating.  When asked by someone about your own lifestyle choices, simply answer their questions.  Only continue the conversation from there if they sincerely show interest.  Do not debate with them or become their “food judge” by saying, “Wow, you’re actually gonna eat all those carbs?” as they walk by with a big bowl of spaghetti.

Knowing how to be positive. No one likes a whiner.  While the poor economy and the Gulf Oil Spill Crisis are common knowledge and therefore make easy topics, avoid initiating a conversation about them.  Look for ways to “make a person’s day” by what you say instead of simply adding to the noise.  You’ll stand out, in a good way.  Needless to say, for more reasons that one, please never get caught saying, “I got a case of the Mondays!”

Knowing how to actually compliment someone. Make sure a compliment is truly a compliment.  If there is a casual criticism thrown in there, it voids out the positive vibes.  Like this: “I really like that purple shirt you’re wearing, even if it makes your skin look a little pale.”  Not cool.

These starters are only the tip of the iceberg.  But they are real reasons why some people are “good with people” and others aren’t.  Either way, good communication is a learned skill- it’s just that some people are more observant than others.