health vegan

Weight gain on 80/10/10

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Have you gained weight while eating a high fruit diet? Does this mean fruit is to blame? Or could your weight gain be caused by something else?

Several vegans on social media have abandoned the 80/10/10 lifestyle because they claim it caused them to gain weight. This doesn’t make sense. You will not find a single strict fruitarian who’s overweight. None. I guarantee you those 80/10/10 naysayers were not following 80/10/10 to the letter. (And if you have a look at their feeds, you’ll notice things like processed foods, peanut butter in excess, or other overt fats in every meal.)

Following the high carb low fat 80/10/10 lifestyle means you eat at least 80% of your daily calories from carbohydrates, 10% from protein, and at most 10% from fat. If you follow this strictly, meaning you keep your fat intake to a minimum, gaining weight is nearly impossible. This is because fruits and veggies are high in fibre. You simply can’t overeat on whole produce.

So how much fat do you eat daily?

If you’ve gained weight recently after following 80/10/10, are you certain of your daily fat intake? You must track everything you eat and drink in order to answer this question definitively. You can say you eat a low fat diet, but unless you track everything you eat and drink in Cronometer, you can’t be sure.

It’s very easy to underestimate how much fat you consume. You must track your calories in Cronometer and measure everything out. Use an actual Tablespoon or teaspoon to portion out things like oil and tahini so you can be absolutely certain of the portion size.

Overt fats like nuts, seeds, tahini, and avocado are very high in calories:

  • 1 Tablespoon tahini = 89
  • 15 almonds = 105
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil = 120
  • 1 avocado = 322
  • 1 cup of cashews = 713

If you don’t measure these out, you will most likely overeat them. Not only will overeating fats make you gain weight (because they are high in calories), this will cause you to under eat carbohydrates, so you’ll never be satisfied. You’ll be hungry 24/7!

Even if you avoid all overt fats and eat only low fat fruits and veggies, you’ll still average around 5% of your daily calories from fat. That means you should only eat up to 5% more which isn’t much at all. This equates to a third of an avocado, 15 almonds, 20 olives, or less than 1 Tablespoon of oil. That’s it!

Do you follow 80/10/10 to the letter?

Besides being aware of your daily fat intake, what are you actually eating day-to-day? Are you breaking from 80/10/10 at any point? Do you eat out at all? If you do fall off the wagon, what sorts of foods are you eating?

Falling off the wagon and reaching for fatty/salty foods most likely means that you aren’t eating enough calories. Eat more fruit when you have cravings. Tracking your calories in Cronometer will help you avoid these situations. Check out this post for more tips.

You cannot blame fruit for your weight gain if you are eating overt fats, fatty cooked meals, and processed foods. These are not part of the 80/10/10 lifestyle because they are too high in fat (and salt).

If you still believe fruit is to blame for your weight gain, try this experiment: eat only fruit for an entire month. No overt fats at all. No avocado, nuts, seeds, tahini, oil, none. If you gain weight after a month of eating only fruit, I want to know about it.

In order to gain weight while eating a strict fruitarian lifestyle, you’d have to be eating more calories than your body needs. This means you’d literally be stuffing yourself with fruit day in and day out. You wouldn’t have time for anything else because you’d be eating all day. I seriously doubt this is the case. It’s a challenge for me to even eat 1700 calories most days just because fruit is so full of fibre!

In sum, if you gain weight while following 80/10/10, you must re-examine your diet and eating habits. I guarantee that you are overeating fats. Try avoiding all overt fats for a month, load up on fruit, and track your weight.

7 replies on “Weight gain on 80/10/10”

“It’s a challenge for me to even eat 1700 calories most days just because fruit is so full of fiber!”
How in the world is it a challenge to eat only 1700cal in one day? That’s only 17 bananas. I can eat 5 bananas in one sitting without stretching my stomach at all. So if I just eat 4 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack) that’s 20 bananas. I can easily hit 2000cal eating only fruit. My body usually seems to want 2500-3000cal a day to feel satisfied, no matter what I’m eating. But the problem is, if I eat more than 1800cal, I gain weight. I’ve yet to find something that I satisfies my hunger, leaves me with energy so I feel good, and DOESN’T make me gain weight.

I’m beginning to suspect the only people who don’t gain weight on HCLF vegan diets are only two types of people:
1. they exercise like crazy (few people have time to exercise for hours every day)
2. they have small appetites, so they don’t risk overeating calories.

Don’t get me wrong. Having a large appetite means its even more important to stay on a HCLF vegan diet, but I’m thoroughly depressed it doesn’t help me lose or maintain weight like I want it to. Maybe if I lived on broccoli for the rest of my life, which I’ll never be able to stick to, because all I want to eat is bananas or potatoes.

Look into The Starch Solution by Dr. McDougall: You can lose weight while eating bananas and potatoes in abundance. This post is over a year old, so my diet has changed since then. I’m still HCLF, but my meals centre around oatmeal, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. I still eat as much fruit and veg as I care for. I’m barely physically active, only walking during my errands for exercise, and I’m still losing weight. I have a huge appetite so I eat as much as I want. Still no issues. The only time I start to gain weight is if I eat more fats (specifically oil) and it’s obvious why that’s the case. I also have a more recent video discussing my weight loss if you are curious: Now my weight loss is close to 28 pounds. If you follow a HCLF diet to the letter, meaning you focus on whole foods like fruit, veg, and starches while minimising fats (ALL fats, including avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, and oil), you will lose weight even without rigorous exercise.

I think HCLF vegan diet is the optimal diet for human health and I’ve been doing it for 4 years now.
At the very least, I think its the best diet for the “volume eater” because any other type of diet (aka high fat) will make you gain weight even faster than HCLF vegan diet can. However, it hasn’t been the “perfect” solution for me yet.

I lost a ton of weight the first year thru pure calorie restriction aka starvation diet of 1200cal (80lbs loss). After that first year, I know the HCLF vegan diet is what has let me *mostly* maintain my weight loss since it allows me to eat closer to satisfaction (2000-3000cal) than I would have on any other diet. But it’s still a struggle to keep my weight down because I apparently want to eat more than I burn. I still have tons of fat on my body for a “skinny fat” look and I can barely keep my BMI in the “acceptable” range. The only time I got close to getting rid of most of the fat was by starving myself on a 1200cal diet, and of course that is not maintainable in the long-term.
I’d guess I’m in the 27-28% body fat range. Lowest I probably ever got on my starvation diet was probably 25-26% range. Females only start looking “healthiest” in the 22-24% range, which is pretty much what all of the vegan youtubers look like, except some of them are super athletic and look around 20-21%. AKA if I could just lose 30lbs and keep it off without having to starve, I would be fine. I don’t care about “visible abs”, I just want a torso that isn’t a big ball of fat.
Photos taken after my initial year weight loss, but 4 years later, the situation is unchanged:
I’m thin enough that you don’t notice much with clothes on, but in swimsuits it doesn’t even look like I eat HCLF vegan, compared to others online who claim they eat til satisfaction with little exercise and still lose weight.

I’ve constantly varied between the RawTil4 and Starch Solution method since I love bananas and potatoes.
I’m frustrated because on one hand, Mcdougall will say “eat as many potatoes as you want, up to 80% or more of the diet”, but then on the other hand his books will say make 50% of your plate low-cal veggies and the other 50% is the high-carb foods like potatoes etc.
Pasta will make me gain weight like crazy, even if its whole wheat. “Flour products” are dangerous for me because of how much I can eat. I can eat almost an entire box of pasta in one sitting without feeling discomfort/stretching my stomach. Mcdougall warns against “flour products” because he knows of “volume eaters”.

I don’t *think* I’m a particularly large volume eater, since I seem to just want to eat anywhere from 2000-3000cal daily to be satisfied, but it seems that that is still more calories than my body burns in a day.
I stay active with figure skating, so it’s not like I’m not getting any exercise. Maybe my metabolism is super-efficient and therefore my body clings to calories really well. I don’t know.

This is what Mcdougall has to say about “volume eaters”:

While I like low-cal veggies, I don’t enjoy making them 50%+ of my diet just to lose or maintain weight. I would rather eat the recommended 80%+ of high-carbs like potatoes and bananas since that stuff tastes so much better. But it seems like it’s “suffer thru your salads and be skinny” or “enjoy your potatoes, but continue to slowly gain weight over time”.

Do you track your food intake on a website or program like Cronometer? What percentage of your daily calories are fat?

When I do track calories, the fat can get really close to 10% and sometimes higher, depending how many calories I eat since watermelon, bananas, potatoes etc are not fat-free.
For example,
2000cal of watermelon gives you 10g fat
2000cal of bananas gives you close to 10% fat (7g)
2000cal of potatoes is the lowest of the lot.
But yeah, you can’t have a perfectly “fat free” diet since all of the foods contain some naturally.

I only ask because it’s very easy to underestimate the amount of fat we consume if we aren’t tracking everything we eat in something like Cronometer. You’re right, we’d still get plenty of fat even when just eating fruit or potatoes, so the problem is additional fats on top of this. Nuts, seeds, oil, avocado, coconut, tahini, most processed junk foods are all fat or very high in fat, so these should all be avoided (or severely limited) if you are trying to lose weight. Do you eat any of these at all? If you do, and even if it’s a small amount, I’d cut them out completely until you lose the weight you want to lose. Your best bet is to track everything you eat in Cronometer every single day so you can be certain you aren’t exceeding 10% of your daily calories from fat. If you eat only low-fat high-fibre whole foods like banana, fruit, potatoes, and veg, the weight will come off.

I’m fully aware that is the mantra of the HCLF vegan diet. But like I said, I think my appetite is bigger than others aka what I posted before: Dr. Mcdougall’s article on “volume eaters”. I do not “stuff myself to bursting” like so many of the girls who DID gain weight on youtube did, but it still seems I eat more calories than I burn when I make most of the diet potatoes instead of broccoli for example. The only time I’ve lost weight on potatoes or bananas is when I mono-dieted them and that weight loss was happening because of subconscious calorie restriction because I was so bored with eating the same thing every day. You get so bored with it, you barely want to eat anymore, even tho you’re hungry. This is also not a healthy, long-term maintainable strategy.

You definitely can gain weight on HCLF as the girls who stuff themselves to bursting on youtube have proven. And then I think there’s some others who aren’t stuffing to the point of pain, but also are still managing to eat more than they burn, which is why their body continues to cling to the last 20-30lbs or so. Maybe being obese stretched out their stomach and they can eat more than they ever would have if they had never gained the weight. Maybe previous prolonged calorie restriction or genetics makes some metabolisms super-efficient at storing and converting energy, even if its a HCLF vegan diet. I don’t know. I wish I did. I really want it to be the perfect solution, but for 4 years now its remained the “almost perfect” solution in terms of weight loss.

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