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Is Vegan a High-Carb Diet?

Why You Shouldn't Worry Too Much About Counting Carbs When You're Vegan

There are many different reasons people become vegan. Some might be trying to lose weight or improve their overall health while others are staunch fighters for animal rights. Whatever the case may be, veganism has become widely known as a high-carb diet. When you give up meat and dairy, you start eating more grains, legumes, fruits, etc., and these foods are naturally higher in carbs than, say, chicken or fish.

However, if you're vegan or considering going vegan, you may not have to worry too much about this fact. Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and health and fitness expert, spoke to POPSUGAR about this topic, and she said counting carbs on a plant-based diet might not be the best use of your time.

"Carbs have been so misinterpreted that candy bars and carrots end up in the same category, when, in fact, they are completely different in the body in how they are metabolized," Hever told POPSUGAR. "We need to regulate our food intake based on quality of food, rather than their macronutrient profile."

In other words, it may not matter that much if you're eating more carbs than you used to, as long as they're plant-based foods that are completely unprocessed, such as quinoa, lentils, fresh fruits, and beans. Hever thinks we would all do better to "shift the conversation away from carbs, proteins, and fats" and rather understand how to eat wholefully and healthfully again.

"Foods high in carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, are the healthiest foods on the planet," Hever continued. "In fact, it is one of the advantages of a plant-based diet that it is high in carbohydrates. Weight loss is not only easier, but also healthier and more sustainable when these foods are the foundation of a diet."

Keep in mind that a vegan diet and a plant-based diet are not necessarily the same thing. You can still eat processed snacks, flour, and sugar when you're eating vegan, but eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet means you only eat foods that are naturally from the earth. That's the diet Hever is referring to, and while that diet might be naturally high-carb, it's certainly not something to worry about, even if you're trying to lose weight.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Cera Hensley
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