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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    My mum has gone on a low fat vegan diet and is still not losing weight. Why?

    She has an Exercycle which she uses most days (her knee is sore so she cant do strenuous exercise). She is eating a LOW FAT diet and has eliminated processed food, gluten/wheat and sugars entirely along with meat and dairy. She is basically following the China Study diet right now. She has lost almost 5kg in a couple of months and feels frustrated. She has fibromyalgia also.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Hi, I’m an Inner-West Sydney based Nutritionist and Accredited Practicing Dietitian. I’m committed to helping people finding a way of eating that allows them to … View Profile

    It sounds like your mum is making some great changes for her health. 
    Weight plateaus can happen for a few reasons. It could be that she's not getting enough exercise, that she's eating too much of what she does eat, or that she's not eating ENOUGH, and her body thinks it's in a famine, and so is desperately trying to hold onto all the weight it can!

    I would recommend to your mum that she goes to a dietitian to get a full nutrition assessment and some personalised advice. Her GP should be able to refer to one. An appointment with an exercise physiologist would be a good idea too, to get some exercises she can do that don't hurt her knees. 

    Feel free to getin contact with me if you have any other questions. 

  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    I would suggest introducing resistance based exercise 3-4 times per week to stimulate metabolism and maintain muscle mass.

    Also given her eating is so restrictive she may be under feeding (slowing the metabolism) or lacking vitamins and minerals.

    On a side note, one of my clients and various others on blogs have benefited (both weight and symptom wise) from undertaking a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat diet.

  • erin templeton

    HealthShare Member

    Hi Kirsty, thanks but I dont believe in high fat diets.
    They appear to work in the short term, in my opinion and are very dangerous for people with heart disease etc….

    Thanks for your input though, and best wishes!

  • 1



    Hi Erin, 

    You have stated that you ‘don’t believe in high fat diets', have you done any research on the topic? 
    As a wellness practitioner with over 8 years experience, I agree with Kristy. Fats such as coconut oil, and oils from nuts and seeds can be extrememly beneficial for weight loss and health for those on a vegan diet. 
    Perhaps you could look into it a little further before discarding the help given to you by a professional. 


  • 2



    Dear anonymous,

    Unfortunately Kirsty is not a professional in the field of nutrition, she is an exercise physiologist who is limited by the scope of dietary advice that she can provide. Providing individualised dietary advice (as she has mentioned) is breaching ESSA's code of conduct and scope of practice.

    What qualifications does a “wellness practitioner” have? In regards to your statement on coconut oil being beneficial for weight loss. Much of the research being done is very new and more studies are needed to confirm your statement.

    Rather than disrespect Erin's views, it would be wise to work with her to help her mother lose some weight, not be condescending.

    Erin, I would suggest you speak to an appropriately qualified professional such as a dietitian to assist your mother with her weight loss attempts on a vegan diet. To find an APD head to and click on the “Find and APD” tab.

  • 3


    Pieter van der Gaag

    Exercise Physiologist

    Pieter van der Gaag is a Perth-based exercise physiologist and the owner of Perth Mobile Exercise Physiology, a practice that provides tailored exercise and physical … View Profile

    Hi, a few comments in addition to the helpful answers already posted. You mention that your mum has lost almost 5 kg in a couple of months. That's actually a good result, especially if it can be maintained in the long term. So that's the first thing.
    The second, is that it may be more helpful (especially having achieved that weight loss- and it is an achievement) to focus on being fit and the benefits of being fit, rather than worrying about weight. By exercising as she does, your mum is on the right track in that department as well.
    Just to pick up on something Kirsty said, because I agree with it- adding some muscle strengthening exercises a couple of times a week. This won't necessarily help weight loss (although as it's metabolically active tissue it might) but it is important in preventing loss of muscle mass with dieting.
    To support this, it is important to consume sufficient protein, as Kirsty said. Is there a particular reason why your mum has given up all meat and dairy? In terms of acquiring enough protein, it is very important, then, to source sufficient high quality plant protein. I am not a dietitian, but I should mention that probiotics such as yoghurt may have a beneficial effect on weight loss. This is because of the role in weight loss played by our gut bacteria. The same goes for prebiotics such as artichokes.
    A couple more points: disruption of the circadian rhythm (the body clock) by shift work, or use of electronic devices before bedtime, can cause weight gain. Chronic stress has also been associated with weight gain. Learning stress-resilience skills or practicing relaxation techniques can be helpful here. In terms of exercise: try to decrease time spent in sedentary behaviour (e.g., sitting), try to build physical activity into your daily routine, and don't compensate for exercise by eating more and moving less. Moderation in all things.
    Good luck to your mum- I hope a few of these tips will prove helpful.

  • 2


    Accredited Dietitian and Nutritionist specialising in food allergies, food intolerance and strategies for weight loss. I'm passionate about good nutrition and love working with clients … View Profile

    Just to reiterate what Pieter has said… 5kg in 2 months sounds like a sensible rate of weight loss. It sounds like your mother has made some fantastic changes to her diet and in light of this it's easy to become frustrated if the scales aren't responding as hoped. The temptation however is to lose patience and look for answers elsewhare and sometimes this can lead to shortcuts being taken ie. skipping meals, becoming too restictive, in order to get faster results on the scales. From experience this can end up doing more harm than good. 

    It's obvioulsly difficult to give accurate advice without knowing fully your mothers situation, but from what you have described it sounds like your mother is on the right path and I would encourage her to continue and not give up hope.

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