Vegan Diets for Weight Loss
The reasons you’re not losing weight on a vegan diet
Many people feel that if they go on a vegan diet they can lose weight. In most cases this is true. I even recommend a vegan diet for people with Type 2 diabetes because they can eat as much as they want and still lose pounds. However, you must do it the right way.
You would think that if you gave up meat, dairy and eggs that should help you eat fewer calories each day.
Not necessarily. If you don’t do it correctly, swapping meat-based for plant-based can result in holding on to unwanted pounds or even gaining a few.
Vegan diets exclude all animal foods—meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. For ethical reasons, many vegans also avoid animal-derived products such as honey.
(The terms vegan and plant-based are often used interchangeably, but there’s a subtle difference. Veganism emphasizes the avoidance of animal foods; a plant based diet highlights all the foods that you can eat.)
A properly planned vegan diet is certainly good for your health. There’s ample evidence that plant-based eaters have lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes and lower cancer rates, especially colorectal cancer, than meat eaters.
A vegan diet also appears to benefit weight control. Large observational studies have found that, compared with meat-eaters, vegans have lower body mass indexes (BMIs), a measure of body fat based on weight and height.
A European study conducted on nearly 38,000 adults found that the difference in BMI between meat eaters and vegans represented a weight difference of about 13 pounds.
A 2015 review of 12 randomized controlled studies found that participants that were assigned to a vegetarian diet lost significantly more weight than people following a non-vegetarian diet. Weight loss was even greater among vegan dieters.
The high fibre content of plant-based diets is thought to play a role in weight control. Fibre keeps you feeling full, helps control blood sugar and insulin, reduces fat absorption in the intestine and provides a medium for the growth of microbiomes in your get.
So far, so good. Why, then have you managed to gain weight on a vegan diet?
Switching to a plant-based diet isn’t a magic bullet for losing weight. The following tips can help you side-step five common mistakes that can sabotage your weight-loss regimen.
EQUATING VEGAN WITH LOW CALORIE
Vegan frozen pizza may not be made with mozzarella cheese or beef/pork pepperoni, but that doesn’t mean it has fewer calories. The same goes for Doritos, potato chips, vegan cookies and vegan ice cream.
Reserve highly processed vegan foods—stripped of fibre and nutrients—for occasional treats. Build your diet around whole and minimally processed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and beans and lentils.
OVERSIZED PORTIONS OF HEALTHY FOODS
As nutritious as they are, the calories in whole plant foods must be accounted for. Did you know that one half cup of almonds packs in 415 calories, a whole avocado has 325 and a cup of cooked brown rice delivers 250.
Boosting your morning smoothie with peanut butter, ground flax, chia seeds and hemp seeds will drive up its calorie count very quickly.
Measure foods. Limit snacks to 10 to 15 nuts (include a serving of fruit too). One-eighth of an avocado is equivalent to a teaspoon of oil. The same goes for a tablespoonful of seeds.
SKIMPING ON PROTEIN
Spaghetti and tomato sauce, vegetable-only stir-fries and smoothies made with almond milk and berries are plant based meals. But they’re low in protein, a nutrient that helps you feel satisfied longer after eating.
To prevent premature hunger and over eating, include plant protein at all meals and snacks. Excellent sources include beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, edamame, nuts and seeds and soy and pea milks. Vegetables and whole grains also add some protein to meals.
EATING TOO MANY CARBS
Swapping meat for protein-rich beans and lentils means adding more starch to your meal. One cup of chickpeas, for example has 210 calories and 35g of carbohydrates. For comparison, three ounces of chicken breast has 130 calories and no carbohydrates.
The carbohydrate in beans isn’t a bad thing at all; it’s packed with fiber and nutrients. But you will need to watch your portion size of other starchy foods (e.g. cooked grains, sweet potato) that you eat with them.
SIPPING ON LIQUID CALORIES
Drinking almond-milk lattes, green juices, coconut water or kombucha isn’t the same as sipping water. The calories in them add to your daily calorie intake.
Make plain or sparkling water or unsweetened tea your go-to-beverage. When you do drink a calorie-containing beverage, account for its calories. Remember that no matter how low the calories from alcohol, they are negative calories and do not produce any energy and excess alcohol can be very fattening.
Since a vegan diet is not a balanced diet you must use supplements to maintain your health and thee are the ones I recommend.
- Vitamin B12 1000 mcg a day
- Omega 3 oil from Hemp or Flax
- Vitamin D3 from plant source Natural Factors
- Iron from plants such as Vital Iron by Naka
- Calcium, Magnesium zinc combo. By Organika
- Iodine from plants by Genestra
- A plant based vegan protein powder to be used in your smoothies