How to follow a vegan diet to lose weight

A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Adopting a vegan diet to lose weight may therefore interest you if you are looking to lose a few pounds.

In fact, people who eat more plant foods tend to weigh less on average than those who eat meat, dairy and eggs, according to a study 2017. Substituting plant protein for animal protein was also associated with lower mortality, according to another study 2016.

To research also shows that reaching and maintaining a healthy weight could reduce the risk of heart disease, as well as lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Being overweight can also lead to more ailments and pain, sleep problems, low energy and confidence.

So, is a vegan diet good for weight loss? In this article, we look at whether cutting out meat, dairy, and other animal products can actually help you lose weight and lose weight. Remember, just because something is labeled vegan doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy. Packaged foods, even if they don’t contain meat, tend to be highly processed and contain added sugar, fat, and salt. If you want to lose weight on a vegan diet, it’s best to avoid them because they will derail your health goals.

Vegan diet for weight loss: eat enough protein

What is protein? Protein is an essential macronutrient for growth and repair, as well as the maintenance of health. It can also help with weight loss as it boosts metabolism and helps keep the body full, which means less chance of snacking on junk food or giving in to sugar cravings.

Most adults need about 0.75g of protein per pound of body weight per day. In practice, that’s about two servings of meat, fish, nuts, or tofu a day. As a rough guide, a serving of protein should fit in the palm of your hand.

vegan protein sources

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Nutritionist Jenna Hope explains that protein helps increase satiety, also known as feeling full. “So it can keep you full longer than carbs and fats,” she says. “In addition, protein requires more energy to break down, which means fewer calories are absorbed. Protein from plant foods includes nuts, seeds, tofu and soy products, beans and legumes.

If you are not a fan of eating protein, you can drink it in the form of a vegan shake. “Vegan protein powders can be convenient ways to increase protein in the diet,” says Hope. “However, they are not necessary to obtain adequate amounts of protein. Additionally, they should not replace whole plant protein sources. »

New to protein powders? Check out our guide to best vegan protein powder.

Vegan diet for weight loss: focus on fiber filling

“Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that we can’t digest and so the microbes in the gut feed on the fiber to grow and survive,” says Hope. “Because fiber is not digested higher up in the digestive system like other foods, it takes longer for it to reach the gut and therefore keeps us full longer.”

For those trying to lose weight, eating fiber-rich, plant-based foods can help maintain energy and keep you feeling full longer. And the good news is that much of the fiber is found in the plants that make up a big part of a vegan diet.

“If you’re looking to lose weight, you may want to focus more on low-energy, fiber-rich plant foods such as beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains,” adds Hope. “However, remember to incorporate nuts into the diet in moderate amounts as they are high in healthy fats, which help support brain health, joint health, and hormone production among many others. roles.”

A 2015 study found that eating 30g of fiber a day, without making other dietary changes, could help with “significant weight loss”.

In addition to boosting weight loss, fiber is great for the heart, intestines, and digestion. However, most of us don’t get enough of it. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women consume at least 25g of fiber daily, with men consuming about 36g.

Vegan diet for weight loss: avoid processed vegan foods

“There’s a common misconception that because a food is labeled as vegan, it automatically means it’s healthy,” Hope says. “However, this is not the case and vegan foods can also be loaded with saturated fats and sugars. Therefore, if your focus is on health and weight, you’re much better off following a plant-based, whole-food diet.

She adds that if you’re going vegan by following an omnivorous diet, you should be aware of the higher-risk nutrient deficiencies that can arise from excluding animal products from a vegan diet. “It’s possible to get most of your nutrients, but you need to be more aware of where they’re coming from,” she says.

Vegan diet for weight loss: check food labels

As with any weight loss plan, food labels can be a useful indicator of how much you are eating. However, the best foods to choose are often the unlabeled ones, as they will be the least processed.

Hope also adds that weight loss is unique to each individual and often requires a whole host of steps to align. “This includes diet, exercise, stress and sleep,” she says. However, when looking at dietary components and food labels, you ideally want to aim for low-sugar foods – those with less than 5g of sugar per 100g; low-fat foods saturated – less than 1.5 g per 100 g; and high fiber foods – more than 6 g per 100 g.

woman checking a food label

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Those following a vegan diet can often be lacking in certain nutrients for good health, including vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D. Be sure to eat a wide variety of foods or supplement as needed.

Vegan diet for weight loss: avoid refined sugar

Sugar is a major contributor to weight gain because it is high in calories and low in nutrients. Sugar is often hidden in the ingredient list and can be called by many different names. Watch out for anything that ends in “ose,” including glucose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, and galactose — all of these are sugar. As a general rule, if you’ve never heard of it or can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

“Sugar contributes to blood sugar spikes and crashes that fuel our sugar cravings and constant need for sugar to maintain energy,” Hope says. “You don’t have to cut out sugar altogether – it’s often not sustainable in the long run and you’re more likely to fall back into old habits. You’re better off minimizing your sugar intake and focusing mostly on sweeter, fiber-rich foods to satisfy your sweet tooth — for example, whole fruits. Additionally, you can try combining a high-sugar food with a source of fiber to slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream.

Ultimately, Hope says, reaching your weight loss goals requires finding a diet that works for you and that you can stick to. “Following a vegan diet is not necessarily a path to weight loss,” she adds. “Food composition, exercise, sleep and stress all play a role.

“A vegan diet is a more environmentally friendly diet, but does not necessarily mean you will lose weight. Also, if you are low on fiber to begin with, be sure to increase your fiber intake very slowly and gradually. over time to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.