The number of vegans in the UK quadrupled between 2014 and 2019. Among other claims, a vegan diet has been touted as a surefire way to lose weight – but is that the whole truth? Not always, as an expert dietitian explains.
Celebrities such as model Gisele Bundchen and superhero actor Benedict Cumberbatch attribute their top physique to a vegan diet.
But should we turn to plants to move the pounds? Not necessarily – in fact, some vegans even gain weight after switching to a plant-based diet.
This doesn’t mean that a plant-based diet is unhealthy – quite the contrary – but some people may find it difficult to lose weight after switching to a plant-based diet if they don’t give enough thought to a balanced diet. and their overall caloric intake. .
Nutrition&Co expert nutritionist Jenaed Brodell is here to help explain the pros and cons of a vegan diet.
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Does going vegan help with weight loss?
A vegan diet is one where you don’t eat any animal products, so fish, meat, and dairy are out of the question.
The “plant-based diet” is another way of describing a vegan diet: while vegan implies an ethical stance on refusing to have animal products (and by extension, wearing leather or anything else involving eating things made from animals), vegan simply means you don’t eat animal or dairy products.
Some people will drop a few pounds after switching to a plant-based diet, but it’s not the only way to lose weight and certainly won’t suit you in the long run if you’re really going to miss your meat and fish.
Jenaed said, “Plant-based diets can help you lose weight and keep it off because they’re high in fiber, which helps fill you up, without adding extra calories.
“It also helps control your blood sugar, due to all the fiber in vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
“It helps your body burn fuel steadily rather than causing insulin to spike, which leads to calories being stored as fat.”
Regardless of the diet, it is recommended to focus on whole, natural foods as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables for the reasons explained by Jenaed.
If you’re considering going vegan with weight loss as your goal, you may need to watch how much carbs you eat and how much protein.
Many carbs tend to be “accidentally vegan,” such as pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes.
These foods fill you up and are a delicious source of energy in moderation, but if you don’t eat enough protein and overcompensate with extra servings of pasta (for example), you risk gaining weight.
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Jenaed explained, “You can be vegan and still gain weight if you focus on refined and processed foods as opposed to whole foods.
“Weight gain is felt in calorie surplus, so whether you’re vegan or not, if you eat more than your body needs and burn, you’ll gain weight!”
Here are Jenaed’s tips — and warnings — for anyone considering going vegan
1 – Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons – for example, is it an ethical decision or to lose weight?
Having a greater motive can increase diet adherence.
2 – Only do it if you feel it is a diet you can follow.
A plant-based diet can lead to many dietary restrictions and can be difficult to maintain.
3 – Gradual transition.
Don’t go from zero to a hundred – give your body time to adjust to the changes.
4 – Make sure you have balanced meals at every meal.
Focus on plant-based sources of protein, whole-grain carbs, and unsaturated fats.
5 – Speak to a Registered Dietitian if you want to make the switch to ensure you are eating a balanced, healthy plant-based diet and supplementing appropriately.
Vegans may be at risk of missing out on some key nutrients found in fish, such as vitamin B12 and omega-3s – these can be taken as substitutes.