A Complete Beginner’s Guide to going Vegan for Weight Loss
- 11 Apr, 2022
Mock meat, plant-based bacon, vegan chicken, vegan shawarma -seems all these vegan foods are a real thing now. Over the course of 2022, everyone is expecting a step forward in the evolution of vegan snacks and possibly a new plant-based milk too.
You might be amazed to know that approximately 65000 Indians this year signed up for the 2022 Veganuary campaign. Veganuary is a non-profit organization, which encourages people to try a vegan lifestyle for a month in January.
Why are Vegan diets on the rise?
People choose to go vegan for several reasons -to go cruelty-free, reduce the impact on the environment or simply reap the health benefits of being vegan. But predominantly, most people chose to go on a vegan diet with the purpose to lose weight.
Weight management and other health benefits are big motivators for people to cut down on animal foods and switch to a vegan lifestyle and plant-based diets.
Vegan diets and Weight loss:
Vegans do not eat or use any animal products. In fact, vegan diets go a step further by excluding milk, eggs and even honey (well, because it is produced by bees and is an animal product). Whoa!
This leaves vegans to eat only plant-based foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, protein-rich beans and legumes, whole grains and healthy fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, the story doesn’t end here -fortunately, or unfortunately, the market is flooded with not-so-healthy healthy vegan foods that are packaged and loaded with preservatives, trans fat, etc.
So, what’s the takeaway: Weight loss on a vegan diet comes with a combination of clean and healthy eating while simultaneously staying away from processed and packaged foods. Besides, it is equally important to focus on what you eat on a weight loss plan more than just meeting your daily calorie intake.
Is following a Vegan diet to lose weight actually helpful?
Oh, spoiler alert -YES! Yes, a vegan diet is one of the best ways to lose weight.
Even science says it: a recent study published in the year 2020 in the journal -Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes, proposed that a shift to a plant-based diet may have beneficial health effects on body weight and BMI in individuals with overweight, T2DM, cardiovascular risk/disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Vegan diets or vegan meal plans are typically crafted around fruits, vegetables especially leafy greens, beans, grains, nuts -all of which are high in fibre and generally low on calories. Plus, these are loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. The high fibre and water content of these plant-based diets with greater food volume keep you fuller for longer and also increase energy use when resting.
6 science-backed evidence-based reasons why a vegan diet can help you lose weight fast:
1. Vegan diets are high in fibre
Interestingly, studies suggest vegans consume the most fibre accounting for 47 gm per day when compared to omnivores and vegetarians. A high fibre diet would not only improve your bowel movement and keep you fuller but it is also the basic principle behind weight loss and management. Blood pressure regulation, lower cholesterol, good heart health, and lower inflammation are some of the most significant health benefits of eating high fibre. These factors highly influence weight loss and maintenance.
2. Eating a plant-based diet is eating more natural and whole foods
Following a plant-based diet translates to meeting your daily calorie intake with whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. This means foods that have zero added sugar, better for blood glucose and insulin management and most importantly nutrient-dense. Nutritious foods that bring a healthier weight too.
3. A great way to reduce saturated fat in your diet
This might need no explanation. Saturated fats are highly associated with an increased risk of obesity, heart diseases and poor health. You have been listening to this ever since.
Switching to a vegan diet automatically cuts animal products and dairy foods that are high in saturated fats and encourages a healthy weight loss. Additionally, vegan foods are heart-healthy with unsaturated fat and complex carbohydrates than the regular standard diet.
4. Adds healthy fats to your diet
All fats are not the same. There are healthy fats too and adding them to your weight loss plan is one of the most essential health benefits of being vegan.
Avocados, nuts and seeds are some of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are vegan friendly too. These fats can help you in maintaining a healthier weight, provided you keep a check on the serving sizes. (For instance, the serving of an avocado is only one-third of the entire fruit.)
5. Vegan foods are low-calorie yet super satiating
Let’s be honest, most of you are looking for low-calorie foods for weight loss to satiate your cravings. Well, well, well, there’s a complete weight loss diet that naturally inculcates maximum low-calorie plant sources.
Eating plant foods that are naturally low in calories or let’s say simply following a vegan diet has its own perks. Most fresh fruits, leafy greens and whole grains are low in calories and super filling, yet another reason for you to choose vegan for weight loss.
6. Plant foods can help with insulin resistance
A study conducted in the year 2020 published in JAMA Network Open, suggested an increase in insulin sensitivity from a plant-based vegan diet leading to a mean weight loss of 6.4 kg in obese and overweight individuals.
Not only this, participants increased their after-meal calorie burn by 18.7%, saw significant drops in visceral and liver fat by 34.4% and even lowered their metabolic risk factors. So, if you are looking to lose weight and simultaneously lower the risk of certain lifestyle disorders like type 2 diabetes, following a plant-based diet with vegan protein sources is one of the best possible efforts to set up a healthier lifestyle.
That being said, here is a list of easy tips and tricks crafted by health experts to help you build a Vegan diet plan. So, grab a pen and paper to take notes:
7 Easy tips to craft a Vegan diet plan for weight loss:
1. Fill your plate with Veggies
More veggies mean more fibre. And when it comes to fibre for weight loss, the more the merrier. High-fibre plant foods are more filling, keeping unexplained cravings at bay.
These also help promote a healthy gut microbiome which slows down the absorption of calories. All these factors contribute to stabilized blood sugar and insulin levels resulting in weight loss and no fat storage.
2. Add enough protein
Nobody cares about your protein intake until they find out you’re vegan. Am I right or am I right?
Vegan stands for eliminating animal and animal products and not ditching protein. Plant protein or vegan protein sources like legumes, and beans are readily available and add good quality protein content to your vegan diet. In fact, plant meat, mock meat and even vegan milk are quite well-versed in the vegan lifestyle.
P.S. Don’t forget to read the nutrition labels while choosing any plant-based meat.
3. Mind your portions
Even though you have made a shift in your eating habits, it is not a good idea to eat as much as you want. Whether good or bad, a calorie is a calorie and would always add up. You need to keep a track of your portion sizes; else it may result in a calorie surplus and eventually lead to weight gain and fat storage.
4. Go whole grain
Just because vegan allows space for carbs and grains, choosing refined carbs or processed flour is definitely not a nutritious choice. Choosing plant-based whole grains is a far far better and healthier approach. Not to forget, these complex carbs support your physical activity too.
5. Add healthy fats
Eliminate saturated and hydrogenated fats and choose unsaturated good fat sources like nuts, seeds and avocado. This means also eliminating refined vegetable oils and trans fats.
What’s more? Vegan Omega 3. Yes, you read it correctly. Vegan Omega 3 is a great aid to help fight inflammation and lead a better lifestyle.
6. Stick to drinking water
A zero-calorie drink suitable for vegans and labeled as the best is WATER. Unlike, juices and other beverages, drinking water does not add any empty calories. Plus, it keeps your body hydrated for optimal function and better metabolism.
7. Ditch refined sugar
This one sort of goes for everyone irrespective of any plant-based or animal-based diet. Sugar is just empty calories with no nutritive value. In fact, refined sugar can do more harm than good. It spikes blood glucose levels and results in increased insulin sensitivity leading to fat storage and weight gain.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle may seem overwhelming at first but it is definitely worth a shot. To get you started here is yet another short and crisp list of Vegan foods to ace your weight loss journey:
1. Fibre-rich fruits & vegetables: a great way to keep a check on increasing your micronutrient nutrient intake. Berries, pears, apples, oranges along with broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and more are rich in vitamins and minerals and are a primary part of a healthy vegan diet plan.
2. Leafy greens: kale, spinach, collard greens, watercress and mustard greens are particularly rich in calcium and iron. Adding these to your vegan diet won’t make you worry about your iron needs.
3. Healthy fats: the fact that it’s probably the nth time the article emphasizes healthy fats, makes its importance quite evident. Avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds are great sources to add to your vegan food list. These foods are naturally rich in omega-3 fats too. Hitting two targets with one arrow seems possible.
4. Plant-based proteins: tofu, tempeh, soy milk, seitan and other vegan milk options provide a versatile protein-rich alternative to meat, fish, poultry and eggs in many plant-based recipes.
5. Whole grains: oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-grain bread are fortified with vitamin B12 and certain minerals. These complex carbs add enough fibre to your weight loss plan and thus, keeps your hunger at bay.
6. Beans and legumes are proteins (too!): including black beans, lentils, and chickpeas not only add plant protein but certain phytonutrients too that are highly beneficial for your health. Besides, sprouting and fermenting them further contributes to enhancing their nutritive value and absorption.
Going vegan for weight loss is definitely a sustainable and healthier approach. What’s important here is not to fool yourself with processed unhealthy foods and focus on organic whole foods. Because following a plant-based eating practice doesn’t give you the license to adopt bad lifestyle habits.
Undoubtedly, veganism is a fresh, flavourful approach to eating. With more vegetables, fruits and whole grains as starring roles, veganism or a vegan diet, by far has shown to have significant health benefits, including weight loss and disease prevention.