Increasing number of people is shifting to vegetarian diet as an option because of different ethics concerns. We know many healthy weight loss diet plans for non-vegetarians. But are there any recommendations when it comes to vegan diet for weight loss if you have planned on going vegan to lose weight?
What is a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is a further niche in the vegetarian diet that is more extreme in defining what is non-vegetarian. We know that vegetarians do not eat meat of any origin because of animal cruelty concerns. However, most vegetarians consider it normal to eat eggs and dairy.
However, talking of vegetarian vs vegan, even dairy, dairy cheese, eggs and any other foods derived from an animal are not allowed on a vegan diet. The followers of a vegan diet consider that it is not for humans to use what animals produce.
Benefits of Going Vegan
Vegan diet is essentially a vegetrian diet. So all the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet are part of the vegan diet as well. So what are these benefits?
The health effects of vegan diets are well documented. According to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people following a vegan diet are generally slimmer, have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure readings and reduced heart disease risk.
This is primarily because the vegan diets have high fiber content with essential vitamins in abundance. Moreover, their fat content is mostly low and also the healthy type i.e monounsaturated fats. The phytochemcials present in vegetarian diet have proven health benefits. (1)
Vegan Diet and Weight Loss
Apart from the other health benefits, vegan diet helps lose weight as well.
Vegan diet is known to be effective for long term weight loss. In one study published in the Obesity journal, vegan diet was found to influence greater weight loss than a moderate low fat diet over a period of two years. (2)
Another research published in 2006 found that followers of vegetarian diet have reduced body weight compared to non-vegetarians. (3)
A review of twelve research studies has established that vegan diet is clearly linked with weight reduction in comparison with non-vegetarian diet. (4)
It has also been observed that diet compliance is higher for vegan diet compared with other diets. Those following vegetarian diet are more likely to stick to their diet for a year or longer whereas the compliance for other diets averaged between 1-3 months. (5)
How much weight you can lose being vegan? According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), you can lose hundreds of pounds of weight while being vegan. Click here to read success stories of people who lost a lot of weight on a vegan lifestyle.
What Do Vegans Eat
If you have decided to follow a vegan diet for weight loss, then here here is a list of foods that you will be eating. Of course, meat is not part of this diet. And since it is vegan, you will also be staying away from eggs and dairy as well. A vegan food pyramid definitely looks different from other diets or US Dietary guidelines.
- Most of your diet will be based on vegetables and fruits. These will form the biggest share of your daily calories. You can eat as many vegetables as you like. Of course prefer non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, spinach, kale etc. In short, eat a variety of vegetables. There is no limit on how much vegetables you eat.
- In fruits, you can take 2-3 servings per day. Try to eat fruits that have more fiber or packed with healthy fats. Some of the good options are orange, avocado, pineapple, apple, berries etc.
- Your next main source of calories on a vegan diet is whole grains. Try to eat a variety of whole grains based foods. Some of the good options are whole grain pasta, quinoa, brown rice, farrow, buckwheat and barley. Ideally it should be around 5 servings a day.
- Since you will not be eating any animal proteins, you must include plant based proteins in your daily diet. Legumes are a great source of protein. Try to consume 2-3 servings of lentils, seeds, peas and bean daily to ensure that you keep getting enough protein into your body.
- Since you will not be having any dairy or eggs which can be good sources of healthy fats, therefore, you will need to eat healthy fats which could come from avocado and nuts. For dairy substitute, you can use soy and almond milk. However, beware that you don’t overdo this because these high fat foods can quickly shoot up your calorie count though you might think that you are on a vegetarian diet which is a low calorie diet.
So make your vegetarian grocery list based on these foods and you are good to start your weight loss journey.
What Can’t Vegans Eat
Of course, all type of meat is strictly off the table for all vegetarian diets. This also includes fish and other sea food that has animal origin.
Additionally the vegan diet requires that you forego any foods that animal origin and not just their flesh. Therefore, eggs and all types of dairy and its derivatives will also be off the menu. So forget your favorite cheese varieties if you are considering to for vegan weight loss diet.
Essential Tips for a Vegan Diet
- It is true that vegan diet is rich in fiber and vitamins. But watch out that you don’t overeat on starchy vegetables and high fat fruits and nuts.
- Don’t replace the whole vegetarian foods with processed vegan alternatives too much. Processed vegan foods like burgers and vegan burritos have less nutritional value than whole vegetables.
- It is critical that you eat enough protein so that you don’t lose muscle mass because those colorful leafy greens are low in protein. Protein has been known to reduce hunger cravings.
- It is imperative that you adopt healthy lifestyle habits as well to ensure sustainable weight loss. You should be getting enough sleep and doing regular exercise. At the same time, you should be reducing stress in life.
- Adherence and ensuring negative energy balance are key to any successful diet, including vegetarian diet.
The Bottom Line
Vegan diet, because of its high fiber and low fat content, is well established as a weight loss diet. It also has significantly higher compliance rate that other diets.
But still you need to eat in moderation and watch your protein and fat intake to ensure a weight loss that you can keep off as well.