A question that we commonly get is, “Will I lose weight on a vegan diet?” The short answer is, “Probably.” This 2015 study set out to compare the weight loss results of those on vegan and non-vegan diets. The strict vegan diets resulted in the greatest amount of weight loss. Interestingly enough, vegan dieters who stuck to a restricted-energy intake lost the most weight.
What Does This Mean for Us?
Essentially, it means that what your mother told you was right – to manage your weight, you have to watch the number of calories that you take in. Whether you’re eating meat or not, it’s the same for everyone.
The Advantage of the Vegan Diet for Weight Loss
To see this for yourself, do an experiment. Work out the number of calories you need to eat a day. Now create two eating plans. Use meat on one and just fruit and veggies on the other. Which option gives you more to eat? Now, it’s true that the protein and fat in meat help us to feel full for a while. It’s also true that protein and fat are extremely nutrient-dense. So eating that one piece of steak is satisfying initially. But it’s also eating away your calorie allowance.
Fruit and veggies, on the other hand, are lower in calories. They also have fiber in them that helps to fill you up. The fiber does more than that, though; it helps to keep your gut bacteria healthy. In addition, vegan diets are richer in some nutrients like folate, magnesium, and potassium.
What About All the Fuss About Ketogenics?
A ketogenic diet is high in fat and protein and low in carbs. A vegan diet is typically high in carbs, moderate in protein, and low in fat. If we consider the typical Western diet that’s high in refined carbs, ketogenics certainly does make sense. There’s been a furious debate on which diet is better for weight loss. For the answer to which diet is better, we should be looking to the East, though. In China, most people eat a diet high in carbs and relatively low in fat. That said, researchers decided to test who got better results. They compared three eating plans:
- High fat and low carb
- Moderate fat and moderate carbs
- Low fat and high carbs.
Their study produced some interesting results. In the end, the group that lost the most weight were the low fat and high carb group. Researchers found that this type of diet had a more lasting effect on cholesterol levels and was able to reduce blood pressure. The researchers theorized that the primary difference in the diet was reliant on the quality of the carbs eaten. In China, most people eat a lot of complex carbs as well. The upshot is that you’d do better following a vegan diet rich in complex carbs.
Not All Fruits and Veggies are Created Equal
That said, not all fruit and veggies are created equal. Bananas, for example, are extremely tasty because they’re high in natural sugars. These sugars are easy for the body to process into glucose. While the fiber in the banana slows down the process a little, eating a couple of bananas is likely to cause a blood sugar spike. By contrast, you could eat a whole punnet of strawberries and not experience the same spike because they’re lower in natural sugars. It makes sense, therefore, to limit your intake of bananas and focus more on berries. In the veggie world, the same holds. Your starchy veggies like potatoes and peas contain a lot more sugar than green salad. So if you base your vegan diet around those starchy veggies, you’re likely going to get too much sugar.
How to Tailor Your Vegan Diet to Lose Weight
You’re going to need to do your research into calorific values and the glycaemic index of different foods. But here are some simple tips to get you started.
Focus on Greens
Greens like Swiss chard and broccoli are high in fiber and low in calories. Pile your plate with these in place of starchy veggies.
Keep Up Your Protein Intake
Don’t leave out the protein. Make space for nuts and high-protein grains like quinoa. Protein is essential for energy and to help your body repair itself.
Watch the Fruit
You can use the following text:
The fruit is nature’s candy and should be treated as such. Keep the higher sugar options as occasional treats. If you’re eating fruit, eat the whole fruit. Fruit juice should be drunk in moderation because it has a very low fiber content.
Get a Good Mix of Variety
If you follow a vegan diet to lose weight, it’s important to get a variety of vegetables. The wider the variety of fruit and vegetables you choose, the better chance you have of getting all your essential vitamins.
Supplement Essential Nutrients
A vegan diet can’t provide every nutrient that we need. You must supplement the following nutrients to ensure you have optimal levels:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
- Heme Iron
Get Your Eight Glasses of Water a Day
Finally, you need to ensure that you drink eight glasses of water a day. While you’re going to be getting a fair amount of water from the fresh fruit and veggies, it won’t be enough. Water helps our bodies detox, keeps the skin hydrated, and helps move things along in the digestive tract. Mayo Clinic guidelines state that:
- Men should have 3.7 liters of water a day
- Women should have 2.7 liters of water a day.
A good strategy for including more water in your diet is to keep a bottle of water on your desk. Get into the habit of drinking a glass of water on the hour. If you really don’t like the taste, add some lemon, cucumber, fresh fruit, or herbs to change things up a bit.
Bringing it All Together
Generally speaking, the closer your fruit and veggies are to natural, the better for you. Look into raw food recipes and limit your intake of processed foods. Be sure to get enough water to drink daily, and you’re bound to lose weight.