Do the claims of new fad diets make you roll your eyes in disbelief? If you’re looking for a healthy, sustainable way to lose weight and live healthier, a meatless diet is your answer.
Vegan/Vegetarian Weight-Loss Fundamentals
New weight-loss schemes pop up almost every day. They promise big results and minimal life changes. However, vegan, vegetarian, and other plant-based diets aren’t just trendy in the weight-loss world. They are the real deal. And they have been around for thousands of years. Research continues to show the powerful health benefits of sticking to a vegetarian diet.
Vegan/Vegetarian Protein for Weight Loss
One common mistake vegans and vegetarians make when it comes to weight loss is skimping on protein. Foods that are full of protein and fiber help people feel full for longer periods of time. Limiting them means you’re heading back to the fridge for more snacks between meals. And we all know how extra calories affect the scale.
Adding beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains to your plate will get you the extra punch of protein you need. And you’ll feel satisfied between meals. Getting lots of healthy, plant-based protein into your meals will help you lose weight on a vegetarian diet.
Vegan/Vegetarian Carbohydrates for Weight Loss
Carbs are some of the easiest to grab and most convenient foods in your pantry. Chips, bread, pretzels, crackers. They’re handy for last-minute snacks. But they’re also great for packing on the pounds.
These refined carbs leave you hungry in the short term. And they create some not-so-great results in the long term. According to an article by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating a diet with high levels of simple carbs can cause insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
When it comes to simple carbs, moderation is key. But then again, who ever heard of eating just one chip? It’s easy to get distracted while pounding a crunchy snack like chips and pretzels. And before you know, the whole bag is gone.
The next time you’re feeling snacky, pick up an apple, a banana, or some fresh cherries. These complex carbs are also packed with fiber, which will help you lose weight and feel full till it’s mealtime. They’re just as easy to pack on road trips or throw in your bag for a midday snack. You can stick to your vegetarian diet and feel good about what you’re putting into your body.
Vegan/Vegetarian Fats for Weight Loss
Healthy fats are an important part of good nutrition. They give you energy, support cell growth, protect your organs, and keep your body warm during the cold winter months. They’re also critical for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Peanut butter, mixed nuts, and sunflower seeds are totally vegan and vegetarian-friendly. They’re delicious and fill you up. But the tricky thing is considering the portion sizes and amount of fat per serving. People tend to go overboard when eating these kinds of foods, and they completely ignore proper serving sizes.
If you notice you’re not losing weight, take a look at the calories and serving sizes of your meals and recipes. And keep an eye on the fat content too. Portion control is important when starting any new diet, even a plant-based one.
Types of Vegan/Vegetarian Diets for Weight Loss
There isn’t just one way to follow a plant-based diet. Check out some of the vegan/vegetarian diet options for weight loss:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: You can eat dairy products and eggs but not meat, poultry, and fish.
- Lacto-vegetarian: You can eat dairy products but not eggs, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Ovo-vegetarian: You can eat eggs but not dairy, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Vegan: You can’t eat any animal products, which includes honey, dairy, and eggs.
According to an article by Everyday Health, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition says a low-fat, vegan diet is actually better at helping people lose weight than the Mediterranean Diet, which allows small amounts of meat, dairy, and eggs. The Mediterranean diet is often claimed as one of the healthiest diets for weight loss. New research says a vegan diet might be a better alternative if you’re hoping to shed some extra pounds.
No matter which diet you choose, there are health benefits to each one. As always, before you jump into a new weight-loss plan, be sure to get professional, medical advice about your specific needs.
Weight-Loss Benefits of a Vegan/Vegetarian Diet
When we maintain a healthy weight, we feel good, don’t we? It gives us a boost of energy, motivates us to be more active, and fills us with a spark of confidence we’ve been missing. Science backs up the fact that we not just feel healthier, we are healthier when we maintain a healthy weight. According to an article by the National Heart Association, we are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other problematic health issues when we maintain a healthy body weight.
Vegetarian diets focus on eating a diet rich in healthy, whole foods and limiting the amount of sugars and simple carbs. This is one of the reasons vegans and vegetarians are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re ready to dive into a plant-based diet, here’s a simple plan for getting started.
A Vegan/Vegetarian Weight-Loss Plan
Step 1: Start with some meal planning. Gather ideas for easy-to-make meals and snacks. This will give you an overall understanding of the types of foods you want to eat and what should include on your shopping list. Having familiar, easy-to-make meals will help you stick with your new diet.
Check out these plant-based meals and recipes to inspire your weight-loss plan:
- If you’re looking for a ready-to-go meal, try Loma Linda’s Southwest Bowl with Chipotle Peppers. It has zero fat, zero cholesterol, 5g of fiber, and 9g of protein per serving! It’s also super convenient to make. You just tear the pouch and pop the whole thing into the microwave for 60 seconds, and it’s done. SIXTY SECONDS! That’s it! Amazing.
- Spice up your dinner with Loma Linda’s Pad Thai. Sticking to a plant-based diet is easy and tasty with this ready-to-make meal.
- During barbecue season, you don’t have to stick to a plate of grilled vegetables. Whip up some homemade burgers with neat’s Mexican Mix and enjoy your backyard picnic. With only 190 calories per serving, it’s a great replacement for a traditional beef patty. There are also 6g of protein and 7g of fiber that will fill you up and satisfy your hunger.
- Try this vegan smoothie bowl recipe to switch up your breakfast routine. It’s full of healthy fruits and seeds to start your day off right.
Step 2: Decide on the kinds of foods you want to limit.
1. High-Fat Snacks
Foods that are high in fat are also high-calorie. One gram of fat contains 9 calories. In high-fat snacks, those extra calories add up. They can be detrimental to your health and sabotage your weight-loss goals. Instead, try a low-calorie snack, like a cup of fresh fruit or a cup of popcorn.
2. Fried Vegetarian Foods
Fried foods smell and taste yummy. But they’re not-so-great for your cholesterol levels. When you fry foods in oil, they absorb the excess fat and heap on the calories. Eating fried veggies might seem tasty, but in order to meet your weight-loss goals, you’ll want to choose something with fewer calories. Instead, stick to grilled, baked, or fresh vegetables.
3. Vegetarian and Vegan Junk Food
Vegan and vegetarian junk foods are often full of extra fat, sugar, and calories. They look a lot like regular junk food. Adding the term “vegan” to a snack pack can be misleading, especially if you think it’s guaranteed to be healthier than the alternative. Another bummer is they tend to be way more expensive.
4. High-Calorie Dressings and Condiments
Picture this: you sit down to a big bowl of fresh salad, topped with extra delicious veggies. Imagine giving yourself a hearty pat on the back for preparing this ultra-healthy lunch. But before you start congratulating yourself, take a look at the salad dressing label in front of you. There’s a pretty good chance you’re not gonna like what you see.
While your bowl of lettuce and veggies is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and all the good stuff for a healthy diet…the dressing probably isn’t. In fact, you might be undoing all of the nutritional benefits of the salad when you dump on the dressing.
Steer clear of dressings and condiments that are high in calories, fat, and sugar. Instead, find a low-calorie alternative. Keep an eye on food labels, especially when starting a weight-loss plan.
Step 2: Hit up the grocery store. Go ahead and fill the cart with lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. When you get home, wash and prep some of the food so it’s ready to eat. You’ll be happy you put in some work right away, so you have food ready when hunger strikes.
Store your freshly prepared snacks at the front of your fridge, so you see them every time you open the door. You’re more likely to grab healthy foods when they’re in plain sight.
Sticking to a plant-based diet is a lot easier when you have a plan. Set yourself up for success, and then go after those weight-loss goals. You can do it!
Written by Aftan Hoffer
I’m a self-proclaimed flexitarian, living in Lancaster, PA with my vegetarian husband and our two picky, omnivore toddlers. We’re also a foster family, so the number of chairs around our dinner table can change from time to time. Meals at our house involve a variety of foods, so everyone has at least one thing they’re excited to eat. No one wants a battle at mealtime.