Can a Vegan Diet Help with Weight Loss?

Vegan Diet for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

The vegan diet has recently become a popular trend for many reasons. For the purpose of eating delicious, nutrient-dense foods at a low cost to the environment, it’s no wonder so many people have chosen the vegan way. 

Among all the impressive health benefits that a vegan diet can provide, from improving heart health to restoring energy, there is still one question we need to answer.

Can it really help us lose weight?

Follow along as we uncover everything you need to know about using the vegan diet for weight loss.

What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet is a source of nutrition that comes exclusively from plant-based foods. In other words, the vegan diet is based on excluding all forms of animal products and their by-products including meat, eggs, and dairy products [1].

Some common vegan-friendly foods include:  

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Legumes (i.e. beans, lentils, peas, etc.)

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Whole grain bread, white or brown rice, and pasta

  • Dairy alternatives (i.e. almond milk, coconut milk, soymilk, etc.)

  • Vegetable oils 

As more people have become aware of the health consequences of consuming animal products as well as the environmental and ethical impact of animal farming, the vegan diet is on the rise. For this reason, more people are exploring new ways to consume plant foods causing the number of vegan-based recipes to expand quite substantially.

Is a Vegan Diet a Healthy Option?

 

When done right, a vegan diet can certainly be a healthy option!

By replacing meat and animal by-products with plant-based whole grains, healthy oils, and fiber-rich foods, you’re able to boost your vitamins and minerals which all contribute to greater health benefits. 

Here are some of the top health benefits of a vegan diet [2]: 

  • Reduced inflammation

  • Contributes to a healthy weight

  • Lower cholesterol 

  • Reduced blood glucose levels

  • Lower risk of diabetes 

  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Lower rates of cancer 

Can a Vegan Diet Help Me Lose Weight?

One of the most significant health benefits of a vegan diet is its impact on weight loss. A recent study found that adults who followed a low-fat vegan diet were able to lose weight more readily compared to those who followed a generally healthy diet comprised of meat and animal products [3]. 

Since most plant-based foods are lower in calories compared to calorie-rich animal products (i.e. cheese, butter, fatty meats, etc.), vegan diets help us consume fewer calories on a daily basis. Although more research is needed to fully understand the implications of using the vegan diet to lose weight, many experts agree that a healthy vegan diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and higher fiber food can do wonders for both our health and body weight [4].

It’s important to note that although you’re eating a vegan diet, it doesn’t always mean you’re eating healthier compared to omnivorous diets. For instance, there are a ton of unhealthy vegan options that contain a ton of salt, unhealthy fats, and sugar that can cause us to gain weight. For this reason, it’s important to limit caloric intake of unhealthier processed vegan foods or sources of “empty calories” (i.e. alcohol).

Vegetarian vs. Vegan Diet for Weight Loss

Vegan and vegetarian diets are very similar in that they both consume a wide range of plant-based foods while also excluding all meat and fish ingredients. However, the main difference is that vegetarian diets do include most animal products such as dairy, eggs, honey, and so on. 

So, which diet is better for losing weight?

Studies suggest that a plant-based diet of any kind that is rich in vegetable fats is likely to boost metabolism and burn more calories while at rest which helps contribute to weight loss [5]. However, when comparing weight loss over the course of 6 months, research discovered that people who followed a vegan diet lost more weight compared to those who followed a vegetarian diet [6].  

Top 5 Tips for Weight Loss on a Vegan Diet 

If you’re interested in following a vegan diet to help with weight loss, there are certain things to keep in mind to avoid nutritional deficiencies or weight gain. 

With careful planning, meal prep, and adopting better eating habits, weight loss is certainly possible while following a healthy vegan diet. Here are some helpful tips to get you on the right path to losing weight with the vegan diet.

1. Be mindful of processed foods

Avoiding processed vegan food is a helpful tip for weight loss, no matter the type of diet you plan to follow. Vegan diets have as many unhealthy plant-based options or packaged foods that are just as bad for your health as the typical animal-derived foods from fast food restaurants. 

Most of these high-calorie foods and even vegan junk food contain a ton of sugars, saturated fats, starches, and other unhealthy additives that can cause weight gain.

2. Eat more healthy fats 

Healthy fats are beneficial for the health and function of our bodies. Unlike saturated fats which can contribute to weight gain, heart disease, and stroke, a healthy fat source is derived from a natural or whole food which helps us stay fuller for longer [7]. 

Some of the best healthy fat sources to help with weight loss include avocados, nuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, coconut, and extra virgin olive oil. 

3. Find a range of plant-based protein sources

High protein diets can help lower body fat, improve lean muscle mass, and make us feel fuller for longer  – all of which can help with weight loss [8]. 

One of the problems that most vegans face is nutrient deficiencies. Without having any animal-based foods to supplement protein, vegans must resort to plant-based protein sources to get their daily doses of vitamin B, iron, calcium, zine, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

With proper planning, vegans are now able to combine more plant foods and meat substitutes to make up for this difference. Some of the top sources of plant-based proteins include beans, lentils, nutritional yeast, spelt, tofu, hemp seeds, quinoa, oats, chia seeds, and rice.  

4. Eat higher fiber vegan foods 

When it comes to weight loss, high-fiber foods are a necessity. Not only do higher fiber foods provide volume throughout our digestive tract, making us feel full longer, but they’re incredibly low in calories too [9]. 

Some of the best fiber-rich foods include lentils, black beans, prunes, pistachios, corn, chickpeas, oatmeal, avocado, broccoli, artichokes, and kale. As you may have noticed, most dietary fiber options are also vegan-friendly.

5. Manage your portion control

No matter what type of diet you’re following, portion control is always a necessity when it comes to weight loss. Even if you’re enjoying a well-rounded vegan diet, it’s still possible to mindlessly overindulge at times. 

Rather than eating larger portions of meals in 2 or 3 sittings, it’s better to enjoy snacks and smaller meals throughout the day to help promote satiety and increase metabolism – both of which contribute to weight loss!

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