Updated: Mar 15
A lot of people want to loss weight these days. Eating what you want, "listening to your body", not paying attention to where your calories are coming from, can lead to weight gain that leaves you feeling pretty bad about yourself. Being overweight is not something that is bad about you as a person; it does not reflect on your character, how kind you are or how intelligent you are. It is bad for your body though. Being over weight can lead serious diseases that can shortern your life, diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
How Do People Try To Lose Weight?
Losing weight for most people involves losing body fat. Fat isn't a bad thing in our bodies, we need a certain amount to burn as fuel, to absorb and store vitamins, to make the cells of our body, to make our homes work, our brains are 60% fat. However, as with pretty much everything, too much is too much.
A lot of people that decide to lose weight are successful, the problem is keeping the weight off. When you decide to lose weight you change the way that you live, create a calorie deficit (eat less calories then you need), take up exercise, the scales become your friend and you feel proud of yourself, you should, losing weight is hard. But, once you've gotten down to the weight that you've been aiming for you need to change the way that you live again to a whole new way of living. Going back to the way that you lived before, hoping that you'll be able to make enough right choices about food to maintain the weightloss, doesn't work, especially when you've used a fad diet to achieve the weightloss.
Fad dies are short term fixes for weight loss, they are never healthy, they deprive your body of nutrients and some are dangerous. Diets like the cotton ball diet where you eat cotton balls dipped in fruit juice or a smoothie can kill you. So, the question is, can you go vegan to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way?
Going Vegan = Weightloss?
A problem that some people have when they go vegan is unexpected weightloss. This is because plant foods are less calorie dense then animal products, for example 100g of beef contains, roughly, 250 calories, 100g of tofu contains 76 calories, if you are eating a healthy whole food plant based diet with little processed food or added sugar this can be a big problem. If you fill your plate with the same amount of food you will eat a meal and fill full but you'll have eaten less calories. If you want to maintain your weight you need to get used to eating bigger portions, if you want to lose weight this can be fantastic.
How Do You Do It?
When you decide to lose weight the first thing that you need to do is make a plan. How much weight do you need to lose, is it a sensible amount, what is your end date, is that sensible? For example, say you're 100lb over weight and you want to lose that by your holiday in May, but it's January, that's not going to happen, not in any healthy way that's for sure. A healthy rate for losing weight is 1lb - 2lb or 0.5kg - 1kg per week and even that may be too fast for some people, you have to work with your body, you shouldn't force the weightloss otherwise it won't be long term, your body will rebel. The next thing that I would suggest is to use health apps, there are loads of good ones, but I would specifically recommend Chronometer for monitoring your diet and Samsung Health for monitoring activity and exercise. Chronometer claim "Cronometer is the most accurate, comprehensive nutrition tracking app on earth." I don't know about that, but it is very good. You enter in your details and your goal, weightloss, weight gain or maintenance, and it will set your daily nutritional targets. There are millions of apps, websites and blog pages with plant based recipes that you can try, then there's Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen app. "Whole-food, plant-based nutrition. Pretty self-explanatory, right? But aren’t some plant foods better than others? All plant foods are not created equal... I made a checklist, which evolved into the Daily Dozen that you can download for free on iPhone and Android." This app lists 12 foods that you should aim to eat everyday for optimal health, foods like beans and berries, that you can definitely eat and still lose weight with.
6 Tips For Weightloss
Finally here are some tips for helping you to lose weight and then keep it off.
Pay attention to what you eat and when you eat. If you're snack on biscuits when you go to the kitchen try putting a punnet of grapes where the biscuits would normally be, simple swaps mean that you don't miss out, you boost the nutrition you consume, reduce the calories that you eat and crowd out the unhealthy foods. If you find that you can't resist eating the whole punnet, put a handful of grapes in a bowl instead, once the bowl is empty add a handful of carrot sticks.
Monitor your nutrition. Apps are really the easiest way to do this, you enter in what you've eaten and they calculate calories, protein, fat, carbs and micronutrients. There's no guesswork and it's really easy to do.
Be careful of foods that seem healthy. Things like fruit juice and smoothies seem like they'd be good for you, but they're actually very unhealthy. They are very high in sugar, they are quick and easy to consume and contain a huge number of calories. This also goes for the so-called healthy fruit bars, you don't need them, eat a apple or banana instead.
Avoid processed foods. This is like the fruit juice, smoothie or the "healthy" snack bar. All of these foods are processed, meat substitutes, although not as high in fat and calories as meat are still not healthy. Again, you don't need them; they are convenient and having a little once in a while is fine, just be careful of them becoming a regular part of your diet.
Eat nuts! Yes they are high in fat, but it's mainly good fats, also, you don't need need to eat many nuts to get all of the benifits of them. One brazil nut will give you 3.3g of fat, most of which is unsaturated, but also vitamin B1, vitamin E, copper, iron, magnesium and more than one day's minimum allowance of selenium.
Eat lots of vegetables. When you go vegan your taste buds become really fine tuned and vegetables start to taste so much better than they did before, so eat them. Vegetables are high in fibre so when you eat them they will fill you up but without filling you with excess calories. When you make a meal try to make half of the plate vegetables, peas, carrots, avacado (I know it's a fruit, but you know what I mean), corn on the cob, beetroot. It's not all about boiled vegetables that have turned to mush.
Bottom line, I say go vegan regardless of weightloss, but if you are doing it for weightloss, have fun, eat loads of different, healthy foods. Enjoy the process of discovery as well as improving your health.