It’s very true that vegans and vegetarians are less likely to be overweight than the average person, but this is a deceptive bit of trivia. They do tend to eat fewer calories, stay fairly active, and get more fiber, so many people decide to go vegetarian or even vegan to help boost their health and lose weight. It isn’t quite that simple though. There are still plenty of pitfalls to avoid when trying to lose weight or tone up on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Get Plenty of Fiber – Fiber is essential to a healthy digestive system. It sweeps the intestines and colon clean, feeds beneficial bacteria, removes toxins and cholesterol, and slows the absorption of nutrients so the body can keep up. Fiber also makes us feel fuller and satiated sooner and longer so you eat less throughout the day and have fewer cravings. Getting more fiber means you’re eating plenty of vegetables and fruits. These provide more than fiber and calories since they’re also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, some protein, and good carbohydrates.
Cut the Sugar – We use too much refined sugars in our foods, vegan or not, and it causes problems. Not only is sugar caloric-dense, it overwhelms the body with glucose and fructose, leading to unnecessary fat creation and storage. Often we drink our calories in sugary beverages that have no nutritional value. Soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, and candies should be avoided. The more natural sweets made with dates and whole-foods are okay when used in moderation, but if we want to lose weight, we should still be careful. Fresh fruits are always a better way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Avoid Processed Foods – Processed foods use excess oil, sugar, fats, sodium, and chemical preservatives to make them last longer and taste better. And in the meantime so many of their natural vitamins and minerals have been removed. This includes vegan substitutes. Most of the animal-like replacement products are highly processed and far from healthy. Many new vegans and vegetarians find that they don’t lose weight when they make the transition and these processed foods are one of the major culprits.
Drink a lot of Water – Water is essential for life. Proper hydration boosts metabolism and helps us burn calories, produce energy, and feel good, yet most of us drink way too little water. Water also helps us not overeat, aids digestion, and helps us remove toxins. Our bodies tend to hoard what we don’t get enough of, so drinking water actually helps us lose water weight.
Cut the Calories – It actually doesn’t take a lot of calories off your norm each day to begin to lose weight. Restriction and starvation diets don’t normally work. We’re talking just a slight limit on the calories you consume. This is easily done by cutting back on the processed foods and sugars while eating more fruits and veggies.
Switch out Oils – Avoid too many highly processed oils in your foods. Check the labels and switch out your cooking oils with healthier options like coconut and olive oil. Use these in moderation as they are still calorie-dense foods.
Don’t Cut All the Fat or Carbs – Your brain runs on carbs and is made of mostly fat. You need both for your metabolism to run well and your body to function properly. Nuts, seeds, grains, nut butters, avocados, coconut oil, and starchy vegetables all have their place in your diet, but should be used moderately. You should still be avoiding the refined and processed carbs and fats though.
Eat Real Foods at Home – Use fresh, organic, whole foods in your recipes as often as possible. These will provide the most nutrients and convince your body you’re getting what you need so the cravings stop. Restaurants add unwanted sugar, sodium, and fats to their meals, even when you’re trying to order sensibly. It takes more work to cook at home, but the results are worth it.
Use Herbs and Spices – Those herbs and spices you ignore in the spice rack are full of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They also make food taste amazing without having to resort to the sugars and sodium you need less of. Many spices, like ginger, basil, turmeric, and cayenne may even help you lose weight by boosting metabolism, assisting digestion, and promoting detox.
Get Enough Protein – Protein actually creates a thermic effect after we eat it, burning extra calories for hours. Get lean, clean protein from vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Remember to watch the calories and fat content of these to some degree. There are good vegan protein supplements available to make this easier.
Up the Activity Level – You want to lose weight and tone up? What you eat is only part of the equation. You must be active to burn the calories you want, break down and use up fat, and reveal the muscle tone underneath it all. Walk, run, bike, swim, play soccer, hike, dance, or do whatever you love that gets you up and moving. It’s not just about burning calories either. Your lymphatic system is what removes excess fluid, fat, cellular waste, and toxins from your tissues, and this system relies on movement to do it. Anything not removed can be reabsorbed by cells, leading to more fat stores, water retention, and potential illness. Park farther from the door. Do jumping jacks during commercials. Maybe get up from your desk and jog in place a little. Just move.
Work Out and do Strength Training – Everyone knows it’s cardio that burns fat, but strength training has its benefits too, especially for women who want to tone. You should be doing both. Women often avoid lifting weights because they’re afraid of bulking up. Women do not bulk up quickly, if at all. What strength training does for women is tighten muscles, build them slightly, and make them more visible. Cardio may burn more calories during the workout itself, but strength training burns more over all. This is because muscles burn more calories than regular tissue. The more you have, the faster you lose weight, and that weight will be all fat instead of a mix of muscle and fat that comes from dieting. Visible muscles also make women appear thinner, even when the scale disagrees.
Ignore the Scale – That’s right, the scale lies. Losing weight isn’t all in the scale. You can lose multiple inches and not see the numbers budge even a number. Use the scale as a basic indicator, but not as law. Your body naturally fluctuates several pounds up and down, even during one day. Focus on exercising, building lean muscle, and eating well, the rest will follow.
Allow Yourself Small Cheats – Going completely without any indulgences is dangerous and can easily lead to binges when the cravings get out of control. Cravings come and go. If you give yourself a small treat, they are more likely to go away. A small square of dark chocolate is a great way to feel like your rewarded yourself with something decadent when it’s actually pretty healthy in that small dose. Just don’t go overboard with any of them and if you have something you can’t control yourself around, don’t let that be your cheat.
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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