Vegan weight-loss diets can be tricky, but fret not. This list outlines tips on how to avoid the drawbacks so you can keep shedding those pounds.
How to Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet or Vegetarian Diet
What is a vegan diet? This type of diet includes no animal products at all.
What is a vegetarian diet? This diet does not include animal meat but may include animal products like eggs and dairy.
15 Ways to Stick to Your Vegan Weight-Loss Diet
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.
So, how do you keep to your vegetarian or vegan meal plan?
1. 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 fiber and calories since they’re also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, some protein, and good carbohydrates.
2. Cut the Sugar
We consume too much refined sugars in our foods, vegan or not, and it causes problems. Not only is sugar caloric-dense, but it also 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.
3. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods use excess oil, sugar, fats, sodium, and chemical preservatives to make them last longer and taste better. Skip the junk foods!
Also, 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 they don’t lose weight when they make the transition, and these processed foods are one of the major culprits.
Try to always choose whole foods. The less processed, the better!
4. Drink a Lot of Water
Water is essential for life. It’s also important for plant-based diets like vegetarian and vegan weight-loss diets. These diets tend to get more fiber intake. Fiber needs water to help “bulk it up”. This helps remove build-up in our digestive tract. Otherwise, you may get bloated or constipated.
Proper hydration boosts metabolism and helps us burn calories, produce energy, and feel good, yet most of us don’t drink enough 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.
5. 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 processed foods and sugars while eating more fruits and veggies.
6. Switch Out Oils
Avoid too many highly processed oils in your foods. They are high in saturated fats and unhealthy calories.
Check the labels and switch out your cooking oils with healthier options like coconut oil and olive oil. Use these in moderation as they are still calorie-dense foods.
7. 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, chia seeds, grains, nut butters, avocados, coconut oil, and starchy vegetables all have their place in your diet but should be used moderately. Toasted nuts, specifically, are a good source of vegan protein or plant-based protein, while the raw kind is rich in digestive enzymes.
You should still avoid the refined and processed carbs and fats though.
RELATED: Brain Health: Why Fat Is Your Friend
8. Eat Real Foods at Home
Use fresh, organic, whole foods in your recipes as often as possible. These 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.
9. 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.
10. Get Enough Protein
Protein actually creates a thermic effect after we eat it, burning extra calories for hours. Get lean, clean plant-based protein from quinoa, 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 plant-based protein supplements available to make this easier.
11. Up the Activity Level
You want to lose weight on a vegetarian or vegan diet 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. An active lifestyle should be part of your vegan weight-loss plan.
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.
12. 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.
What strength training does for women is tighten the muscles, building them slightly and making them more visible.
Cardio may burn more calories during the workout itself, but strength training burns more overall. This is because muscles burn more calories than regular tissue.
The more you have, the faster you lose weight, and that weight is 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.
13. Ignore the Scale
That’s right, the scale lies.
Losing weight isn’t all in the numbers. You can lose multiple inches and not see the numbers budge.
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 plant-based meals, and the rest follows.
14. Allow Yourself Small Cheats
Going completely without any indulgences is dangerous and can easily lead to binges when the cravings get out of control. It can lead you to losing weight and gaining it and then, again; or, simply put, yo-yo dieting.
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 you rewarded yourself with something decadent when it’s actually pretty healthy in that small dose. Just don’t go overboard, and if you have something you can’t control yourself around, don’t let that be your cheat.
15. Meal Prep Your Vegan Weight-Loss Meal Plan
Meal prepping is generally budget-friendly. It also allows you to stick to your diet and save time during a hectic week.
Pre-cook your brown rice. Marinate your tofu.
Roast your vegetables. Make your own vegan salad dressing.
Store them in clean glass containers, and mix them when you’re ready to eat.
Make sure your vegan weight-loss plan includes:
- Mineral rich foods
- A lot of vegetables and fruits
- Leafy greens
- Plant-based proteins
- Whole Grains
- Omega fatty acids
- Vitamin D
- B vitamins
Or, you can just always check in with the vegan food pyramid.
The lowest level in the hierarchy houses 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Opt for different colors of vegetables; the green and leafy ones are good, even the starchy kinds.
The second level in the pyramid includes 5 or more servings of whole grains a day. Examples are quinoa, buckwheat, farro, brown rice, grain sprouts, and whole wheat pasta.
More leafy greens and legumes place at the third level. Have at least 2-3 servings per day.
Examples are broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, peas, beans, and lentils.
And, the topmost level in the pyramid houses high-fat whole foods. Again, focus on the healthy sources of fats like avocados, coconut, nuts, and seeds.
Check out this video from Sunwarrior and get some tips from Jason Wrobel to help you adopt a healthy vegan lifestyle:
You cannot go wrong with plant-based nutrition when it comes to losing weight. You do need to make sure you’re doing it right and are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Hopefully, this article helps you in your vegan weight loss journey―in choosing the right type of foods for your diet, boosting your confidence, and staying healthy overall.
Looking for an effective weight loss program? Join the Sunwarrior Fitness Challenge! If you have already joined our Fitness Challenge, tell us your experience in the comments below!
- Fat Loss Myths You Should Ignore
- The Missing Link To Your Weight Loss
- What Is More Beneficial Than Intermittent Fasting?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 3, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.