Here’s what you need to know.
Recently, making the switch to a plant-based diet has been all the rage. Though the transition to a vegan diet can be a challenge, it can also be incredibly rewarding when done correctly. Cutting out animal products is beneficial for the animals themselves, your carbon footprint, and your overall health. But will going plant-based help you lose weight? Many people report feeling energized, having clearer skin, and yes– even losing weight.
However, if you’ve recently been inspired to go plant-based only to hit a plateau, you’re not alone. Switching to a plant-based diet may be a healthy weight loss strategy, but you have to do it the right way, and common mistakes may hinder your progress. Never fear–there are several ways to ensure that your new diet will work for you!
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Weight Loss
Switching to a plant-based diet has many health benefits, many of which may help you lose weight. Cutting out animal products typically means you’ll be eating foods that are less calorically dense. This means you can eat a higher volume of food for fewer calories–for instance, a serving of tofu has less than half the calories of a serving of chicken. This is great news if you’re a “volume eater.”
On a plant-based diet, you’re also likely to fill your plate with more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods in general. This means you’ll be getting in more fiber, vitamins, and minerals on a daily basis.
Cutting down on animal products is also proven to reduce your “bad” cholesterol levels, lower your blood pressure, and even help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. This is because animal-based foods like processed meats are often high in sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol, whereas plant-based foods are typically “leaner” and offer more vitamins and minerals.
Why Am I Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based Diet?
On a plant-based diet, it’s easy to load up on carbs and forget about protein. Many vegan staples are considered carbs (i.e. fruits, potatoes, whole grains), whereas the animal products you’re giving up are protein-packed. One common mistake when going plant-based is neglecting to balance these macros. There are plenty of plant-based proteins available (i.e. tofu, tempeh, beans, other legumes, etc…), so consider choosing one to fill some of your plate in place of a carb.
Related: Black Bean and Tofu Enchiladas with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
Another common mistake—your plant-based diet might not be filled with enough “plants”. New vegans often load up on “vegan junk food,” like meat and cheese substitutes or processed snacks. It’s also easy to load up on oils and condiments that are packed with calories. If your goal is to lose weight, remember to choose fruits, veggies, greens, and other whole foods that are just as satisfying! “Vegan junk foods” like a plant-based burger are great in moderation, but simple, already-plant-based meals like rice and beans are important to choose too.
Try: Green Goddess Bondi Bowl
It’s also crucial to consider other aspects of your lifestyle. Going plant-based alone may not help you lose weight if your other habits are not aligned with your goals. For instance, it’s essential to make sure you’re exercising regularly, sleeping enough, and drinking plenty of water. It’s also important not to indulge in eating out too much—even for vegans, restaurant foods are often far more unhealthy than meals you cook yourself! (Plus, being the only vegan at a non-vegan restaurant often means lots of fries.)
Plant-Based Diet Tips and Tricks
Going plant-based can be overwhelming at first, especially when coupled with other lifestyle changes. Not to worry—there are a variety of plant-based menus and meal prep recipes available online. Meals like these carrot and hummus pita pockets are healthy and easy to make with ingredients you might have on hand anyway. If you’re new to the plant-based lifestyle, try compiling some recipes or building an easy meal plan for yourself. This will eliminate some decision fatigue when you decide what to eat each day and will expand your horizons as you try new recipes.
As a rule of thumb, focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods that will keep you full. For instance, oats offer a balance of protein and carbs as well as iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B1. Lentils are packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins like A, E, and K. Sweet potatoes are a healthy, nutrient-packed carb that are remarkably low in calories. Berries are low in calories but packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Reaching for whole plant foods like these instead of processed snacks (or an overabundance of calorically-dense foods like peanut butter) will keep you on track to reach your goals.
Some More Easy Plant-Based Recipes
Here are some more easy, beginner-friendly plant-based recipes to get you started on the right track! Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things. It’s the best way to make your new healthy eating plan a lifestyle.
Is Going Plant-Based Worth It?
Plant-based nutrition can feel like a whole new ballgame when you first make the switch. Eliminating your intake of meat, dairy, and eggs altogether is a big change. If you’re experiencing a plateau or even weight gain on your new vegan diet, you’re not alone. But learning the ropes is certainly worth it, and you’ll feel the benefits in no time. By choosing the right plant-based foods and meal plan, keeping the other aspects of your lifestyle on track, and balancing your macros, you’ll be sure to see some progress.
Follow us on Instagram for more plant-based recipes, and subscribe to our eNewsletter to get our latest and greatest articles delivered directly to your inbox!