Trending: The Vegan Diet for Healthy, Sustainable Weight Loss
Right now everyone wants a piece of healthy weight-loss success, and more and more people are trying the Vegan Diet, also known as the Plant-Based Diet. Unlike keto diets, which are both hard to sustain and not heart-healthy over the long term, the Vegan Diet is a whole-food plant-based way of eating that is healthy, sustainable, and offers immunity-boosting foods to keep your energy up and your defenses strong against getting sick, as you shed pounds.
Studies have shown that vegan diets have helped people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes lose significant amounts of weight, and one study, in particular, showed that a vegan diet high in legumes works even better to lose weight faster than a vegan diet not as rich in legumes.
So how much weight can you lose in one month on the Vegan Diet? It depends on whether you also give up refined carbs such as sugar and processed flour, since of course, these are vegan but not "whole food" and the key to weight loss is eating fiber-dense, nutrient-rich foods and not empty calories. That means focusing on fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds and giving up processed foods that come in bags or boxes and could not be grown.
Going Vegan Can Help You Lose Weight
Because dairy and meat are high in fat, which is calorie-dense, avoiding these foods also means that you can fill up on plant-based foods that are full of fiber and feel full longer. Fiber only comes in vegetables and fruit or legumes and nuts and seeds, since animals have skeletons to keep them upright and moving around, while plants have fiber to keep them reaching for the sky.
Fiber is one key to healthy weight loss, and the minimal amounts you need to get per day as per the recommendations are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That's a start but most Americans fall far short of that goal, according to fiber diet guru Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, who lost 50 pounds on a plant-based diet and wrote the fiber diet book, Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome,
So more fiber is better, as celebrity dieters have learned.
There are several diets flying around the internet that include the Adele Diet, which is also known as the Sirtfood Diet. (We tried it and here's what happened.) Then there is Intermittent Fasting. (Which also works, as long as you eat healthy during the "on eating hours.")
More people are trying to eat plant-based than ever, right now: 23 percent of consumers are incorporating plant-based or vegan foods into their diet: Sales of plant-based meats are up 35 percent, while overall sales of all vegan foods are up 90 percent since the height of the COVID-19 crisis. It's only growing, as people want a diet that lets them lose weight and be healthy, and a vegan or plant-based "clean-eating" diet promises both: Healthy immunity, plus steady weight loss.
Plant-Based Protein Leads to Healthy Weight Loss, Leaner Body Composition
The Vegan Diet and Plant-Based Diet is winning now because it's healthier than other diets. And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. You stay away from inflammation-boosting animal products and fill your plate with plant-based whole foods that are low in oil, minimally cooked, and full of fiber. And guess what? It works.
But the reason that the Vegan Diet is catching on right now is two-fold: One is that people are staying away from meat during the time of COVID-19, and the other is that the Vegan Diet helps you lose weight and build your immunity. It's also sustainable, healthy, and natural. There is nothing more natural than eating a whole-food plant-based diet low in oils and fats.
The Vegan Diet is exactly what it sounds like: You eat tons of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. There's no point system or counting carbs, calories or net carbs. You fill your plate with plant-based whole foods that are low in oil, minimally cooked, and full of fiber. If you can grow it, it's a "Go!" If you have to look for ingredients on a label and there are many, it's a "No-Go!" This simple way of losing weight is natural, intuitive, and sustainable. If you lose 2 pounds a week (which is a healthy rate) you can lose 12 pounds in just six weeks!
The Vegan Diet for Weight Loss Growing More Popular
Why is the Vegan Diet having a moment? Back during the start of the pandemic, consumers learned where their food came from, as shortages of meat showed up in supermarkets. This was because meat processing plants were rife with COVID outbreaks, and several large plants had to shut down for weeks. That reminded consumers that meat doesn't walk itself to our supermarket refrigerator shelves, but gets slaughtered, packaged, and put there. While the supply chain was disrupted consumers had a chance to sample meatless alternatives like Beyond and Impossible and liked what they tasted.
The idea that there are other alternatives to meat and dairy dawned on the population. Among people under 25, over half of Gen Z self-identifies as flexitarian, and the other half of that awareness is driven by the fact that over one-third of manmade greenhouse gases are created during food production. Lower our dependence on meat and dairy and we can lower our individual contribution to the CO2 released by big farming since plant-based farming only produces a fraction of what animal agriculture does. So a vegan diet is better for your health, the planet and of course, farmed animals – a win all around.
Meanwhile, on the upside, the Vegan Diet is also natural, allowing the dieter to fill up on vegetables and legumes, grains and nuts and seeds, plus fruit -- all foods that are full of fiber, satisfyingly filling, and offer plenty of dietary protein. In fact for the foods that offer the most protein, see this list. For most dieters, getting enough protein on a vegan diet starts with a bowl of oatmeal and plant-based milk, which gets you about one-quarter of the way there in an easy, low calory meal. For the Beginner's Guide to Going Plant-Based, which is a one-week Vegan Diet, click here.
Why a Vegan Diet is Better For Weight Loss
To fill up on healthy foods, the higher the fiber content the better. Fiber has been given a bad rap as a "regulator" for anyone who has trouble going to the bathroom, but in fact, it's the "anti-carb" when it comes to eating healthy foods that spur weight loss. When diabetics are put on a strict low-carb diet they are coached to look for fiber since the fiber-to-carb ratio is more important than carbs alone. This is why fruit, though higher in carbs than vegetables, does not make you fat.
The fiber in the food you eat allows the body to access healthy nutrients while keeping blood sugar low and your insulin response in check. The lower your blood sugar, the lower your insulin response, and the less your body gets the signal to store the extra energy as fat.
The high-fiber content of fruits and vegetables means that the "net carb" effect offers all the nutrients at less of the calories, carbs, and unhealthy fat that animal products or highly processed foods deliver. So the key to losing weight on the Vegan Diet is choosing foods that are as close to nature grows them as possible. Whole foods that are plant-based, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains, make up a healthy assortment of vitamins and minerals proteins and complex carbs to make the person eating this way feel satisfied and full, never hungry and deprived, and still lose weight.
When your fat intake is low -- meaning no animal fat and minimal oils -- your body will mobilize ready energy from what is stored in the body. You use up your glycogen first, and as anyone knows who has taken a 45-minute spin class or run, you switch over your energy system when you run out of available stored energy in the muscles and the liver, and then start to burn off fat stores and pull energy out of storage. The Vegan Diet low in oils is a natural way to prompt your body to find energy from within, essentially revving your engines to burn fat faster.
Healthy Vegan Diet Can Lower Inflammation and Boost Immunity
The Vegan Diet is full of vegetables and fruits offers immunity-boosting properties All the foods known to help boost your natural immunity are "on the list" for the Vegan Diet. Broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, and citrus are among the 13 foods that offer the most immunity per bite.
The Vegan Diet can help you lose weight that is sustainable, by minimizing eating processed foods that are likely to be high in added sugar and fat, low in fiber, and full of additives. So while potato chips are mostly vegan, they don't make the cut because they are processed. The same goes for Twizzlers and other packaged foods that are only vegan because they don't contain animal products. To lose weight you have to think "if I can grow it, I can eat it." You have never seen a PopTart in a garden.
What to Eat to Lose Weight on Vegan Diet
When you eat the Vegan Diet, you lose weight because you stay away from inflammation-boosting animal products and fill your plate with plant-based whole foods that are low in oil, plainly cooked, and full of fiber. And guess what? It works. You can lose up to 2 to 3 pounds a week and keep it off it you stick to a whole food plant-based –or vegan– diet.
For what foods are "on the list" and how much is recommended for each, check out the Vegan Food Pyramid. The basic idea of the Vegan Diet is to allow 55-60 percent of your calories from carbs, 20-25 percent from (plant-based) protein, and 15-25 percent from fat.
Foods to eat more of:
Fruits such as blueberries, citrus such as oranges and grapefruits, kiwi and mango or papaya, and seeded fruit like apples, peaches and plums
Vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Load up on colorful root vegetables like beats. (Some people avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes due to their high carbohydrate content.)
Legumes such as chickpeas, beans, peas, pulses, and lentils. These are high in protein and fiber
Soy products such as tofu, tempeh, or soy milk, since soy is a complete protein and the phytoestrogen has been shown to be protective against breast cancer
Whole grains such as wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and minimally processed grains and oatmeal or oat milk
Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, cashews and walnuts, and almond milk
Seeds such as chia seeds, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
Here is a list of vegan dinner ideas for weight loss according to nutritionists.
Here is a list of the best vegan lunches for weight loss according to nutritionists.
Here is a list of the best vegan breakfasts to eat for weight loss according to nutritionists
For more on how to eat to lose weight on a nutrient-dense Vegan Diet, check out Eat for Life by Dr. Joel Fuhrman or The Plant-Based Solution by Dr. Joel Kahn, or How Not to Diet by Dr. Michael Greger.
Bottom Line: To Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet, Eat Mostly Whole Foods
How much weight can you lose in a month on a vegan or plant-based diet depends on how many whole foods you eat, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, greens, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Stay away from refined carbs such as sugars and flour, and instead get your calories from plant-based protein and high-fiber foods. Going vegan to lose weight is like any other diet: The healthier you eat the better.