Many people start a vegan diet for weight loss, expecting to immediately start shedding the pounds. While vegan food choices do tend to lend themselves well to losing weight, it is possible to maintain or even gain weight on almost any diet. There are many vegan foods that are high in calories and simple sugars, so just going vegan is no substitute for taking a measured approach to dieting for weight loss. Read on for a few tips on getting the most out of your vegan diet for weight loss.
The first thing to remember is that carbohydrates are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to obesity. Simple carbs are high in low quality calories, giving the body an easy source of energy to convert into fat or avoid burning existing fat. Not eating animal products does not negate this fact; eating a lot of bread, pasta, or cereal is still antithetical to weight loss.
Contrary to popular belief, even eating excessive fruit can make losing weight difficult. Especially in the case of fruit juice, like orange or pineapple juice, you can get a lot of calories from sugar in a short amount of time. Fruits are rich in sugar and carbohydrates, so snacking on them all the time is almost as bad as eating a lot of processed carbs like bread. A little fruit here and there can be healthy, but it can be overdone.
Instead of carbs, try to eat mainly vegetables, especially leafy greens. Spinach, broccoli, kale, and the like are great sources of fiber and vitamins. Leafy greens are widely considered the healthiest foods, since they are extremely nutrient dense and yet contain almost no carbs. Every meal should have a significant vegetable component to help fill you up with fiber that does not come with a lot of calories.
Getting enough protein is also important. In a vegan diet, protein sources can be hard to find, so you need to be mindful to get enough each day. Foods with a lot of protein also tend to be filling, which will help you to avoid snacking on vegan junk food. Beans and legumes, like lentils, black beans, and the like, are fantastic sources of healthy vegan protein. Quinoa, oats, and tempeh are other plant-based protein sources. There are also many vegan protein powders on the market for emergencies when you can’t get your daily protein requirement with any food you have on hand.
While a vegan diet is generally more healthy than normal, it is still possible to gain weight if you are not mindful of the foods you eat. Many high carb junk foods are vegan, but that does not mean they are healthy. Even fruits and fruit juices can have deceptively high amounts of calories, and need to be eaten in moderation. Like any other diet, getting plenty of leafy green vegetables, unprocessed foods, and quality proteins is key for a healthy vegan diet that promotes weight loss.