Achieve Your Goals With A Vegan Weight Loss Diet: Here’s How
We’re well into the summer and as you head out to the beach or pool, are you able to ditch the towel with pride that you reached your weight loss goals this year?
If you fell off the wagon this year, it’s okay. You’re not alone. Millions of people fall short of their weight loss goals year after year.
While the common consensus is that people suddenly became lazy and threw in the towel, you know only too well that isn’t the case.
With so many people starting out each year with high hopes for success, it isn’t a question of motivation.
Rather, the focus should be on the diet that was recommended to them. Countless magazine and television doctors suggest a variety of diet plans that are notorious for having a high fail rate.
Worst of all, when the newest and trendiest diets hit the market, there’s little to support the claims of weight loss. Consumers see gorgeous fitness models claiming that the “X, Y, Z” Diet worked for them, so they try it.
The irony is those trendy diet plans disappear after a year and they’re replaced by another one. This tells you that the diet was all hype and never had your long-term goals in mind.
What if you could start your weight loss goals again with a scientifically proven weight loss method that’s simple to follow and doesn’t deprive you of any macro-nutrients?
That diet has been around for a long time and it’s never been easier to get started with it. We’re talking, of course, about the vegan diet for weight loss.
Let’s take a look at common weight loss mistakes and how the vegan diet for weight loss can help you reach your goals.
Why Weight Loss Is Important
First, let’s discuss the “Why?” behind weight loss.
Being overweight isn’t just an issue of how you look; it’s all about your health. Studies show that carrying around extra adipose tissue, or stored fat, is a health risk as it has been shown to be correlated to a higher level of cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What’s more, when you are overweight, you are adding extra strain to your connective tissue. This is why overweight people often complain about their knees being sore and their feet being swollen.
This is the equivalent of carrying around a front-facing backpack filled with 10, 20, or 30 pounds all day, every day. Eventually your connective tissue will succumb to the strain, requiring medical intervention such as surgery.
Finally, weight loss directly impacts your emotional state. Those who take part in a daily exercise and dietary program have been shown to be happier.
Eating well and exercising gives you more energy while tapping into those feel good hormones such as serotonin.
Weight Loss Mistakes Everyone Makes
Now that you understand the “Why?”, it’s important to point out those common pitfalls that everyone (and I mean everyone) steps into year after year.
Even those who reach a successful weight loss will tell you that they had to fall down and pick themselves back up several times over. Here are the most common weight loss mistakes for you to be on the lookout for.
Cutting Out A Macronutrient
Trendy and fad diets are the main culprit of this mistake. There are three macronutrients: Proteins, Fats, and Carbohydrates.
You need all three in a well-balanced diet.
While some diets emphasize a lower amount of a certain macronutrient, the Atkin’s Diet, for example, it is important to have all three.
The first mistake people make when trying to lose weight is cutting out a macronutrient, usually fat. Healthy fats are an important part of your diet and studies show they promote a successful weight loss.
While you may consider manipulating the percentages of your macronutrient intake, avoid cutting out a macronutrient altogether.
Not Learning Portion Control
This is extremely important for everyone know to how to do, especially in the United States. A proper-sized portion is the key to promoting weight loss.
When you just “eyeball it”, you’re setting yourself up for failure as more often than not, you’re taking too much. If you’re not a fan of calorie counting, that’s okay!
Portion control is the next best thing. Check out the USDA website and their quick and easy tutorial on portion control.
Not Eating Enough Vegetables And Fruits
Meat and potato diets, or what many countries refer to as the Traditional American diet, is at the foundation of disease such as heart disease and weight gain.
The benefits of a diet high in vegetables and fruits have been confirmed time and time again in numerous studies.
Vegetables and fruits are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All of which play a central role in keeping your body regulated while fighting off age-promoting free radicals.
Cutting Too Many Calories
More is rarely better and this is especially true when you are cutting calories. Your body needs energy.
When you take away too much energy in the form of calories, your body won’t be able to efficiently function. You may feel fatigued, moody, and downright awful.
Severely low caloric diets should never be followed unless under the supervision of a trained medical professional. However, it is important to set your caloric limit for each day.
You can easily do this with a Calorie Calculator, which takes into account your gender, age, activity level, and weight loss goals.
From this, it will produce a caloric target along with macronutrient percentages you should strive to achieve. MyFitnessPal is one of the best.
Replacing Whole Foods With Supplements
Another common mistake that destroys weight loss goals is the over-reliance on supplements. Supplements will never replace whole foods.
The name itself tells you with they are for: to supplement your diet, not to be the foundation of it. Supplements contain synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals, which means your body doesn’t know how to properly absorb and utilize them.
This is why vitamin supplements contain up to 1000% of your RDA (recommended daily allowance). It’s okay to supplement.
A vegan weight loss diet, for example, may require a Vitamin B12 supplement but the bulk of your nutrition needs to come from fresh and healthy whole foods.
Vegan Diet For Weight Loss
If you’ve been trying to lose weight for months or even years, there’s a good chance that your diet is at the center of your struggles. Nutrition makes up 70% of the results you see in the mirror.
Yes, physical activity is definitely important but more so is the need to get yourself on a scientifically proven, effective, and easy-to-do weight loss diet. The vegan diet for weight loss IS that diet.
Seems easy, right?
This is the vegan diet for weight loss at its core. You’ll just need the know-how on which foods to eat and when to eat them, which we’ll discuss below. First, let’s review the science behind the diet.
Scientifically Proven Benefits Of The Vegan Weight Loss Diet
The benefits of the vegan diet aren’t just rumors or hearsay; they are based in scientific research and studies. Here are the top three benefits that have received the most attention from mainstream science and media.
First and foremost is… (big surprise) fat loss! When you commit yourself to a vegan diet for weight loss, you are going to be triggering fat loss in a big way.
A vegan diet promotes a natural decline in calories as you are eating healthy, fulfilling, low-calorie natural foods. A vegan diet is packed with fresh vegetables, fruits, and superfoods that are high in the nutrients you need to promote weight loss.
Fiber, for example, is an excellent nutrient that supports proper digestion while helping you stay satiated. Believe it or not, plant-based foods are high in protein, another easy way to feel full after a meal.
Finally, the carbohydrates you’ll be eating are considered complex carbs, which means they digest at a slower rate, ensuring you don’t feel hungry and you have high energy levels.
Forget the rumors about the vegan diet; we can assure you that you’ll feel stuffed after every meal.
Since the foundation of the vegan weight loss diet is vegetables, fruits, and superfoods such as cacao, your body will be ingesting an unbelievable amount of recovery boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Studies show that the natural forms of these nutrients help to promote recovery, clear away toxins, and boost your overall health.
Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Your doctor will be very happy that you’re following a vegan weight loss meal plan when you go in for your yearly check-up.
If you’ve had to listen to a lecture about your numbers on your cardiovascular risk factors, the vegan diet is going to help you get to where you need to be.
A vegan diet, which focuses on plant-based foods, has been shown to promote dramatic improvements in the following categories:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels
- Body composition
- Cholesterol levels
- Lipid profile
The Vegan Diet Food Pyramid
Remember the dietary food pyramid that you learned about in grade school? It categorizes all of your essential food groups and tells you the recommended servings of each.
Well, there’s also a vegan-based dietary food pyramid and for those just starting out with a vegan diet, it can be very helpful for breaking everything down.
Here are the highlights of the vegan diet food pyramid:
Grains & Starchy-Based Vegetables
(5+ servings per day)
(4+ servings per day)
- Bell peppers
Beans & Lentils
(3+ servings per day)
- Green lentils
- Kidney beans
- Split peas
(2+ servings per day)
Seeds & Nuts
(2 servings per day)
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Want to see a well laid out display of all the food groups you’ll need? We like the breakdown that you can find over at ChooseVeg.
Vegan Diet Do's
We want to see you succeed with your weight loss and that is why it’s so important to understand the Dos and Don’ts of a diet before you begin. Let’s review the essential Dos of the vegan diet for weight loss.
Focus On Greens
Sure, you may love your potatoes and carrots but when you are following a vegan diet for weight loss, you should be focusing on the greens.
Dark, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and spinach pack the most nutritional bang for your buck. They are full of fiber and protein and they help to keep you alkaline (which is a very good thing!).
Role Of Exercise
Just because you’re following a proven weight loss diet doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. Physical activity is a necessity when you want to lose body fat and improve body composition.
The Center for Disease Control recommends a minimum of the following:
Moderate Intensity Exercise
- 150 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes) each week
- Or 30 minutes for 5 days per week
High Intensity Exercise
- 75 minutes (1 hour 30 minutes) per week
- Or 25 minutes for 3 days per week
Keep in mind that this is the bare minimum and doing more will only accelerate your results. Be careful not to overdo it though. No need to spend three hours in the gym every day on a 2,000-calorie diet.
While the eight glasses of eight ounces per day “rule” has never been proven, that doesn’t mean you should be skipping on staying hydrated.
When you first begin a vegan diet plan for weight loss, water is going to be extremely important as your body will most likely start flushing out toxins that have built up over time due to other unhealthy diets.
Drink when you feel thirsty, of course, but also make sure you are properly hydrated for physical activity as well.
Don’t Forget About Protein
The biggest rumor that people cite about the vegan diet for weight loss is that it’s low in protein. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
A properly managed vegan diet that contains a variety of plant-based foods will provide more than enough dietary protein.
Protein is important for staying satiated but also for building and maintaining lean muscle tissue.
If you’re hitting the weights, consider a vegan-friendly protein powder supplement. Some great high protein vegan foods include quinoa, buckwheat, and lentils.
Want to ensure your success on a vegan weight loss meal plan (or any diet for that matter)? You need to start doing food preparation. Food prep isn’t just for bodybuilders.
Planning and cooking all or most of your meals for the week and storing them in a Tupperware container will save you time and hassle. It will also dramatically increase your adherence to the diet, supporting your weight loss success.
We recommend doing your meal prep for the week on Sunday evening. That way, you don’t have to worry about what you’re eating while you’re dealing with your chaotic work schedule.
Vegan Diet Don’ts
You know what to do but it’s just as important to understand what not to do and what to avoid. Here are the vegan diet don’ts to watch out for when following your new diet.
Eat Too Much Processed Soy
It’s so easy to fall into this mistake. With the availability of vegan-friendly products that are being created and manufactured, it’s tempting to have all your caloric needs met by these grab and go products.
Don’t fall for the hype. These vegan friendly products such as soy chicken patties and other processed soy-based meals are anything but vegan friendly. While fermented soy is great, processed soy is not.
Processed soy may promote weight gain while interfering with natural hormone levels. When you eat soy, make sure you eat a natural and preferably fermented version.
Rely On Frozen Food Products
Continuing with the idea above, it can be tempting for new vegans to get all of their meals out of the freezer.
The problem is that you are missing the entire point of the vegan diet: that is, to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet of fresh, not frozen fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, etc.
And remember those processed meals we talked about? They are available in the frozen food isle as well.
While it’s okay to supplement once in a while with vegan friendly frozen foods, the focus should be on fresh and well-prepared meals.
Eat The Same Thing Everyday
For your own sanity, avoid eating the same meals day in and day out. The main reason to avoid the same meal planner week after week is so you can adhere to the diet better.
If you get bored with your meal choices, you’re more likely to stray from following the diet. What’s more, your body likes when you change things up on a nutritional level.
Provide your body with nutrients from different sources. For example, take advantage of seasonal vegetable and fruit offerings and eat with the season.
Foods To Avoid
The foods you want to avoid on a vegan diet are very much the same as a standard diet. Here are the highlighted food choices to avoid (or indulge in VERY sparingly):
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- Animal product condiments such as butter and margarine
- Salad dressings (they may contain animal products such as gelatin)
- Simple carbohydrates foods
- Processed sugars
- Alcoholic beverages
Why You Aren’t Losing Weight On A Vegan Diet
Let’s say you started your vegan diet for weight loss and you aren’t seeing any results. Is this common? It certainly can be if you aren’t paying attention to important yet simple factors in the diet.
Let’s review the most common reasons why people start a vegan diet for weight loss and don’t notice results. Make these changes (or avoid them altogether if you haven’t started the diet yet) and you’ll get your results back on the fast track.
Portions Are Too Big
Remember what we talked about earlier involving portion sizes? Not controlling your portion sizes is one of the main reasons that people don’t see results on a vegan diet.
Eating proper portions several times throughout the day will help you stay satiated and promote a rapid weight loss. You can ensure proper portions at every meal by taking the time to meal prep.
Bad Timing Of Meals / Poor Meal Planning
Speaking of meal planning, it’s another major reason why people don’t notice results on the vegan diet. If you don’t plan your meals ahead of time, you’re more likely to fall into the trap of temptation.
Instead of eating something that is properly portioned, fresh, and healthy, you reach for a processed, frozen food dinner.
These high calorie meals are going to push you far past your recommended allowance for calories. Plan ahead, eat fresh, and see results.
Not Taking Enough Protein
Yes, vegetables and fruits are an important part of the vegan diet for weight loss BUT you also need protein-heavy plant foods such as starchy vegetables, lentils, and beans.
When people start a vegan diet, sometimes they focus on eating only vegetables and fruits. It’s not a bad start but it’s going to lack protein.
The result is that you feel hungrier throughout the day, you eat more of the wrong things, and your calories are well above your activity level.
Eat protein-rich foods such as quinoa, lentils, bean, nuts, and seeds. Also, try a vegan friendly protein powder.
Eating Too Many Carbohydrates
When you don’t get enough protein, you’ll want to get calories elsewhere. Usually, that means you’ll increase your carbohydrate intake.
Or maybe you simply love carbohydrates and it’s a dietary habit that’s followed you around regardless of which diet you are using. It’s time to keep the carbs in check.
Yes, carbohydrates are essential but they shouldn’t be the only thing you eat. Incorporate more protein-rich plant foods as suggested above. Also, be sure to eat plenty of healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, and seeds.
Speaking of fat, let’s get something straight: healthy fats are great and you need them.
Processed fats, like you’ll find in many of those processed meals, are not good and they can quickly ruin your vegan diet for weight loss.
Focus on eating natural forms of fat from raw nuts and seeds along with healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
Steer clear of trans fats, which you’ll find exclusively in processed meals and snacks.
Eating Plant-Based Junk Food
When you step into your local organic store to start your first shopping trip, you’ll be surrounded by a variety of vegan snacks and shelf-stable meals.
Again, this is going to be tempting. For example, when you see vegan cookies and chips, you’re going to get excited.
Think about it though: If cookies and chips aren’t good for you on a normal diet, why would there be an exception on a vegan diet?
Everything in moderation. Indulge once in a while but do NOT load up on these plant-based junk foods.
Hidden Calories In Drinks
Vegan-friendly drinks are all the rage, regardless if you’re following a vegan meal plan for weight loss or not. The problem is that these so-called health drinks are packed with hidden calories, primarily from sugars.
These sugar-loaded drinks completely negate the health benefits of the vegetables and fruits inside. Not to mention, they skyrocket your calorie count for the day.
Want a vegan smoothie? Make your own at home so you can control the calories.
Not Paying Attention To Food Labels
Finally, when you purchase a processed product or something that has a label attached to it, you need to start getting into the habit of reading that label.
Processed foods and drinks, in particular, are going to contain a lot of things that spoil your weight loss. The example above with sugar in vegan drinks is a perfect example.
- First, check the grams of carbohydrates? Does it contain simple sugars?
- Next, check the fats. Do you see trans fats listed?
- Lastly, check the added ingredients as there may be something hiding in there that you’re allergic to, isn’t vegan, or is artificial.
Sample Vegan Weight Loss Meal Planner
You want to start your vegan diet for weight loss right away. You know why you want to start, what to do, what not to do, and the common mistakes to avoid.
So, now it’s time to get you set up with a sample meal planner for a typical vegan weight loss diet.
Here are some examples of healthy vegan recipes for weight loss that you can prepare and enjoy throughout the day.
- Baked Rhubarb Oatmeal
- Vegan Quinoa Breakfast
- Fruit Salad
- Protein Kale Salad
- Super Vegan Salad
- Vegan Stir-fry
- Loaded Sweet Potato
- Zucchini Pasta & Tomato Sauce
- Vegan Tacos
- Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup
- Vegan Shepard’s Pie
- Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo
- Sugar Free Vegan Ice Cream
- Pesto Crackers
- Raw Protein Cookies
- Vegan Trail Mix
Vitamins And Supplements
On the vegan diet, as with most other diets, vitamins and supplements are something that you will need to incorporate based on your ability to consume a variety of vegan food groups.
There are certain nutrients that meat-eaters can easily get that vegans have difficulty finding in their diet. While not impossible, it’s much easier to play it safe and supplement to avoid nutrient deficiency.
Deficiencies in certain nutrients can result in a number of symptoms including fatigue, mood swings, and fainting spells. Put simply: Don’t take chances. Pick up a wholefood-based multivitamin.
If you want to know the specific nutrients that are most difficult for vegans to get in their diet, here are the most common vitamins and supplements to use on a vegan diet for weight loss:
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you’re sick and tired of struggling with your weight loss and constantly rebounding back to your current weight, why not try a diet that has been shown time and time again to be extremely effective at helping people achieve their goals?
The vegan diet for weight loss has been the subject of a number of studies, all of which have come back with positive results.
Studies show that a vegan diet, packed with a variety of plant-based foods, can be a powerful tool to losing body fat, promoting cardiovascular health, and even fighting against disease.
There’s no better time to begin a vegan diet for weight loss. Why?
There is a vast amount of great, free, and effective information that’s available to you. You can find incredible and delicious recipes along with forums where you can connect with other vegan beginners like yourself. You can easily find the information and support you need with just one click.
Are you ready to start your vegan diet for weight loss? Have any questions? Looking for more advice from others like you?
Post your thoughts and feedback in the comments below!
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