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Can you lose weight on a vegan diet?
Many people assume that it is super easy to lose weight on a vegan diet. They think that going vegan will make them lose weight no matter what they eat, as long as there are no animal products. This is a fairly wide-spread misconception. In fact, when my mom mentions to someone that I have been vegan for so long, they often respond by saying, “Oh she must be so thin!”
This idea that "veganism = weight loss" is untrue, and many people figure that out when they go vegan. In fact, it’s quite easy to gain weight on a vegan diet if you are not doing it in a healthy way. There are plenty of processed foods available to vegans, such as chips, cookies, cakes, "cheese" etc. There is a vegan version for everything!
This is great for the animals and the planet (and cheat days!), but if you are health-conscious and want to lose weight on a vegan diet, you need to be eating the RIGHT foods most of the time.
Check out these tips if you are struggling to lose weight on a vegan diet!
*This post contains affiliate links, however I only recommend products that I truly believe in and think will be helpful to those interested in a healthy vegan diet.
1. Don’t eat processed vegan alternatives
Vegan butter, vegan cheese, Beyond Burgers… So delicious, yet so unhealthy! Treat yourself from time to time but eating this type of food regularly will make weight loss a LOT more difficult for you.
There are some healthy vegan cheese recipes online that would be a great alternative to the processed store-bought stuff. There are plenty of delicious healthy vegan burger recipes out there too!
Make sure that you always have healthy food on hand so that you don’t go for something quick and processed when you’re hungry!
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2. Eliminate oils
Why you should eliminate oils
There has been a lot of debate surrounding the health implications of oils. Some research supports certain oils as a healthy addition to your diet, while other research shows negative health impacts due to any and all oil consumption. This can be super confusing, so if you are on the fence about whether or not to consume oil, I urge you to do as much research as you can and decide for yourself.
After looking into it, I decided to eliminate oils because I do believe that they offer no health benefits and can have a negative impact on my body. Oil is just fat extracted from whole foods and is very calorically dense. A tablespoon of oil contains around 120 calories that your body really doesn’t need!
It is much better to eat an olive as opposed to just the fat that has been sucked out of it. The entire olive will give you more nutritional benefit. The same goes for coconut oil. Coconut oil has gotten a lot of hype as a health food recently, but an article from Harvard states that trials have found that coconut oil raises harmful LDL cholesterol levels. It’s really just as bad as any other oil.
How to eliminate oils
I have found that in many recipes, the oil is unnecessary as it is only to aid with cooking. You can use vegetable broth or water instead for sautéing on the stove. You can even try soy sauce or tamari if the flavour goes with what you’re cooking.
In baking recipes, sometimes removing oil will drastically change the texture and could ruin the recipe. You can try replacing it with applesauce or mashed bananas, or even adding some liquid sweetener. Your best bet would be to look for oil-free vegan baking recipes. They do exist and are delicious! Check out these peanut butter cookies.
3. Don’t forget about portion sizes
I’ve heard so many people say that on a whole-foods plant-based diet, it isn’t necessary to watch portion sizes. Some people say that as long as you have cut out all processed foods, you can eat an unlimited quantity of the good stuff to easily lose weight on a vegan diet.
I would have to disagree.
If you eat a pot full of potatoes every day, or overindulge in peanut butter on the regular, you probably won’t lose weight. Potatoes are healthy, rice is healthy, all-natural peanut butter is healthy, avocados are healthy. You get the idea. But if you overeat these items on a regular basis, you will likely struggle to lose weight.
Have one tablespoon of peanut butter in your oatmeal if you want, but don’t sit there and eat a few spoonfuls right out of the jar. I would also recommend only eating half an avocado at a time if you are seriously trying to lose weight. Avocados are great, but depending on their size, they have upwards of 300 calories!
Go crazy with your green vegetable intake and eat plenty of fruit, but there are certain healthy whole foods that you should not be eating in unlimited quantities. So, if you are eating all the right stuff, but still not losing weight, take a look at your portion sizes! You can also experiment with reducing healthy fats, but don’t eliminate them completely! Everyone’s body is different, so there is no exact quantity of any foods that you need to eat. You may have to do some trial and error with your portions if you are already doing everything else on this list and still struggling with weight loss.
4. Prep your meals for the week
A lot of people know what to eat to lose weight on a vegan diet, but they have a difficult time actually doing it and sticking to it. I know that sometimes I feel super lazy and I’m not in the mood to cook a healthy meal. That's where meal prep comes in. If you struggle with staying on track, meal planning and prepping may help you.
How to Plan Your Meals
I would suggest finding healthy vegan meals online or in a recipe book and select a few that you want to eat throughout the week. Make sure you check the portion sizes and adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly so that you have enough food to get you through the week.
It might be beneficial for you to choose meals that have some of the same ingredients so that you don’t have to buy as many groceries or waste the ones you do buy. For example, if you choose a recipe that requires half an onion, choose another recipe that requires half an onion so that you use the entire onion.
Once you have all your ingredients for the week, make all of your recipes on the same day, and store them in containers in the fridge. Then your will have your healthy vegan breakfast, lunch, and dinner, ready to go everyday!
This will make you much less inclined to reach for something unhealthy at meal times.
If you are struggling to follow a healthy plant-based meal plan, you should check out the Vegan Starter Kit created by Lars and Alena from nutriciously.com. They have created this amazingly comprehensive e-book. It includes a 14-day meal plan with a shopping list as well as plenty of information on the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
If you don’t know where to start and are feeling overwhelmed, this guide will walk you through everything you need to get started!
5. Stick to drinking water
We all know that water is good for us, so make sure that you’re drinking enough of it (approximately 8 cups per day).
In certain quantities, pure fruit juice can be healthful as well, but if you’re trying to lose weight, you shouldn’t be wasting your calories on what you drink! Even when juice is made with 100% pure fruit, you may be adding a lot of unnecessary calories to your diet.
This goes for all beverages other than water. For example, I love kombucha and it has health benefits, but if you’re drinking it every day you’re going to have to reduce those calories from the amount of food you eat. It’s easier to just drink water.
And for those who count smoothies as a drink, you shouldn’t. Smoothies are great, but it should be consumed as a meal or snack, depending on its content and size. Don’t count it as just a drink.
6. Check food labels
Remember, just because it says “vegan” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Check the ingredient list and pay attention to the number of calories per serving. Sometimes the serving size is really small to make the calories look less, so don’t be fooled!
Also make sure that the ingredients don’t include any oils or added sugar. Sugar is often hiding on ingredient lists under a different name that you may not realize is sugar, so you can learn more about alternative names for sugar here.
You’ve probably heard this before, but I’ll tell you again: If you can’t pronounce it and/or have never heard of it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Especially not if you want to lose weight!
These crackers are a great snack that is compliant with a whole-foods plant-based diet! Get them here.
7. Eliminate refined sugar
This one sort of goes with checking labels, but make sure not to add refined sugar to anything you make at home either.
Some vegan alternatives to sweeten up your recipes include:
- 100% pure maple syrup
- Dates (you can make your own date paste as well)
- Blackstrap molasses
- Mashed fruit (such as bananas and applesauce)
8. Make sure you’re getting enough protein
I get frustrated when I hear people say that you can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet, because you totally can. The problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to get protein when they start a vegan diet because they used to get it mostly from meat.
Being vegan doesn’t mean just eating fruits and vegetables, because that will leave you hungry and craving junk food. This is why it’s important to get enough protein. Protein will also help with your metabolism and maintenance of muscle.
Legumes are a great source of protein. You should try to include them in your diet every single day. Here is a list of some great, healthy protein sources for vegans:
- Pinto beans
- Kidney beans
- Organic tofu
- Black beans
- Green peas
Of course, there are many more protein-rich vegan foods than what is on this list, but these are some common staples to include in your diet regularly.
I hope the implementation of these tips will help you throughout your healthy weight loss journey!
If you want to get some more tips on how to maintain a healthy vegan diet, enter your email below and I’ll send them to your inbox for FREE!
If you think you need more help getting on track with a healthy vegan diet, check out this comprehensive Vegan Starter Kit, complete with a 14-day meal plan.
If you just want to focus on weight loss, you can also check out Live Lightly, a vegan weight loss guide with 40 delicious weight loss recipes!