Can you lose weight on a vegan diet

losing weight on vegan diet

Contents

Goals & Objectives​

  • Learn what makes people last on vegan diet longer
  • Discover what makes vegan diet good for weight loss
  • Understand when vegan diet could be unhealthy 
  • See what other lifestyle changes promote weight loss
  • Decide whether vegan diet is right for you

TL;DR​

You may or may not lose weight on vegan diet, depending what you eat. Vegan diet can be unhealthy and damaging for health when your choices are not well-informed. If you have no other reason than weight loss for choosing veganism, it may be difficult for you to stick to it and can, in turn, lead to yo-yo effect. 

lose weight on vegan diet

Vegan diets soared in popularity in recent years, causing more and more people to adopt it as a lifestyle. People chose to go vegan for different reasons. Most of the cases it is to protect animals’ rights and planet’s health, which are the primary goals of veganism as a lifestyle. However, more and more people consider veganism as a way to lose weight. 

Before you dive into reading, let me explain you something. Vegan diet is not for everyone, in fact we can say it of any diet. I support strongly good treatment of animals and efforts to stop global warming, where veganism helps in both. But I see it as highly unethical to promote vegan diet as a no-fail diet for all. 

Vegan diet is extremely healthy when you make well-informed choices instead of believing that just by removing animal products from your diet you become super slim and healthy. There are many aspects of veganism which I discuss separately, such as animal rights, personal health benefits or global warming. But here, let’s look at the topic from this specific angle – can you lose weight on a vegan diet?

losing weight on vegan diet

Staying vegan depends on your motivation​

Before you start vegan diet you should understand that it may not be that easy. Take into account that there will be much less products available for you in shops. Much less dishes in restaurants and canteens. You may need to cook much more using only selected products. This could make you feel irritated when you are not ready to face these little inconveniences.

I am telling you this because I don’t want you to fail if you choose vegan diet. And you know when vegan diet works the best? When you chose it because you believe in a cause. When you are ready to say no to many things you got used to eating for the sake of saving more animals or stopping global warming. 

This is powerful because you put a cause which is bigger than yourself behind your motivation. In other cases – going vegan is another restrictive diet which may lead you into yo-yo effect. So, if losing weight is the only reason you consider veganism, read this article to understand better what to expect.

What in vegan diet helps you lose weight ​

benefits of a vegan diet

If you look closely at the cases when vegans outperform meat-eaters in terms of weight loss, you notice something interesting. All the health benefits of a vegan diet which also contribute to weigh loss happen because people add a lot of veggies to their meals. And this has a number of benefits.

Typical western diet has very little vegetables in it, and hence most people following it don’t get nearly as much fiber as they should. Higher amount of fiber which fruits, veggies and whole grains have improve health, digestion and promote bowel movement. 

Fiber is not an essential nutrient, which means that you can’t have fiber deficiency. It doesn’t even get digested in your stomach! But it feeds a bunch of very friendly bacteria in your stomach – your microbiota, that makes it an amazing healthy addition to your ration. Because of this, adding fiber to your diet helps you lose weight.

A small bowl of veggies makes you as filled as a slice of pizza. With the difference that the calories in the first one could be as much as 10 times less than the latter! Having more veggies means eating less calories to stay satiated. And less calories from food promote the use of calories from your body. That’s when fat burning happens and subsequently you lose weight. 

The last benefit of veggies I am going to describe is a full heap of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that you get with them. Your body prefers microelements from whole foods  much more than from a packaged multivitamin. And they also get absorbed better. 

What’s more, you have almost no risk of hypervitaminosis when you eat veggies for vitamins. Hypervitaminosis is like vitamin overdose ,which is toxic to you and sometimes even fatal. Fortunately, this is unlikely to happen with whole foods, which may not be the case when you swallow lab-made vitamins. 

All of these promote your metabolism and many vital functions, which make losing weight much easier.

When vegan diet could lead to weight gain​

Vegan diets, however, could also be dangerous for your health. There are examples of obese vegans and people who got health issues while on vegan diet because of deficiencies of some nutrients (such as B12 or Omega-3). Vegan diet is not synonym of healthy by itself. You can have a healthy omnivore diet as well as unhealthy vegan diet. Let’s have a look why this could be the case.

Sugar-high

When vegan diet is not well-planned, you may end up getting the wrong type of food. The basis of veganism is total avoidance of any animal-related products. But your weight is the most affected by the calories from carbs and simple sugars (plant origin), not protein or even fat for that matter. Fat and protein play many roles in your body, while sugars only serve as energy source with no other uses.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating carb-free diet. You need carbs for energy. But you need them in balance. Eating quinoa for breakfast is super-healthy but eating white rice or Oreos is not so. All of three are carbs and sugars, all three are vegan. But while quinoa has fiber, lots of vitamins from B group and even some protein, white rice and cookies only have empty calories and add to your weight more than to energy levels.

Processed Food

Another pitfall of poorly-planned vegan diet is highly processed food. Many companies exploit veganism as a trend. As long as a product doesn’t have animal-derived components it can is proclaimed vegan. But the amount of processing often strips these foods of all the beneficial vitamins that whole veggies and grains have. You end up eating up, but your body doesn’t really get nourishment. These processed foods often have lots of additives, preservatives and sugars, which makes them unhealthy and fattening.

Just think of vegan burgs. It is indeed tasty, but the patty is highly processed, with artificial flavoring and texturizers. You didn’t think it grows on a tree, did you? It comes from a factory, even though it is still plant-based (no pun intended). Moreover, these burgs have white bun surrounding it, another source of carbs with little or no microelements. Add to this dressing(sous?) rich in sugars and you end up with a typical unhealthy and weight-promoting meal. Albeit it is vegan. 

Bigger picture in weight loss​

Food is an important component of the equation when you want to lose weight. But food alone is not enough to help you achieve your desired shape. Even when you eat well, but your lifestyle otherwise doesn’t support you in becoming besties with your scale, you won’t go far. When you are serious about losing weight, here are the areas you need to consider.

Sleep

When you live in a constant sleep deprivation, your metabolism acts differently. Your body becomes very protective of your body fats and makes everything possible to convert every available calorie into another fat-filled cell. You may be on a massive calorie deficit but end up still gaining weight. This is because your body is the most complex mechanism in the world – all the functions are more interconnected than you could imagine.

How much sleep you need to promote weight loss all depends on your age, health condition, amount of daily mental effort, physical activity and lifestyle. The rule of thumb is if you wake up feeling like a bus just hit you, you either don’t get enough rest or its quality is very low.

Physical Activity

I don’t think I need to explain you why sports promote weight loss. Different physical activity has different effect on your body composition. Cardio is considered the best for weight loss, however too much of it for long time could also be dangerous. Cardio exercise benefits you by increasing your stamina, optimizing oxygen use and increasing heart rate.  Higher heart rate means you burn more calories per minute. 

Equally important are muscle-building activities. Even though they usually increase your heart rate less than cardio, in the long-term you burn more calories even when you rest. This is because muscles are very energy-hungry. The more muscles you have, the more energy you need to feed them. Which means that even when you eat the same amount of calories, your body uses more than before, so any shortage is taken from your body fat. 

Stretching and mindful movement (yin yoga, tai chi, pilates) also help you lose weight by affecting your mental system. When you calm yourself down with these exercises, you reduce cortisol (the stress hormone). And with this we come to the next lifestyle area to pay attention to when you want to lose weight.

Stress

I don’t think I need to explain you why sports promote weight loss. Different physical activity has different effect on your body composition. Cardio is considered the best for weight loss, however too much of it for long time could also be dangerous. Cardio exercise benefits you by increasing your stamina, optimizing oxygen use and increasing heart rate.  Higher heart rate means you burn more calories per minute. 

Equally important are muscle-building activities. Even though they usually increase your heart rate less than cardio, in the long-term you burn more calories even when you rest. This is because muscles are very energy-hungry. The more muscles you have, the more energy you need to feed them. Which means that even when you eat the same amount of calories, your body uses more than before, so any shortage is taken from your body fat. 

Stretching and mindful movement (yin yoga, tai chi, pilates) also help you lose weight by affecting your mental system. When you calm yourself down with these exercises, you reduce cortisol (the stress hormone). And with this we come to the next lifestyle area to pay attention to when you want to lose weight.

Putting it all together​

green. health

When losing weight is your primary consideration, I would advise you to concentrate on improving your lifestyle and eating habits overall. Eat more veggies and less processed foods, cut down on sugars, and make sure you don’t overeat. You can lose weight on any diet which is healthy, you don’t need to go vegan for it.

To highlight once again – I do not discourage veganism. If you choose it – do it for the right reasons and plan it well, so that your health doesn’t suffer. Vegan diet can be extremely rewarding for you mentally and physically, but not every vegan choice is so. 

Good luck with whatever decision you make! 

Related Articles