For some people, vegan and vegetarian diets work well for weight loss. Provided the diet is clean and unprocessed. One big difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet is that vegans do not drink milk or consume dairy products or eggs.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are both great for weight loss because they contain lots of fiber and other nutrients your body needs to speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight.
The healthy vegan and vegetarian approach
The popular opinion that vegetarian (and especially vegan diets) lack the essential macro and micronutrients, like protein, or other vitamins, simply isn’t true. Just like any diet, a well planned plant-based diet can be even healthier than an omnivore diet.
Apart from the obvious reasons that people turn to a plant-based diet, like reducing animal cruelty and preserving the environment, many people switch because of their health.
You can get all the nutrients you need from a healthy plant-based diet, with the exception of vitamin B12. But an omnivore diet also lacks vitamin B12. B12 comes from the soil. For example, the plants that animals eat are covered in dirt, so they consume the vitamin, and we consume it through meat. But the cycle does not work that way anymore because most meats consumed come from factory-farmed animals. They do not eat their own food in the open; they eat mostly processed food, which lacks vitamin B12.
What about protein?
If you are an athlete, you need protein. There is a myth that vegans and vegetarians are protein deficient, which isn’t true. Meat is not the only source of protein. Every plant has protein in different percentages, so if you include variety in your meals, there is no need to worry about protein.
The list of protein-rich plant-based foods is long, so making a protein-rich meal should be easy. Or, if you are a fan of protein powders, finding a vegan version makes it simple.
Do not be afraid of fats.
There is a saying that ‘the fat you eat is the fat you wear,’ but this is also just a myth. Of course, if you are eating processed, fast food, this is definitely a concern. But with a whole food plant-based diet, fats are not only healthy, but also beneficial for weight loss.
Fat and protein keep you fuller than carbs, but fats are also an essential macronutrient. So, include them in your diet to maintain good overall health.
It seems like there is a difference between the sources of fat because plant-based fats have shown to be better for our health than animal fats.
Keep in mind that all the fat-free products you see in the stores are actually even worse for you than your full fat counterparts. All the fat from these foods is exchanged for unhealthy sugars which leads to weight gain and other health problems.
Are carbs bad for you?
Our bodies use the carbs from our diets to fuel our bodies while exercising. Healthy carbs like fresh fruits, veggies, and starches are filled with nutrients to keep us energized and light during our workout session.
There is also another thing that our body needs to speed up metabolism and keep you healthy – fiber. The fiber from our diets plays a role in weight loss and in the reduction of cholesterol levels, which leads to better cardiovascular health.
But there are carbs that you should avoid – such as white bread, pasta, white rice, and white potatoes. These are all refined carbohydrates that become stored in our bodies as fat. Of course, there are healthier alternatives like beans, lentil pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.
You don’t have to cut out your breakfast smoothie or oatmeal bowl. Instead, mix in some protein and fat in your breakfast to keep macros more balanced. Additionally, you’ll stay energized and satiated for the entire morning.
Skip the plant-based desserts.
Just because it says ‘vegan’ on the packaging does not make it healthy. Actually, most of the vegan sweets in the supermarket contain table sugar. Avoid all sugars when trying to lose weight. The average American eats around 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. The recommended amount is six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men per day.
Table sugar slows down your metabolism and causes health damage far beyond weight gain. These medical issues include: diabetes, PCOS, high blood pressure and inflammation. If you want a healthier alternative – try sugar-free raw desserts, a piece of fruit, or a treat sweetened with one of these sugar alternatives.
How many calories?
Even on a plant-based diet, the amount of calories you consume and the amount of calories you burn influence your weight loss. But try not to be completely obsessed with the numbers. Set your priority to health, not pounds.
You should eat as much as it takes you to feel satisfied, not full. Mindful eating can help you be present at the moment and listen to your body during mealtime.
Plan your meals and mealtimes, fill your plate with lots of vegetables and healthy fat, and don’t overdo fruit and carbs. Keep those in moderation.
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