A vegan diet is a way of eating without all animal products. Many people have moved towards a more plant-based nutrition approach in order to reduce their impact on the environment and feel better.
But can cutting meat (and eggs, and Jell-O) help you lose weight? Here’s what we know about using a vegan diet for weight loss.
Okay, it’s time to look at some evidence that a vegan diet can help you lose weight. Here is what science shows.
Yes, vegan diets are linked to weight loss
There is research (we are talking about random, controlled studies) to support the idea that vegan diets promote weight loss.
A 2020 review found that for overweight people, low-fat vegan diets led to greater weight loss compared to a traditional ubiquitous diet.
A 2013 study compared the results of a low-fat, low-glycemic vegan diet with not changes in diet at all. After 18 weeks, the vegan diet group lost significantly more weight than the control group. And this is not surprising. Vegan diets tend to reduce the number of calories you consume on a daily basis.
This is because vegan and plant-based diets tend to be lower in high-calorie foods like butter, cheese and meat. Plus, they are usually packed with fiber-rich foods that can help you feel full longer.
Vegan diets are not necessarily more effective than other diets
When studies control calorie restriction, however, vegan diets do not appear to have any additional weight loss benefits. A 2009 study randomized people with diabetes to either a low-fat vegan diet or a conventional diet for those with diabetes.
At the end of the 74-week study, both diets provided similar weight loss results. The vegan diet was most effective in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Another 2018 study found no significant difference in weight loss between a partially controlled diet and a low-fat vegan diet over a 20-week period.
Many studies show that people who follow a plant-based diet (such as vegetarian and vegan diets) tend to weigh less and have lower body fat than people who follow the ubiquitous diet.
Research suggests that eating a healthy vegan diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
If you want to try a vegan diet, it’s great! Just remember that it is not your only way to lose weight.
Vegan diets are not for everyone
A vegan diet may not be the best choice for you, even if it can help you lose weight. If you are switching from a diet full of ultra processed foods to a vegan diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, you are likely to lose weight.
But this is not directly related to cutting the meat. Remember that you do not have to go completely vegan to reap the benefits of weight loss from plant-based diets.
Simply limiting the animal products you consume and eating more plant foods (especially vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds) can promote healthy weight loss. It can also improve other aspects of your health.
This is because plant-based eating patterns are usually higher in fiber-rich foods, which are satiating, and lower in calorie-rich foods. (This is not always the case, but it is typical.)
“Vegan” does not necessarily mean “healthy”
Following a vegan diet does not automatically lead to weight loss. If you eat a lot of ultra processed vegan foods (like fast food, vegan “meat” substitutes, vegan mac & cheese and vegan sweets) you can actually gain weight.
Plus, eating more calories than your body needs — even if those calories come from healthy, vegan-friendly foods like coconut yogurt, avocado, walnut butter, and whole grains — will make you gain or lose weight. difficult weight loss.
No matter what type of diet you choose, make sure you get the right amount of calories for your individual needs and eat mostly whole, nutrient-rich foods.
Although the vegan diet has been linked to health benefits and some people thrive on this diet pattern, it is not the right choice for everyone.
The vegan diet eliminates all foods that include animal products. It is extremely restrictive. Like any other diet that excludes a number of foods, it can be difficult to stick to in the long run.
If you have a history of disordered eating or have an eating disorder, you may want to avoid any restrictive diet, including a vegan diet.
Be aware of common nutritional deficiencies
A vegan diet may be deficient in nutrients concentrated in animal-based foods (such as protein, B12, zinc, omega-3 fats, iodine, iron and calcium). Developing a deficiency in any of these nutrients can negatively affect your health and lead to serious complications.
Following a vegan diet that is deficient in nutrients during pregnancy can lead to complications such as low birth weight, neurological disabilities and fetal malformations.
Parents who have nutritional deficiencies caused by a vegan diet may have low amounts of B12, vitamin D, DHA and calcium in their breast milk. This can also lead to neurological disability.
Vegan diets need to be carefully planned to prevent nutrient deficiencies. You may also need to take supplements to make sure you are getting the nutrients your body needs.
It’s possible for vegan diets to be healthy and cover your basics nutritionally. However, it will take some work to make sure you are getting enough of certain nutrients, such as:
It is technically possible to get enough nutrients in a vegan diet by eating nutrient-rich foods and vegan fortified products. But if you are following a vegan diet, you should consider taking supplements to make sure you are getting the right nutrition.
Here are some tips to safely promote weight loss using a vegan diet.
- Load plant-based proteins. Adding a source of plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, seeds and tofu to small meals and snacks can help you feel full.
- Stay away from ultra processed vegan food. Just because a product is vegan does not mean it is a nutritional choice. Limit your intake of processed vegan foods like candy, biscuits and fast food.
- Limit meat substitutes. Vegan meat substitutes can be loaded with sodium, refined grains and other not-so-great ingredients. Try making your protein sources friendly to vegans, like black bean burgers.
- Eat your vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are full of important nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Add fresh or boiled fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks to increase your nutrient intake.
- Eat plenty of calories. Although creating a calorie deficit is important for weight loss, it is not a good idea to follow a very low calorie diet. They can be bad for your health and lead to changes in your body that can make it difficult to maintain weight in the future.
Are you looking to get started? Here is an example of a healthy day of eating while following a vegan diet.
Rolled oats made with cashew milk covered with fresh berries, almond butter, sweetened coconut flakes, chia seeds, cocoa twigs and a cinnamon sprinkle.
Vegan protein salad made with tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, hemp seeds and arugula. This delicious meal contains 40 grams of plant-based protein per serving!
Slow cooker Sweet potatoes and lentil curry served with a little brown rice and cooked broccoli.
Apple slices with natural peanut butter and cinnamon. Yum!
Although a vegan diet can be beneficial for weight loss, you do not have to follow any special diet in order to lose weight safely and effectively.
If you do not feel small, that’s okay! Simply adding more plant-based foods to your diet such as vegetables and fruits, reducing ultra-processed foods, limiting added sugar, and exercising more can help you lose excess weight without significantly changing your diet. .