Vegan Diet for Weight Loss : Foods, Tips & Tricks
Over the centuries, the world has seen huge changes in lifestyles. The scenario with the food industry has not been different. Humans have come a long way from being nomadic animal hunters to specialized farmers to revolutionizing the dairy and meat industry to finally being able to create food in laboratories. Every period has seen a dominant form of food being preferred across continents. In this post let us see a Vegan Diet for Weight Loss.
The Emergence of Veganism and its Popularity
Recent years have seen a gradual and profound rise in the concept of Veganism, a diet that contains only plants and plant-based food items. Vegans do not eat anything that originates from animals including dairy products. Some of the biggest names in the United States like Joaquin Phoenix, James Cameron, Madonna, Beyoncé, and Benedict Cumberbatch have revealed their vegan lifestyle.
The impact of a vegan lifestyle on athletes has been beautifully captured in the latest Netflix show Game Changers. The show is aimed to understand the optimal diet for athletes and other sportspersons, that will enhance their performance levels. The show Eminent sports personalities like Fabian Delph, Neil Robertson, Lewis Hamilton, Serena Williams, Hannah Teter and Nate Diaz have proved to be vegans who have captured the sporting world.
Moving towards a bit of history in this context; scientific studies have shown that some of the well-known athletes in Rome were vegans. A hypothesis said that gladiators were vegetarians in nature! Some evidence shows that ancient warriors mostly followed a vegan diet and yet their bone strength and bone density were at its best. A vegan diet for weight loss is worth trying.
The Concept of a Vegan Diet
Taking roots from the idea of eliminating animal cruelty, Vegan diet or veganism has been gaining a lot of attention these days. The idea of Veganism began in the early 1940s. The increasing concern for the environment, ethical and health issues have supported those who advocate a vegan diet. A vegan diet avoids all animal products including meat and dairy. There are different types of a vegan diet based on the dominant food items included in the diet.
- Whole- Food Vegan Diet – Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds
- Raw- Food Vegan Diet – All items are cooked below 48 degree Celsius
- 80/10/10 Vegan Diet – A diet that limits the consumption of fat-rich plants
- Starch Solution Vegan Diet – Focus on cooked starches
- Thrive Vegan Diet – Contain raw or minimally cooked plant items
- Junk-Food Vegan Diet – Contains artificial meat, cheese, fries, desserts, etc.
Why is the Vegan Diet Considered Unhealthy?
Many consider the vegan diet to be healthy, which aids in controlling a range of disease conditions like diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems, cancer, etc(3). However, there are many limitations to a vegan diet that can be taken care of. Some of them are
- Deficiency of essential constituents like Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, omega 3, iodine, iron, calcium, zinc, etc(1).
- Affect the functioning of gut bacteria
- Lack of proteins in the diet(2)
- Enhanced soy intake can cause hormonal imbalance
- Chances of enhanced carbohydrate intake leading to obesity
- Risk of conditions like anemia, depression, etc.
- Reduced amount of calcium leading to weaker bones and teeth
- Vegans tend to take larger portions (meals), which can often lead to obesity
Balanced Vegan Diet Sources for Essential Nutrients
Having said that a vegan diet might not fulfill the requirements of balanced nutrition, it is important to look at alternate diet plans under the vegan regime to remain healthy.
Luckily, there are many healthy options that one can follow while being vegan to remain healthy. Let us tackle the above problems one-by-one:
1. Vegan Proteins
Proteins are one of the much-required additions to any vegan diet plan. Efforts are to be made to understand and include all those plant-based protein sources that will satisfy the daily protein requirements of your body. Tempeh, soybeans, and seitan contain the largest protein content among plants.
Supplementing the diet with lentils, different kinds of beans, tofu, quinoa, and peanut butter can help in restoring the protein content of the body.
2. Vitamin B12
A lack of vitamin B12 can mean nerve damage in the long run. Hence, it becomes mandatory to top your diet with Vitamin B12 rich food items like yeast extract, marmite, cereals and soy drinks fortified with B12, etc. Pickles are also a way of adding Vitamin B12 in the diet since the enzymes can help in the production of B12 in the body.
Read More: Vitamin B12 Rich Foods (Veg & NonVeg)
3. Vitamin D
Another important element that is often lacking in a vegan diet is vitamin D; the deficiency of which can lead to an array of disorders affecting the teeth, bones, and muscles. Exposure to sunlight is the easiest and best way to keep oneself loaded with adequate amounts of vitamin D. There are other options like fortified fat spreads and breakfast cereals that are rich in Vitamin D. Also, soya drinks rich in this vitamin are available in the market.
Read More: Vitamin D Rich Foods, Sources & Benefits
Similar to vitamin D, calcium is an essential element that is required to keep the bones and teeth healthy. Since most people derive their calcium requirements from dairy products, vegans are at a disadvantage here. However, there are other vegan options available that will fulfill the calcium requirements in the body. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and okra are rich sources of calcium.
There are certain fortified food items like tofu, soy, rice, and oats that are loaded with calcium. The easiest way to fulfill the calcium requirement is by taking ample quantities of pulses, sesame, tahini, raisins, prunes, figs, and apricots.
Many vegans suffer from anemia. To fight the same, the person needs to consume pulses, green leafy vegetables like broccoli, watercress, and spring greens, etc. Nuts, apricots, figs, and prunes are also rich sources of iron.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of many cardiac disorders. Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids for vegans are- flaxseeds, rapeseed, soya oil, tofu, clarified butter(ghee) and walnuts.
7. Alternate Sources for Non-Dairy Milk
some of the most important constituents of a balanced diet can be made available from dairy products. so, it becomes imperative that vegans substitute dairy milk with those that provide equivalent nutritive value. Some of the most popular non-milk substitutes are soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and rice milk.
These are rich in amino acids, vitamin E, medium-chain triglycerides, proteins, and carbohydrates respectively. Others like cashew milk, macadamia milk, hemp milk, and quinoa milk are also getting popular among vegans these days.
Here is an informative video on Vegan meal preparation by The Happy Pear
Tips for Weight loss with a Vegan Diet
The prospect of weight loss has seen people trying to discover newer techniques every other day. The plant-based vegan diet has shown promising results in this field. However, people simply adopt a vegan lifestyle without understanding the basic rules of the same. Following are some of the daily habits that are to be accompanied by a vegan diet for a healthy weight loss schedule:
1. Meal Timings
One of the most important habits to be developed is to set follow timings for your meals. This can help in boosting your metabolism which in turn helps in weight loss. It is important to have your meals at the same time every day. Take care to eat after 45 minutes post-exercise. And try to have dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime for better metabolism.
2. Portion Eating
It is important to portion the food items such that they fulfill all the requirements of a balanced meal. You can consult a nutritionist for the same.
3. Avoid Binging on Desserts
It is applicable to everyone! Desserts are not going to help you lose weight when taken in excess quantities. They are loaded with carbohydrates and other sugars that will lead to obesity.
Read More: Effective Tips to Lose Belly Fat Fast
4. Exercise Regularly
It is one of the most basic steps to a healthy lifestyle. A daily dose of aerobic activities can do wonders for your body. Either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobics every week will help you to burn those unwanted calories. You can also go for a high-intensity workout under a trainer for similar results.
5. Sit Less and Move More
One of the biggest disadvantages of today’s lifestyle is the decrease in physical activities. Sitting is the new smoking, so sit less move more(4). You must go for any sort of activity that keeps you moving for at least 30 minutes a day. It could be brisk walking, cycling or enjoying your favorite sport. Especially after meals, try to go for short walks. Use stairs whenever possible and walk short distances rather than driving or riding.
6. Be Active throughout the Day
It is necessary to keep yourself engaged throughout the day. Follow the above point of moving more to get yourself active.
7. Sleep like a Baby
Sleep is the most important requirement of the day. Sound sleep can recharge all your body parts including the digestive system and aids weight loss(5). 6 to 8 hours of sleep is considered to be imminent for a healthy body.
How a Vegan Diet is actually helpful in Weight Loss?
As seen from the above paragraphs, though there are many setbacks for a vegan diet, it is a good option for those who wish to lose weight. A vegan diet provides you with nutrient-rich food items that help to stay healthy.
Also, most of the plant-based items contain low levels of calories, an important culprit in weight gain. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a lot of nutritive value which supports a healthy body.
Unlike other categories, vegans do not eat or limit the consumption of fats, starches, food additives, etc. which can further help in achieving a healthy weight.
By controlling the food habits and by incorporating healthy habits, one can achieve weight loss without harming the body. It depends entirely on the person if he/she should adopt a vegan diet for the same. It is always wise to consider all aspects of the vegan lifestyle before deciding on the diet plan.