You may be wondering, “Is it possible to lose weight on a vegan diet?” Good news! You can achieve your weight loss goals by following a vegan diet. A vegan diet excludes all animal-containing foods, including meat and poultry, seafoods, eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet includes plant-based foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, and legumes.
The Science Behind a Vegan Diet
Let’s explore the science behind going vegan to lose weight. When transitioning to a vegan diet, a great place to start is by cutting back your meat consumption. Studies suggests that decreasing meat consumption alone can help achieve your weight loss goals.
While reducing meat is a great starting point, additional studies suggest that vegan diets may have the most significant effect on weight loss compared to other diets. This study found that weight loss results improved when patients followed vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and omnivorous diets.
In other words, vegan eaters may experience better weight loss results than other diets. Similarly, vegans have lower BMIs compared to meat eaters, fish eaters, and vegetarians; high protein and low fiber are linked with increasing BMI. A low-fat vegan diet can effectively reduce body weight and waist circumference in overweight individuals and in overweight postmenopausal women who feel “stuck” in achieving their weight loss goals. Not only is this diet effective short-term, but studies have also followed up with subjects long-term to find that a vegan lifestyle is a long-term sustainable approach to lose and maintain weight.
Why Do Vegan Diets Work?
Ideally, a vegan diet for weight loss will limit or avoid added fats such as oils and highly processed foods. They include a large amount of plant foods rich in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. A vegan diet is naturally low in cholesterol and saturated fat when focusing on whole foods (instead of added oils, fried foods, and processed foods). A vegan diet provides about 50 grams of fiber on average compared to the typical American diet, which provides about 15-20 grams of fiber. Be careful, because not all foods labeled “vegan” are healthy. For example, vegan chips, vegan cheese, vegan ice cream, etc. These foods may fit into a vegan diet but should be consumed in moderation. A vegan diet rich in whole foods, fiber, and nutrient density can help achieve your weight loss goal.
Can I Lose Weight with More Carbohydrates?
When following a vegan diet, you are going to rely more on carbohydrates to fuel your body; however, these carbohydrates derived from fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are all high quality. These carbohydrates avoid added sugar and are not processed or refined. They provide fiber, protein, and nutrient density. Quality over quantity! Talk with your dietitian to determine your specific targets for your weight loss goal.
Weight loss tips for a vegan diet
- Aim for 40 grams of fiber per day.
- Eat your greens for micronutrient density.
- Plan ahead to ensure you are eating a variety and are prepared when you are on the go.
- Make sure to stay hydrated!
- Get enough sleep!
- Avoid processed vegan alternatives.
- Reduce/eliminate oils and replace with whole sources of fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Read more of our insights on following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle to achieve your health goals, including weight loss.