Weight loss on a vegetarian diet can seem elusive, not because it is difficult to achieve, but because of misinformation that is spread all over the internet.
Technically, a plant-based or meat-free diet is lower on calories, fat, and cholesterol BUT none of that matters if a vegan or vegetarian person eats unhealthy foods like processed foods, bad fats, and foods with high sugar content.
That is why it is essential that, despite being a plant-based person, one learns the basic principles of a balanced diet and weight loss. Most people who complain about weight loss on a vegetarian diet being slow merely ignore these principles and gorge on the wrong stuff.
- Basic principles for weight loss on a vegetarian diet
- Achieving a caloric deficit is crucial to weight loss
- Establish your calorie requirements to lose weight in your vegan lifestyle
- Burn more calories by exercising
- Load with fruits and veggies
- Reduce intake of high sugar/fat foods and beverages
- Limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks
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Basic principles for weight loss on a vegetarian diet
How long it takes to lose weight on a vegan diet depends on how much one adheres to the following:-
Achieving a caloric deficit is crucial to weight loss
To lose weight on a vegetarian diet, you must expend more calories than you consume over a prolonged period. Your daily caloric needs are a combination of your basal metabolic rate plus and your physical activity.
Your basal metabolic rate is determined mainly by the amount of muscle mass your body has, with those who have more muscle having a higher metabolic rate. Fortunately, you can gain muscle on a vegan diet to amp up your basal metabolic rate.
Establish your calorie requirements to lose weight in your vegan lifestyle
A simple calorie calculator like My Fitness Pal will be able to determine the number of calories to eat to lose weight on your vegan or plant-based diet.
Once you know how many calories your body needs each day, aim to create a daily deficit of around 500 calories from a combination of reduced dietary intake and increased physical activity.
Simple strategies to reduce your calorie intake include decreasing meal and snack portion sizes, choosing healthier less calorie dense foods such as fruits and vegetables and limiting the consumption of sugary beverages such as fruit juice and soft drinks.
The beauty of trying to lose weight on a vegetarian diet is that plant-based foods are generally lower in calories when compared to most meats. You can eat more vegetable based meals than you would if your meals had chicken in them.
Let us compare two meals, one vegan, and one non-vegan:
A salad consisting of:
2 cups of lettuce (16 calories)
1 tomato (16 calories)
½ cup of cucumber (8 calories)
1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon vinegar (41 calories)
1 cup of cooked black beans (227 calories)
Total calories: 308
The same salad but with:
1 chicken breast (boneless and skinless) – (284 calories)
Total calories: 365
A difference of 57 calories!
The black beans also give you 15 grams of fiber that keep you full longer, a vital element of quality food in weight loss.
Moreover, the fat count is lower in the vegan meal as well, with the chicken breast adding an extra 5 grams of fat over the black beans that only has 1 gram of fat per cup. Of course, this is a presumption that you are on a calorie controlled diet vs. a ketogenic diet.
As you can see the 57 calories per meal is a big difference, and that is just one meal. There are many more examples that can save tons of calories, so you can choose to save calories, but you can also eat more with plant foods, and that makes losing weight on a vegetarian diet easier.
Burn more calories by exercising
Workouts have become a favorite part of my lifestyle. Exercising is a healthy way to increase the number of calories you burn each day and will assist with weight loss when combined with a sensible calorie controlled diet. Best of all for those who do not like running or going to the gym, it does not matter what physical activity you do. I enjoy Leslie Sansone’s walking videos.
Just choose something you enjoy and stick with it for the long run.
Load with fruits and veggies
Let your plate show a clear bias towards fruits and vegetables 🙂. With the space occupied by these superfoods, you’ll have little room for processed and unhealthy foods.
Aim to consume at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. Determining the size of a serving of fruit is easy, with one medium piece considered a serve.
These make-ahead smoothie recipes are a perfect example of increasing your fruit and veggie intake while journeying towards weight loss on a vegetarian diet.
Reduce intake of high sugar/fat foods and beverages
When attempting to lose weight on a vegetarian diet, it is essential to limit the quantity of high fat and sugar discretionary food choices such as chips, cake, muffins, biscuits, and sweets. The principle applies universally to all eaters, including vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters.
These foods provide little nutritional benefit and contribute significant amounts of sugar, fat, and therefore empty calories. To lose weight on a vegetarian diet, try swapping these foods with healthier snack choices such as fruit, yogurt, raw vegetables, nuts, and even cheese on whole-wheat biscuits.
Limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks
Alcohol contributes a whopping seven calories per gram; therefore, it is unsurprising why many drinkers have difficulty achieving significant weight loss. We know that wine is vegan :-), but the calories can add up very quickly.
When drinking, do limit your consumption to one or two alcoholic drinks spaced with water. It will help you restrict your calorie consumption and provide a significant benefit to your health and waistline.
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