If you’re looking to whittle your waistline, going vegan is a great way to do it. As Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD notes, “Research strongly supports the benefits of plant-based nutrition approaches for weight loss, disease prevention and overall health.”
Unlike animal products, plant foods are typically fiber-dense and also have a high water content, which means they help you feel full with fewer calories. Additionally, as they’re full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, they quickly satisfy the appestat, a small organ in our brains that encourages us to eat until we are well nourished.
Unlike most fad diets which are temporary at best, a lifestyle approach starring fresh, nutritious plant foods provides a clear and lasting advantage when it comes to attaining—and maintaining—healthy weight loss. These tips can help you get on board:
Emphasize fresh, whole, unprocessed foods
You can treat any good market like a health food store if you shop on purpose, targeting natural whole foods—especially fresh, seasonal produce. Healthy prepared items like probiotic-rich kimchi sauerkraut, tofu, miso and almond, soy or cashew milk are terrific staples too.
When it comes to dry beans, nuts, seeds and grains, check out the bulk section to save on money and packaging. Getting comfortable preparing nutritious whole foods is well worth your time because they fill you up without filling you out. In fact, basing your menu on plants is the epitome of making your calories count rather than counting them!
One reason protein has long been the darling of weight loss diets is that it’s highly satiating, meaning that you feel full and satisfied without overeating and it helps stabilize blood sugar levels to keep you going long and strong. Happily, many plant foods offer this important macronutrient.
Creating protein-rich meals and snacks is easy with healthy components such as beans and legumes, soy products like tofu, edamame and tempeh, high-quality vegan protein powder and a wide array of nuts and seeds, especially chia and hemp seeds, which offer all nine essential amino acids as well as important essential fatty acids.
Zero in on what you love
Finding the eating style that truly works for you can free you from “diets” for good. Simply choose plant-smart versions of whatever you love. If you thrive on carbs, for example, dig into baked potatoes, yams, quinoa, oatmeal, etc. If you’d rather minimize starches and emphasize fruit, veggies, protein and healthy fats, that’s great too.
Feel free to include healthy indulgences in moderation too, such as antioxidant-rich red wine and dark chocolate, always choosing quality over quantity. Incorporating healthy treats as needed helps make this approach a sustainable lifestyle rather than a temporary diet.
Eating to support balanced blood sugar levels, a positive mood, clear thinking and natural energy is ideal for healthy weight loss. For best results, consume smaller amounts of food more often and avoid skipping meals, which can bog down your metabolism. Plan ahead so you have access to healthy nibbles every few hours.
A typical day might include a frosty blueberry-hempseed shake for breakfast, apple slices with almond butter mid-morning and a rainbow salad with lemon-cashew dressing and some kale chips for lunch. Follow it up with a tasty protein bar late afternoon and grilled tempeh, a baked yam and Caesar salad for dinner, and maybe a light snack before bed, like a banana, oatmeal or warm almond milk with cinnamon.
Americans tend to dine with a grab-and-go mentality that baffles other cultures like the French, who take the time to savor freshly prepared food with loved ones daily. Remember, it’s not only what we eat, but how we eat that helps us stay healthy and sleek. So, instead of thinking you’re too busy to make those lovely salads, stir fry dishes, soups and crudité platters—or sit down and enjoy them—you might instead consider this a valuable investment in your well-being. You’re worth it!
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is a journey, not a destination. Even when you’re generally set on the nutrition front, you may still experience weight fluctuations due to travel, holidays, hormonal shifts, etc. Cut yourself a break, get back on track and move forward with joy and intention!