Rates of the vegan diet have increased sevenfold between 2014 and 2019 with more and more people choosing to cut meat and dairy from their diets. According to a recent survey, this is predominantly for health reasons (48 percent) and weight management (28 percent). Based on this data, it’s fair to say that a large percentage of people are drawn to the vegan diet to lose weight and get healthy. So if this is you, here are some tips to ensure weight loss success.
How do you lose weight?
To understand how a vegan diet may help you lose weight, it is first important to understand how weight is lost. When you are expending more energy than you are intaking, you create a negative energy balance and you lose body weight. This weight is lost in the form of stored energy (fat and glycogen) to use for fuel, and water, from the breaking down of glycogen. An energy deficit is created predominantly from decreasing your caloric intake, and to some extent from increasing your activity levels.
Thus, if you want to use a vegan diet to lose weight, you need to focus on creating a caloric deficit. For a lot of people, switching from a standard American diet that is energy dense, nutrient poor and high in processed animal products, refined carbohydrates and sugar; switching to a vegan diet will result in weight loss. This is not necessarily because the vegan diet is magical, but by cutting out multiple food groups (meat, dairy), you are restricting your caloric intake as a result, so will lose weight.
How to use the vegan diet to lose weight
The vegan diet isn’t a magic weight loss tool. As with all diets, the weight loss success of a vegan diet depends on two things: whether it creates a caloric deficit and whether you are able to stick to it consistently. For example, if you go from a calorie restricted diet to eating whatever you want, as long as it’s vegan, you may be eating more total calories than usual and may start to gain weight.
A common misconception about the vegan diet that often prevents people from losing weight is that just because a food item is vegan, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. If you go from a paleo diet that has lean animal protein and fish, plenty of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates and switch to a vegan diet consisting of vegan junk food, pasta and bread; you are unlikely to experience improved health markers and weight loss. In fact, you may end up gaining weight, feeling bloated and experiencing other unfavorable symptoms.
That being said, a vegan diet has the possibility to be extremely beneficial for weight loss if followed correctly.
1. Calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)
Use an online TDEE calculator and input your current weight, height, age and activity level and it will tell you how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight. Once you know how many calories you need, subtract between 300 to 500 calories from this number. This caloric value will put you in an energy deficit to shift you into burning energy and losing weight.
2. Ensure that the bulk of your calories are coming from vegetables
Vegetables are high in fiber and volume. Fibrous and voluminous foods take up room in your stomach and help you feel fuller, despite being low comparatively low in calories.
3. Ensure you are eating enough protein
A higher protein intake increases your basal metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) as protein has the highest thermic effect of food, meaning you actually burn 30 percent of the calories just from metabolizing it. Great sources of vegan protein include tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, lentils and quinoa.
If followed correctly, the vegan diet can help to improve your health and accelerate weight loss. Follow these tips to make your diet work for you, to enjoy the weight loss you desire.