- Losing Weight on a Plant-Based, Vegan Diet: Tips for Success
- Master the Concept of Calorie Density
- Cut Out Added Oil
- Load Half Your Plate With Nonstarchy Veggies
- Avoid Liquid Calories
- Eat Lots of Fiber-Rich Foods
- Watch Out for Vegan Junk Foods
- Get Moving
- Why a Plant-Based Diet Is Ideal for Weight Loss
- What does “plant-based” mean?
- How to lose weight eating plant-based in 5 easy steps
- 1. Choose plant-based proteins
- 2. Swap plant-based milk for dairy
- 3. Eat more than you’re used to
- 4. Oil is out; sexy seeds and nuts are in
- 5. Take vitamin B-12 or a multivitamin
- The Plant-Based Weight Loss Plate
- Plant-based weight loss plate: Food groups
- Your turn
- Weight Loss
- Plant-Based Diets For Weight Loss
- RESEARCH ON PLANT-BASED DIETS AND WEIGHT LOSS
- LOW-CARB/PALEO DIETS AND WEIGHT LOSS
- THE TAKEAWAYS:
- Looking for fiber-rich recipes? Try these! >>
- Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet: Weight Loss, Naturally
- Quick Synopsis
- The Full Story
- Cut the calorie counting
- 7 Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Weight Loss Tips
- Don’t wait for weight loss
- Key Takeaways
- What you should do now
- Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet? Here’s Why (How to Lose Weight)
- Tips for maximum weight loss
- General weight loss:
- Calorie density and the ‘Pleasure Trap’:
- When weight loss has stalled:
- Food composition tables:
- Peer-reviewed articles:
- Success stories
- A one-week plant-based meal plan for healthy weight loss
- Healthy weight loss meal plan
Losing Weight on a Plant-Based, Vegan Diet: Tips for Success
A whopping 49.1 percent of Americans actively tried to lose weight within the last calendar year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The standard American diet is called SAD for a reason: It’s loaded with processed foods that drive many of the standard American diseases, including obesity. While multiple scientific studies have shown the effectiveness of plant-based diets for weight loss, not everyone will automatically lose weight after adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet. If you’ve been eating this way in the hope of achieving weight-loss goals and haven’t seen as much progress as you’d like, read on for strategies from leading plant-based experts.
Master the Concept of Calorie Density
“Calorie density” refers to the amount of calories per pound of a given food. Foods range from around 100 calories per pound (nonstarchy vegetables) to 4,000 calories per pound (oil).
“Understanding caloric density is not about counting calories, or memorizing how many calories are in a cup of rice or half a cup of blueberries,” says Chef AJ, California-based vegan chef and best-selling author of The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss. “When you change the average calorie density of the food you eat each day, you can literally consume twice as much food in terms of volume, yet take in half as many calories. As luck would have it, the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods on the planet—whole plant foods—are also the most calorically dilute. By understanding and implementing calorie density, you really can eat more and weigh less.”
By focusing on low-calorie density foods that are a natural part of a whole-food, plant-based diet, you’ll get lots of nutritional bang for your buck.
“Foods that are lower in calorie density (fruits, veggies, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and legumes) are also higher in nutrient density,” says Jeff Novick, MS, RD. “Therefore, by following a diet lower in calorie density, one also automatically consumes a diet higher in nutrient density.”
Garth Davis, MD, medical director of Mission Weight Management Center in Asheville, North Carolina, and author of Proteinaholic, echoes the sentiment: “Natural, unprocessed foods are loaded with fiber and water, which make you feel full without delivering as many calories.” The one caveat has to do with oil. “Watch out with the oils, as people often take a perfectly good salad with low calorie density and then add a ton of oil-filled dressing that’s extremely calorie dense,” he adds. Which leads to our next tip…
Cut Out Added Oil
Most people who cut added oils find that weight slides off easily, even if they’ve been on a plateau. Why?
“Oil is the most calorie-dense food by volume,” says Micaela Karlsen, PhD, MSPH, director of the Lifestyle Medicine Economic Research Consortium in Ithaca, New York, and founder of SustainableDiet.com, a distance-based, three-month support program to help people transition to plant-based eating.
One cup of oil contains almost 2,000 calories. One cup of brown rice has only about 130 calories. (Other plant foods, besides high-fat nuts and seeds, are similarly calorically low.) Another major strike against oil: Because it doesn’t contain fiber, it doesn’t contribute to satiety.
All of Forks Over Knives’ recipes are designed without oil, and YouTube is packed with videos that can teach you how to sauté with vegetable broth, bake with applesauce or other substitutes, and make oil-free salad dressings with fruit, tofu, or nuts.
Load Half Your Plate With Nonstarchy Veggies
Turns out, Mom was right in telling you to eat your veggies.
“Veggies aren’t only nutritional powerhouses but also the food group that’s lowest in calorie density,” says Chef AJ. “Full of fiber and water and averaging only 100 calories per pound, they fill you up without filling you out.”
Veggies such as kale, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce are especially beneficial: A compound in dark green leafies called thylakoid can actually turn off your hunger switch and help fight cravings for unhealthy foods, while a pound of nonstarchy veggies has fewer calories than a tablespoon of olive oil. That’s why Chef AJ recommends making 50 percent of your meals nonstarchy veggies. Her favorites are Brussels sprouts and zucchini. For the other half of the plate, fill it with whole foods that will satisfy your hunger, such as grains, legumes, and/or starchy veggies.
Avoid Liquid Calories
Aside from avoiding oil, you should also avoid any calories that come in liquid form, if your goal is to lose weight. “Don’t drink your calories, especially in the form of sports drinks, sodas, other sweetened beverages, and alcohol,” says Michelle McMacken, MD, director of the NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue’s Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program. “The calories in these drinks add up fast and don’t fill you up. And for weight loss, in my experience, eating whole fruit trumps drinking fruit juice. Water is the only beverage we actually need.”
Eat Lots of Fiber-Rich Foods
One of the healthiest ways to lose weight is adopting a lower-calorie, high-fiber, nutrient-rich diet, which means eating more whole, plant-based foods, says Alone Pulde, MD, family medicine physician in Carlsbad, California, and co-author of several books, including The Forks Over Knives Plan and Forks Over Knives Family. That’s why her go-to word is: add.
“Add, add and add more whole, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes to every meal,” she says. Easier said than done? Nope, not when you think about combining these foods to create delicious meals like oatmeal with berries and roasted veggies with pasta. “The variety of foods you can include is limited only by your imagination,” she says.
Watch Out for Vegan Junk Foods
Just because it’s plant-based doesn’t mean it’s healthy. “Many food companies are slapping the plant-based term on numerous foods that are often highly processed, dense in calories, and nutrients,” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, the Los Angeles–based Plant-Powered Dietitian and author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Plant-Powered for Life. This is true of plant-based burgers made by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
Your best bet is to stick as closely as you can to whole plant foods.
Last but not least, make exercise part of your regular routine. Opt for physical activities you enjoy, as you’ll be more likely to stick to a program. Ideally, you’ll find an activity or a combination of activities that covers strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. But don’t hesitate to simply start where you are. “If your time is severely limited or you are unable to undertake a dynamic program, it’s still always better to get out and do some activity—even if it’s just a short walk each day,” says Pulde. See No-Meat Athlete Matt Frazier’s 5 Tips for Adding Fitness to Your WFPB Lifestyle for more guidance.
Why a Plant-Based Diet Is Ideal for Weight Loss
Paleo may be the diet du jour for trimming excess fat, but you may actually be better off nixing meat if you’re looking to lose weight: People who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet lose more weight than those who eat meat, according to a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Researchers reviewed 12 studies with more than 1,150 people who followed different weight loss plans for about 18 weeks. What they found: Those who followed a plant-based diet shed roughly four pounds more on average than those whose meals allowed meat.
Vegetarian diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are high in fiber and take longer to digest, which may keep you feeling fuller longer, says study author Ru-Yi Huang, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health. Plus, people who eat meat-heavy diets tend to experience more gas and bloating and that discomfort could derail their success, Huang explains. (Not ready to fully commit yet? Try these 5 Ways to Become a Part-Time Vegetarian.)
Researchers also found that people who gave up meat to lose weight were more likely to still be following their healthy eating plan one year later than those who consumed animal products.
Going vegetarian also means you don’t have to count every calorie, as meat-free dieters who did count lost a similar amount of weight of those who skipped the math. The reason: Pound for pound, veggies contain significantly fewer calories-a pound of boneless beef, for instance, packs nearly five times as many calories as one pound of raw carrots. (Although anyone going plant-based needs to track their nutrients. See the most common vegetarian diet deficiencies and how to keep them at bay.)
Food for thought, indeed!
- By Paige Fowler
What does “plant-based” mean?
Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 50 pounds, eating plant-based is the easiest way to do it. You can eat as much as you want and still lose weight! Better yet, when you eat plant-based, you don’t even have to exercise to see results.1 (Although exercise will help you feel your best.)
In fact, in 2015, Harvard researchers and scientists in Taiwan examined 12 different “gold-standard” nutrition studies. Compared to omnivores, those assigned to vegetarian diets (including milk and eggs) lost 3.3 extra pounds, and those assigned to purely plant-based (vegan) diets lost 5.5 extra pounds.2
The icing on the plant-based cake? Not only will you lose weight easily, you’ll be flooding your body with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. That means more energy for working out, chasing after the kids, and avoiding that post-lunch crash. Down the road, being plant-based makes you less likely to get diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.3,4
What’s more, a plant-based diet is easy to follow. Of course there are times it will be challenging, but you don’t have to be perfect to see results. (Trust me on this, lol!) Actually, don’t trust me. Try a plant-based diet for yourself for a few weeks. See how you feel—and what happens to the numbers on your scale. 🙂
Plant-based simply means centering your diet on whole plant foods. That includes minimizing or avoiding animal products like meat and eggs, sugar, white flour, and oil.
“Plant-based” isn’t necessarily the same as being vegan, although it can be. Oreos, Twizzlers, Coke, and potato chips are all vegan, but they don’t exactly promote health. Plant-based eating, on the other hand, is the “Cadillac” version of a vegan (or nearly vegan) diet. It emphasizes foods that are whole and natural—just the way our bodies like them.
How to lose weight eating plant-based in 5 easy steps
Losing weight on a plant based diet is deliciously easy. Just follow these 5 simple steps:
1. Choose plant-based proteins
Substitute beans, peas, lentils, tofu, or plant-based meats for animal products. Bean burritos, tofu stir-fry, smoky split pea soup, hummus wraps and 5-minute black bean tacos are all tasty choices, too. Do you live by ground beef? Try Beyond Meat crumbles. They’re ready to eat in 1 minute and are delicious in spaghetti sauce or stuffed peppers. Remember, you don’t have to be 100% plant-based (although that would be great) to lose the weight. Just do the best you can.
Note: All plant foods contain protein, not just beans. 21 Surprising Plant-Based Protein Sources
2. Swap plant-based milk for dairy
Dairy milk is designed to turn a 90-pound calf into a 600-pound cow in 6 months. It’s literally packs on the pounds. So why drink it to lose weight? Try plant-based milk instead. You’ll get the same calcium and vitamin D found in milk for a fraction of the calories. Specifically, a cup of skim milk contains 86 calories, while a cup of unsweetened almond milk contains 30 calories. If you drink 2 cups of milk per day, that’s a savings of 112 calories per day or 3,360 calories per month. Since you have to burn ~3,500 calories to lose a pound, that simple switch could help you lose 12 pounds a year!
3. Eat more than you’re used to
Hungry? Keep eating! 🙂 And not just veggies, either. On a plant-based diet, carbs like whole grains and potatoes are encouraged. That’s the beauty of plant-based foods. You can eat as much as you want and still lose weight.
4. Oil is out; sexy seeds and nuts are in
Oil is a diet disaster. A single tablespoon of olive oil packs a whopping 120 calories; a tablespoon of pure sugar only has 48. In fact, 2 tablespoons of olive oil has the same calories as 2 scoops of Ben and Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie ice cream, about 250 calories. Moreover, oil has been stripped of its nutrients.
That’s where nuts and seeds come in. They contain some oil, yes, but also protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals—all in a heart-healthy package. Cook with cooking spray or broth, and get your fat from healthy whole plant sources.
5. Take vitamin B-12 or a multivitamin
As healthful as plant-based eating is, vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods. So taking a vitamin B12 supplement is essential. A multivitamin works too, as it will have vitamin B12 in it. I personally take Dr. Fuhrman’s daily multivitamins, because they contain everything you need and nothing you don’t. I won’t make any money if you buy through this link; I just wanted to share the brand I use myself.
The Plant-Based Weight Loss Plate
Are you a visual learner? Check out the Veggie Quest Plant-Based Weight Loss Plate. Just match your plate to the diagram at most meals, and you’ve got your bases covered.
Adapted from evidence-based guidelines from the Harvard School of Public Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Diabetes Association, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Plant-based weight loss plate: Food groups
Eat lots of nonstarchy vegetables like leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale), broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, jicama, carrots, eggplant, radishes, green beans, onions, and more. Per Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s guidelines in Eat to Live, 2 pounds of vegetables a day is a great target,5 but even 1 pound would be awesome. Leafy greens are especially good, as they can lower risk of chronic disease.6 And an analysis of more than 200 studies found that raw vegetables lead the pack when it comes to cancer-fighting potential.7
Eat as much as you can in a rainbow of colors! Berries are especially great, as they’re lower in sugar and packed with disease-fighting anthocyanins.
Include whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, millet, wheat berries, and buckwheat. Also have starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
All whole plant foods have some protein (even fruit!), but beans, lentils and peas are especially rich sources. Tofu, veggie burgers, and low-fat meat substitutes are great too.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a healthy source of the essential fats your body needs. For most people, a good goal is 1 small handful (1 oz) of nuts and 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed per day.8
Water or plant-based milk
Be sure to drink plenty of fluid each day, as thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Staying hydrated can also help you think more clearly and improve your mood.9 While plant-based foods do contain ample calcium, plant-based milks can help you get even more. Just pick unsweetened, non-coconut varieties of plant milk like almond, soy or cashew.
Take vitamin B12 as part of a daily multivitamin, or twice a week as a separate supplement.
There you have it: Plant-based weight loss in 5 steps and 5 minutes!
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Now it’s your turn. What do you still want to know about plant-based weight loss? Leave a comment with your question(s)!
A Physicians Committee study tested a plant-based diet in a group of 64 women. At the start of the study, all of the women were moderately or severely overweight. Participants followed two simple rules: They set aside all animal products and kept oils to a minimum. They lost about a pound per week, without calorie counting or exercise. After two years, they maintained the weight loss.
Plant-based diets can help you lose weight and keep it off because they are packed with fiber, which helps fill you up, without adding extra calories. Aim for 40 grams of fiber a day, which is easy to do when you move vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans to the center of your plate.
By skipping meat, cheese, and eggs and limiting oils, you’re also removing a significant amount of fat from your diet. This helps keep the pounds off, because 1 gram of fat—from beef, fish, or oil—has 9 calories. Compare that to 1 gram of carbohydrate from potatoes, bread, or beans, which has only 4 calories—fewer than half of the calories found in 1 gram of fat.
Plant-Based Diets For Weight Loss
Lifestyle | Nutrition
January 2, 2018 | By: Whitney E. RD
Plant-based diets are good for your health, but can they also help you lose weight? We’re looking at the research on vegan/vegetarian diets and weight loss in this week’s episode of The Sitch!
Happy New Year, Friends! I hope everyone has had a happy, healthy holiday season!
Since the start of the new year is a prime time for people to make big changes in their health habits, I figured today was the perfect time to address the topic of plant-based diets and weight loss.
Let me preface this by saying, I discourage my clients from making weight loss their primary health goal or from adopting eating habits solely aimed at achieving weight loss.
But let’s be honest — no matter how much I blather on about how important a plant-based diet is for preventing chronic disease and contributing to longevity, it always comes back to the same question: “But will it help me lose weight?”
People are always concerned that eating plant-based means eating more carbohydrates which means gaining weight.
I don’t blame them. The protein-pushing, carb-a-phobic message that is heavily promoted in the weight loss and fitness world is pretty powerful.
But I’m here to tell you, if you believe that, you’ve been brainwashed.
Carbs don’t make you fat, just like protein doesn’t make you skinny.
A healthy body weight is the product of balanced food choices and positive behaviors.
Any diet out there will help you lose weight.
Anytime you focus on controlling your intake or your cut out a major food group, you’re inevitably going to lose weight initially. It’s whether or not that weight loss is sustainable that’s important.
As I mention in my video on my Predominantly Plant-Based Nutrition Philosophy, diets in general often actually make people gain weight in the long run!
So what does work? Adopting a healthful eating pattern that is enjoyable and sustainable. For me, that’s Predominantly Plant-Based, and research backs up my choice.
So let’s get into it.
RESEARCH ON PLANT-BASED DIETS AND WEIGHT LOSS
Studies show that vegans and vegetarians generally have lower BMIs than meat-eaters. For those who don’t know, BMI stands for body mass index and it’s a measure of weight for height. It’s not the best tool for measuring body composition, which takes into account fat and muscle, but it is a helpful measurement of general health in large populations.
One observational study of 38,000 healthy adults found that vegans have BMI’s that are about 2 points lower than meat-eaters. This association remained even when controlling for other healthy lifestyle factors.
They also identified another trend in the data. Fiber intake was inversely associated with BMI. So the more fiber people ate, the lower their BMI.
The meat-eaters in this study had much lower fiber intakes than the vegans.
This is to be expected as fiber, which found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, is rich in plant-based diets.
Studies consistently show that individuals with higher fiber intakes have lower body weight and gain less weight over time. This is likely due to fiber’s ability to provide satiety after meals, aka fullness.
Emerging research also suggests that the products of fiber fermentation in the gut provide additional benefits. When the bacteria in your gut breaks down fiber, it produces short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease liver synthesis of triglycerides and additionally increase satiety by influencing hormones that affect hunger/fullness.
An 18-week study of overweight employees with Type 2 Diabetes in a corporate wellness program showed that a low-fat vegan diet was able to improve body weight, cholesterol, and glucose control without calorie restriction.
The participants lost about six pounds on average while eating as much food as they wanted, and lowered their LDL cholesterol and HBA1c level, which a marker of diabetes management.
Finally, a recent meta-analysis – aka the mother of all studies – combined the results of 12 different experimental trials and found that vegetarian dieters lost significantly more weight than non-vegetarian dieters.
In the longer-term studies, they also showed that the plant-based dieters were able to keep the weight loss off for over a year.
LOW-CARB/PALEO DIETS AND WEIGHT LOSS
So why do some people think that a low-carb, Paleo diet is the way to go for weight loss? Well, there are a few reasons.
One, when you stop eating carbs, you lose a ton of water weight.
When you eat protein, your body has to get rid of the nitrogen you’re producing from breaking down amino acids. To do this the liver converts this nitrogen into urea, which is then excreted in urine. More protein means more urine which means more water loss.
Secondly, carbohydrates are stored in your liver, fat, and muscle cells as a molecule known as glycogen. This happens so your muscles have a quick source of energy. However, glycogen holds on to water. When you stop eating carbs, you deplete your body of this muscle glycogen and you lose water in the process.
Each gram of glycogen is stored with about 3 grams of water and the average person has about 500 grams of glycogen total. Therefore, the body holds about 3.5 cups of water in its glycogen stores on average.
This is basically what happens when bodybuilders “cut.” They’re dehydrating their muscles. This may be aesthetically pleasing in the fitness competition world, but in real life, it makes your muscles work less efficiently.
The next reason that a Paleo diet may appear to help with weight loss is due to the filling effect of protein.
Protein, like fiber, helps you feel more satisfied after a meal and stay fuller longer than carbohydrates alone. People eating low-carb diets typically have a very high protein intake.
However, eating a plant-based diet shouldn’t mean skimping on protein! A well-planned plant-based diet should include a good source of protein and high-fiber carbohydrates at every meal.
Lastly, low-carb diets may help people take in fewer calories initially than a plant-based diet, due to behaviors surrounding the consumption of the types of foods in these diets.
Think about it this way – when you overeat, what are you usually eating? If the answer is chips, crackers, candy, pastries, or pasta, you’re not alone. Carbs are easy to binge on.
I mean, think about how many times you’ve cracked open a bag of chips with the intention of having one serving, only to finish off the whole bag. I’ll admit it, it’s happened to me.
Now think how many times have you ever binged on baked, boneless skinless chicken breast?
Not so appetizing right?
So it’s not necessarily the nutrient itself that may be contributing weight gain, but the behaviors associated with these types of foods.
You can prevent falling into bad eating behaviors however by practicing a mindful, plant-based diet, or as we call it here in #WhitsKitch – Predominantly Plant-Based.
Ditching the notion that carbs make you fat and giving yourself permission to eat them regularly is the first step to forming a healthy relationship with this important food group that will ultimately prevent you from overeating and jeopardizing your health goals.
So let’s sum up what we’ve learned about plant-based diets and weight loss.
- Plant-based diets are just as effective as other diets for weight loss and weight maintenance.
- The fiber found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains will help you maintain a healthy body weight.
- Make sure to balance plant-based meals with good sources of plant-protein in addition to complex carbohydrates and fat, to prevent over-eating later.
And if you liked this article/video, please SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel for evidence-based nutrition information and advice.
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Looking for fiber-rich recipes? Try these! >>
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
Quinoa, Avocado + Black Bean Salad
Easy Veggie Burgers
Weigh In: What do you think about the research on plant-based diets and weight loss?
– Whitney IF YOU’RE INSPIRED BY THIS POST MAKE SURE TO SNAP A PIC AND TAG #WHITSKITCH – I’D LOVE TO SEE!
Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet: Weight Loss, Naturally
Struggling to meet your weight loss goals? When you need to lose weight for health reasons this can be extremely frustrating. But with a whole food plant-based diet, you can lose weight, naturally. Get our tips for healthy weight loss.
The Full Story
There are many reasons to switch over to a whole-food plant-based diet (WFPB). For one thing, WFPB and vegan meal options generally cost less; research shows vegetarians may save up to $750 more a year than their omnivore counterparts. Which makes sense when you consider that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the cost of beef is $3.71 per pound while the cost of beans is at $1.35 per pound. Or how about health? Studies have shown those who embrace a plant based diet require fewer medications and enjoy a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and more. And lest we forget, plant-based diets are not only healthier for people, but also healthier for our planet — boosting human lifespans and cutting harmful emissions in the process.
But hey, let’s be honest here: Sometimes it’s just about losing weight.
And there’s nothing wrong with that if it relates to your healthier lifestyle goals! We all want to look and feel our best, and given that obesity contributes directly to an entire host of health concerns (even life-threatening ones), dropping a few pounds — if you’re overweight — is an all-around good decision.
Unfortunately, losing weight can sometimes be a real hassle. The good news is that with the whole-food plant based diet, it doesn’t have to be.
Cut the calorie counting
Speaking purely from a cause/effect viewpoint, the mechanics involved in weight loss are pretty simple: As you eat, you take in calories which your body uses as a fuel source, burning them to release usable energy. When you take in more calories than your body can use, it stores the excess as fat deposits. Inversely, when you use more calories than you take in, your body begins to break down those fat deposits to use as fuel. There’s a bit more to it, of course, but the simple truth is that in order to lose weight naturally, you need to create a calorie deficit.
And that’s where a lot of dieters get hung up. After all, the general assumption is that if you’re going to be burning more calories than you consume, you’re going to have to start watching the numbers.
How many calories does your body use on its own on a daily basis? How many calories are you burning with additional exercise? How many calories are you consuming? It’s a lot to keep track of, and all it takes is one undocumented snack to throw all of your calculations out the window. To put it bluntly, it’s a pain. And, with the WFPB diet, it’s also completely unnecessary.
Plant-based foods are naturally more nutritionally dense than most non-vegan meal options. That means more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than you’d find in, say, a pork chop. But plant foods are also much lower in calories.
On top of that, the best natural sources of fiber are all plant-based. Why is this important? Because fiber helps us feel full. Higher fiber intake leads to fewer cravings and smaller meal portions, and that naturally results in weight loss.
And this is all without counting calories.
If doing math before each meal sounds less-than appetizing, the WFPB diet has you covered. By sticking with nutrient-dense, plant-based foods, you’ll never have to count another calorie again. So let’s get started.
7 Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Weight Loss Tips
There’s no need to count calories on the WFPB diet, but that doesn’t mean you should dive in without knowing what you’re doing. Transitioning to a nutritious plant-based diet takes some preparation, and a little guidance certainly helps. Here are a few tips to help ensure that you’re giving your body what it needs while you’re dropping the weight that it doesn’t:
1. Transition slowly
If making too many drastic changes all at once sounds intimidating, you can take it slow. If you force yourself into something you’re not ready for, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up falling back into your old habits. Instead, transition gradually. Start by switching out two or three meals per week for healthy plant-based alternatives. As you get used to it, expand to include the rest of your weekly meals.
From there, you can begin weeding out the other processed and non plant-based ingredients that tend to find their way into your daily life. Research plant-based dairy alternatives and stop including animal milk and cheese on your shopping list. Then, switch over to cutting out eggs. As you take things one step at a time, you’ll give yourself a chance to adjust to your new dietary lifestyle, and that will make it easier to really commit to it.
2. Eat the rainbow and don’t stress over deficiencies
With the exception of vitamin b12 (which we address in a previous blog post), you can get all of the nutrients your body needs from non-animal sources. That said, it takes some planning. For example, if you’re not eating meat then you’ll need some good plant-based sources of protein (such as nuts, edamame, chickpeas, and tempeh). Likewise, omega-3s, iron, calcium, and zinc are all available from plants. To get all these vital nutrients just ensure you’re eating a diverse plant-based.
3. Don’t skip meals
Remember, it takes more plant-based foods to equal the calories in traditional American meals, so don’t jump the gun. Sure, if you’re trying to lose weight fast, cutting out meals may seem like a logical solution. But the reality is that you’re going to need the nutrition to keep yourself healthy and happy. Besides, fiber-rich, plant-based meals will help you feel full, and go a long way towards helping you avoid unhealthy snacking. Starving yourself is not part of the WFPB diet; focus on healthy meal prep, and give your body the food it needs.
4. Eat your whole grains
Carbs are bad, right? Well, no, actually; they’re not. Not intrinsically, anyway. In fact, carbs should be your main source of energy, and a plant-based diet meal plan for weight loss should reflect that. That said, not all carbs — or carb sources — are equal. Heavily refined/processed carbohydrates are basically empty calories that have been stripped of fiber and nutrients. Whole grains (and the whole carbs they contain) are just fine. In fact, it’s suggested that that the majority of your plant-based diet should come from whole carbs. Foods such as brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa, barley, and farro will help you get the whole carbs you need.
5. Cut the oil
A lot of diets promote the use of oil in cooking as a better alternative to butter, which it absolutely is! The problem here is that better doesn’t necessarily mean good. Plant-based oils replace harmful saturated fats with less-harmful monounsaturated fat — which can still damage arteries and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The WFPB diet isn’t about eating less-harmful foods; it’s about eating healthy foods. That means cutting out the oil, for a low-fat, plant-based diet that will help keep you happy and heart healthy. Besides, oil is incredibly high in calories, and even if you aren’t counting them, they still count. When cooking, replace oil with healthier options, and you’ll see the results in your health, and on your scale.
6. Snack when you’re hungry
It seems pretty central to most diets that snacking is the enemy, but ask yourself this: Is snacking still wrong if you’re snacking on the right foods? If you find that you’re hungry, then by all means grab a little something, just make sure that it isn’t junk. Healthy nuts, fruits, and vegetables can curb your cravings, and help you remain committed to your plant-based diet.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to eat between meals, then make sure that you have high-quality, whole-food snacks on hand for when you need them. After all, a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts aren’t going to derail your diet, but a hunger-motivated junk-food binge definitely could.
7. Don’t give up
Most people who switch to a plant-based diet meal plan for weight loss see results within weeks, but occasionally results aren’t as dramatic as dieters hope. If you’ve committed to the diet and you still aren’t losing weight, there are a few possible reasons why.
Have you stopped cooking with oil? Do you eat at home rather than regularly eating out? Are you incorporating enough leafy greens into your daily meals? If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions, then you might have found the problem. Remember, everyone’s body is different. It may take some time, but if you’re following the WFPB diet faithfully, you will see results eventually.
Don’t wait for weight loss
There are many reasons to adopt a whole-food plant-based diet — weight loss just happens to be one of the most popular. A diet rich in a variety of plant-based foods will have you shedding unwanted pounds in no time, and, as an added bonus, you’ll be improving your health, cutting your costs, and helping the environment.
So give the WFPB diet a try; other than unwanted body fat, what have you got to lose?
To lose weight on a whole food plant-based diet, remember to:
- Transition slowly
- Eat a variety of whole food plant-based foods (and stop stressing about deficiencies)
- Avoid skipping meals
- Fill up on whole grains
- Cut out oil
- Snack when you’re hungry
- Keep going even when you hit a snag
If you are struggling with weight loss, we invite you to join our Guaranteed Weight Loss program.
A science-backed program of lovingly crafted weight loss meals, meal plans, and practical lifestyle tips delivered to your door. Designed for smart people who can’t figure out why the heck they can’t keep the weight off.
Check out how you can get your body back, free your mind from food and weight loss obsession- for good.
What you should do now
- We have been where you are and we’ve helped thousands of people (just like you) transition to eating a plant based diet. If you are looking for a guide that can help you with some of the big questions, and dramatically reduce your stress, this FREE Ultimate Little Guide to Plant-Based Eating is a great place to start.
- If you’d like to learn about plant-based living go to our Heartbeet Journal where you can read hundreds of “How To” articles. If you’d like to learn about plant-based cooking go to our Recipes Section for easy step by step favorites.
- If you’d like to work for us—or see why our team members love working for us—then contact us at [email protected] and tell us about yourself.
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Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet? Here’s Why (How to Lose Weight)
Enjoy all of the benefits of meal planning and more with our Meal Mentor membership. This includes 16 simple, healthy recipes and a shopping list for each week, as well as exclusive access to our members’ community and content library!
This post is also a podcast episode!
One year ago I blogged about how the plant-based diet made me an overeater.
A lot has happened since.
After the post, hundreds (I’m not exaggerating for impact) of people sent me an email saying that my experience was THEIR experience.
“I feel like I am so similar” was a common phrase.
Here’s one of those emails:
“When I first went plant-based, my weight dropped beautifully for the first 40 pounds. Then the weight-loss stopped, so I cut back a little more and I lost another 10 pounds, but then it just stayed there. No matter what I did it just stayed there.”
We all hit a weight we couldn’t move past.
No matter how plant perfect we were eating, or how much exercise we incorporated, the scale would not budge.
For a lot of the people I talked to, (and I’m included in this group) this barrier happened at a lower weight.
Meaning, our weight was in the “normal” or “healthy” range for our height but we still had visible body fat. And I’m not talking about vanity fat “a little here or there.”
In my case, my stomach was still hanging over my pants and I had chronic, painful chafing along my armpits and thighs from constant rubbing.
I wasn’t comfortable physically and I didn’t like how I looked.
Then I had my body fat measured.
I was at the tippy top end of what was considered “healthy” even though I was at a “healthy” weight.
“You have a really high percentage of body fat for your weight,” the technician told me.
Before I can continue this story, I need to first explain how the plant-based diet made me an overeater. (Don’t worry I’m not blaming kale.)
The plant-based community puts a lot of pressure on being perfect.
I saw this in the vegan movement too, though in a different way. With vegans, your membership card was revoked if you ate a hot dog, or in my case, used the wrong hand soap.
In the plant-based movement, there became this attitude that anything that was wrong with you was your fault for not being perfect.
If you weren’t losing weight, for example, it’s because you weren’t being perfect. You were eating oil, or sugar, or too many nuts, or not enough greens, or cheese.
And that’s not entirely untrue.
You can do any diet or lifestyle wrong, and it DOES come down to what you put in your mouth with weight-loss (more on that soon), but it’s also not as simple as “eat this, but not that” to lose weight.
Plants do not have magical calories that don’t count.
So, how did I become an overeater?
If you read any of the plant-based diet books, attend a conference, or watch one of the films, you get the impression that:
You can eat as much as you want. As long as it’s plant foods, especially whole foods close to nature. Don’t count calories or pay attention to portions.
Some of the experts say EXACTLY that outright.
Others send it more subliminally.
For example, they would share a recipe on their blog or Facebook. Someone would inevitably comment asking for calories or nutritional information, and they would get a response that you don’t need to focus on calories or portions when you eat this way (or something like that).
Monkey see. Monkey do, too.
Rip Esselstyn once bragged to me that he ate 22 (22!) of his burgers in one sitting. Another time I had lunch at FOK’s office and they fed me, I’m really not joking here, over 40 oranges and at least 100 strawberries for lunch. They kept piling more on my plate, rattling off something about how it’s mostly water and I needed to eat more because “it’s only fruit.”
I stuffed myself.
Another time I told Jeff Novick I ate a whole bag of frozen cherries for a snack – was that too much? And he replied, “only 1?”
(I have dozens of stories like this.)
Then there were the conferences where I watched these experts getting plate after plate of food. HUGE plates of food.
The one time when I stressed concern that I had overeaten (three plates of food) I was told not to worry about it. “You can’t gain weight on this food.”
But I did?
Point is, I was under the impression (and based on the responses, it appears many of you were too) that you can eat a lot. And that you SHOULD eat a lot. Eat as much as you wanted. Eat until you feel “full.”
So I did.
I ate and ate.
I quickly developed a habit of having 4 plates of food at a meal, all the while patting myself on the back for being so healthy.
For example, I would eat 4-6 bunless bean burgers, plus a huge “gorilla” salad, and 2-3 potatoes cut into fries for dinner. And I would still have room for 3-4 bananas blended as ice cream for dessert (and a snack later on).
After my original blog post, I got this email from FOK:
“ For the record, it is not FOK’s position that anyone can eat all they want on a whole-food, plant-based diet and maintain an optimal bodyweight. Our position is that one should eat until comfortably satiated.” (The email also said if I ate lower calorie foods I didn’t need to control my portions.)
WHAT IS COMFORTABLY SATIATED??!?!?!!
I have never found this “comfortable satiation” EVER.
My stomach has exactly three settings:
- I’m HUNGRY
- I’ve eaten but I could still eat more
- OMG I ate way too much I can’t move
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. It’s normal.
In fact, “comfortably satiated” doesn’t exist for most people.
Scientists still have not figured out what makes us “feel full.” It seems to be a combination of environmental clues, thoughts we had before eating, how much we smell and taste our food, how long we’ve been eating, how much we ate yesterday, and a myriad of other factors.
We don’t stop eating because our stomach is full, except in very extreme cases like Thanksgiving dinner.
Brian Wansink Ph.d (out of Cornell, like Dr. Campbell) has spent his career studying this very topic: Why do we overeat. What makes us feel full. and so forth.
Of all the important, life-changing lessons Wansink has taught me, nothing has been so impactful as this:
“ Short of eating until it hurts, most of us seem to rely on size – the volume – of food to tell us when we’re full. We usually try to eat the same visible amount we’re used to eating. That is, we want to eat the same size lunch we did yesterday, the same size dinner, the same size of popcorn… We don’t stop eating because our stomach is full except in very extreme cases…”
(Wansink talked about how even when we think we can’t possibly eat any more, when the dessert comes out, we magically have more room.)
This is where I admit I became an overeater.
Mostly because I got used to eating a lot of volume.
Some of that came from those “eat all you want” messages, some from chasing the “comfortably full” illusion, and some because I just didn’t know how to structure my meals or build a meal that was satisfying, satiating, AND calorically correct for my biological needs.
This part you all know:
When I started using my meal plans consistently, I finally broke my weight barrier.
I lost an additional 13 pounds. (I’m lower than my high school weight!)
AND I have maintained that weight for THREE YEARS.
(I’m still amazed because I was a chronic yo-yo-er before.)
Before strict compliance with the meal plans (but plant-perfect) vs. me last week.
Now I get why body builders do that weird pose. There’s no other way to really capture a photo of your abs!
In the past when I gained weight, or I couldn’t lose, I blamed my lack of perfection.
I blamed the occasional oil or vegan junk foods, and sure, those foods were doing me no favors, but that wasn’t the sole culprit.
Because even when my diet was beyond “perfect” (there was a point where I’d eliminated ALL sugar, salt, oil, alcohol, and even pureed foods foods like hummus or applesauce. I basically was only eating whole fruits and vegetables) I STILL didn’t lose weight.
I still didn’t break my barrier and then I started to GAIN WEIGHT.
I GAINED 7-8 pounds in three weeks eating vegetables!
That’s when I had my “coming to Jesus” moment.
To lose weight (again) and keep it off, I had to come to terms with how much I need in a day, and that it can’t be a free-for-all.
At least not for me.
I HAVE to pay attention to total calories and portion sizes too.
The meal plans make it really easy on me since it’s already planned out.
You could do it yourself, or you can do it with me.
Here’s the beautifully simple part: weight-loss is physics, the law of thermodynamics. You have to consume less energy than you burn (create a deficit) to lose weight, which can be accomplished in one two ways: from input or output.
(Side note: In helping dozens of Meal Mentor clients lose weight, I find the input side is the easier strategy for most folks. You have total control over what goes in your mouth AND it tends to be easier to, say, stop drinking wine than to start a 5x a week 5am gym regimen, for example.)
But here’s the not-so-simple part: a calorie is not always ‘a calorie’.
For starters, not every calorie is nutritionally equivalent.
Intuitively you know that 100 calories of carrot cake aren’t the same as 100 calories of carrots.
Not every calorie is absorbed the same way, either.
For example, calories from predigested foods (like smoothies) or highly processed foods (like Oreos) are absorbed much more easily than whole foods. Meaning, you might not even absorb the full bio-availability of the calories in an orange, but you’re probably going to absorb every last calorie in a Dorito.
(This echoes what Dr. McDougall says about oil being easily converted to fat on the body, “That the fat you eat is the fat you wear.” He’s not wrong. “From your lips to your hips” is very real, except that it doesn’t apply ONLY to fats, according to new research.)
And don’t forget: Not every calorie satiates in the same way.
You’ve experienced this before when you ate a doughnut and were starving an hour later.
But even the whole plant foods vary greatly in satiety.
That was one of my biggest problems.
I was eating healthy, “perfect” foods, but they weren’t satiating me so I would eat more looking for that elusive “comfortably satiated” dragon, all the while resetting my volume expectations (or “appestat” as I like to call it, short for appetite thermometer) to HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO.
And this is another reason why I finally lost weight with the meal plans: They didn’t just teach me calories and portions, they taught what a meal needs to look like to actually satisfy me.
How to combine nutritious foods to feel satisfied so I DON’T overeat or feel deprived.
There’s also new research that cooking methods, gut bacteria, the composition of the food, and our genetics determines how many calories we actually absorb when we eat. (FYI some people absorb calories more easily than others. It’s not purely about differing metabolism as we once thought.)
I follow all this research obsessively.
After my blog post last year, and hearing from so many other people who were struggling, I decided to get down to the bottom of it. Figure out WTF was going on.
I’ve read an insane amount of books and studies. I’ve talked with and listened to dozens of experts in a variety of field from Wansink (above) whose focus is on how our environment makes us overeat, to people who study feces and gut bugs.
I’ve uncovered a lot and that’s what I’ll be talking about in upcoming episodes of my new podcast, Shortcut to Slim (a research podcast on diet and nutrition) – This blog post has been recorded as episode 1!
What I’ve come to understand is that any diet works for weight-loss (provided that diet creates a calorie deficit).
It doesn’t matter if you’re low carb, low fat, paleo, vegan, or eating only tacos.
Now, you might feel like garbage on an all cupcake and tequila diet, and that diet might put you at risk for other health issues (like hypertension and cirrhosis), which is why I still advocate a whole foods, plant-based diet all around.
Might as well do yourself a favor.
(Plus, not all calories are the same, remember? So it’s not a straight math formula anyway.)
But the reason why I lost weight beautifully in the beginning was because although I was overeating, there was still a deficit compared to my prior diet. (Even though I was also physically eating more VOLUME than before, the total calories were still less because bean burgers have less calories than cheese pizzas.)
HOWEVER, as you lose weight, that deficit window gets much, much smaller.
There’s little margin for error (which I learned the hard way).
When you shrink, how much you eat has to shrink too.
Many of the people who reached out to me after my blog post joined Meal Mentor and broke their barriers as well. My story continued to echo theirs.
Even those that didn’t join, but started practicing some form of input control, also had success.
Bottom line: It’s not about being “perfect”, though making good choices certainly makes it easier, just like it’s a lot easier to run a marathon if you quit smoking first.
The plant-based diet works. And it works for a lot of people. Part of why it works is because the foods can be low calorie (creating a deficit without volume deprivation) but there’s no such thing as calories that don’t count either.
If you want to start using the meal plans that changed my life and broke my weight barrier go here.
Here’s an image of my recent body scan:
What’s amazing to me (other than being 15% body fat, self high-five) is that compared to my last scan in 2013, I ONLY LOST BODY FAT. Muscle mass, water, bone density, etc. is identical.
I LOOK so much more muscular and lean now, but that physique was there all along, hidden under fat.
In 2013 I was shelling out THOUSANDS on a personal trainer. Now I just do some yoga and follow the meal plans. If this is not a testament to the power of plants and that abs are made in the kitchen, I don’t know what is.
Finally I must say one more thing:
I find with these kinds of posts and/or pictures like what I’ve shared here, people tend to use them attack me, saying I’m anorexic, I’m not sympathetic to people with eating disorders, or food issues.
I’ve been very open (and very public) about my struggle with overeating (see above) and comments telling an overeater they are anorexic, or accusing them of not eating, or telling them to go eat, is about the most painful, unhelpful, and detrimental thing you can say to them.
Additionally, accusing someone – anyone – of having an eating disorder (or disordered eating) when they really don’t, does a huge disservice to those who actually do.
It’s important that we talk about our struggles with food, whatever they are… or our hurdles with weight-loss, and OUR SUCCESSES and that we can do it without being judged or attacked. (Plus if you really do care or have concern for someone, pull them aside. Saying it on social media is bullying. It’s asking others to stand behind you and gang up on them. If they really ARE in a bad place, think about what that bullying might do.)
DON’T LET THE INTERNET HELP YOU FORGET THERE IS A REAL PERSON A LOT LIKE YOU BEHIND THE SCREEN.
I would rather keep my personal battles and triumphs to myself, but I share them publicly so that they can help others and tell anyone who has ever struggled YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
And you do not have to sit in the dark and feel like no one else understand.
Finally, to the people who accuse me of not being sympathetic to those who are in recovery, I can only say this: I have to live my life and I can’t do that if I’m always worried what other people might think or how they might feel or react.
I don’t expect everyone to toe the line on my behalf. Not my parents or siblings, friends, coworkers, or other people I follow on the internet.
My struggles are *my* struggles, my challenges are *my* challenges, and for the rest of my life I’m going to be around food, and people eating food, and food images, and supermodels in Los Angeles. I have to find a way to deal with that and the thoughts I have when I see it, hear it, and so on. I must work my program and my steps and build my own support system. I do supplement it with the support of many of you, who help me in my darkest hours. Just knowing you’re there can be a comfort, but I also can’t live in a bubble. I am sympathetic, but that sympathy doesn’t mean I will alter my absolute commitment to total transparency.
My therapist helped me see I can’t change every person or every situation, but I can change how I feel or act in it. How I talk to myself is decided only by me. How I interpret others’ actions or words is within my sole control. I have so many strategies for dealing with my demons, adding more each day. It’s the program, and you work it, but ultimately, it’s all about you and not the bubble.
More before and after photos and stories.
Tips for maximum weight loss
- Success stories
Welcome to our updated Weight Management page. We have revised the energy density page and created three new pages covering food addiction, satiety and low-fat diets. This incorporates much of the material we present in the weight management section of our one-day seminars. Click here to see upcoming seminars.
A whole foods, plant-based diet will enable you to lose weight and keep it off without portion control. It’s first and foremost a health supporting diet so you will feel yourself getting healthier as you lose weight, unlike Atkins-Paleo style low carb diets which have many side effects and are dangerous to health in the long term. There are no special products required – it’s food-based and you can buy everything you need from your local supermarket and fresh produce store. Going plant strong is not difficult or expensive.Going Plant Strong
Energy density is the key concept for understanding how the type of food we eat determines our body weight. It’s also the key to managing your weight – whether your goal is weight loss, keeping weight off or avoiding weight loss. Check out our simple calorie density chart – it may surprise you to see that some of the carbohydrate-rich foods for which we have a natural affinity are moderately low in calorie density. You can use the principal of energy density to build meals which are full-sized and satisfying yet modest in calorie content. And you won’t have to worry about nutritional deficiencies because whole plant foods have a higher overall nutrient density than animal-derived foods or processed plant foods. People who adopt a plant-based diet for weight loss often express joy and relief at breaking free of portion control, often after years of unsuccessful dieting. Energy Density
Two thirds of Australians are overweight or obese. This is not the result of a design flaw in the human body, lack of will power or declining physical activity. The problem is that we are eating the wrong type of food for our species. Calling ourselves omnivores does not change the fact that our anatomy and physiology suggests that humans are herbivores. Modern processed foods and animal products provide a hyper-concentrated source of calories which goes beyond the operating range of our weight regulating physiology. The failure of our appetite and satiety regulating mechanisms to fully compensate for the richness of this food results in systematic overeating and gradual weight gain.
Appetite and Satiety
Eating food is pleasurable. We have dopamine-based brain reward systems that are designed to respond to high calorie food and other experiences that improved the chances of survival and reproduction for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But modern foods like cheese and processed foods are ‘hyperpalatable’, leading to a temporary state of enhanced pleasure followed by addiction. Moderation keeps you trapped in this state. Once you break free from addictive hyper-palatable food, you will find it easier to resist comfort eating.
There is a lot of debate about low carb vs low fat diets. We prefer to think in terms of food rather than nutrients – i.e. a diet based on whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. In nutrient terms this is a high carbohydrate, moderate protein, very low fat diet. There is a physiological basis for the saying, ‘the fat you eat is the fat you wear’, but the best evidence for this approach is the real world observation that people who eat low fat, plant-based diets are always leaner. Low-fat diets for weight loss
Our tips for maximum weight loss will help those who are still having difficulty losing weight even after changing to a whole foods plant-based diet. We also give advice on how not to lose weight for those who are at or below their goal weight.
General weight loss:
- The McDougall Maximum Weight Loss Diet (2 min video) – sound advice on how to apportion your green and yellow vegetables vs starches when trying to achieve maximum weight loss.
- Chef AJ: From Fat Vegan to Skinny Bitch (58 min. video)
- Easy Meals to Make You Thin – Chef AJ (15 min. video)
- The Plant-based Pharmacist’s Recipe for Weight Loss Success
- Diet vs. Exercise for Weight Loss (2 min. video), and Dr Greger’s associated blog post Diet vs. Exercise: What’s More Important?
- Meat and Weight Gain in the PANACEA Study (3 min. video)
- Which meal should you skip for weight loss? – Robyn Chuter
Calorie density and the ‘Pleasure Trap’:
- Calorie Density: How to Eat More, Weigh Less and Live Longer – Jeff Novick, RD (1 hr 20 min video) **Full length talk**
- How to lose weight without losing your mind – (1 hr 15 min video) Doug Lisle provides an excellent explanation of why people become overweight and how to reduce weight. It’s all about energy density and our built in reward systems and it takes the personal blame off overweight individuals.
- Pleasure Trap, Part 1 (17 min video) and Pleasure Trap, Part 2 (16 min) – Dr Alan Goldhamer explains why our brain was not designed for our current food environment and in Part 2 covers calorie density.
- A Common Sense Approach To Sound Nutrition – Jeff Novick, RD
- Maximizing Weight Loss: How To Fine Tune Calorie Density – Jeff Novick, RD
- Clarify Carbs: Making The Complex Simple – Jeff Novick, RD. NB Jeff’s website is currently under reconstruction. A version of this can be found in the McDougall forum Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple
- Weight Loss Isn’t Rocket Science (4 min video) – Dr Goldhamer explains why the current advice to eat in moderation and to eat smaller portions does not work!
- The pleasure trap: Douglas Lisle at TEDxFremont (17 min video)
- Foods That Make You Thin – Jeff Novick, 2011 (16 min video)
When weight loss has stalled:
- Dr. Doug Lisle: The Cram Circuit, Webinar 09/14/17 – **NEW** (59 min. video)
- Dr. Doug Lisle: Cramming and Bingeing – Live with Chef AJ – **NEW** (57 min. video)
- Chef AJ: From Fat Vegan to Skinny Bitch – (59 min. video)
- Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet? Here’s Why (How to Lose Weight) – The Happy Herbivore identifies the ‘culprits’ that inhibit weight loss even though you are avoiding all animal products and trying to eat a healthier diet.
- How the Plant-Based Diet Made Me an Overeater (It’s Not All-You-Can-Eat, Plants Don’t Have “Magic Calories” that Don’t Count) – Happy Herbivore
- Can’t lose the weight? It could be the nuts – Jeff Nelson, and see also this lengthy analysis of the science about nuts and weight loss: Nuts & Weight Gain: It’s Worse Than We Thought
- See also the Maximum Weight Loss Strategies page
Food composition tables:
- Australian Food Composition Database – previously called NUTTAB, this is a reference database that contains data on the nutrient content of Australian foods
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory – User-friendly access to USA food composition data
- NutritionData.com – Includes percentage energy from carbohydrates, proteins, fats
- I Lost 300 Pounds and Regained My Life … And My Entire Family Joined Me! – Kitten Barbossa (2016)
- I Lost 180 Pounds in a Year … Along with High Cholesterol, Pre-Diabetes, and Sleep Apnea! – Jon Bergman (2013)
- Post-Pregnancy Weight Gain, High Blood Pressure, and Acne are Now Gone! – Mackenzie Holiday (written story, 2014)
- Goodbye to Disordered Eating, High Cholesterol, and Excess Weight! – Crystal Burman (written story, 2013)
- Cloudy Rockwell: Loses a Hundred Pounds – (8 min. video plus written story)
- Norm Weinstein: Lost 250 Pounds – (video)
- Cathy Stewart: Loses 150 Pounds – (written story)
- Dan Curtin: Depression, Hypertension, GERD, Obesity – (written story)
- Jennifer Bucheli’s NEW LIFE – (PBJ written story)
- Unsupersize Me (documentary film) – Watch Tracy’s amazing journey, losing 200lbs in one year on a plant-based diet.
Page created 26 January 2013
Page last updated 30 April 2018
A one-week plant-based meal plan for healthy weight loss
Decade after decade, we see low carbohydrate diets rehashed and renamed – first it was the Inuit diet, then the Atkins Diet, followed by the Paleo Diet, and more recently by the Ketogenic Diet. Despite the fact that at equal caloric intake, these diets have been proven to be no better for weight loss, they are touted wide and far by their proponents as the ‘magic pill’ for a slim waist.
However, by cutting out healthful foods such as whole grains and legumes, these diets are widely considered to be unsustainable and extreme, and have in fact received significant criticism from the medical community. More often than not, people using strict low carbohydrate diets to lose weight end up gaining more weight than their starting position – a phenomenon described as the ‘Yo-Yo effect’.
So, what’s the solution to sustainable and healthy weight loss? The first tool to arm yourself with is a general understanding of how weight loss is universally achieved, irrespective of diet: a negative energy balance. In other words, a person who is trying to lose weight should be burning more calories than they are consuming.
When it comes to what foods should be eaten, since we know that moderate to high carbohydrate diets (approximately 50-55 per cent of energy from carbohydrates) are associated with longevity, a healthy weight loss plan should not aim to restrict or remove this macronutrient.
In addition, we know that people eating a predominately or completely plant-based diet typically have a lower BMI than omnivores, most probably due to the fact they consume more fibre and are left feeling more satiated from fewer calories. So with this principle in mind, my greatest recommendation for anyone wanting to achieve weight loss is to create a calorie deficit food plan based around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, whilst minimising animal product and processed food intake including oils.
In order to determine how many calories you should consume to promote weight loss, the first step is understanding your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). You can do this using any number of online calculators – this calculation will consider your age, weight, height and activity level. Once you have obtained this figure, subtract 25 per cent to set a calorie goal for sustainable weight loss. For example, if your TDEE was 2,000 calories/day then your target calories for weight loss would be 1500 calories/day.
These are the principles that have been used by Eimele, a responsible weight management brand made in Australia, that myself and a team of Doctors and Nutritionists have been working on. Each meal uses natural plant-based ingredients that have been carefully balanced to provide complete nutrition – providing consumers with the assurance that they are getting the macronutrients and micronutrients that they need to thrive, whilst taking the guesswork out of calorie counting. In addition to products, Eimele consumers will have access to healthy whole food recipes and expert blogs to help solidify the principles of healthy weight loss and empower them to take control of their health not just today, but for the long term. Below is an example meal plan illustrating how the Eimele products can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle (full recipes for meals are available at eimele.com.)
Unlike restrictive weight loss guides, the below meal plan will nourish the body with vital nutrients, rather than depleting it, allowing for sustainable and healthy weight loss.
Healthy weight loss meal plan
Breakfast: Mixed berry oats
Snack: 1 cup mango
Lunch: Baked falafel salad bowl
Afternoon snack: Cacao & coconut snack bar
Calories: 87 calories
Dinner: Tempeh and chickpea salad
The science behind your weight loss failures
The science behind your weight loss failures
Breakfast: Vanilla blueberry protein smoothie bowl
Morning snack: Acai berry snack bar
Calories: 95 calories
Lunch: Tomato, basil and lentil soup
Calories: 363 calories
Afternoon snack: Choc chip cookie
Dinner: Tempeh poke bowl
Breakfast: Avocado and chickpea on toast
Morning snack: medium banana
Lunch: Veggie and tofu stir-fry with brown rice
Afternoon snack: Cacao and coconut snack bar
Dinner: Creamy Pumpkin and sweet potato soup
Breakfast: Kakadu, plum, pineapple and coconut oats
Morning snack: Acai berry snack bar
Lunch: Red lentil bolognese pasta
Afternoon snack: choc chip cookie
Dinner: Lentil and tomato chilli
Breakfast: warming apple cinnamon oats
Morning snack: 14 almonds
Lunch: Creamy mushroom and corn soup
Afternoon snack: cacao and coconut snack bar
Dinner: Black bean veggie quesadilla
Breakfast: Mixed berry oats
Morning snack: 1 medium apple
Lunch: Tempeh and chickpea salad
Afternoon snack: Acai berry snack bar
Dinner: Sweet potato and chickpea curry
Breakfast: Peanut butter banana oats
Morning snack: Cacao and coconut snack bar
Lunch: Heart kidney bean chili
Afternoon snack: Choc chip cookie
Dinner: Purple yam and squash soup
Simon is a qualified health professional having completed a Bachelor of Physiotherapy with Honours in 2008, Plant Based Nutrition at Cornell University and is currently studying a Masters in Nutrition at Deakin University in Australia. Follow him on Instagram @plant_proof.