By now, you probably know that eating a plant-based diet has been proven to decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and more lifestyle diseases. (1)
A plant-based diet or healthy vegan diet also gives you so much more energy and provides you with nutrients that help to keep your body healthy! According to PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), a plant-based diet may also offer a protective effect against Alzheimer’s Disease.
But sometimes eating vegan doesn’t mean that you’ll lose weight or stay lean.
When I started eating a plant-based diet, I researched all that I could and tried so many new foods and recipes. Some of the things I ate were processed foods that I found in the grocery store or natural foods store.
They were vegan or plant-based so I made the assumption they were a healthy choice! This is definitely not the case with so many processed vegan foods.
I’m sharing my TOP 8 TIPS on how to stay lean, and lose weight on a plant-based diet.
This post is all about weight loss on a plant-based diet.
Keep a food journal
A food journal will make sure you aren’t forgetting about snacks or meals. Writing everything down will assure that you don’t leave things out!
If you’re trying to pay more attention to what you’re eating, keeping a food journal will not only record it but will help you commit it to memory and acknowledge that you ate it.
You can truly forget about some snacks, side dishes, or drinks! Writing them down really helps when you’re looking back and thinking “I can remove these extra calories from this big smoothie”, for example.
My favorite journal is to use a traditional classic notebook such as this Moleskin Notebook. You could try a 30-day plant-based diet plan, recording everything you’re eating for 30 days!
You can also use your plant-based journal to record additional health habit information too, like how much exercise or sleep you got that day. These things are so easy to forget on a daily basis!
Simply start a file on your computer or phone, or just use a pen and a paper journal! Whichever is the easiest way for you that you know you’ll use regularly.
Learn Calorie density
This is a big one! Just because something is not meat, doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or going to help you in your plant-based weight loss journey.
Calorie density is how many calories are in a pound of food. Some of the healthiest foods in the world are the most calorie dilute. The goal is to eat more of these plant-based foods and less of the foods that are calorie-dense.
Some examples of low-calorie density foods are vegetables, fruit, potatoes, rice, corn, pasta, and hot cereals.
High-calorie density foods are oils, nuts, seeds, snack foods, and sugars.
Eating a plant-based diet that is filled with low-calorie dense food will allow you to eat MORE FOOD. This makes your body to feel much more full and satiated than eating high-calorie dense food. This will help you with weight loss on a plant-based diet!
According to Fork Over Knives, people can consume large portions of food that are between 300-800 calories per pound and still lose or maintain their weight. (2)
Another thing to focus on is plant-based foods that are nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense choices will provide the most benefits to your body and its functions.
By following a few principles around caloric density, you’ll increase the amount of food you’re eating while decreasing your overall caloric intake. This is the goal and will help you lose weight or maintain your healthy weight on a vegan or plant-based diet!
According to Dr. McDougall, these principles are to eat only when you’re hungry, always start a meal with a salad, do not drink your calories, fill half your plate with vegetables, and chose non-starchy veggies over everything else!
Why chose non-starchy vegetables? Because they’re the lowest calorie density choice. The full article in detail is here. (3)
This post is all about weight loss on a plant-based diet.
EAT HIGH FIBER FOODS
Healthy, nutrient-dense vegan foods that are part of a plant-based diet can help you lose weight and keep it off because they are packed with FIBER! Fiber helps fill you up, without adding extra calories.
Aim for 40 grams of fiber a day, which is easy to do when you include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Especially when you make them the centerpiece of your plate!
Fiber will also help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides and work towards preventing diabetes, ulcers, heart disease, and cancer. (4)
WATCH OUT FOR UNHEALTHY VEGAN FOODS
Be cautious of eating too many unhealthy vegan foods! Just because something is vegan or plant-based doesn’t mean it’s low in calories, sugar, or fat.
These can all lead to weight gain even though you’ve committed to a healthy plant-based or vegan diet.
TIP: Use these vegan foods as “treats” on the weekend, or as a reward for eating so many vegetables, fruits, and legumes all month! This will help you eat them only on occasion.
SKIP THE OIL
One tablespoon of oil has 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. That’s a lot for one little tablespoon! An entire bunch of broccoli has 200 calories in comparison.
If you’re someone who cooks with oil, consider reducing the amount you use, or replacing the oil with water. Once you replace oil with water a few times, you’ll get used to it. And, it will make a noticeable difference in your caloric intake!
Using vegetable broth when sauteing your food is another great way to hugely reduce calorie intake. Why allow for those extra calories in oil to mess with your plant-based diet weight loss goals?
Make healthier versions of your favorites
This tip helps me tremendously! It’s especially great advice when you’re starting out on a new plant-based diet. But, also advice that I use to this day!
I still have cravings for burgers, milkshakes, macaroni & cheese, and ice cream. (and more!)
These situations call for some homemade black bean burgers, banana ice cream, chocolate pudding (made with beans, or sweet potatoes), and sometimes a tofu scramble when my egg cravings kick in!
Go easy on sugar, fat, and salt
Reducing your intake of sugar, fat, and salt will help you in your healthy weight maintenance journey! These can sure pack a punch of extra calories if you’re not careful. The best way to combat sugar, fat, and salt is to try healthier versions of your favorites, as mentioned above.
If you can’t eliminate something, it’s still great to reduce it as much as you can! Eating half the calories of your favorite treat is better than eating all of it! So, give yourself some room and patience to work your way off of certain foods.
You’ll succeed if you can mostly focus first on vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes. Nutrient-dense choices are associated with less inflammation.
My favorite rule that’s helped me is to always fill half your plate with vegetables before anything else.
This new little rule will help you consume more nutrient-dense foods and lower calories!
Do some meal-prep
Shopping for healthy fruits, vegetables, and snacks ahead of time will help you eat healthier simply by being the food being there when you need it! We tend to stray from our plans when we’re hungry and looking around the kitchen. Before heading to the store, make sure you have a plant-based food list with you! By preparing for those moments, you’ll save yourself from extra calories and unhealthy choices!
Weight loss isn’t easy.
Making healthy choices isn’t always easy. If you can follow these tips most of the time, it will help you not only reduce the number of calories you’re eating. And, the best part is that you won’t go hungry, which makes it a heck of a lot easier.
These tips have helped me lose weight and continue to maintain a healthy weight into my fifties. Following a healthy plant-based or vegan diet is the best way to lose weight!
If you’re looking for easy breakfast recipes, check out these!
Making your own salad dressing at home is a PERFECT way to get started in reducing your calories. Here are some super easy, vegan salad dressing recipes.