Are you contemplating going vegan to help you lose weight? Whether you’re doing it for the planet, your health, or both, it’s a lifechanging choice that has the potential to make your life better. While most people follow a vegan diet out of a combination of ethical and health concerns, there may be a benefit for those looking to lose weight as well.
The benefits of going vegan shouldn’t come as a surprise, as vegan diets limit a lot of foods that are typical in the standard American diet. This often means that you will eat a lot less food because food options are limited and in turn, you may eat fewer calories too.
Vegetables and Fruit are Rich in Fiber
The foods that you tend to eat while on a vegan diet is often high in fiber, which is a gut filling food. High fiber foods tend to have a lot of water (think fruits and vegetables). They also require more chewing which slows down overall eatings and diminishes hunger hormones.
Another great benefit of fiber-rich food is that they may “trap” some foods in the digestive system. This means that calories are not processed in the small intestine before moving into the large intestine.
As the fiber-rich food gets processed in the large intestine, they continue to move material through the colon and on the way they are fermented by the bacteria in the colon. The products of fermentation can also affect hormones to the feeling of being full.
So in theory, a whole plant-based diet can be filling with fewer calories than a typical American diet, explains Spenser Nadolsky, DO an obesity physician with RPHealth.com
A research study done in 2015 does back up this information. The research found that those in the vegetarian diet groups lost significantly more weight than those in the non-vegetarian diet groups. More specifically, those subcategorized to the vegas groups lost even more than those eating a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet.
Don’t Sacrifice Enjoyment and Satisfaction
Although this data is promising when it comes to vegetarian diets and weight loss, not all health experts suggest a vegan diet as the best approach to weight loss.
“I wouldn’t recommend that people focus on vegan diets for weight loss because it minimizes the other things like enjoyment and satisfaction and puts weight loss above them,” says Willow Jarosh, M.S., R.D. of Willow Jarosh Nutrition in NYC.
A Vegan Diet Requires Planning and Prep
A vegan diet sounds like an easy task but remembers if you’ve been eating your whole life, it’s going to be much tougher than switching up your food palette. You will have to make sacrifices and lifestyle changes. It takes a good amount of planning and prep to pull it off. Most people that go on vegan diets revert back to the standard American diet that is rich in meat and cheese.
This isn’t saying that vegan diets are impossible, but just remember to give your body the nutrition and vitamins needed for optimal health.
The key ingredient for losing weight on vegan diets is weight management and following a plan that can be maintained for life.
One thing to keep in mind is that vegan food can be highly processed – vega cookies, donuts soda, etc. Vegan junk food is still junk food, so keep it at a minimal if you want to achieve weight loss.