Going vegan isn’t just a trend. It’s an act that can help shrink your waistline and reach your weight loss goals. More and more people are going vegan than ever before as a way to get their health on track and reach weight goals. People have been increasingly searching for vegan recipes now more than ever— in 2018, vegan-related searches globally were 11 percent higher than in 2017 and 35 precent higher than in 2016(1). People are searching for vegan tips around four times more than vegetarian and gluten-free searches(2). But is ditching meat, dairy and meat byproducts an effective way to lose weight (3)? From quinoa and chia seeds, eating healthy vegan food can help you shed pounds.
A vegan is someone who doesn’t eat anything with ingredients that contain animal-derived products or byproducts(4). A vegan diet means no consumption of meat, eggs, dairy products or any other animal-derived ingredients such as honey and gelatin. In addition, vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and certain wines.
Going vegan goes beyond eating habits for some vegans. Many also avoid using personal and household products that are tested on animals. Some vegans also refrain from using or purchasing any animal-derived, non-food products such as cosmetic products, leather and fur.
More than 69 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and a vegan diet can help rectify weight issues(5). Vegan diets consist of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, making this diet an effective way to cut fat from your plate and lose weight. According to studies, vegans have an overall lower body mass index than those who eat meat(6). Being a vegan may help people who are overweight reduce body fat and aid in weight loss without restricting or limiting calories.
Going vegan can even improve yourgut health. Data shows that a plant-based diet can change your body’s microbiome, increasing the healthy bacteria in thedigestive system (7). A plant-based diet is beneficial for the development of more diverse and stable microbial systems in the body. An improved digestive system and healthier gut function can help protect you against diseases like diabetes.
In addition to weight loss benefits, research has shown a plant-based vegan diet is beneficial in improving nutrient intake and decreasing the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease(8). Polyphenols are copious in plant-based foods and can increasebifidobacterium andlactobacillus, which provide anti-pathogenic andanti-inflammatory effects, as well as cardiovascular protection(9).
Keep in mind that when initially transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, it can be challenging finding easy-access, healthy foods and snacks that are free of animal products so planning ahead is crucial. Consider stocking up on shelf-stable healthy snacks. The following vegan foods are easily accessible and budget-friendly.
Quinoa is rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins and dietary minerals. Not only is it nutrient-rich, but it’s also a filling vegan food that can leave you feeling fuller longer due to the high amount of dietary fiber and protein(10). Low-calorie and easy to prepare, quinoa is a grain that can serve as a healthier replacement for rice or pasta.
Often called a “superfood,” can help you shed fat by suppressing your appetite and providing essential nutrients such as fiber, zinc, calcium and protein(11). Sixty percent of the oil in chia seeds is composed ofomega-3 fatty acids, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Sprinkle chia seeds onto your favorite whole-grain breakfast cereal or soups. You can also mix them into healthy, homemade salad dressings and vegetable marinades for a nutrient boost.
Bananas are an important fruit for a balanced diet. They are rich in fiber and provide vitamins like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C(12). Bananas can also increase the body’s potassium levels, which are crucial for muscle function and the prevention of cramps making it an excellent fuel for exercise. The potassium in bananas contains a vital mineral and electrolyte in the body that carries a small electrical charge. The charge causes nerve cells to send out signals to tell the heart to beat regularly and muscles to contract. It also helps maintain a healthy balance of water in cells. Staying hydrated is necessary for weight loss(13).
Beans increase satiation and reduce hunger(14). They are high in fiber and protein, helping you feel fuller longer. The soluble fiber in beans delays gastric emptying and the protein activates hormones in your stomach to tell your brain that you're full. Beans are also high in B vitamins, iron, potassium, zinc and magnesium. Try adding kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans and soybeans to help blast fat.
Avocados are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that may help reduce the risk of becoming overweight and obese(15). Monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados can lead to weight loss and cholesterol reduction. Try eating avocados alone or as a breakfast or snack on whole-grain toast.
Oats are a low-calorie and low-fat option for weight loss. They are packed with nutrients like healthy carbs and fiber. The soluble fiber in oats has been found to help lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein(16). Oats are affordable and can be customized easily. They can be prepared as oatmeal, oat protein bars, or even used as a binding agent in homemade vegan burgers.
Transitioning into a vegan diet isn’t easy for everyone but with discipline and the right resources, it can be a rewarding step toward weight loss and better health. Here are some steps that can help your transition:
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is an effective way to promote weight loss and healthy eating habits. From fat-busting plant-based foods like quinoa and chia seeds to vitamin B-12 rich foods such as beans, incorporating these powerful foods and skipping meat can help you achieve the fit body you desire. Eating vegan foods establishes a diverse ecosystem of beneficial bacteria in your body to support a better gut microbiome to protect you against diseases. Going vegan can help promote better overall health.Laura Tolliver - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice