Is it Meant for Weight Loss?
The term “diet” can be a little confusing when you are looking into a plant-based diet, but it is not actually something meant to help you lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain your physique. While many people do incorporate more plant-based foods into their weight loss diet, just going plant-based doesn’t automatically mean you should or will lose unwanted pounds.
Here are some important things to keep in mind when considering plant-based and losing weight.
Plant-Based is Not a Typical “Diet”
The first thing to keep in mind is that just because the term diet is used, doesn’t mean it is meant for weight loss. This has become the word people associate with “diet to lose weight”, but a diet is nothing more than the way you eat.
At its core, the point of a plant-based diet is to teach you how to nourish your body with more whole, plant-based foods, and gradually reduce your meat, chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs from your diet. It is not meant to have heavy restrictions or to tell you that you are going to lose weight with this diet.
Can You Lose Weight?
The short answer is yes, you can lose weight while on a plant-based diet. However, it is not as simple as just removing animal products from your diet, and automatically burning fat. You still need to come at from the angle of calories in versus calories out. If you want to lose weight, you need to understand how much you are eating and make sure you are burning more calories through daily activities and exercise than what you are eating.
If you are brand new to this concept, consider using an app that lets you track your food, like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt. These apps let you look up your foods, which you can enter and see how much you are eating. Weighing and measuring is important to get an idea of proper portions, but before too long, you might get so used to it, you don’t need to log every single thing religiously.
It is also a good idea to add in exercise, as this helps burn fat and lets you stay in a calorie deficit.
What About Sugar and Carbs?
A common question people ask in terms of plant-based lifestyles and losing weight is about the macros that change when you eat more plant-based foods, particularly with the sugar and carbs.
The crucial thing to remember here is that it depends how carbs and sugar make you feel. If you feel fine after eating natural sugars found in fruits and other plant-based foods, and carbs don’t make you bloat or cause inflammation, what’s the harm?
For weight loss and nothing else, the calories are really the most important thing you need to remember.
Tips for Managing Your Weight While Being Plant-Based
If you want to be both plant-based and lose some weight, here are some tips to help you get there.
Track what you eat and how much you exercise. To maintain a calorie deficit, track everything you eat and how many calories you burn on a daily basis.
Load up your plate with veggies. It can help a lot to have at least ½ your plate for lunch and dinner to be made up of veggies. This can be roasted veggies, a salad, or a big buddha bowl with lots of whole grains an veggies on the bottom. They are low in fat and calories, provide tons of fiber, and help to keep you fuller longer.
Be conscious of your snacking. Snacking between meals won’t cause you to gain weight unless you go way over your calorie deficit. However, it can keep you from losing weight if you aren’t careful. Opt for healthy, low calorie snacks like veggies with hummus, fruit, and granola bars.