Note: This is a guest post from my friend Alena over at Nutriciously
More and more people have been transitioning to a vegan diet and lifestyle over the past years. The reasons for this change range from ethical issues and protecting the planet over to getting healthy and losing some weight.
While for a few people weight loss happens almost automatically, it’s not the case for all of us. Eating a vegan diet doesn’t mean that everything you consume is healthy – after all, potato chips, soda, and chocolate bars can be vegan too.
Since we sometimes connect eating a vegan diet with restricting choices, it’s exciting to find out what kind of amazing treats there are left for us to eat! Whether we’re talking about chocolate chip cookies, vegan cheese pizza, or coconut ice cream… all of these are cruelty-free(and delicious), but also very rich foods.
If you’re happy with your weight and health right now, great! No need to change then. But if you’re seeking to shed some pounds in addition to saving animals, then here as some tips that I think will help you out.
[NOTE: I have written up a little eBook containing the 9 Steps to Easy and Effortless Weight Loss which you can download here for free!]
1. Step away from refined and processed food
Let me introduce the concept of calorie density here. It simply means that different foods have a different amounts of calories per pound, meaning they are more or less calorically dense. It doesn’t always say much about how healthy a food is, since nuts and seeds are very calorically dense and are still considered healthful, while cheese is a little bit lower on that same scale in terms of calories, while being considered pretty harmful to our bodies.
If you refine a food, like grains or olives, you strip away water, fiber, and other essential nutrients – all of which contributed to the overall lower calorie density. And so you’ll get twice or three times the amount of calories sometimes while eating the same amount of food that you need for satiation.
When you choose whole, unprocessed grains over processed flour products, you will get full sooner while consuming way less calories. The same goes for a whole fruit vs. a juice or smoothie. Emphasize eating your food the way you find it in nature.
2. Cut back on oil and fat
Speaking of calorie density, oil is the highest on this scale. A pound of oil comes down to 4,000 calories, a tablespoon already has 100-120 calories. And yes, even extra virgin olive oil. It’s literally pure fat with only trace amounts of other nutrients.
The worst part is that we cannot taste fat on our tongue, so it basically makes no huge difference to the food – it merely enhances the flavor of your other ingredients. Oil also doesn’t fill you up at all and you can consume 400 calories easily without thinking twice on top of the rest of your food. Any oil has 9 calories per gram, no matter if it’s canola oil, olive oil, or coconut oil. No one type of oil is better than the other.
If you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t just avoid oils, but also high fat foods. This means even whole fats like nuts or seeds. While they aren’t unhealthy for you like oils are (think about it, oil is as refined as white sugar), you can easily eat a few handful of nuts as a snack… which have around 3,000 calories per pound. Aim to reduce high fat foods in general, but don’t start to deprive yourself to the point that you eventually want to binge out.
3. Emphasize fruits, veggies, and starches
Okay I probably don’t have to tell you that you should eat your fruits and vegetables – you know that ever since you were a child. But why is that? Well, when it comes to weight loss, vegetables have the absolute lowest amount of calories (around 150 calories per pound), fruit coming in on second place (300 calories per pound).
You can literally eat unlimited amounts of these food groups without consuming too many calories. On top of that, fruits and veggies have a high nutrient density, meaning they are bursting of vitamins and minerals – both of which are essential to your health. If you don’t get enough of these, you can get really bad cravings, and we all know how this usually ends…
But if you should avoid fatty foods and eat up on fruits and veggies, is that enough? Of course it isn’t, and anyone who’s tried that kind of diet will agree. You need something to give you enough satiation and energy too. And the best way to get this is by eating whole grains and starchy root vegetables like potatoes.
They are high in carbohydrates and low in fat, which is perfect for your cells to get energized and your belly to be satiated for a long time. Grains and potatoes come with a good amount of fiber and are the third lowest food group on our calorie density scale… meaning you can still eat a fair amount of these foods (until you’re full) and still lose some pounds. Other great sources of starches are corn, beans, peas, lentils, yams, rice, and oats.
All of this said, I don’t want you to restrict your calories, starve yourself, or go crazy over calorie counting! I just wanted to show how making the right food choices can set you free of all the craziness surrounding other weight loss methods.
By emphasizing fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, and potatoes, you can eat whenever you are hungry and as much as you want to, while still consuming way less calories you normally would. This is the most effective and easy way to get lean long-term.
Hopefully, these 3 tips are already helpful to you and made you understand some basic concepts. If you’d like to get all of our tips for healthy vegan weight loss for free, then check out our eBook here.
About the Author:
Alena created Nutriciously with her partner after having been eating a plant-based vegan diet for 5 years. Their goal and passion is to share the simplicity and numerous benefits of this way of eating as well as helping other people to transition, heal their ailments, find delicious recipes, and lose weight easily. You can follow them around on social media via Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.