Think it’s not cool to go vegan? Look again. Going vegan has been becoming more and more mainstream and popular. Some say it’s the best way to lose weight and improve health. Bill Clinton recently announced he’s a vegan, according to the Huffington Post article “Bill Clinton, Champion of the Plant-Based Diet, Goes Vegan.”
Along with Clinton are some other notable vegans including “Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, “Biggest Loser” trainer Bob Harper, actress Olivia Wilde and even Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.”
According to Sharon Palmer in the June 2011 Environmental Nutrition article “The Path to a Healthy Vegan Diet,” “health experts are coming forward with scientific evidence promoting the benefits of diets that are based on plants, rather than animals.”
Besides the loss of extra pounds and maybe an increase in popularity, you can expect to reap health benefits like reduced chronic illnesses, reduced risks for ischemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cancer and lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, says Karmeen Kulkarni, M.S., R.D., Director of Scientific Affairs at Abbott Diabetes Care as quoted in Palmer’s article.
If you’re considering a plant-based diet, here are some vegan weight loss tips.
Opt for a Low-Fat Vegan Diet
You can find a few books that promote low-fat vegan diets and tasty recipes to increase your options for a satisfying vegan experience. The main premises of most low-fat vegan eating includes the following:
- Avoid any food that has a face, and that also includes any that came from a mother with a face like meat, poultry, fish and all dairy products including egg whites.
- Avoid processed foods, junk foods and anything high in fat.
- Avoid foods made from refined grains– white bread–as well as significant amounts of nuts, vegetable oil or high-fat vegetables and fruits.
- Be wary of prepackaged vegan food. Typically companies like to cash in on popular weight loss programs, but many of their products contain too much fat and sugar to improve taste, so be sure to check the labels.
Here’s what you can indulge in to optimize your health and enjoy vegan weight loss:
- All varieties of vegetables, no matter what color, but go easy on avocados
- All varieties of legumes
- All whole grain products including breads and pastas as long as they don’t contain any fats
- All fruits.
- Soy products as long as they’re not high in fat
Yes, it’s going to be tough to change over to a vegan diet at first, especially if you’ve been following the typical American diet of meat and fast and processed foods; however, many people report after a few weeks following a vegan diet, it becomes a lot easier. Also in just a few weeks, you should also probably notice results in how much better you look and feel.
Another bonus with low-fat vegan eating is you don’t need to obsess over carbohydrates or calories. According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine a low-fat vegan diet leads to significant weight loss without restricting calories, states the Good Medicine article “PCRM’s Study Shows the Weight-Loss Power of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet.” On average, low-fat vegan dieters lose one pound a week, according to the study. PCRM is a nonprofit organization that focuses on preventive medicine and nutrition, and promotes vegetarian diets and alternatives to animal research.
What’s the percentage of fat for low-fat vegan dieting? Most studies for low-fat vegan diets range between 10% to 30% fat from non-animal sources. If you’re considering going on a low-fat vegan diet or any type of new diet, it’s important to speak with your doctor first.
Some Caveats for Vegan Weight Loss
Be sure to eat a balanced vegan diet that includes plant foods and whole grains with adequate amounts of protein. Keep in mind, nearly all foods contain protein, except for alcohol, fat and sugar, says Palmer.
Because people get most of their vitamin B12 from meat, eat B12-fortified foods or take a B12 supplement.
Get plenty of omega-3s from food sources like walnuts, soy and hemp or take omega-3 supplements. The same goes for calcium and vitamin D requirements. For vitamin D, you can also spend a few minutes in the sun each day.
Be aware of diet soda weight gain. There are some studies that show drinking diet soda may cause weight gain, especially around the stomach area.
“Bill Clinton, Champion of the Plant-Based Diet, Goes Vegan.” Huffington Post. August 19, 2011.
Dansinger, Michael, MD. “Low-Fat Vegan Diet for Reversing Diabetes.” WebMd. May 4, 2010.
Palmer, Sharon. “The Path to a Healthy Vegan Diet.” Environmental Nutrition. Jun. 2011.
“PCRM’s Study Shows the Weight-Loss Power of a Low-Fat Vegan Diet.” Good Medicine. Autumn 2005.
Vegan Weight Loss and Health