People choose to avoid meat for many reasons, but regardless of the motivation, the last few years have seen a rise in the amount of people subscribing to a vegetarian, pescetarian, or vegan way of life. Over the years, there has been much conjecture on whether following these diets is healthy or beneficial, especially when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. Here’s the good news: a recent study1 proved following a plant-based diet can help you lose weight automatically, without counting calories or exercise!
The study asked participants to follow a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet for a month. The average weight loss? 7.48 pounds – even including people who didn’t stick strictly to the diet. The average for people who did stick with the diet was even more – about 10 pounds over the month. An important note is that the study does specify “plant-based,” since not all vegetarian diets are created equal (most junk food qualifies for a vegetarian diet). Scientists believe the reason for success1 can be traced back to the high fiber and low fat nature of a plant-based, vegetarian diet.
How you can lose weight on a plant-based diet
Since upping the amount of protein in your diet is one of the best ways to lose weight, vegetarians do face more challenges. But those obstacles aren’t without solutions! Here are a few tips on how to lose weight while following a plant-based vegetarian diet:
1. Get plenty of lean protein. Meatless options include quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, tofu, and egg whites. You’ll do better if you avoid higher-fat protein sources like cheese and peanut putter. A morning protein shake like 310 Nutrition's 310 Vegan Shake can be a great way to boost your protein intake!
2. Focus on eating fiber. It helps you feel full for longer and keeps your intestines happy.
3. Stay away from processed foods. Again, just because a food doesn’t contain any animal products doesn’t mean it’s a healthy food. Especially if you’re opting for a vegan diet, don’t just switch real cheese for “faux” cheese. While it’s OK to treat yourself once in a while, these imitation foods usually have lots of fat and sodium.
4. Cut out the sugar. No matter what diet you’re following, eating too much sugar will make losing weight that much harder. A really easy way to get more sugar than you need is by drinking fruit juice. Just don’t do it! Eat the fruit instead of drink it.
5. Eat more whole grains. These are complex carbohydrates, which are good for you. Think outside the rice/quinoa rut and experiment with other options like millet, amaranth, and kamut.
6. Drink enough water. It’s a weight-loss booster for many reasons, but eating such a high-fiber diet, you’ll need to keep things moving (if you know what I mean) and water will do just that.
7. Start exercising. While the study did indicate weight loss without counting calories or following an exercise program, adding a workout routine will definitely help your efforts. High intensity interval training is an easy way to get the most “bang for your buck,” giving you results for a minimal time investment.
The long and the short of it: you can absolutely lose weight as a vegetarian. In fact, following a healthy, plant-based diet can actually make weight loss easier for you.