Vegans are strict vegetarians that eat only plant foods, such as grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. A vegetarian diet can be a healthy way to eat for any person, regardless of age or condition. Vegans and other vegetarians have lower risk of certain diseases and tend to be of a healthier weight than meat eaters. A vegan diet, however, is no guarantee that you will lose weight at a specific rate.
Weight loss happens when you eat fewer calories than you burn. It takes a 500-calorie deficit daily to lose 1 lb. per week. Choosing only vegan foods is no guarantee that you will create this deficit daily. You must still be diligent about the foods you consume and the calories they contain.
Vegan foods are not automatically healthy or low in calories. Nuts and seeds are quality sources of protein for vegans, but contain significant calories per serving. Many white breads, sugary baked goods, white rice and white pasta are full of refined flours that offer little nutrition and can also contribute significant calories to your diet. Some soy-based meat replacement foods, including hot dogs, chicken nuggets and corn dogs are also high in calories and sodium, which can lead to bloating and the failure to lose weight.
Losing weight on a vegan diet still requires attention to your diet plan and calorie intake. A weight-loss vegan diet should focus primarily on fresh fruits, watery and fibrous vegetables, plain whole grains, tofu, soymilk and small servings of plant oils and nuts. Stick to between 1,200 and 1,800 calories per day, which represents a 500- to 800- calorie deficit daily for most people and will lead to weight loss at a rate of 1 to 1.5 lbs. per week. Avoid creamy dressings, processed vegan foods, snack bars and sweets, which can cause you to eat too many calories.
A vegan plan can be healthy, but is sometimes deficient in certain nutrients. Because you eat no cow’s milk or dairy, you may not get enough calcium. Seek out fortified soy milk, juices and leafy greens to help make up for this deficit. Vegans may also not get enough vitamin B-12, which is primarily available in animal products. A low-calorie snack high in B-12 is air-popped popcorn tossed with cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast. Vegans may also be deficient in zinc, protein and long-chain fatty acids. Talk to your health care provider about the potential of needing a supplement to support your nutrition needs.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.