Vegan Weight Loss Tips
According to statistics, vegan weight loss is simply not an issue - in addition to being in better health, vegans are more likely to be slightly under average weight rather than over. However the real world is made of real people not statistics, and real people come in all shapes and sizes and with different habits, baggage and history. We hope the following vegan weight loss tips will be useful to anyone trying to shed a few pounds:
Everything is different on a vegan diet (never mind a vegan weight loss diet!), and if you are in the transitioning phase there is a lot to unlearn - including old habits and perceptions of what a meal looks or feels like. If you try to replicate portions and proportions of food types based like-for-like on a typical western carnivorous diet, you could end up with some very strange and unhealthy vegan meals. Get hold of some great vegan receipes for balanced and healthy meals, and discover a whole new world of delicious and healthy eating, to kick start your vegan weight loss successfully!
Watch the refined carbs. A vegan diet can be high in carbohydrates and still very effective for weight loss, but look for wholegrain, high-fibre options every time. If carbs form a significant part of your diet you can achieve noticeable weight loss results simply by switching white bread and rice for brown on a daily basis. These have a much lower glycemic index and will leave you feeling fuller for longer, as your blood sugar will not spike then deplete over a rapid cycle.
Change your cooking methods. Eat the foods you love, but try them steamed or baked instead of fried, or even raw with all enzymes and nutrients intact! There can be a temptation with vegetables to add lots of marinades and dressings etc, but instead try investing in the best possible quality produce you can, then cooking and eating it as simply as possible, to allow yourself to appreciate the flavours of the individual ingredients, and accelerate your natural vegan weight loss.
Watch the fakes and substitutes! You gave up animal produce for reasons that were important to you... so you try and find a way emotionally to leave behind the tastes and textures that food once brought you, because they are not natural to vegan foodstuffs. To recreate them takes complex chemical processes that often involve hydrogenating healthy vegetable fat to render it hard and smooth like animal fat, and adding flavourings and flavour enhancers, colourings, often far too much salt. It's very unfair of us to tar all such products with the same brush and indeed many fulfil a vital role in helping people transition to a far healthier diet than one containing meat and dairy... however we would simply urge you very strongly to look at the ingredient labels carefully, and make informed choices about what you're eating. And try not to make such products a staple or regular part of your diet - they often cost a fortune in cash terms as well as compromising your successful vegan weight loss.
Eat your food as close to the source as possible. Un-messed around with, as close to its natural state as is viable. Of course, whilst you can eat many fruit and veg raw, you can't do the same with pulses so easily - but it really doesnt take a lot of planning to soak and cook beans, or even sprout them, and not only is it far cheaper than tinned you control exactly what goes in and what doesnt (take a look at the sugar content on some brands of beans in tomato sauce and you may get a surprise!). Simply having to plan your meals a few days in advance in this way is a good means of portion control and avoiding impulse shopping/eating, which will all contribute to effective vegan weight loss.
Don't go nuts! Mmmm delicious nuts and a fantastic source of vegan protein, and (assuming allergies aren't an issue) nuts should definitely form part of your diet - but portion control is very important, as they are extremely high in fat and therefore very calorifically dense. Think about choosing nuts for specific health benefits, and enjoying the different textures and flavours - rather than grazing your way through a 600kcal bag of peanuts whilst watching TV!
Watch what your'e drinking - and not just alcohol either! Flavoured soy milk drinks can be laden with sugar and fat, smoothies and juices have their own unlikely dangers (see below), and sugar in tea and coffee adds up fast. Fizzy cans of pop are simply laden with sugar too, that you barely even notice you are consuming when you are drinking it rather than eating it! Learn to love nature's most natural drink - WATER. Or at least move in the right direction with lightly flavoured drinks. A squeeze of lemon in lightly carbonated mineral water is refreshing and delicious however and you will help every aspect of your health and wellbeing by drinking more of it.
Go easy on the sugar - if you have a sweet tooth be careful not to eat to much refined sugar, even a lot of sweet fruits can create a vicious circle of cravings for more again soon. Juices and smoothies are perceived as very healthy and detoxifying, and great for vegan weight loss - well certainly they are, but if they contain only sweet fruit they are extremely high GI and will send your blood sugar all over the place. Dried fruits as well are very high in sugar, which combines with fruit acids very dangerously for your teeth incidentally. Also, most processed cane sugar commercially available is refined using bone char as its activated carbon source, therefore is NOT vegan. Look carefully at the ingredients called for in many vegan dessert recipes, and make an informed choice. In terms of weight loss and food appreciation generally, if you can make a conscious effort to re-educate your taste buds to enjoy less sweet foods, you will do yourself a huge favour - and find yourself enjoying sweetness in unexpected places, such as ripe tomatoes or carrots...
Eat the RIGHT fats - Fat is obviously the most high-calorie food group you can consume, but the weight loss 'fat equals bad!' message is such a powerful one that there are potential risks involved. Vegans are at greater danger than any other group of being deficient in fat, and you absolutely need essential fatty acids for good brain health (the clue is in the word 'essential!') Make sure you have good regular sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils in your diet, these include flax, olive oil, nut oils, borage oil - your body cannot manufacture these and they should be consumed regularly (eg a handful of flax seeds on your breakfast cereal). If you don't eat enough of these fats your whole health and well-being will suffer, and you may also find yourself craving the wrong fats for the wrong reasons, such as hydrogenated and saturated fats. Eating the right kinds of fats in small regular amounts will not hinder your vegan weight loss in any way, and should definitely form part of your vegan diet plan.
Finally, eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Anything white doesnt count - chips are not one of your '5 a day' (and vegans should be looking at more than 5 in any case). If your vegan diet includes green leaves, bright red and orange fruit, luscious purple and yellow veggies, you will know you are getting a balanced and complete range of nutrients that wont send you running to the store cupboard not even sure what you're lacking/looking for. You will be a shining example of vegan health and wellbeing for others to aspire to!
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