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Is a Vegan (Plant-Based) Diet Good for Weight Loss?

Natalie
Stein
September 11, 2021
Is a Vegan (Plant-Based) Diet Good for Weight Loss?
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In this article:

  • A vegan or plant-based diet  excludes animal-sourced foods. It does not include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or milk products. 
  • Vegan diets can be good for weight loss. They may also be heart-healthy and good for blood sugar. 
  • This three-day meal plan has vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, beans, and other nutritious foods for weight loss and health.
  • Lark's weight loss coaching can steer you towards an easy-to-follow weight loss plan.

A vegan diet is the same thing as a plant-based diet. Some people follow it for health reasons. But will it help you lose weight? 

A review article in Journal of Geriatric Cardiology asked whether plant-based diets can help people lose weight. Many research studies in the article found that vegan diets led to more weight loss than other diets.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) also says a plant-based diet can have health benefits. It may lower blood pressure, risk of diabetes, and "bad" LDL-cholesterol. Plus, the diet is 

And it's nutritionally fine 

What Do You Eat on a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based or vegan diet includes only foods that are not derived from animals. It may include and exclude these foods.

Include Exclude

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soy)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Soy and soy-based products, such as tofu and soy-derived meat substitutes

  • Milk and dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream
  • Meat, fish, poultry, and shellfish
  • Butter and cream
  • Eggs

Pure vegans may also avoid honey, since it comes from the labor of bees.

Are There Nutritional Concerns with a Vegan Diet?

Some people worry that a vegan diet is not nutritionally adequate. They may worry about missing key vitamins and minerals from animal-source foods. These are examples.

  • Protein in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk.
  • Calcium in dairy products.
  • Iron in meat.

But, plant-based foods can be almost sufficient. You can get the protein and iron you need from legumes, grains, nuts, and other plant-based foods. And soybeans, many milk substitutes, and some fortified foods such as breakfast cereal and orange juice, can have calcium.

The only vitamin that you cannot get from plant-based foods is vitamin B12. It is best to ask your doctor about a vitamin B12 supplement and any other nutrients you may be concerned about.

Food Choices Matter

It is good to keep in mind that a vegan diet is not automatically healthy. Some foods that are 100% plant-based are poor choices. They may be high in calories, low in nutrients, or thought to be bad for weight, blood sugar, or heart health. It may be best to limit these foods if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sweetened almond and soy milk.
  • Sweets, such as cake, candy, cookies, brownies, ice cream, and pastries.
  • Sugar-sweetened foods, such as jam, flavored yogurt and oatmeal, sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals, and sweet and sour sauce.
  • Refined grains and grain products, such as white bread, white rice and white pasta.
  • Fried foods, such as French fries, hash browns, fried zucchini sticks, and doughnuts.
  • Tropical oils, especially palm and possibly coconut oil.

Serving Sizes on a Vegan Diet

is also important to keep serving sizes in mind. No matter how healthy a food may be, it can cause weight gain if you eat too much of it. These serving sizes are especially important.

  • Healthy fat: 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup of avocado, 1/2 ounce of nuts, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Protein: 1/2 cup of tofu, beans, peas, or lentils
  • Whole grain: 1 slice of whole-wheat bread, ‚1/3 cup of cooked brown rice or whole-wheat pasta, ‚1/3 cup of dry oats, 3 cups of air-popped popcorn, 3/4 cup of whole-grain cereal
  • Starchy vegetable: 1/2 cup of corn, potato, yam, sweet potato, or peas, or 1 cup of winter squash such as acorn or butternut
  • Fruit: 1 piece of fruit or 3/4 cup of most cut fruit

Sample Menu for a Vegan Diet

Ask your healthcare provider before trying any new diet or meal plan.

Sample Day 1 Sample Day 2 Sample Day 3 Breakfast Tofu Scramble with Rice

Cook 1/2 cup of onion and 1/2 cup of mushrooms in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, then add 1/2 cup of tofu, drained and pressed, onion and garlic powder, turmeric, low-sodium soy sauce, and lemon juice. Serve with 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice mixed with 1/2 ounce of sliced almonds.

Avocado Breakfast Wrap

1/4 cup of mashed avocado on a small whole-wheat tortilla, with cooked (or raw) bell pepper and zucchini strips, dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 banana

Oatmeal with Walnuts and Apple

1/2 cup of oats cooked with water, plus 1 small chopped apple, 1 ounce of chopped walnuts, cinnamon to taste, and optional low-calorie natural sweetener such as monk fruit

Lunch

Peanut Butter Sandwich

2 slices of whole-wheat bread with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of blueberries

1 cup of baby carrots

Minestrone Soup

(1/4 recipe) Low-sodium vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chopped vegetables (1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 2 cups of cabbage or zucchini, fresh spinach leaves), 1 can of kidney beans, 4 ounces of whole-grain pasta, basil, oregano, black pepper

1 slice of whole-grain toast

Pasta Salad

‚1/3 cup of cooked whole-grain pasta mixed with 2 tablespoons of diced red onion, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup of green peas.

Optional: served over a bed of arugula or spring mix

3/4 cup of cut fruit

Dinner

Spaghetti with Chunky Garden Sauce

2 ounces (dry) of whole-grain spaghetti, cooked, mixed with tomato sauce and cooked broccoli florets, mushrooms, bell peppers, and/or onions

Salad with mixed greens, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumber, and mushroom slices

Baked Sweet Potato (Or Acorn Squash)

1 5-ounce sweet potato (or 1 small acorn squash) baked and stuffed with a mixture of diced onion, sliced mushrooms, and spinach cooked in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and mixed with ‚1/3 cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa

1 cup of cut fruit

Taco

2 whole-grain corn taco shells (or 1 small soft taco-sized tortilla) with soy crumbles (soy protein or TVP or TSP) seasoned with taco seasoning, chopped tomatoes and lettuce, diced onion, and 4 slices of avocado

1 small ear of yellow corn

You can add snacks if needed. You might consider these foods.

  • A piece of fresh fruit or some berries or cut melon
  • Nuts or peanuts
  • Raw vegetables
  • Air-popped popcorn or unsweetened whole-grain cereal
  • Cooked beans or roasted edamame (green soybeans)

There are tons of snack ideas here, too!

Losing weight can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and that's not all. When you lose a few extra pounds, energy levels can increase, cholesterol and blood pressure can improve, and clothes fit better. Best of all is that Lark makes weight loss simple!

Lark doesn't just know which choices can lead to weight loss. Lark coaches you on how to make good choices that can become habits. With small changes that fit right into your lifestyle, you can drop pounds and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Your personal coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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