Vegan is more than a way of eating. Vegan is a lifestyle. So, we know that being vegan can be a much healthier existence than the typical SAD, standard American diet.
But what about weight loss? Can I expect to lose weight by being vegan?
I will explore what vegan actually is, and how it benefits you to be a vegan. I will also explore what vegan foods can actually help with weight loss.
And, I will let you know which vegan foods may have the opposite effect. Who wants that?
If you are vegan or thinking of becoming a vegan, this information can benefit you.
What is Vegan exactly?
Vegans eat a plant based diet. Primarily vegans eat fruits and vegetables.
They also eat nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Vegans do not eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or any foods containing them.
Some vegans do it for the sake of the animals. Some do it for the environment, and some do it for health reasons. And some do it for a combination of some or all three reasons.
Vegan diets however, if not well put together, can put some people in a nutrient deficit situation, especially if they don’t plan their diets correctly.
For instance, vitamin B12 is lacking in a strict vegan diet. Other nutrients such as calcium, protein, iron, and omega 3 fatty acids can be derived by eating vegan, but only in certain foods.
For B12, fermented foods are a good vegan source such as sauerkraut, and fermented soy products. Many vegans also supplement B12 in order to get the needed amounts.
For calcium, lentils, seeds, nuts, beans, leafy greens like collard greens, kale, turnip greens, and beet greens all provide a good amount.
For protein, beans, lentils, and mushrooms all have good protein content. Potatoes, broccoli, nuts, and quinoa also are high in protein.
For iron, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, spinach, silver beet, and broccoli will supply your needs.
For omega 3 fatty acids, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, brussel sprouts, algae oil and soy have high amounts.
The Best Vegan Foods for Weight Loss
The great news is, if you are a vegan, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to gain a lot of fat, and weight.
There are some exceptions, but it has to do more with how your food is prepared, and what toppings and additions you may include in your vegan dishes than the raw food itself.
And, even better news is that there are some vegan foods that make weight loss easier than others. The best place to start is with the Glycemic Index.
The Glycemic Index is a list of foods numbered to indicate their ablitiy to increase blood glucose levels in the blood. These blood glucose levels help determine the speed to which your fat burning metabolism burns fat.
Carbohydrates that have a lower number ( approximately 55 or lower) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised more slowly. The end result is a gradual rise in blood glucose levels as well as, insulin levels.
These insulin levels are directly related to whether you will lose or gain weight. The lower the insulin levels the better for your weight loss efforts.
Med school Physiology textbooks state that all aspects of fat metabolism are greatly enhanced in the absence of insulin.
To put it simply, the lower glycemic foods are utilized by the body for it’s energy needs, and are not stored by the body as fat.
Eating low glycemic foods can not only help you lose weight, but can also lower the risk of developing Type ll or Adult Onset diabetes.
For a list of low glycemic foods, click here.
Even more beneficial to your weight loss goals is the Insulin Index. The insulin index ranks foods base on their ability or inability to stimulate the hormone insulin.
The insulin index of a food represents how much it elevates the concentration of insulin in the blood during the two hour period after it is ingested.
Vegan foods that rank low on the Insulin Index include: Olives, avocados, pecans, mushrooms, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sesame seed butter, chick peas, kidney beans, all vegetables except for corn, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, coconut and coconut oil.
These foods also contain fiber as well as other nutrients that can make you feel full. Because these are whole foods, they also provide your cells with the required nutrition that once satiated, in turn signal the brain to stop eating.
Vegan foods that rank higher on the insulin index, and you should avoid include: corn, fruits, grains, juices, berries, potatos, rice, all sugars, and soy protein isolates.
What Not to Do
Even if you are eating the right foods such as low glycemic vegan foods, and low insulin vegan foods, there are still a few things you need to know that you shouldn’t do.
These may seem obvious, and common sense, but they are worth mentioning in case there is some gray area or some doubts about what works best for you.
Avoid fried foods. For that matter, avoid all cooked foods if at all possible. When you fry foods, even if you use vegetable oil, you change the molecular structure of the oil, and it transforms a healthy oil into an unhealthy oil.
Frying, and other cooking methods destroy the enzymes, and active nutrients in the food including much, if not all of the fiber which can then contribute to weight gain.
It is also tempting to add toppings, sauces, and other additives to enhance the taste, and flavor of the food. Some of these can contain ingredients that may negate the fat burning and weight loss properties of the foods, and turn the food into a weight gainer instead of a weight loser.
It is a good idea to know exactly what these extras include to be sure you are still on the right track to eating healthy foods that contribute to your weight loss goals.
Avoid processed foods even if they are considered vegan foods. Any foods that contain added sugars, salt/sodium, chemicals, dyes, msg – mono sodium glutamate, or any other questionable additives should be shunned.
Frozen foods are generally acceptable unless they contain any aforementioned additives.
Rule of Thumb
The best rule of thumb to control your weight while being vegan is to eat whole, organic, raw, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans that are low on the glycemic index, and the insulin index.
There are many vegan combinations, and dishes that you can tap into to make your meals interesting, diverse, healthy, and delicious.
Among the most popular ways to enjoy healthy vegan foods is by juicing or blending. I really enjoy the convenience of blending raw vegetables, and fruits into tasty smoothies, and juices.
Since there is no cooking involved, the time needed to prepare is very minimal, and the clean up is quick and easy. And the best part is, you can enjoy your healthy, delicious vegan concoction in a few moments.
You can expect to lose weight by eating vegan. Especially if you have been subjected to the SAD, standard American diet of refined, processed, chemical laden, hormone heavy, anti biotic, fried so-called foods.
Vegans eat primarily a diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. Vegans don’t eat fish, meat, dairy, eggs, or any foods that consist of them.
Vegan diets can lack certain nutrients, especially vitamin B12 which is only found in fermented foods in the acceptable vegan diet.
The best vegan foods for weight loss are found on the Glycemic Index in the lower section, and on the Insulin Index also on the lower section.
Avoid the foods that rank high on these indexes. Be aware that sauces, toppings, and other additives may affect your weight loss efforts negatively.
Eat raw, organic vegan foods, and shun the cooked, processed, refined foods.