Weight Loss For Vegans

Key tips for healthy and sustainable weight loss for vegans with a diet that keeps you feeling full and energised.

Weight Loss For Vegans photo

Vegan weight loss plan

While many people find that a plant-based diet helps them with weight loss or maintenance, others struggle to keep their weight down – just like the rest of the population.

Take a look at these key tips for healthy and sustainable weight loss in the context of a plant-based diet:

Watch your energy-to-protein ratios

Protein is often central to healthy and sustainable weight loss. It fills us up, satisfies our nutrient needs and has only a moderate effect on our blood glucose levels. Planning meals and snacks around protein is a good weight management strategy as it allows us to more easily burn body fat and avoid reaching out for sugary foods.

The tricky part of this for vegans is that the energy-to-protein ratio of plant-based foods tends to be higher than for animal-based foods. This means that you often have to eat more energy (calories!) to get the same amount of protein from a food. Address this by planning meals around protein-rich foods such as quinoa, tofu, beans and nuts. Consider in addition an isolated protein powder such as rice, pea or hempseed – these have a lower energy-to-protein ratio and can be used to make a high-protein, low-sugar breakfast smoothie. See our article on protein sources for vegans .

Avoid meals based predominantly on carbohydrates

It’s easy to fall into the trap of creating meals that are mostly made of starchy foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes or bread. These foods convert to sugars in the body, raising blood glucose and making it harder for us to burn body fat. Shrink this starchy portion of your meals to take up no more than a quarter of your plate. Don’t go hungry though - fill up instead on more protein-rich foods such as tofu and beans or naturally fat-rich foods such as olives or avocado.

Make meals filling with healthy fats

Cooking in healthy fats such as coconut oil or olive oil will help to make meals satisfying and reduce the need for snacks. Add a drizzle of a delicate oil such as hempseed oil or sesame seed oil to salads and vegetables. Make olives, nuts, avocados and coconut a part of your eating plan.

Minimise processed foods

Processed foods often have hidden additives, unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates that interfere with weight loss. Plan ahead so that you don’t need to reach for ready meals, packaged snacks or takeaways at the end of a busy day. If possible, set aside some time at the weekend to make a slow-cooked stew – for example, with vegetables and beans or lentils – this can be heated quickly during the week. You could also make some bean or mushroom-based burgers in batches for the freezer – your very own ready meal but 100 times healthier than factory-made!

Reach for savoury snacks first

Have nuts, seeds, olives or crudités and humus as your go-to snacks when hunger strikes. The idea is to keep your blood glucose as stable as possible so that you can avoid sweet cravings. Add interest by toasting your own nuts, adding fresh lemon juice to your olives and mixing up different kinds of seeds.

Plan your treats

Make a list of low-sugar treats such as dark chocolate and berries. Make your own protein or fat-based treats using dates and nut butters to avoid reaching for cakes and chocolate bars full of refined sugar and sweeteners.

Keep moving but don’t over-exercise

Everyday movement is important for many aspects of health, not least to keep our metabolism functioning well. Avoid long periods of sitting and add in more frequent walks, even if they are not long. On the other hand, though, an exercise regime that is vigorous and prolonged can often work against weight-loss efforts due to extra inflammation and compensatory eating.

Reduce your stress!

Stress raises our cortisol levels, which raises our blood glucose levels and leads to weight gain. Find ways to introduce more relaxation and stress-management techniques into your life.

Finlayson, G., et al., 2009. Acute compensatory eating following exercise is associated with implicit hedonic wanting for food. Physiology & Behavior, 97(1), pp.62–67.

Jenkins, D.J.A., et al., 2014. Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open, 4(2).

Krieger, J.W., et al., 2006. Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: a meta-regression. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(2), pp.260–274.