The popularity of a plant-based diet for losing weight is growing extremely fast. But Why? Does it even work, and is there any evidence to back this sudden boom in a dietary shift from meat to plant?
Furthermore, the trend to switch to a plant-based diet isn’t solely fueled by people wanting to lose weight. In fact, many people turn to this diet for ethical reasons.
If you’ve spent any length of time on social media platforms, then no doubt you have seen the barbaric and horrendous abuse animals suffer for the meat to arrive at your supermarket.
That said, this post will focus on why people are choosing a plant-based diet for weight loss.
Why have meat-based diets always been recommended for weight loss?
Well, it’s assumed that meat yields a higher amount of protein compared to plants. However, due to more research put into plant-based diets, we are finding this isn’t always the case.
However, protein is a complex subject, and the body uses proteins for many reasons.
To simplify, think of each macronutrient as in terms of calories per gram –
- Fat nine calories
- Protein 4 calories
- Carbohydrates 4 calories
As you can see above, Fats have mosts calories with protein, and carbohydrates have an equal amount. However, proteins and carbohydrates act differently in regards to weight loss.
Carbohydrates come in two forms –
- Simple carbs
- Complex carbs
Now, carbohydrates are your primary energy source. Simple carbs such as sweets and fizzy pop are broken down quickly for energy as complex carbs take longer to break down. Any unused carbohydrates the body will convert to body fat (energy reserves)
Excess protein won’t store as fat if unused. Because of animal products having a high protein content, it’s encouraged for weight loss. That is, until now, with more research into plant-based diets.
5 Great sources for protein (plant-based)
Now we have established protein is good for weight loss; we should look at what plant-based food source is going to give the best return.
tofu is made from soybeans in a similar process to how cheese is made. However, tofu is tasteless but will soak up any flavors from other ingredients it’s prepared with. Furthermore, soybeans are considered a full source of protein. This means the proteins break down into all the amino acids the body needs.
You can expect anywhere between 10-19 grams of protein per 100 grams of tofu!
Not as popular as other seeds, but this seed is mighty. Yes, it’s related to the marijuana plant but only contains trace amounts of THC.
This particular seed boasts 50% more protein than chia and flax seeds. In fact, just 28 grams gives a whopping 10 grams of protein. Not only that, hempseed is easily digestible and another “full source of protein.”
Chickpeas and most beans:
Most varieties of beans are high in protein. Plus, there are so many different kinds it will be hard to find one you don’t like. Furthermore, beans are so versatile you can include them in many dishes and even use for weight loss snacks!
Chickpeas are great! In fact, chickpeas are a great source of complex carbs that will give you slow-release energy, so you don’t have energy crashes that ultimately lead to sugary snacks.
Also, studies have shown (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21041811) that having a diet rich with pulses can significantly help you lose weight.
Usually, green peas are used for side dishes or as plate fillers. However, green peas pack a mighty punch when it comes to nutrients. Boasting a whopping 9g of protein per cooked cup. Furthermore, they provide 25% of your daily intake of fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate, and manganese (1)
Quinoa and Amaranth:
Any plant-based diet for losing weight should include quinoa and amaranth. Not only are these grains gluten-free, but they are also a good source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and other essential minerals.
Choosing a diet that’s high in fiber and protein is the key to losing weight. Most people struggle to get adequate amounts of protein with plant-based foods, and research shows diets that are high in protein tend to be more successful for losing weight on. (2)
Other benefits of a plant-based diet
Using a plant-based diet for weight loss will wield other benefits. Below, you will find the most important and scientifically back benefits of a plant-based diet. Apart from the ones below, people report more energy and better clarity. Of course, this could be a placebo effect or down to the fact the plant-based diet has helped you lose weight. Coincidently, more energy and better clarity are a by-product of fat loss.
See below for confirmed benefits of cutting out meat from your diet –
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- certain cancers
- type 2 diabetes
All of the above are increased from being overweight. Therefore, swapping to a plant-based diet for losing weight will reduce the risks even further.
I can’t see any negatives with a lifestyle change that ditches meat. I think it won’t be an easy transition, as animal products make up a big part of modern-day diets. However, once past the habit of eating animal products, the benefits are immense.
Due to the nature of a plant-based diet, you will be consuming a lot fewer calories, and the calories you do consume will be more nutritious. Also, you may find your bowel habits changing due to the increase in fiber. Your bowel habits will settle, and the long term is much healthier. At present, most people don’t get the right amount of fiber required; this won’t be a problem with a plant-based diet.
The biggest problem with a plant-based diet for losing weight is getting the required amount of daily protein. With careful selection and consideration, this can be avoided. Plenty of food types to choose from that have sufficient protein.
All in all, a plant-based diet for losing weight is a reliable lifestyle change, and if you can get your head around not eating ANY animal products, I highly recommend this type of diet!