Find out more about Vegan Diet for Weight Loss. In the collective imagination, a vegan is depicted at lunch with his legumes, his tofu, his vegetable burger with salad and flax seeds.
A stereotyped image that gives health only to the thought. Have you ever thought that even a sumptuous mug of beer and a plate of greasy French fries with ketchup are vegan?
Some vegans think this diet is the best, omnivores believe it is the worst. Who is right?
In this article, you will not find opinions already formulated but theoretical ideas, practical examples of menus, and considerations on the basis of which to understand the vegan diet, with its pros and cons, just like any other diet.
What Is The Vegan Diet?
The vegan diet in recent years has been gaining more and more interest even more than vegetarianism.
It is a diet that excludes the consumption of products of animal origin for religious, ethical, environmental, health reasons, or even simply because it is “fashionable”.
When this choice is truly felt on an ethical level it is actually part of a real lifestyle not only foods that derive from animals are eliminated but also for example certain fabrics or cosmetics that involve their involvement.
In any case for a conscious diet, it is good to know objectively the strengths and weaknesses of this nutritional style in order to know what you can encounter in terms of deficiencies or what are the advantages over other diets.
In absolute terms, the vegan diet for weight loss is not the best as well as all the others the best is the one that responds in the most optimal way to your needs. And who knows, maybe it’s the vegan diet.
This diet does not include meat, eggs, milk, and derivatives (yogurt, cheese, butter), fish, honey. Vegan nutrition is based on fruit and vegetables, whole and non-whole grains, vegetable derivatives.
Benefits And Advantages Of The Vegan Diet
The vegan diet for weight loss owes its health benefits to the large consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts.
In vegans, there is a lower incidence of cases of overweight, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and their chronic consequences.
In fact, dietary fiber guarantees a slowing of gastric emptying, better control of blood sugar, and perhaps also of cholesterol, a positive effect on the growth of intestinal bacterial flora.
The vegan diet is associated with lower consumption of saturated and trans fatty acids and cholesterol all fats which is a poorly controlled omnivorous diet, can easily be consumed in excess and lead to negative health effects.
The large consumption of fruit and vegetables is also an advantage. There is, in fact, correspondence between vegetable consumption and mortality, and the lower the consumption, the higher the death rate and vice versa.
Obviously, a parameter to be included in a healthy and balanced diet, a single aspect in nutrition is never enough to guarantee health a set of single positive aspects, on the other hand, yes.
As the last point, even if not purely nutritional is the environmental sustainability of the vegan diet animal products are responsible for large consumption of energy with a great impact on a global level that is increasing since the consumption of meat is increasing.
With the increase in intensive farming, industrial processes, CO2 emissions, and water consumption. Vegan and green get along well.
Contraindications And Risks Of The Vegan Diet
Those who snub the vegan diet often make use of this reasoning you exclude food categories so inevitably there are deficiencies.
It is not possible to consider the vegan diet as balanced and complete with all the nutrients that the body needs to maintain physiological functions.
The beauty is that the same thing could also be said to an overweight person, who eats too much and mainly junk food where are the vitamins, minerals, fibers, proteins, “good” fats they need? Overwhelmed by “bad” sugars and fats.
It is easy and spontaneous to think that where there is exclusion (such as, in this case, animal foods) there is a shortage and therefore a health risk. Let’s see if this is really the case and for what food aspects.
Can’t you get an adequate intake of protein and iron with a vegan diet? Do you have to say goodbye to hypertrophic muscles and normal blood levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells?
Fortunately not and, in fact, proteins and iron, even if they are often the subject of discussion without real underlying reasons, are not analyzed in this chapter on the risks of the vegan diet but later in the chapter on the balanced vegan diet.
The risk of excluding animal foods is the lack of vitamin B12 a vegan diet, but also more widely vegetarian, is generally unable to maintain an adequate nutritional status of B12, regardless of demographic characteristics, place of residence, age.
Only animal foods, in fact, contain B12. The recommended daily amount is 2.4 micrograms.
The liver has a deposit of this vitamin, which can last for 6-12 months, so supplementation is recommended when this diet lasts beyond this period and following verification of the deficiency.
Even the vitamin D for vegans that are scarcely subjected to sunlight is to consider the integration.
However, it should be remembered that today most of the population, vegan and otherwise, is deficient in vitamin D its concentration is influenced more by exposure to the sun than by nutrition.
A walk for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week of sun exposure is enough to guarantee acceptable levels of vitamin D when a good intake of calcium and phosphorus is maintained.
Another contraindication is due to the large consumption of fiber deriving from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, or substances that the body is unable to digest, as in the case of legumes: the only foods that contain trisaccharides.
If a daily quota is usually positive and without health risks (30 g / day on average), an excess of fiber can lead to gastrointestinal disorders such as digestive difficulties, bloating, flatulence, malnutrition – since fiber can chelate ( hide) some nutrients and not let them assimilate.
The Vegan Food Pyramid
The vegan food pyramid offers fruit and vegetables as its base, immediately followed by cereals – in practice, like the Mediterranean diet. Then, there are the vegetable milk products, legumes, tofu, seitan, tempeh, seeds, nuts.
At the top, there are sweets (obviously with ingredients without animal products) and oil.
From bottom to top, therefore, you will find:
- Vegetables and fruit
- Vegetable milk products, legumes, tofu, seitan, tempeh, seeds, dried fruit
- Sweets, oil
The foods at the base are those to be preferred and consumed more frequently than those located higher in the pyramid.
Vegan Diet For Weight Loss
Even the vegan diet is not exempt from the calorie deficit to ensure weight loss.
The fact that it is defined as a “diet” does not mean that it makes you lose weight: “diet” is in fact synonymous with lifestyle, even if today the term is almost always associated with the idea of weight loss (low-calorie diet).
The vegan diet can thus be one:
Is it easier to lose weight on a vegan diet than on others? The answer lies precisely in its food characteristics. With a meal that is very high in fiber (vegetables, whole grains) it is difficult to exceed the portions as dietary fiber contributes a lot to the sense of satiety.
In addition, for omnivores, it is easier to give in to milk chocolate, grandma’s buttery cake, sandwiches with burgers: all very high-calorie foods that, inevitably, those who follow a vegan diet do not eat.
Also for this reason for vegans, it is more difficult to incur a high-calorie diet – even if, densely energetic foods are also there for them (chips, salted peanuts, vegan biscuits).
If you do not count and do not want to count calories it is more likely to lose weight with a vegan diet if you first followed a more varied diet, precisely because on the one hand you will be satisfied sooner and on the other, you will exclude some foods that are densely caloric.
Balanced Vegan Diet
The American Dietetic Association argues that vegan diets when well planned are able to meet the nutritional needs of individuals.
A balanced diet must be balanced in the first place for energy intake, then for macronutrients and micronutrients.
From the point of view of energy the vegan diet is able to satisfy the energy needs of the individual, despite the exclusion of highly caloric foods it should be kept in mind to also consume foods that have a high energy density, such as cereals, dried fruit, oil.
- Carbohydrates can be obtained from many sources (cereals, fruit, vegetables, legumes), and being able to meet the carbohydrate needs is not a problem.
- The balanced vegan diet for weight loss is able to ensure an adequate intake of proteins, and also of essential amino acids however, it is necessary to increase the protein requirement by 10-20% compared to the recommended intake for non-vegetarians.
- Vegetable proteins are considered to have a low biological value but with these precautions, you can well overcome this possible problem.
- A vegan diet usually has less fat than non-vegan diets but this is a plus as this reduction in lipid intake occurs due to the exclusion of saturated and trans fats.
- Oil, dried fruit, seeds are the foods you can rely on for an adequate lipid intake.
- There may be a lack of omega-3s (particular “good” fatty acids), which however are found in flax seeds or, if necessary, in food supplements.
The micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in vegans have never been detected more deficient than non-vegetarians, although as far as iron and zinc, there are some precautions to consider for their balance.
The iron of plant foods is less bioavailable (non-heme iron) than animal ones (heme-iron), so it is recommended to increase the intake by 80% compared to the values recommended for non-vegans.
In this way, sufficient assimilation is guaranteed, especially when accompanied by foods with vitamin C which favors the absorption of iron, as opposed to those rich in calcium.
The zinc also should be increased (+ 40-50%), mainly because its absorption can be inhibited by phytates, very present in legumes and cereals which occupy a good part supply vegan.
Example Of A Vegan Diet
- Coffee, almond milk, oat flakes
- Soy milk, toast, and jam
- Green tea, soy yogurt, and a fruit
- Vegan pancakes (flour, chemical yeast, sugar, and flavorings to taste)
- Porridge (oat flakes and vegetable milk of your choice) with coconut flour and dried fruit
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruit
- Soy yogurt
- Bread with peanut butter and jam
- Fruit salad
Lunch and Dinner
- Pasta and beans, sautéed courgettes
- Seitan and baked potatoes, salad with flax seeds
- Tofu and chickpeas, steamed cabbage
- Risotto with mushrooms and aromatic herbs
- Spelled with lentils and peas
The vegan diet is “famous” for some foods little known to omnivores except for not too familiar names but which are also valid for non-vegans to broaden their food spectrum:
- Tofu: also known as soybean rennet it is obtained from the curdling of soy milk and its pressing into blocks. It is often referred to as “vegetable cheese” and is available as soft, smoked, herb-flavored.
- Tempeh: fermented food obtained from yellow soybeans, which preserves all the nutritional qualities of soy that is a high content of fiber and vitamins. It is much more digestible than soybeans.
- Seitan: also called “vegetable meat”, it is very protein and obtained from the gluten of soft wheat, spelled or Kamut. It is cooked and flavored in water with soy sauce, kombu seaweed, and salt.
- Tahin: also called “butter or sesame cream”, derives from white sesame seeds. It is rich in vitamin B, magnesium, unsaturated fats, calcium, iron, selenium.
- Miso: is a condiment derived from yellow soybeans, to which cereals such as barley, rice, rye, buckwheat, millet are often added. It is rich in proteins, B vitamins, minerals, and enzymes similar to that of yogurt.
Conclusion On The Vegan Diet
Even if the vegan diet is commonly considered monotonous (“but do you eat only fruit and vegetables ?!”) and not able to satisfy nutritional needs, in reality, it has little to envy other diets, with its pros and cons.
It is certain that we must pay attention to some precautions as in the case of proteins and some micronutrients and not overdo it with fibers.
But, if knowledge is really prevention, it is easy to be able to follow a complete and balanced vegan diet in terms of energy and nutrients. In fact, the vegan diet is also valid for athletes.
Furthermore, it is going against the trend regarding the lower general consumption of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and the higher intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes are a big plus for health.