The first month of the New Year is coming to an end and many of us may have failed to fulfil our New Year’s resolutions. If weight loss is one of them, you can surely give it another shot. But this time, try it with vegan foods which taste great and also help lose weight. Clubbed with the right exercise, you can be back on track and successfully keep your promise of shedding a few kilos. Bhuvaneshwari Gupta, nutritionist and campaign coordinator at PETA India, tells us how a vegan diet can aid weight loss.
Why going vegan is good for your weight loss plan
Fewer calories in plant-based food: Meat, eggs, and dairy products – foods that make up a large portion of many people’s diets – are high in saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol. Animal flesh is designed to store calories making it one of the worst things to eat to get the weight off, and to keep it off. Even supposedly ‘lean’ cuts of meat derive at least 20 to 40 per cent of their total calories from fat, and the so-called ‘low-fat’ dairy products are packed with fat and cholesterol compared to fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Reduced risk of health problems: People who eat animal-based foods are much more likely to be obese and suffer from obesity-related diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and some forms of cancer than vegans (vegetarians who do not eat any form of animal products including dairy). Of course, there are overweight vegans and skinny meat-eaters, but research shows that the average vegan is 18 per cent leaner than his or her meat-eating counterpart.
Vegan foods boost metabolism: In general, it’s just easier to maintain a healthy weight if you eat vegan foods because they tend to be naturally low in fat and calories. Plant foods are also high in fibre and complex carbohydrates which help boost your metabolism, so you burn more calories. According to an American Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition report, people who eat vegan meals not only have lower body weight than meat-eaters, they are also less likely to suffer from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Pointers for a vegan weight loss diet plan
As a nutritionist, I urge people to eat low-fat plant-based meals that are rich in vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Here are some simple ways to incorporate more healthy plant-based foods into your diet:
• Choose mock meat instead of chicken flesh, veggie burgers rather than meat burgers and tofu over paneer and eggs.
• Enjoy popular vegan staples such as your favourite vegetable subzis and dals minus the cream, butter and ghee.
• Skip the eggs at breakfast, and have oatmeal with almond or soy milk topped with fresh fruit.
• Whip up some vegetable-rich pasta or Chinese noodles, bean and spinach burritos, or a Thai vegetable curry for a hearty and nutritious dinner. You can find vegan recipes here.
• Just be sure to base your diet around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses and soya foods. With these tasty dishes, you’ll soon see how easy it is to eat vegan food all-year-round.
Sample vegan weight loss diet plan
Dr Nandita Shah, Founder of SHARAN (Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature) and a vegan, gives out a sample vegan meal plan for people who want to lose weight.
To achieve optimal results, keep these in mind:
Early morning – Fruits whole (not juice)
Breakfast – Idli-sambhar/parathas-chutney and vegetables/poha/muesli with soya milk or any breakfast which is made only from whole grains and unpeeled vegetables.
Lunch – Salad, roti/rice, daal, subzi
Snacks – Sprout chaat/fruit
Dinner – Vegetable soup, roti/rice, daal, subzi.
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