Plant-based diets are gaining popularity among health conscious individuals looking to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
They're also becoming increasingly popular among athletes looking to shed pounds before competing in sports events and even improving their strength, stamina and endurance.
In this article we'll discuss some of the benefits of going on a plant based diet, along with the best foods to eat when following a plant based diet. We'll also look at some of the reasons why so many people choose to go on a plant based diet.
What Is A Plant Based Diet?
A plant based diet is a diet that excludes all animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and honey. Instead, it focuses on whole food plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, legumes, and herbs.
A whole food plant based diet is one where you avoid processed foods as much as possible, but still include plenty of fresh produce, in addition to avoiding animal foods and eating more plant foods.
Why Should I Follow A Plant Based Diet?
Many people follow a plant based diet for health reasons. They may feel healthier after eating a plant based diet, and they may find that they lose weight easily. Others choose to go on a vegan diet because they believe in a lifestyle that avoids harming other living beings unnecessarily.
Some people choose to go on plant based diets because they're concerned about climate change and pollution. Cutting out animal products reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves land resources.
Other people choose to go on these diets because they want to reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other chronic diseases.
Benefits Of Going On A Plant Based Diet
While there are many different kinds of plant based diets, here are just a few of the main advantages of going on a plant based diet:
• Eating a whole food plant based diet helps make your meals calorie dilute. This can help prevent weight gain and even reduce body weight while feeling satiated everyday. This makes it a fantastic diet for weight loss & health gain.
• Eating a plant based diet makes it easier to stabilise your blood sugar levels. Many people who switch to a plant based diet notice that their energy levels stay steady throughout the day.
• Eating a plant based diet has been proven to help prevent cardiovascular disease. Research has even shown that cardiovascular disease can be treated and in some cases even reversed with a healthy enough lifestyle.
• Eating a plant based diet makes it easier to avoid cravings for unhealthy snacks and treats. When you cut out processed junk food for a few weeks, you won't crave it anymore.
• Eating a more vegetarian diet makes it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle. People who follow a plant based diet tend to exercise more, drink fewer sugary beverages, and have better mental health.
• Eating a vegan diet makes it easy to make sure that you're getting plenty of fiber. Plant-based foods like leafy greens and fresh fruit are rich in fiber. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer, and it promotes regular bowel movements. It also helps support the health of your gut microbiome.
• Eating a whole food plant based diet makes it easier to meet nutrient requirements. Some people who switch to a vegan diet say that they feel more energized and satisfied.
• Eating a vegetable based diet makes it easier for you to consume adequate amounts of protein while preserving kidney health. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, but too much animal protein can lead to kidney damage. Plant proteins on the other hand seem to protect kidney health.
• Eating a fruit based diet makes it easier on your digestive system. Fruit are easy to digest while feeding plenty of fiber to the good bacteria in your gut.
Here's a step-by-step guide to going on a plant-based diet for weight loss:
1. Decide What Type of Diet Plan Works Best For You
Before starting a plant-based diet plan, it's important to decide what type of diet plan works best for you. There are several different types of whole food plant-based diets, including South Indian, North Indian, Continental, Oriental, and even designed to mimic all your favourite comfort foods, made using healthy food alone.
Veganism includes the aspect of plant-based eating. Vegans eat only foods derived from plants, and avoid all animal products. However, they may still be eating processed junk.
Vegetarians don't eat meat but may consume dairy and eggs.
Flexitarians eat some animal products, like cheese and butter, but mostly follow a plant-based diet.
Pescatarians eat fish, but avoid red meats and poultry.
Ketogenic diets focus on high fat intake, low carbs, and moderate protein consumption.
Paleo diets emphasize whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and some animal foods.
While all these diets have prescription for what foods to avoid, they do not tell you what to eat. That's why the health benefits of a whole food plant based diet is so fantastic - it is based on all the healthy food that has been proven to give you health benefits.
2. Choose Foods That Are Low in Fat and High in Fiber
Fatty foods tend to make you feel sluggish and bloated.
So when choosing foods for a plant-based diet, choose foods that are low in fat and high in fiber.
- Dals or lentils
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Amaranthus seeds or Rajgira
- Brown rice
- Red rice
- Whole wheat
- Malabar Spinach
- Amaranthus Leaves
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds, and many more whole plant foods.
3. Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains contain more nutrients than refined grains.
When choosing foods for a plant based diet, opt for whole grain options over refined grain options.
This can help you eat fewer calorie without any calorie counting, because of the high fiber content of whole grains.
Examples of whole grains include brown rice, red rice, ragi, bajra, jowar or sorghum, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, other millets, wild rice, barley, bulgur wheat, oatmeal, quinoa, spelt, farro, rye, kamut, teff, triticale, corn, and buckwheat.
Refined grains include white bread, brown bread, white rice, polished millets, maida or refined wheat, wheat pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, bagels, pretzels, and couscous. Most of these products can be made healthy if you use healthy food to make them, like we do at Sampoorna Ahara.
4. Include Beans, Pulses, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and Tofu
Beans, legumes, dals or lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, and tempeh are great sources of protein.
They're also rich in vitamins and minerals, making them perfect additions to a plant-based diet that focuses on whole food nutrition.
Pulses and legumes come with plenty of fiber and resistant starch. They help you stay satiated for longer, preventing cravings for snacks between meals and helping you reduce excess weight.
5. Avoid Processed Food
Processed foods are unhealthy foods.
They are any foods from which something good has been removed or something bad added.
They have many drawbacks like increased risk of cancer, increased risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.
They are much lower in grams of fiber and many other nutrients compared to whole plant foods.
They may also be loaded with preservatives, additives, artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and sodium.
They even include foods like jaggery, fruit juices and olive oil.
Opt instead for unprocessed foods, like veggies, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, tofu, and tempeh.
6. Drink Plenty Of Water
Water is essential to staying hydrated and maintaining optimal health. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you stay energized and focused.
7. Add Healthy Fats To Your Diet
Healthy fats are important for your body's overall function.
They keep you full for longer, boost metabolism, improve brain function, and protect against heart disease.
The best sources of healthy fat for healthy weight are nuts and seeds, such as avocados, almonds, and flaxseeds. These are whole plant sources of fat.
Some of them like walnuts and brazil nuts have even been shown to help reduce blood pressure!
8. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep helps our bodies recover from the day and prepare us for the next one.
It also improves memory and concentration, boosts immune system, and reduces stress levels.
9. Have A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet includes all the necessary nutrients needed by the body.
It should consist of:
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
Nuts & Seeds
- Herbs & Spices
10. Stay Active
Exercise keeps your muscles toned and strong.
Sadly, exercise does not seem to as helpful as a healthy diet when it comes to weight loss. But it is definitely a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle for overall health.
Plant-Based Diet for Weight Loss
You may have heard that the first step to losing weight is to eat less calories than you burn each day. This is called calorie restriction. Outside a lab, it does not seem to be work very well.
Many people struggle with eating fewer calories because of cravings. When we crave food, our bodies release hormones that tell us to seek out food. These hormones cause us to feel hungry and weak.
To overcome these feelings, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your daily meals. Fruits and veggies contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help keep you healthy.
They are naturally calorie dilute, so you may end up eating less calories while feeling satiated! Satiety AND calorie deficit - best of both worlds!
When you choose most of your foods from plant sources rather than animal sources everyday, you can easily incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet without having to count every single calorie.
A whole food plant based diet is more than just a weight loss diet - these healthy choices of fiber-rich foods can help keep your heart healthy, prevent coronary heart disease, while enjoying delicious meals on a daily basis.
You can get started today with a Weight Loss Meal Plan from Sampoorna Ahara, or sign up for a FREE 15 Minute Discovery Call with Dr. Achyuthan Eswar to discuss the best ways to achieve your health goals, starting today.