Dieting is the worst. The last time I went on a diet was over a decade ago. I spent weeks eating salads and Lean Cuisines and diet yogurt with bran cereal and hated every minute of it. Sure, my butt looked better, but I was spending all my willpower and patience on eating less. Since I’m not big on willpower and patience, that diet didn’t last long.
Besides, we all have better things to do than obsess over calories and make ourselves miserable. Yet that’s exactly what dieting makes us do.
Well screw you, dieting. I found a better way. 🙂
The surprising way I lost weight
Due to a breast cancer scare in 2010, I slowly shifted to plant-based eating. My goal was to lower my breast cancer risk and decrease my breast pain. So over the course of a year, I ditched meat and chicken, then eggs, then dairy. The last piece was using cooking spray instead of oil. The result? I was eating mostly whole-food and nearly-vegan (although I still managed to work in baked goods; I’m resourceful.) 😉 The breast pain I’d had since I was a teen eased, and I felt better knowing I was being proactive.
I did experience a side effect, though: I lost 10 pounds in 12 months! The weight just melted away, no counting calories and no crankiness. (Jeff was a big fan of that last bit, lol.) Speaking of Jeff, he dropped 15 pounds that year just by going plant-based to support me.
And it’s not just us. Research has shown repeatedly that most people who start eating lower-fat and plant-based drop weight—effortlessly.
A proven lazy-awesome way to lose 10.1 pounds
⇒Cut animal products and added oil, and take vitamin B12.
That’s all you need to do to trim 10 pounds. Sure, it’ll take a few months. But you won’t feel a thing. 😉
It seems too good to be true, I know. But in 2015, a group of researchers looked at data from 4 studies and 500+ men and women and found that simply eating plant-based led to an average weight loss of 10.12 pounds.¹
The lazy-awesome part? People…
- Didn’t count calories
- Did zero extra exercise
- Ate as much as they wanted
Note the studies analyzed the effects of eating vegan (100% plant-based) or nearly so (including small amounts of dairy and eggs). In some of the studies, people were also encouraged to decrease fat intake, although many didn’t. On average, weight loss occurred over a ~6-month period.
5 Reasons eating plant-based helps you lose weight easily
Why does eating plant-based help you melt away pounds? Well, science has two answers, and I have three opinions. But since this is Veggie Quest, we’ll start with the science.
1. You burn 16% more energy digesting your food
A small study found that overweight women who ate only low-fat, 100% plant-based diet food burned an average of 16% more calories digesting and absorbing their food than women who following a healthy omnivorous diet.² That means that just sitting on the couch after dinner, the vegan ladies were burning more calories than their omnivore friends. Talk about the ultimate lazy way to lose weight!
2. You can eat more for less calories
As researchers have noted, “…The high fiber content of plant-based diets, often accompanied by a low fat content, reduces the energy density of the diet, compared with an omnivorous diet….”¹
In English, that means fruits, veggies, beans, and grains fill you up for very few calories. So you can be stuffed and still lose weight.
In fact, low-calorie, high-nutrient foods are exactly the kind of “fuel” our bodies evolved to use. There weren’t exactly donut shops or burger joints out on the savanna, you know? As a result, we’re designed to eat large amounts of low-cal foods. So when we eat a lot, we’re just doing what we’re designed to do. The only problem is that nowadays we eat donuts and burgers instead of roots and berries. Understandably, our bodies freak out. We gain weight and develop awful stuff like diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, when we return to plant-based foods, our bodies happily return to their healthy weight.
3. You’re never hungry
I can tell you from experience that eating a lower-fat, plant-based diet means you never have to feel hungry. Which is great, because for me hungry ⇒ hangry! I’m not into masochism, so there’s no way I could have dropped weight and kept it off if I had to be hungry all the time. Oh heck no! I ❤ food, and being plant-based means I get to eat to my heart’s content.
4. You don’t have to work out
Don’t get me wrong—working out is great! It boosts your mood, strengthens your heart, and makes doing everything from picking up your kid to sprinting to catch a connecting flight easier. But if you hate the gym or don’t have time for a run? You can still lose weight and improve your health, just by eating plant-based.
5. You feel better (eventually)
Eating plant-based gives you energy to burn. I think it’s because whole plant-based foods flood your body with vitamins, minerals, and health-boosting phytochemicals. However, if you start eating a plant-based all at once, be warned: you may feel crappy at first. It happens to me whenever I fall off the wagon for a few weeks and then climb back on. Why? My hypothesis is that when you start eating healthy, your body can finally take out the trash that’s been piling up while you were eating junk. It’s like spring cleaning—at first your house looks like a disaster, with stuff spread everywhere and dust bunnies flying. But when you finish tossing, organizing, and cleaning, wow is the house ever nice to live in. Ditto for your body when you shift to plant-based eating.
How to make the switch
Going plant-based is easy:
- Nix animal products
- Use cooking spray instead of oil
- Take vitamin B12 or a multivitamin
Aaaaaand… that’s it! You don’t even have to go 100% to get the benefits (although that would be great). Every little bit helps.
So if you’d rather eat than count calories, well—you and me both, sister! 🙂 Join me on your plant-based journey, and let’s shed some weight together while cooking yummy, healthy food!
New to plant-based weight loss?
- The Easy 5-Minute Guide to Plant-Based Weight Loss
- 85 Pounds and Counting: A Plant-Based Weight Loss Story
- Guest Post: 5 Tips that Helped Me Lose 110 Pounds
Want to know more about plant-based eating?
- What is a Plant-Based Diet?
- 6 Ways a Plant-Based Diet Supercharges Your Health
- What No One Tells You About Protein
- 21 Plant-Based Protein Sources
- How to Get Started on a Plant-Based Diet
Tasty recipes for plant-based weight loss
- Skinny Cinnamon Roll Muffins
- Protein-Packed Loaded Veggie Chili
- Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Onion Salad
- Sauteed Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts
- 42-Calorie Hot Chocolate
- What was the worst diet you ever tried?
- Have you lost weight eating plant-based? Why/why not?
- If you’re at your happy weight, what are you doing to get healthy in the new year?
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
- Barnard ND, Levin SM, Yokoyama Y. A systematic review and meta-analysis of changes in body weight in clinical trials of vegetarian diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.115(6):954-969.
- Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Turner-McGrievy G, Lanou AJ, Glass J. The effects of a low-fat, plant-based dietary intervention on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. The American Journal of Medicine. 2005;118(9):991-997.