Plant based diet plan for weight loss refers to eating a diet which consists mainly of plants for your nutritional needs. A food item is regarded as plant based if it contains zero or minimal meat, dairy products and eggs.
What to eat on a plant-based diet
A plant-based diet encourages eating whole, plant-based foods, and minimizing animal products and processed foods. This differs from a vegan or vegetarian diet.
“A plant-based diet is defined by what it includes: a lot of plant foods,” says Carole Bartolotto, a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. “Vegan or vegetarian diets are defined by what they exclude.”
For example, a vegan diet
A vegan diet can be extremely healthy but depending on your meal plans, it may also cause certain nutrient deficiencies including B12 and calcium.
excludes all animal products and a vegetarian diet excludes animal meat. Plant-based diets don’t include these restrictions, but they recommend you eat minimal amounts of them and eat foods mostly of plant-based origin instead.
Foods to eat often on a plant-based diet:
Foods to eat in smaller portions, or less frequently:
- Dairy products
- Processed foods (this pertains to most healthy meal plans)
7-day plant-based diet meal plan
Here’s what a full week of healthy eating on a plant-based diet could look like, according to Bartolotto.
Breakfast: Plain oatmeal with walnuts and fruit with unsweetened almond milk
Lunch: Lentil tacos with a salad
Dinner: Italian-style zucchini and chickpea saute
Breakfast: Quinoa with raisins and cinnamon and soy milk
Lunch: Stir-fry with veggies and tofu
Dinner: Vegetarian chili and spinach-orzo salad
Breakfast: Tofu scramble with veggies
Lunch: Pasta with marinara sauce and a salad or vegetable
Dinner: Vegetarian pizza and tomato soup
Breakfast: Pancakes or waffles with fruit puree
Lunch: Lentil soup and a side salad
Dinner: Grilled vegetable kabobs with grilled tofu, and a quinoa and spinach salad
Breakfast: Handful of nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts) and fruit
Lunch: Grilled tofu with quinoa and a salad
Dinner: Black bean and sweet potato quesadilla
Breakfast: Smoothie with banana, pea protein, soy milk, and cacao powder
Lunch: Tomato basil soup and greek salad with chickpeas and feta
Dinner: Rice bowl with kidney beans, spinach, and mixed veggies
Breakfast: Overnight oats and fresh fruit
Lunch: Black bean burger and kale salad
Dinner: White bean chili and corn muffins
A note about animal foods
A plant-based diet can exclude all or most animal foods, but it can also mean eating proportionately more foods from plant sources. While this meal plan doesn’t include animal foods, that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them entirely.
Should you want to include animal foods, consider using them as a complement to your meal rather than the centerpiece. A few meals over the course of the week that include a small amount of animal foods may be a good place to start.
For example, you can have scrambled eggs with a veggie hash and avocado once a week, or sprinkle some cheese on your black bean quesadilla.
Plant-based diet benefits
Following a plant-based diet can result in numerous benefits for your health and the environment. Here’s how.
Improved heart health: A large 2019 study found that eating a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 16% and cardiovascular disease mortality by 31%. The characteristics of a plant-based diet — high intake of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, pulses, and whole grains with low intake of refined grains, added sugars, and animal foods — contribute to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease by helping to lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
Reduced risk of cancer: Eating lots of plant-based foods has been linked to lower cancer rates. There are a number of potential explanations, including the phytochemicals that come from increased plant consumption and a higher fiber intake, which has specifically been tied to lower breast cancer and colorectal cancer risk.
Lower risk of diabetes: Plant-based diets are associated with a substantially lowered risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, a large 2016 study in PLOS Medicine found that following a plant-based diet was associated with about a 20% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
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. Several mechanisms contribute to this: a healthful plant-based diet could help lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease chronic inflammation.
It’s better for the environment: A plant-based diet offers environmental benefits due to its lower carbon footprint, Bartolotto says. If you would like to help fight climate change, eating more plant-based foods is imperative. About 25% to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from our food systems, with livestock adding more than the entire transportation sector. Eating more plants and less meat — specifically beef and lamb — and consuming less dairy decreases this demand and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Be it for health, environmental or some other reason, many people these days are opting for vegan diet plans. Vegan diet refers to excluding all the animal products from the diet plan, be it milk or milk products as well. The vegan diet focuses on plant-based foods and beverages and eliminates all products that involve animals in any processing. It includes mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts.Vegan diets are the best if you really want to shed those extra pounds. They are rich in proteins and vitamins and free of carbs and fats. If you are new to it and have difficulties following it regularly, there are varieties of vegan diets that you can adapt like a whole-food vegan diet that includes whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts etc. A raw-food vegan diet that is based on raw fruits and vegetables, seeds etc. Also, there is one for all food lovers i.e. a junk-food vegan diet that has not so vegan ingredients but, fries, yoghurts, vegan desserts etc. Vegan diets are actually very effective in helping lose weight as they naturally reduce the number of calories you intake. Research says that vegan diets reduce blood sugar and helps you keep in control. The benefits include higher insulin sensitivity, lesser cancer risks, arthritis, kidney functions, etc. They warn you for your future health and consequences. The research rarely differentiates between different types of vegan diets, but there are several ways to follow a vegan diet.
Food Items You Can Easily Consume
- Legumes : Beans, lentils and peas are nutrient-rich plant alternatives to animal-derived foods. Sprouting, fermenting and proper cooking can increase nutrient absorption.
- Nuts, Nut Butters and Seeds : Nuts, seeds and their butters are nutritious, versatile foods that are rich in protein and nutrients. Every vegan should consider adding them to their pantry.
- Hemp, Flax and Chia Seeds : The seeds of hemp, chia and flax are richer in protein and ALA than most other seeds. Flax and chia seeds are also great substitutes for eggs in recipes.
- Tofu and Other Minimally Processed Meat Substitutes : Minimally processed meat alternatives including tofu. Try to limit your consumption of heavily processed vegan mock meats.
- Calcium-Fortified Plant Milks and Yogurts : Plant milks and yogurts fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are good alternatives to products made from cows’ milk.
- Seaweed : Seaweed is a protein-rich source of essential fatty acids. It is also rich in antioxidants and iodine, but should not be relied on as a source of vitamin B
- Sprouted and Fermented Plant Foods : Sprouting and fermenting foods helps enhance their nutritional value. Fermented foods also provide vegans with a source of probiotics and vitamin K
How to lose weight in a plant-based diet: Tips from experts
Eat more fiber
Health experts wish Americans would care more about their fiber intake rather than their protein obsession. One study in the Journal of Nutrition found that among adults trying to lose weight on calorie-restricting diets, it was their fiber intake that predicted who lost the most weight. “Dietary fiber intake, independently of macronutrient and caloric intake, promotes weight loss and dietary adherence in adults with overweight or obesity consuming a calorie-restricted diet,” the study concluded.
The other fact about fiber is that dieters who eat more fiber foods are likelier to adhere to their diets, since high-fiber foods are also more filling, keeping hunger at bay, and also help shift the gut microbiome to be healthier which slows down the absorption of calories, so your body does not experience the sugar spikes and insulin surges that lead to weight gain and fat storage. In short, eating more vegetables helps you stay on track, so choose fiber foods over other foods when dieting.
Note that fiber only exists in plant foods – vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole grains – since animal products such as meat and dairy do not contain it. So a plant-based diet that is high in fiber foods and low in processed foods (where the fiber is largely broken down or destroyed) is best for weight loss.
Prioritize fiber foods over protein
Prioritizing fiber foods is in stark contrast to the obsession that most Americans have with protein, which has not been shown to help promote weight loss, according to the research. One protein study found that long-term consumption of high protein is associated with “disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis, disorders of renal function, increased cancer risk, disorders of liver function, and precipitated progression of coronary artery disease.” How much protein do you need? The answer may surprise you: It’s 8 grams per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight. Some experts, however, recommend slightly higher amounts for plant-based eaters or fitness enthusiasts who may also need closer to 1.2 to 1.4 g/kg of body weight.
But loading up on protein to lose weight is not a smart strategy, since too much protein simply gets translated into energy or calories that, if your body is already topped off for its protein needs, meaning your liver and muscles are fully refueled, the extra gets stored as fat. On the other hand, prioritizing fiber is a smarter choice: Fiber is critical for regulating a healthy gut microbiome which is “essential for just about everything,” according to Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., C.S.S.D., virtual private practice plant-based performance nutritionist.
Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough daily fiber. More than 90 percent of Americans are not getting their recommended fiber intake, which is a minimum of 24 grams for women and 35 grams for men, though more is better. The average American consumes only 15 grams a day, according to a study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Research has shown that getting at least 30 grams of fiber a day is enough to aid in weight loss and can make it easier to achieve than complicated diets. How to do that? Simply eat more of the 20 best foods that are high in fiber, your diet’s unsung hero.
Fiber also shifts the gut microbiome to be healthier, which can positively impact overall health and disease prevention, so eating plant-based helps lower the risk of heart disease and every major lifestyle disease, according to experts. “The microbiome is like the foundation of a home and supports overall wellbeing: It controls our moods, protects against inflammation, and helps boost immunity,” according to Dr. Kien Vuu, who specializes in human optimation and regenerative medicine, the secret to longevity. Vuu believes a healthy microbiome is one answer to living a longer, stress-free, purpose-driven life.
Drink more water
Another known way to help the body lose weight naturally is to stay hydrated since being hydrated helps your metabolism and your cells function optimally. Most Americans get nowhere near the amount of water they need and may mistake being thirsty for hunger.
Drinking no less than 64 ounces of water a day is optimal, studies have suggested, to boost metabolism and keep energy levels high. In a study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, of 14 healthy, normal-weight participants (seven men and seven women), results found that the subjects who drank 500 ml (or 16 ounces) of water increased their metabolic rate by 30 percent within just 10 minutes of drinking, and reached its highest rate of energy production 30 to 40 minutes after drinking.
Keep a pitcher of water on your desk or a water bottle within reach at all times. If sipping is something that slips your mind, set an alert on your phone, or make yourself drink a full class every hour. Staying hydrated in cold weather is equally important since you may not know that you’re dehydrated, according to experts.
If you prefer to eat your water load up on fruit since most of it contains a high water content, which can help you get to your hydration levels and carries loads of healthy antioxidants to boost immunity and keep you healthy, which is also key to long-term weight loss since when you’re sick it’s hard to get to the gym or have the energy for a workout.
For best results, studies have shown that drinking warm or hot water in the morning is best to wake up the digestive system, and hot water with lemon has become a regular ritual for people who want to add vitamin C to boost immunity. The lemon juice is high in vitamin C, with 30.7 milligrams of C in one lemon, which is nearly half of the daily recommended amount for a woman (75 milligrams) and one-third of the amount men should get (90 milligrams).
If you stay hydrated, eat healthy, and exercise, the practice of drinking enough water can support your weight loss by boosting your metabolism and increasing satiety. In a study of 24 overweight men,12 were given 500-mL of room temperature water thirty minutes before their meal, and the other 12 ate without drinking water first. Energy intake at each meal was measured and results explained that the men who drank the water increased their energy intake, ultimately burning more calories.
Lower insulin resistance
More than 100 million Americans are living with insulin resistance, and may not know it. Insulin resistance is related to prediabetes or diabetes and can lead to these more serious conditions. When you are insulin resistant, your cells “resist” the signal insulin sends to uptake sugar from the blood to be used as fuel, so your body produces yet more insulin, to make the signal louder, and as cells don’t use the energy it gets stored as fat, which makes it that much harder to lose weight.
“Think of insulin as a key and your cells as a lock on the house. The glucose is the people going into the house. When insulin resistance occurs, the key is not working well with the lock. This causes the people outside the house to ‘build up’ – or the sugar in the blood to increase,” explained Nicole Osinga RD. Since your blood can’t contain more than the equivalent of one tablespoon of sugar at a time, all that extra glucose gets stored.
The foods we eat have an impact on insulin resistance, and can actually prevent it: Try to eat more whole food sources of fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil do not trigger a spike in blood sugar. Stay away from saturated and trans fats like chips and butter which can cause inflammation. In addition, aiming to eat more foods with a low glycemic index helps normalize blood sugar and controls cravings for unhealthy foods. “Low GI foods include berries, apples, spinach, beans, quinoa, and oats,” according to Osinga.