Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet: Weight Loss and Maintenance

Two years ago this month, director and writer Kevin Smith nearly died from a “widowmaker” heart attack. His doctors told him he needed to lose 50 pounds. By realizing the health benefits of a vegan diet, Smith lost 17 pounds in nine days and was eventually able to reduce his cholesterol medication by half. He lost a total of 50 pounds and has been able to maintain that weight loss while increasing his health through veganism and exercise.

And Smith isn’t alone.

President Bill Clinton also famously made the switch from his native Southern food fare to being a vegan. The impetus for his change was the same: a heart attack in 2010. Clinton has since lost 30 pounds and maintains the lifestyle, saying he is full of energy.

Could a plant-based diet make a similar difference for you in your weight-loss journey?

The Stats on Obesity

Roughly half of Americans attempt to lose weight each year, according to the CDC. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise given that the CDC also reports that 73.6% of Americans 20 and older fall into the overweight and obese categories. And the stats aren’t any better for kids.

The CDC reports that 21.2% of teens are obese, as are 20.3% of kids aged 6 to 11 and 13.4% of kids 2 to 5.

Clearly, we have a problem here.

Veganism to the Rescue

While a percentage of people who give up animal products in their diet do so to reduce their environmental impact or in response to animal cruelty concerns, others make the switch with health in mind.

Unfortunately, as with any other diet, there are healthy vegan choices and unhealthy vegan choices. If you’re looking to leverage the health benefits of a vegan diet, you want to be in the “good” category. And that means understanding what you’re eating as much as watching it.

Not everyone immediately loses weight after going vegan. Why is that? Forks over Knives suggests that calorie density may be at the root of the challenge. Calorie density refers to the number of calories in one pound of food. Oil, for instance, offers up 4,000 calories per pound as compared to 100 calories per pound for non-starchy vegetables.

How to Reap the Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

To really make an impact in your weight loss (and maintain that loss), there are some basics to consider:

  • Avoid processed foods. While it may seem easier to eat vegan when you buy plant-based foods at the grocery or convenience store, many of those are calorie dense and low in nutrients.
  • Reduce added oil. As the most calorie-dense food, oil can add on the pounds without making you feel full. Plus, there are alternatives in cooking, such as broth for sauteing and applesauce for baking.
  • Listen to Mom about eating your veggies. Loading half your plate with non-starchy veggies will go a long way to making you feel full while adding several healthy vitamins and minerals to your diet.
  • Don’t drink your calories. You may think a smoothie is healthy, but those calories can add up quickly in a liquid meal. Plus, if you’re drinking sodas, sport drinks, or alcohol, there’s practically nothing redeeming there.
  • Eat fiber-rich foods. Not only is fiber great for your body, it’s also very filling. Don’t limit your definition of “fiber” to grains, though. Instead, consider that vegetables, fruits, and legumes are excellent sources of fiber as well. A good mix is your best bet when tapping in to the health benefits of a vegan diet.

Get Help with Your Switch

If you’re currently a meat eater, going fully vegan all at once can sound ominous. While some people do make that leap, imagine what would happen if you switched out a handful of meals a week for something plant-based?

Concerned that your vegan diet will be bland? Think again!

Whole-food meals are diverse in flavor, colors, and nutrients. Vegans gain access to everything their bodies need when they pay attention to what they’re eating. At Vegan Taste, we offer a delicious selection of vegan meals every week. All you need to do is order, heat, and enjoy. We’ll take care of the planning and cooking. Plus, we even have oil-free options if you really want to kick your weight-loss program into high gear.

You too can enjoy the health benefits of a vegan diet for weight loss and maintenance. It’s easy. Just check out our menu to get started.

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