How do I lose weight on a vegan diet?
Losing weight on a vegan diet is the same as losing weight on any other. You must ensure that your body is using more calories than you are consuming. There are two ways to do this:
1) Eat fewer calories
Ideally, you’ll be using a combination of these.
How much weight should I lose a week?
Try to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week. Any more than this can be unhealthy and unsustainable.
Remember that losing weight isn’t a race.
You’re looking to make life long lifestyle changes. If you lose 20 pounds in three weeks you will find it difficult to return to a healthy eating routine once you reach your target weight.
Slow and steady weight loss also encroaches less on your daily routine and quality of life. It will mean you can afford the odd treat and it abates the temptation to binge.
How many calories do I need to cut?
As a rough guide you need to cut 3,500 calories a week from your calorie intake to lose a pound of body fat.
Remember that this can be done by eating less, exercising or both.
If you were to diet alone, you need to cut 500 calories a day.
If you are exercising as a part of your weight loss plan you can afford to eat a little more on work out days.
On rest days, eat less.
What are some good vegan food options?
Within reason you can eat anything you like.
You could eat 1,500 calories of peanut butter and call it a day – but it’s not recommended.
Instead, look to eat a healthy range of foods including carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein.
Many people believe that carbohydrates will fill you up. But it’s better to fill up on protein sources like lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh and seitan. Your body takes longer to digest these – so you stay fuller for longer.
Carbs: Try to avoid ‘simple carbs’ like white rice and white pasta. Brown rice and quinoa are your best friends.
Proteins: The whole range of vegan protein sources are open to you. Lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan – you name it.
Fats: Fat is an important part of our diet so don’t cut it out completely. If you’re using nuts and seeds for protein you’ll be getting some healthy fats in the mix anyway. Other great sources include avocados, coconut oil and coconut milk.
Is cardio important?
It really depends on your goals.
You’ll hear a lot of body builders slate cardio in the belief that it burns calories that could be used to gain muscle.
Cardio has many benefits including a lower resting heart rate, calorie burning and improved day -to-day fitness.
Cardio will help you cut calories from your diet and improve your ability to run for that bus, climb those stairs or whatever other obstacles get in your way from day to day.
Pick an exercise you like or that fits with your goals. Running, cycling, jump-rope, swimming are all great options.
If you decide to gain muscle, you can continue your cardio routine alongside weights and simply eat more to create a calorie surplus or you can cut the cardio. The choice it yours – it’s your life and your goal you’re aiming for.
If you really, really hate cardio and you’re prepared to make up the calorie burning potential with weights and calorie control then feel free to avoid it.
Steady State or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
Steady state cardio is great for endurance and like any form of exercise will help burn calories. It does however take a while with runs upwards of 1.5 hours not unheard of for those who enjoy it.
As a starting goal, try to aim for half an hour of steady state cardio as a minimum.
Walk, run, swim, it doesn’t matter - just keep your heart rate above resting.
HIIT on the other hand has been linked to increased calorie burning throughout the day. It also takes half the time of steady state cardio.
Try to incorporate one or two HIIT sessions a week into your routine. For a great home HIIT routine, try burpees for 30/60/90 seconds with 30 seconds rest in-between each set.
By using both you’ll be working towards great overall practical fitness.
Should I use a weights routine?
If you have to choose between cardio and weights – pick weights. It’s been proven to help with weight loss more than cardio alone.
Whether you are male or female a weights routine will help you lose weight and unless your diet is geared towards it – won’t make you a beefcake.
Weight lifting increases your overall strength, balance and fitness and raises the heart rate, burning calories in the process.
Muscle is a calorie-burning machine. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn resting or working out.
Weight lifting will also decrease the chance of excess skin after weight loss, the muscle will help pad out where the fat used to be.
What’s the best exercise to help me lose weight?
The one you enjoy the most.
If you’re a runner, run. If you’re a boxer/martial artist, train and jump-rope. If you’re a swimmer, swim. If you’re a cyclist, ride.
Enjoy it, keep doing it, lose weight.
What about low carb/low fat diets?
Try to avoid fad diets.
Low fat or low carb diets are very popular. There are anecdotes across the web telling how they help you lose weight fast.
This might be true but remember you are looking to make a change for life.
Are you prepared to avoid high fat foods and carbs for the rest of your life? Your diet shouldn’t cause you any undue effort or hassle. Low fat and low carb diets can mean skipping meals you like and lead to feelings of guilt on occasions when you cave. Quite often it’s not worth it.
Our body is designed to make use of carbs, fats and proteins in different ways. Each plays an important part in our health and wellbeing so make sure you incorporate them in your diet.
Some studies have shown that low fat versions of food make us feel less full, meaning we eat more of them. Great for companies marketing low fat foods but bad news for you.
Will leangains/keto/paleo help me reach my goals?
These diets have proven results and many avid followers but they aren’t for everyone.
If your diet doesn’t fit around your lifestyle, if it leaves you craving things you can’t have, causes guilt when/if you cave or makes you constantly worry about what you’re eating then it’s not worth it.
The reason these diets work is because they all incorporate calorie deficits to their weight loss programs.
The most important thing in weight loss is using more calories than you consume. All else is tributary. Including whatever diet your friend or that blogger swears by.
Is the Body Mass Index (BMI) useful?
The BMI chart is made redundant the moment you start using a weight routine because muscle weighs more than fat. Some of the healthiest people you know will be considered ‘overweight’ by the BMI chart.
Don’t beat yourself up over chart results, take photos, keep and eye on your reflection and if you want to be fastidious measure your waist, hips, arm and leg circumference regularly.
I’m in a calorie deficit but I’m not losing weight, what's going on?
First and foremost, check you are in a deficit.
Start counting calories. It’s tedious but if you aren’t losing weight by guesswork alone it might be needed. Some people are surprised by just how much they’re eating.
If you are in a calorie deficit – don’t cut it further immediately.
Stick with your deficit for a month or two. It can be frustrating to weigh yourself weekly only to find you’ve stayed the same weight or even gained some but there are good reasons why this could happen.
You may be gaining muscle while losing weight. This is known as ‘recomping’ and it’s quite common when you start a new routine.
You may notice noticeable changes in your appearance but no weight loss – this is why photos and keeping a keen eye on the mirror can be useful.
You may also be experiencing water retention. If you’re regularly feeling bloated, noticing indents on your ankles when you take your socks off or gaining weight rapidly over night you’re probably experiencing this.
Don't worry, water weight will drop off and often comes with a huge drop in weight and measurement.