Nutritional Guide To Healthy Vegan Weight Loss
Updated: Oct 19, 2019
Nutritional Lifestyle, not Diet.
I have very big issues with the word “diet”. A diet suggests that you will be coming off the diet in the future. This is where people fail in the long run.
When I consult with potential personal training clients and I explain this they’re initial response sound something like this. “I lost a lot of weight a few years ago doing the XYZ diet (made up). So that one works for me best so I’ll do that instead of what you propose.” After the diet, the client puts all the weight back on. And some.
My response is. “If it works for you then why did you call me to help you to lose weight?”
It’s at the point the client understands that maybe the diet didn’t work for them as they did not achieve lifelong success.
So here you are. Probably in the same situation. So what should you do?
The most important thing you need to understand right now is that I don’t recommend ANY temporary diet. Once you understand and accept that, only then are you ready to progress and achieve truly amazing life lasting results.
The Good News.
People who lead the Vegan lifestyles have the lowest BMI, heart disease, cancer, brain disease and all other all-cause mortality rates in the western world. This gives you an automatic health advantage over other ways of eating.
The plant-based vegan lifestyle is supported at all stages of life. From birth to death. I don’t make this claim the American Dietetics Association does https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864
Furthermore, with the correct nutritional advice, you can thrive without any supplementation.
So what are nutrients? The definition of nutrients is a substance that provides nourishment for the body to maintain life and growth.
But. I don’t just want you to “maintain” life. I want you to thrive and feel incredible. Therefore we must consume plenty of whole food plant based (WFPB) foods for optimal nourishment, performance and health.
A plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived with minimal process from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits.
Calories DO matter. But don’t obsess
Whoever says that calories don’t matter AT ALL when it comes to losing weight on a vegan lifestyle is a complete idiot. It’s basic physics which has been proved over hundreds of years. It’s a FACT calories DO matter. However, do I recommend that you track calories? No.
The most important aspect of this journey is nourishing your body first. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to feel amazing so your more happy, healthy, illness free and active.
Nutrients are your core foundation. It's like a house. With a solid and strong foundation, you are then able to modify, calories and macros around that. Just like you do with the furnishings in your house.
So why don’t I recommend tracking calories? There’s actually a few reasons. As I have mentioned. this is a lifestyle, not a short term diet. If I don’t expect you to be tracking calories in 2 years time why should I recommend that to you now?
You will respond completely differently from 100 calories of Oreos to 100 calories of fresh strawberries. The former is filled with processed fat and sugar which will make you feel sluggish and tired. While the latter will give your body the nutrients it needs to feel amazing while containing fibre. What will also keep you fuller for longer? A larger 300g box of strawberries or 2 small Oreos? I think you know the answer. As you can see both are 100 calories but your bodies mental and hormonal responses to are going to be completely different once consumed.
There is one thing I would recommend you do now. And that calculates how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.
https://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/calories write done the result.
Over the first 4 weeks of this journey simply be aware of calories. Read the back packets of foods if you have any doubts or simple search it online. However, with the diet plans and recipes that I will supply for you, this has all been taken into consideration. After a couple of weeks roughly following the plan, you will have a better gauge of food to consume and not consume while instilling good habits and nutritional discipline.
Find your macro formula.
What is Macro?
Macro’s stand for macronutrients of which there are 3 Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates of which 100% of calories consumed. See chart below for an example
As you can see from the chart there is a recommended goal of the % of the total nutrients consumed from your daily calorie limit.
What you need to know is everyone's body is different. There are no one sizes fits all approaches. Some people respond better to eating a higher percentage of carbs like myself and others respond better by increasing their fat percentage.
So what is best for you? I wish I could give you that answer right here right now. But I can’t. It’s up to you to be your own investigator to see how you respond to different ratios. But what do I mean by respond? Do you feel energized? Do you feel satiated (full)? Did you sleep well? Do you feel bloated or sluggish? Is it sustainable for a long period of time ie feeling deprived?
If you feel energized you're going to have a far more productive physical training day. Thus you will stimulate more muscle, burn more calories and ultimately look and feel better. It sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?
If you respond negatively to your current macros simply change them up. But remember to make sure you are eating plenty of plant-based whole foods so you are maximising your nutrient content. Each food also contains a specific percentage of all macronutrients and no food is exclusively part of one macro. For example, hazelnuts have Carbs: 5.1g ~ PROTEIN: 14.8g ~ FAT: 61.4g per 100g.
So what foods come under what macros in the vegan plant-based lifestyle.
Processed Soy ie sausages. (consumed minimally)
Whole Grains (Barley.
Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers.
As you can see from the list above your predominant nutrient sources will be coming from carbohydrates, therefore it’s recommended that at least 50% of your macros should come from carbohydrates.
It has been known that there is a higher rate of B12 Deficiency in vegans than non-vegans.
Where does B12 come from?
B12 is in fact from a bacteria algae that are from stagnant water in the earth, such as puddles ponds and lakes which is then evaporated into the air and comes down across the earth in rainwater. The trouble is most of the plant foods we eat today have been grown in highly controlled conditions where the water supplied to the crops are from irrigation which contains no b12. So why are non-vegans not as deficient? Like humans animals also need b12. As the majority of animal agriculture is now fed from soy and tap water they are too deficient. Therefore like antibiotics, they are injected routinely with vitamin b12. This is then carried into the muscle and thus consumed by humans.
So where can vegans get there b12 from? Nutritional yeast and brewer yeast. These two readily available, cheap and tasty products can be added to your food easily. Later in my amazing recipes, you'll see where I sneak them in so you get you b12 fix. However if in doubt can simply by a b12 supplement.
Vitamin D Deficiency.
It is a common myth that vegans are vitamin D deficient. There are no studies to prove this. Vitamin D is made by the sun hitting your bare skin. So safely spend time outside soaking up the rays. if you are living in a sun-deprived climate such as I am in London then book yourself a few sunny breaks a year or simply increase your soy intake and or buy a Vitamin D supplement.
There is no medical term or condition which states a protein deficiency. Therefore it doesn't exist. As all plant-based foods contain protein therefor as long as you are not in a server caloric deficit then you have no worries of malnourishment.
Calories and Nutrients from drinks.
Drinks can quite often be the unforgotten contributor to weight gain. Even if they're plant-based. Even if there are calorie free and use sweeteners instead of sugar.
You need to learn to love unadulterated water. Plenty of water is essential to your long-term success. Studies have shown that 2 litres are the minimal optimal dose to keep you well hydrated. However, if you live in a hot climate, sweat a lot and exercise (which you should be) then you should aim for 3 litres a day. This may not seem possible at first so you may have to build up your water drinking habits slowly. Remember kaizen is great for this.
Tea & Coffee (Caffeinated & Decaf)
Caffeine from tea and coffee can be used as a pre-workout drink only. This will mean you will have more focus during your training. Caffeine also helps dilate your blood vessels thus pumping more nutrient-rich blood throughout your muscles and organs so you will perform better.
Decaf can be consumed as much as you wish but should not substitute from your water intake.
Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies.
Smoothies are a great way to consume nutrient-rich foods. They are a great snack or even a meal such as for breakfast. Remember to drink them slowly though. As you have already mimicked the chewing process via blending your stomach won't be able to handle the amount of processed fibre very well in one hit. Thus leaving you bloated and potentially not absorbing all the nutrients. Drink 1 pint of smoothie over a 30 minute period. My favourite is my super beet smoothie that ill show you later.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices.
Avoid ALL juices. As there is no fibre in the juice you will simply urinate 90% of the nutrients while consuming the sugars. Instead of juicing, make or buy fresh smoothies instead or drink water. But if you do have a fruit juice once in a while they don’t beat yourself up.
Alcohol should be limited as much as possible. Personally I love a few pints of beer on a Saturday night and if it is a rare occasion when a few drinks are ok. However, if you suffer from the smallest of hangovers be mindful of the choice you make the next day. In an ideal world, we should consume no alcohol at all. However, if you like a beer now and again and you can stay fit and healthy while doing so, why not?
Store brought plant milk can be very high in sugars and sweeteners and shouldn't be part of your weight loss plant. However, you can make your own at home. Using a high powered smoothy maker blend almonds or any other nut with water and hey presto you have healthy plant milk.
I think you know the answer to this. These should be avoided at all costs even the “diet” (you see why I hate that word?) sodas should be avoided. “Diet” or not they are full of carcinogenic toxins that increase cancer and diabetes risk. However, if you have one a week or less your body is very efficient at flushing out the toxins if your lifestyle is another wise good.
Remember nourishing your body is your first priority. Making sure you consume a vast array of nutrients, vitamins and minerals so you feel amazing.
Be aware of calories, but don’t be obsessed by them. Guage your calories there's no need to militantly track them. Aim to hit your maintenance calories and use exercise to then go into a caloric deficit.
When it comes to macros become your own investigator. Have a minimum of 50% carbohydrates but then play around from there. Don’t be scared to experiment. However like calories, if you're eating an abundance of plant foods you shouldn't need to obsess about macros too much.
Drink as much water as possible. Avoid alcohol, juices, processed plant milk and sodas.
Give your body the incredible nutrients that it deserves. Each day feed yourself with amazing plant-based foods your body and mind will thank you. If you eat well, you will train well, you will sleep well, you will feel well and you will look amazingly well.
For more incredible nutritional information I highly recommend Dr Michael Greger’s latest book How Not To Die.
Educate And Dominate
Daniel Welstead - Plant Based Vegan Personal Trainer in Sevenoaks