Posted on December 16 2019
This is the second most popular weight related question I get after the “how to lose belly fat”. For someone who is new to a plant- based/ vegan diet, if you do not look after your nutritional intake carefully, you will lose a lot of weight in a short span. This does not necessarily mean you are losing muscle mass, nor is it necessarily unhealthy weight loss (though some cases it might be).
Our bodies are fighting with us constantly to get back to an optimal weight range. The food we eat (or in many cases don’t eat) may interfere with our weight loss/ gain. Consuming more toxin’s into the body such as processed foods, factory- farmed meat/ dairy etc leads to a toxic environment in the body. Thus your body tries to stop all other activities and heal itself by trying to throw these toxin’s out. Side effects of the same could be anywhere from weight gain to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.
The less toxin’s we put into the body, the faster the healing process and quicker it will get back to optimal weight range. So if you go from a high meat/ dairy diet to a plant- based diet over night and lose weight suddenly, consider it as a way for the body to get back to its optimal range and healthy. If however you feel you are under weight and feel week, lack of energy, depressed, stressed etc. read on.
Apart form toxin’s the body loses weight because of a few other reasons. Lets talk a little bit of science:
1 gram of carb= 4 calories
1 gram of proteins= 4 calories
1 gram of fat= 9 calories
Approx 3600 calories= 1 pound of body weight.
Animal based food (meat AND dairy) are both very high is saturated fat but low in carbs.
100 grams beef= 15 grams fat
100 grams beans= 1 gram fat
So naturally if you are consuming high- fat, you are consuming high calorie. Think of weight gain/ loss as literally calorie- in vs calorie- out. If you eat more than you burn per day, you gain weight. If your per day caloric requirement is 2000 calories, you could be getting these easily from a high meat/ dairy diet because of all the fats. Though not the healthiest way to get calories and could lead to cholesterol/ heart diseases. But will help in weight gain.
Plant- based foods are high in fibre instead.
100 grams beef= 0 fibre.
100 grams beans= 16 grams fibre.
Fibre fills you up very fast. Think about eating a bag of chicken nuggets (no fibre) vs the same amount (in weight) of veggies (high fibre). Though not comparing taste (and by the way meat by itself does not have any taste, it gets the taste from the plant- based spices added on top to flavor it. Imagine eating raw uncooked meat for the taste ;/) or all the time it will take for you to chew the veggies, plant- based food will fill you up very fast and you will not want to eat too much of it. 500 calorie worth of oil’s/ processed, fibre deprived food does not send signals to the brain telling it to stop eating but 500 calories worth of high- fibre food will signal the brain that the stomach is full.
So you involuntarily end up eating less food and feel fuller, faster.
Ok so now we know why we lose weight with the sudden switch, lets see how we fix it.
Easy- eat food high is plant- based fats! Think dates, apricots, nuts, seeds, nut based butter, plant- based dairy alternative that are not processed like home- made soy- milk curds etc.
Also think quality over quantity. Dont take the ‘eat- more’ approach. It will not work on days you are busy, have no time to cook and travelling. Think about eating moderate but calorically packed food. For instance,
A bowl of white rice= 200 calories (but too much to eat)
3 dates= also approx 200 calories (but quick and easy to eat).
My next YouTube video will have specific recipes and also a full workout plan that will help you take the right steps towards gaining some healthy weight on a plant- based diet.
But hope this post got you thinking!