What is a Plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is essentially a diet where you focus on having foods from plant sources. This diet plan advocates consuming whole and unprocessed foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
The plant-based diet has grown in popularity in recent years owing to its many advantages. The relation between whole plant diet and weight loss is well-researched and documented. Various clinical trials and observational studies prove that this diet prevents obesity and helps in weight loss.
Is an All-Plant diet healthy?
The beauty of the plant-based diet is that it is very flexible. At one end of the spectrum, you have people who strictly stick to a whole plant-based only diet. At the other end, you have people who follow a predominantly plant-based diet while including small portions of animal-based products. Individuals can plan their diet to suit their weight loss goals and personal preferences.
There are many myths surrounding a whole plant-based diet, with a section of the public being skeptical whether eating only plant products is enough to meet all the nutritional requirements of the human body.
A fact sheet published by the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM) aims to bust the myths and explain this diet’s benefits. According to this publication, a whole-food plant-based diet is the best way to achieve weight loss.
When you consume whole foods, you are supplying your body with the much-needed fiber content. An average person should include a minimum of 40gm of fiber in the diet, which is possible when you eat plant-based foods.
To arrive at this conclusion, PCRM conducted a research study on a group of 64 moderate to severely overweight women. These women were asked to cut down on animal-based products and keep their oil consumption to a minimum. They were able to lose about a pound per week without any dieting or exercise. Some of them continued to maintain weight loss after two years of the study.
So, what is the connection between weight loss and a plant-based diet?
As we discussed earlier, a plant-based diet is an excellent source of fiber. But you must bear in mind that all your plant-based diet must be whole and unprocessed. Examples include whole legumes, nuts, and whole, unprocessed grains like wheat.
When your diet is high in fiber, you feel satiated for longer without piling on the calories. Lowered calorie intake is associated with significant weight loss.
A Plant-based diet can quicken your metabolism, which burns up excess fat, thus resulting in weight loss. Sluggish metabolism is one of the key reasons for weight gain.
When you depend on a plant-based diet, you are also cutting down the fat sources that you would normally get when you eat meat, poultry, etc. You are still allowed a minimum oil intake which is enough to meet your nutritional requirements.
Can a plant-based diet successfully provide the other nutrients required by the body?
A 2018 randomized clinical trial analyzed the metabolic benefits of plant protein. This study published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes concluded that plant-based protein is associated with improved body composition and a reduction in body weight and insulin resistance.
Plant-based protein plays a crucial role in maintaining heart health by reducing the concentration of blood lipids.
Significantly, protein derived from plant-based foods contributes to an increased life span. In effect, plant protein is beneficial to the body and contributes to heart health, weight loss, and improved quality of life.
The Journal of Geriatric Cardiology published another study that states that plant-based carbohydrates effectively reduce the incidence and risk of type 2 diabetes. The intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with improved kidney health, especially among those suffering from some form of kidney disease.
The plant-based diet is a good source of Calcium and is rich in vitamins and minerals. This diet is also low on cholesterol, saturated fats, and calories. Notably, the plant-based diet may not meet your requirements of Vitamin B12, and hence you must include a supplement to fulfill your nutritional needs.
It is clear that a whole plant-based diet and weight loss go hand in hand. People who follow plant-based diets have lower weight and BMI when compared to people who follow other diets.
Plant-based diet is an excellent lifestyle alternative for those who have diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, and renal diseases and are looking to improve their overall health by following an appropriate diet. This diet provides all the nutrients while helping you lose all the unnecessary weight.
Weight Loss: Whole Plant Diet & workout
Research proves that weight loss on a plant-based diet can be achieved without significant lifestyle changes. If you add workouts to this diet plan, you can successfully achieve quicker weight loss and maintain it. It has also shown to be helpful in obesity prevention.
If you are new to the world of the whole plant-based diet and are looking for tips to get started, we have a quick guide for you.
- Your diet must include all fruits and vegetables. Opt for locally grown and sourced produce to enjoy the maximum nutritional benefits.
- Always opt for whole grains, legumes, nuts, whole fruits. Avoid refined foods such as refined grains, flours, refined sugars, etc.
- Grains are sources of carbohydrates, while legumes form your protein sources, and nuts provide you with healthy fats.
- For salad dressings, you can use fat-free dressings such as vinegar, mustard, and lemon-based dressings as opposed to mayonnaise and other fat-based ones.
- You must limit or avoid foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and milk-based products such as cream, cheese, and ice creams. You must also avoid all refined, processed and deep-fried foods and foods high in refined sugars.
If your purpose of starting a whole plant diet is to lose weight, you must include plant-based recipes for weight loss in your diet.
Apart from being replete with health benefits, the whole plant diet plan is the diet of choice among the environmentally conscious. According to an article published in the UCLA Sustainability journal, shifting to a complete plant-based diet can significantly reduce carbon emissions and improve food supply by up to 49% without the necessity of expanding farmlands.
Carbon emissions are primarily responsible for global warming and affect life in oceans and on the land.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), livestock production is responsible for nearly 14.5% of the greenhouse gases. Animal waste and manure production result in the emission of methane gas, another pollutant that significantly adds to global warming.
This trend can increase greenhouse gas emissions up to nearly 80% by 2050.
When people start shifting to a plant-based diet, say once a week, the change is enough to reduce the emission of these harmful gases and is a positive move towards saving the earth.
A shift to a plant-based diet from a predominantly animal-based diet can reduce water consumption by almost 50%. Growing and consuming plant food is also economical when compared to livestock, making it financially viable.
Environmental benefits, along with various health benefits, make a strong case for shifting to whole plant-based diets from animal-based diets.
Potential Disadvantages of Adopting A Plant-Based Diet:
Despite the very many advantages that a plant-based diet presents, there are some disadvantages and limitations. The key to a plant-based diet is consuming everything whole. Processed, refined, fried, and preserved foods can do more harm than good. Such foods may lead to an increase in your cholesterol levels and lead to heart problems.
An understanding of what foods come under the purview of a whole plant-based diet and what must be avoided is the key to experiencing its full benefits. Additionally, a knowledge of what, when, how, and how much is equally important to achieve the right balanced diet.
You must consume all food groups in the right proportions to ensure that you receive all the nutrients in the right quantities. A simple trick here is to follow the rainbow rule. Fill your plate with at least 3 to 4 colors per meal like greens, oranges, yellows, reds, purples, etc.
Sticking to a whole plant-based diet may also be difficult if you do not have time to shop or cook and depend on takeaways or restaurants for your meals. Many specialty restaurants cater to plant-based diets, but finding the right one that is authentic in its approach may take time.
When shopping for foods, especially canned and jarred foods such as sauces, dressings, spreads, etc., you must be extra careful. Labels that read unprocessed, fat-free, sugar-free may not always stick to claims. You must take extra time to read the labels to ensure that there are no hidden ingredients or processes.
For example, a salad dressing that says fat-free may have added sugars, which is again a big no-no for those strictly pursuing a plant-based diet.
Achieving nutritional balance can be a challenge in a plant-based diet. If you follow a strict whole plant-based diet and avoid all animal-based products, you may get deficient in B12 levels since this vitamin is found predominantly in animal-based foods. You must find alternatives to ensure that this nutrient requirement is sufficiently met.
A whole plant-based diet is an excellent way to reduce weight in a healthy manner. Research has proven the link between plant-based diet and weight loss after conducting multiple trials and scientific studies.
A whole plant-based diet is a nutritional powerhouse and supplies your daily dietary requirements. This diet plan, apart from aiding weight loss, also helps you maintain overall health.
A good knowledge of the principles behind the plant-based diet and plant-based recipes for weight loss will help achieve the desired results.
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