Losing weight on a dairy-free diet is not so different from losing weight on a regular diet -- you simply exclude dairy products from your nutrition plan. Focus on getting your protein and carbohydrate from other healthy sources and supplementing those with plenty of vegetables, some fruit and water. Add in regular exercise and getting sufficient sleep -- and you can expect to start losing weight.
Pick Up the Protein
Eating a sufficient amount of protein is important when you are trying to lose weight. According a May 2008 article in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," eating protein has a positive impact on fat loss because it increases satiety -- your sense of being full and satisfied after a meal. It also slightly increases the number of calories burned during metabolism, and this can also contribute to fat loss. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 5 to 6 ounces of protein per day for adults -- you can get your protein from lean meats, poultry, seafood, legumes and soy foods.
Eat Your Grains and Veggies
ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends selecting whole-grain carbohydrate sources, such as whole-grain or whole-wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal and brown rice. Other healthy carbohydrate sources include chia seeds, flax seeds, legumes and starchy vegetables like sweet potato and pumpkin. Include 2 cups of vegetables at every meal to make sure you are getting sufficient fiber, vitamins and minerals. Try to eliminate processed carbs, such as white bread, cakes, cookies, pastries, candy and sodas from your diet, as these have little nutritional value, and the added sugar can contribute to excess weight.
To ensure you are losing weight, pay attention to your portion sizes and daily calorie intake. Keep in mind that to drop pounds, the calories you consume should be less than the calories you burn each day. In other words, you should be in a "caloric deficit." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends reducing your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. The CDC also recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, along with two strength-building workouts, as this will increase the amount of energy being used and improve your overall health.
Dairy is a common source of numerous vitamins and minerals, so it's important that you find other foods that will provide you with these essential nutrients while you are losing weight. For calcium, eat leafy greens, broccoli, quinoa and chia, flax and sesame seeds, plus mushrooms for vitamin D, according to the August 2012 issue of "Today's Dietitian." Sweet potatoes, beets and tomatoes provide useful amounts of potassium, while vitamin B-12 can be found in fortified cereals and low-fat soy milk, kale and nutritional yeast. You can replace many dairy products such as milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt and cream with the variety of low-fat soy, coconut and rice-based products that are widely available in grocery stores.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management and Satiety
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: How Much Food from the Protein Foods Group Is Needed Daily?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are in the Grains Group?
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- Today's Dietitian: Dairy Food Substitutes