A common assumption is that vegans easily lose weight simply because they follow a diet free of fatty meat and dairy products. This couldn't be further from the truth for some vegans, however. You can either gain or lose weight on a vegan diet. As with any diet, it all depends on how many calories you consume.
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Rate of Weight Loss
A vegan diet can lend itself to fairly rapid weight loss if you focus on eating the right foods. Don't try to lose weight too quickly, however, as weight loss that is too rapid will deplete muscle as well as fat. You also run the risk of becoming deficient in critical nutrients, and are likely to regain the weight once you begin eating more calories. Aim for a weight loss of 2 lbs a week, as this is the maximum amount of weight you can expect to lose while still eating a healthy diet.
Foods to Focus On
Any healthy weight loss plan should incorporate plenty of vegetables, and a vegan diet fits the bill perfectly. Cook with plenty of green vegetables, tomatoes, squash and other foods that have high volume but low calories. You'll get full before you've ever had a chance to eat enough calories to derail your diet. You'll feel great while you're losing weight, too, as these foods are dense in nutrients that promote energy and health. Vegan diets that focus on fruits and vegetables rather than meat and dairy are likely the reason why vegetarians and vegans have lower rates of heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer.
Foods to Cut Back On
Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn have more calories per ounce than their non-starchy counterparts. Eat them in moderation. Nuts are commonly used in vegan cooking, but you will want to watch out for them as well. Just 1oz of walnuts, for example, can provide 185 calories per ounce. Use them judiciously to add a hint of crunch to vegan dishes, rather than making them the focus of a meal. The same goes for fats and oils -- avocados, coconut milk and cooking oil can all stall your weight loss if you eat more than small amounts.
Foods to Eliminate
The reason that many vegans remain overweight in spite of an otherwise healthy diet is due to the fact that sugar and refined flour are permissible on a vegan diet. So are many chips and other types of junk food. You can technically be a vegan while living on a very unhealthy diet of cupcakes, french fries and cookies. Eliminate sugary baked goods from your diet along with other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Refined carbohydrates, in particular, can slow weight loss.