As its name suggests, a plant-based diet consists of plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts with a drastically limited intake of meat.
You may have heard of popular plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean, macrobiotic, and raw food diet. Of course, you can take things even further with a vegetarian diet or a fully vegan one.
Health and eco experts seem to love plant-based diets in general because they not only downsize our greenhouse gas emissions and impact on the environment but also offer a plethora of health benefits.
Why plant-based diets?
A plant-based diet can trim your risk of heart failure well over 40%. In fact, the diet brings down your overall risk of dying from heart disease in the first place.
Scientists have also linked the veggie-heavy way of eating to better blood sugar management and mental and emotional health.
Unsurprisingly, multiple studies have proven that following a plant-based diet makes for a leaner waistline.
One study found that ladies who phased out all animal products lost about 450g a week even without calorie-counting or exercise. And for the most part, they’ve managed to keep the weight off even after two years.
It’s not hard to see how this can happen. For a start, plant-based diets fill you up with plenty of hunger-inhibiting fibre that your stomach takes a long time to digest.
And compared to plant foods, animal products like meat and cheese tend to be higher in fat – and fat simply contains more calories. You can save 255 calories just by swapping out the meat patty (277 calories) in your burger for a juicy portobello (22 calories).
But before you pull out all stops for a plant-based weight loss diet, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Eat a variety of plant-based foods
When you have a rich diversity of microbes in your gut (also known as gut flora), you have a more stable and resilient immune system. And eating a variety of plant-based foods can help you achieve just that.
That’s because dietary fibre can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut that prevent inflammation.
A recent study also showed that people who eat 30 or more different types of fruit and vegetable each week enjoyed stronger gut health compared to those who eat 10 types or less.
That said, you want to make sure you’re going for unrefined plant-based foods as much as possible. Fries, chocolates, veggie chips and imitation meats are technically plant-based, but you know they’re not ideal for your waistline. Plus, these junk options tend to be laden with salt which can lead to water retention and bloat.
Don’t buy into vegan desserts
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Vegan desserts are heavy on dairy-free substitutes like banana and coconut cream, and are often touted as more nutritious versions of the same treats.
That’s not entirely true though.
Though the ingredients that go into vegan desserts are more less sinful than sugar and butter, they tend to be on the sweet side. Dates – an essential ingredient for no-bake vegan brownies – can contain up to 80% of sugar. Vegan dessert recipes also tend to be more fattening since they rely a lot on coconut oil and nuts.
Making matters worse, these recipes often call for additional sweeteners such as honey or rice malt syrup. Those aren’t really much better than plain white sugar.
Beware of plant-based foods’ halo effect
Don’t let your guard down with health foods, organic foods, or snacks labelled “low in sugar” or “low in fat”. As a result of sexy buzzwords, we are often misled into overestimating how nutritious these foods are.
Common examples? Cold-pressed juices, Greek yogurt, sea salt, and anything gluten-free.
In multiple studies that have researched this “health halo” effect, this thinking leads consumers to overeat or feel they’re entitled to eat more.
To overcome this, it’s important to take a closer look at the nutrition labels and the recommended serving size.
It’s also important to be honest with yourself. Don’t think you’re doing your waistline favours with an acai bowl topped with granola, coconut and multiple servings of fruits and nuts!
Watch out for starchy vegetables
Not all plant produce is equal.
Harvard University researchers discovered that while having a plant-based diet filled with high-fibre, low-carb ingredients generally helps you lose weight, you should watch out for starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn.
Unlike non-starchy greens, they tend to result in hunger pangs by spiking your blood sugar.
Don’t eat too many nuts
Having too much of anything can make you gain weight, and this is especially true when it comes to nuts. Although they have numerous benefits, nuts contain up to 80% fat – that’s a lot of calories in one crunch!
All in all, you should limit yourself to four handfuls of unsalted nuts per week.
Be careful when eating out
It’s almost impossible to get your daily serving of greens if you have a habit of dining out. Takeout vegetables are often prepared with MSG-laden gravy to up their flavour. Even at mid-range restaurants, the portion and selection of vegetable offerings isn’t much to shout about.
One way to work around this: Order a vegetarian main, preferably one that is grilled or roasted.
Ordering one to go at a salad kiosk? Watch out for dressings and toppings – those things add up! Play it safe by asking for dressings on the side.
Lose weight the easy way
Switching up your diet can be a pain, but it doesn’t always work if what you’re looking for is fast, long-lasting weight loss.
The problem isn’t your diet – it’s your metabolism.
As our metabolism slows with age, weight loss starts to feel like an uphill battle even when you eat well and exercise regularly.
That’s where our signature CSH therapy comes in. Our CSH therapy program produces fast, natural and long-term weight loss by jumpstarting your metabolism using a traditional Chinese approach. The best part: No extreme diets, no supplements, no exercise involved.
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