With the turn of the new year comes the increased awareness and emphasis on weight loss and “dieting.” In a nut shell, losing weight and fat is a matter of consuming fewer calories than what your daily activity requires. However, embarking on a strict program – complete with restrictions, measurements, calculations and food substitutions – can leave you feeling not only hungry, but more notably frustrated. A restrictive new year’s weight loss program can often create more negative feelings than the positive sentiment from actually losing weight. As such, “dieting” for many, is often a short-lived and less than ideal turn of the year resolution.
However, eating a plant-based diet can be a great approach to losing weight without the typical battles of classic restrictive diets. For example, a major benefit to eating a whole-foods plant-based diet is satiety. Because vegetables and plant foods have a high water content, they are typically more filling. Moreover, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are packed with fiber, which can also help you feel full.
In addition, pound for pound, plant-based food sources are typically lower in calories than meat or animal products. One pound of vegetable approximates roughly 100 calories, whereas a comparable pound of cheese or meat can be upwards of 2000-4000 calories, respectively. Therefore, by eating a whole-food plant-based diet, you will get full quicker AND consume fewer calories per meal – both importantly helpful for any weight loss program.
One added benefit of a plant-based diet is the general overall nutritional benefit of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Most plant sources are very nutrient dense, including a wealth of vitamins and minerals such as A, C, B vitamins (important for metabolism), magnesium and potassium, as well as antioxidants. Furthermore, fats gained by consuming beans, whole grains and nuts are often in the form of “good” fats (Omega -3′s & -6′s). Animal based foods on the other hand, typically can be sources of saturated fats – less than optimal for weight loss programs or overall health.
So, with the turn of the new year, instead of planning a classic set of dietary “restrictions” to help you shed some unwanted pounds, it may be more beneficial to adopt a whole-food, plant-based eating regimen. Not only will you get some weight loss help from lower calorie, more satisfying foods. You will also be able to eat more of them AND get some additional health benefit at the same time…a win-win situation indeed!