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8 Ways to Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet

vegan pancake for vegan weight loss
Fitness Editor
Julia is a qualified fitness trainer. She writes our articles about nutrition and fitness. She also makes free workout plans for our site.

A vegan diet doesn’t automatically make you slim, but it is possible to lose weight while eating a vegan diet, if that’s what your goals include. Vegan nutrition is by definition not a diet for losing weight. Depending on what and how much you eat, you can eat foods that are healthy or unhealthy, gain weight, lose weight, or simply maintain your weight.

Those who eat a vegan diet don’t eat any animal foods. At first this may sound healthier, or like you would naturally eat less, but that’s not quite true. A good vegan diet is characterized by healthy, nutrient-rich foods, but even in the world of plant-based food there are processed foods, sugary desserts, potato chips, etc. So, whether you live healthier or lose weight with a vegan diet is up to you.

Reading tip: Start our 7-day vegan eating challenge now!

Can you lose weight on a vegan diet?

Vegan diets can be great for weight loss, sure. Healthy and fresh plant foods are often rich in fiber and micronutrients, complex carbohydrates, and high-quality amino and fatty acids. Vegetables in particular have a low energy density while being high in volume. This means that with the right food choices, you can eat a balanced and nutritious diet while dieting and maintain a moderate calorie deficit without feeling hungry.

The advantages of a healthy vegan diet at a glance

  • high nutrient density
  • high content of dietary fiber and secondary plant substances
  • many unsaturated fatty acids
  • balanced amino acid profile

What’s different about vegan weight loss?

The basic principles of vegan weight loss are exactly the same as with any other diet. In order to lose weight, you need a calorie deficit, adequate protein intake, and exercise.

A white hand takes a spoonful out of a red-pink cherry chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl, a great choice for vegan weight loss
©foodspring

Losing weight as a vegan with calorie deficit

A calorie deficit is always the basis for losing weight. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you consume. For sustainable weight loss, a daily deficit of about 200-300 calories is reasonable. We’d advise against a higher calorie deficit, which puts your body in a state of emergency and can trigger a yo-yo effect.

With our free calorie chart, you can quickly find out how many calories are in some of your favorite foods and come up with a plan.

Losing weight as a vegan with protein

Protein helps to both build and maintain muscle mass. If you eat too little protein, your body will use not only its fat reserves for energy but also muscle. Muscles give your body its beautiful shape and consume more energy than fat when at rest. A lower muscle percentage might result in lower energy consumption.

During a calorie-restricted diet, your protein needs increase. Eating enough protein when trying to lose weight as vegan is absolutely possible, but sometimes not so easy. Especially if you’re on the road a lot or eating out, there is often a lack of protein-rich plant-based dishes.

To help you meet your protein needs, we’ve developed the Vegan Shape Shake, with whole oat flour and protein from fava beans and chickpeas, as well as plenty fiber and digestive enzymes. With only 220 kcal per serving, you can easily replace a meal when you’re in a hurry. As with all dietary supplements, the Vegan Shape Shake is a great addition to a balanced meal plan.

Discover Our Vegan Shape Shake

Losing weight as a vegan with exercise

If you want to lose weight healthily, build strong muscles, and have a healthy musculoskeletal system in the long term, you have to exercise. What kind of exercise you do is up to you. The most important thing is that you enjoy it and that it fits in with your everyday life.

Need some inspiration? Check this out: 33 types of sports – and how to find the right one for you!

HIIT training or a fitness plan that intelligently combines muscle-building with endurance workouts is particularly suitable for losing weight. You don’t even necessarily have to go to the gym for this. In our free workout database, you’re guaranteed to find the right workout for your level, goal, and time budget.

See our workouts

Everyday exercise also plays a big role in losing weight and shouldn’t be underestimated: Go for a walk after your workday, take the stairs whenever you can, or get off the bus a stop early. These little things add up.

A white woman with brown hair and eyes stretches her right forearm, using her left hand to pull her right fingers towards herself with her palm upside down and facing the camera.
©Hispanolistic

Vegan diet for weight loss: 8 tips for making it work

To reiterate, slimming down as a vegan works, in principle, just like slimming with any other diet. Nevertheless, there are some commonly made mistakes particular to a vegan meal plan. Our 8 tips will help you avoid those.

#1 Healthier doesn’t (always) make you slim

There are many myths about vegan nutrition that are only half true or not true at all. One of them is that anything that’s vegan is automatically healthy, and that you can basically eat anything and as much of it as you want. While it is true that a balanced plant-based diet is healthy, that doesn’t change your personal calorie requirement.

There are lots of super delicious and healthy things out there, from dried fruits to nut butters, raw pies, and roasted cashews. But you’ll feel full and satisfied longer after a healthy, well-balanced snack than after sweets or spreads packed with sugar, even if they have the same number of calories. So, when it comes to losing weight, enjoy your treats in moderation. Even if they are healthy, vegan, and delicious.

Recipe inspiration? Look no further:

Check out our vegan recipes here

#2 But: healthy is better

Nevertheless, healthy is of course better. Especially when losing weight vegan style, prioritize not only eating less, but also better: Legumes, whole grains, and nuts are rich in fiber and micronutrients. Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates don’t cause a spike in your blood sugar levels, and they provide significantly more nutrients.

#3 The brighter, the better

Variety is simply more satisfying. The different colors of fruits and vegetables represent different healthy ingredients in each vegan food. And the more balanced your plate is, the less likely your body is to feel like it’s lacking something. This reduces the risk of food cravings, which certainly helps with weight loss.

#4 Don’t starve yourself

Giving in to your cravings and compulsively eating chocolate after not eating all day? Keeping those moments at bay is definitely another reason why you should eat your fill even when trying to losing weight. Eating enough also keeps you in a good mood and energetic, rather than feeling permanent hangry, and helps you stick to your diet plan.

Balance your meals accordingly and don’t skip any macronutrient group. If you know you need carbohydrates, then make sure you’re eating carbs, like whole grains and legumes. This way you’ll avoid the feeling of not being satisfied after your meals. Still, try to let vegetables take up most of your plate.

Another tip: don’t go shopping hungry. Most of the time you’ll either buy too much or vegan food that won’t help you lose weight.

#5 Balance your macros

Calculate the ideal macronutrient distribution for your goal. The best amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats to eat to successfully lose weight vegan depends on your goal, physical condition, health, age, size, and activity level, among other things.

Not sure where to start? Have a look at our article on macros for some foundational facts.

#6 Enough protein protects your muscles

Protein plays a special role among the macronutrients in weight loss. During a calorie-restricted diet it’s essential that you eat enough protein. Once you’ve worked out how much, track your macros for a few days. Are you getting to the recommended protein level, or are you way below it?

Don’t miss our roundup of high-protein vegan foods to help you meet your protein needs. Many plant-based protein sources are very healthy and – depending on the food – provide you with complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, versatile micronutrients, and phytochemicals at the same time.

What is great during a normal balanced diet can make life harder for you during vegan weight loss, as it is harder to get enough protein with reduced carbohydrate or fat intake. Our Vegan Protein Shakes can support you here: they provide you with about 20g of protein per serving and have hardly any fat and carbohydrates.

The perfect companion for your vegan weight loss project is also our vegan Shape Shake. With whole grain oat flour, protein from fava beans and chickpeas, fiber, and digestive enzymes, it supports you on your path towards your feel-good body. The vegan Shape Shake has only 220 kcal per serving and is the perfect meal replacement when you’re hungry, want some protein, and need to watch your calorie intake.

Discover Vegan Shape Shake

#7 Fresh instead of pre-prepared

Pre-packaged meals are often calorie bombs. Sausages, Bolognese, frozen dinners, and other convenience foods often contain added sugar, saturated fats, large amounts of salt, flavor enhancers and other things you don’t need. Actually, they prevent you from really feeling how full you are and whether you should eat something else or are satisfied. Plus, they often have too many calories and too few nutrients.

A Black man and a white woman cook together in a white kitchen
©Bernine

#8 But it’s best to plan ahead

Pasta salad, white flour sandwiches, and cakes can be quite tasty. But if you’re trying to keep off the weight as a vegan, these classic to-go snacks should be enjoyed only in moderation and only on occasion. Try meal prepping instead. With a few little tricks and routines, a meal prepping routine can be very simple and uncomplicated.

Meal Prep Tips

We hope our 8 tips have given you the confidence to seize your goal. Take that chance and stick with it! Vegan nutrition is not only great for weight loss; it’s also the perfect stepping stone towards a healthy and conscious diet. A balanced vegan diet is rich in fiber, high-quality plant-based protein, phytochemicals, and micronutrients.

Along with regular workouts and a work-life balance, a balanced plant-based diet is great for a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy vegan weight loss: What to watch out for

In addition to what you eat, there are a few basic requirements for successful weight loss that you should always keep in mind with any dietary plan. These include the following:

#1 Meet your nutritional needs

Health always comes first. You’ll only make long-term changes if you’re giving your body all the nutrients it needs. If you are starving yourself to reach a certain number on the scale, you put yourself at risk of health problems.

#2 Move

Exercise is healthy, improves your mood, keeps your muscles strong, and burns extra calories. Theoretically, you can lose weight without exercise. But it takes longer and is less sustainable, Plus, training and toning your muscles helps you achieve the shape you want.

# 3 Define a realistic goal

And plan the way to get there. “Just losing a few pounds” with a different diet rarely works. It’s way too easy to give excuses, exceptions, and procrastination. You can read up on how you can best formulate and achieve your goals here.

Slimming Vegan Recipes

Sticking to a new diet plan is even more fun (and effective) with the right recipes.  In our free recipe database, you’ll find more than 120 vegan recipes for weight loss. Here are a few of our favorites for any time of day.

Vegan Weight Loss Recipes: Breakfast

These vegan blueberry pancakes will make you forget you’re on a diet. They’re delicious, high in protein, and make every day feel like the weekend. Don’t feel like fruit for breakfast? Then replace the blueberries with our Just Nuts spread, some greens, an avocado, or anything else you’re in the mood for. Keep in mind: Avocados are a fantastic source of healthy fats to keep you full, but they are also high in calories.

A stack of vegan blueberry pancakes topped with fresh blueberries and dripping over with blueberry jam
©foodspring
Get the recipe

If you’re in the mood for something savory, how about turning things pink with a slice of Vegan Protein Bread and a dollop of beetroot hummus?

A gray plate seen from above holds 2 slices of Vegan Protein Bread topped with a dollop of beetroot hummus, and garnished with fresh sprouts and chickpeas.
©foodspring
Pink up the pace

Vegan Weight Loss Recipes: Lunch

With both hot and cold ingredients, lamb’s lettuce with sautéed sweet potatoes is not only a fantastic go-to year round, but also super delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare.

If you’re in the mood for something heartier, treat yourself to a portion of the Italian classic Pasta alla Norma. It’s like being on holiday in Italy, with fewer carbs and more protein.

Pasta alla Norma
©foodspring
Turn up the heat

Vegan slimming recipes: Snacks

Snacks are a must. Giving up sweet treats is no fun – and life is too short for that. The good news? Sweet snacks can be nutritious. Our fudgy High Protein Chocolate Brownies made with kidney beans come with that extra serving of protein. No flour, sugar, or eggs – and as tasty as any baker’s brownie.

If you’re more of a hearty and savory snack type, try our super juicy protein-rich olive bread with dried tomatoes. With or without any spreads, this bread is satisfying, and can be ready to go into the oven in under 10 minutes. You’ll be rewarded for your patience when it comes out: freshly baked, this bread smells and tastes especially delicious.

Two slices of olive bread sit next to the rest of the loaf and on top of a textured white piece of fabric.
©foodspring
Bake olive bread now

Vegan weight loss recipes: Dinner

Think pizza is off the menu when you’re on a diet? Think again! Our gluten-free green spring pizza makes vegan weight loss satisfying and delicious. And you can make this pizza any time of year: Just replace the spring vegetables with seasonal veggies. When it comes to pizza, there aren’t many rules, so have fun with it!

Vegan Spring Pizza
©foodspring
Get the recipe

If you prefer something classic and a bit lighter in the evening, our zucchini noodles with lentil bolognese might be just the thing for you. Healthy, hearty, high in protein, and yet light and full of valuable micronutrients.

Summary

  • A vegan diet doesn’t automatically make you slimmer: nutrient-rich, balanced meals, sufficient protein, and a calorie deficit are prerequisites for weight loss, no matter your diet.
  • Everyday movement and physical activity will contribute to your weight loss journey.
  • Don’t go hungry: plan filling meals that still keep you in a calorie deficit.
  • Eating a vegan diet is also a way to start eating healthier and more consciously.
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