Healthy, sustainable weight loss you can achieve

Healthy, sustainable weight loss is the holy grail for those wanting to lose extra, unwanted pounds.

Faddy diets come and go, with many jumping on the bandwagon in a bid to shed weight as quickly as possible.

But here’s the thing – sustainable, healthy weight loss cannot be achieved by drinking only cabbage juice for weeks on end or popping green coffee bean tablets like they’re going out of fashion.

A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is the only way you can budge the bulge and kickstart your sluggish metabolism.

Learn why fad diets don’t work and discover 12 tips for losing weight on a vegan diet.

Why fad diets don’t work

Millions of people fall prey to the clever marketing tactics that accompany fad diets – don’t be one of them! Simply put, fad diets are unhealthy and don’t work for long-term weight loss. They often involve cutting out entire food groups (such as fibre or carbohydrates) and key nutrients the body needs which can lead to fatigue, gut issues, dehydration and other health problems.

How a healthy vegan diet can aid weight loss

A vegan diet that is rich in plant-based nutrients and whole foods provides low-calorie, high-fibre and high-density foods that help keep you satiated and fuller for longer. Unprocessed vegan foods are low in sugar and free from damaged fats and harmful additives. Processed foods contain an array of toxic ingredients such as hydrogenated oils, preservatives, flavouring enhancers and sweeteners that can lead to blood sugar and hormone imbalance, cravings and poor metabolism (your fat-burning capability).

How to lose weight on a vegan diet

If you’ve been struggling with your weight or you’re in a perpetual cycle of losing weight, only to stack it back on again, here are some useful tips to help you lose weight naturally on a vegan diet.

Eat an array of different coloured fruits and vegetables as they contain an abundance of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants – key nutrients that promote healthy metabolism and blood sugar balance. If your body gets all the nutrients it needs to function optimally, you will feel more energised and experience less cravings for foods with empty calories.

Include quality plant protein at every meal such as beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds. Protein anchors your blood sugar levels, reduces hunger hormones and increases the hormones that make you feel satiated after eating. Protein also helps you build muscle which aids fat burning.

Don’t be afraid of eating fats. Healthy fats are essential for good health; they help the body to make hormones, protect your cell membranes and aid the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K). Good fats such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and flaxseed oil can also promote healthy weight loss as they provide fuel for cells and not just extra calories.

Increase your soluble fibre intake (beans, sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pears) as fibre helps reduce your appetite by keeping you fuller for longer. It also keeps your gut bacteria healthy and improves the way your body responds to insulin. This is important for weight loss as it keeps your blood sugar levels regulated. Insulin works by decreasing blood sugar levels by pushing glucose into cells so it can be used for energy, instead of being stored as fat.

Minimally cook foods to maintain nutrients. Heating foods to a high temperature, whether that be boiling or frying, reduces the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in food, especially heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C. Try to eat foods in their raw form or lightly sauté or steam where necessary. 

Avoid frying and cooking foods with damaged, hydrogenated oils such as rapeseed or vegetable oil. Be aware that dairy-free spreads are also a source of damaged oils. Nut or seed butters are a more nutritious, healthier option.

Ditch coffee as it’s a nervous system stimulant that triggers the stress response in the body. It surges adrenaline and cortisol production which increases the release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream and can also lead to insulin resistance (when your cells do not respond to insulin and therefore store the sugar as fat instead). Drinking coffee can interrupt sleep, negatively affect blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain. Try a coffee alternative such as chicory root coffee (caffeine free), a turmeric latte or a ginger tea.

Make sure you’re getting sufficient B12 and iron. These are essential nutrients needed for metabolism and energy production in the body. Many vegans can become deficient in B12 and iron due a lack of B12 and iron-rich foods in their diet. B12 predominantly comes from animal sources; however, there are some vegan sources, including nutritional yeast, yeast spreads (such as Marmite), chlorella and nori seaweed. Vegan sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, apricots, black strap molasses, kidney beans and pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, spirulina and wheat germ.

Avoid junk food and processed/packaged foods – this includes meat and fish alternatives which do contain unhealthy ingredients, damaged oils and hidden sugars. Preparing fresh food is always the best option as you know exactly what you’re eating and have total control of what you put in your body. Don’t be fooled by the words “natural flavouring” as this often means the flavour has been chemically made in a lab using toxic ingredients.

Season your foods with herbs and spices instead of adding salt and sugar.

Don’t drink sugary drinks including juices, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and sport drinks. They all contain huge amounts of sugar which causes inflammation and weight gain. Also avoid low-sugar alternatives as they tend to contain artificial sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup. The body does not metabolise fructose well so consuming large amounts of it can lead to diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and obesity. Instead, drink filtered water with lemon, peppermint or cucumber to give it more taste.

Avoid alcohol as it’s very inflammatory and causes certain metabolic changes in the body, including blood sugar dysregulation. Alcohol also contains sugar and unnecessary calories that contribute to weight gain.

Kickstart your metabolism

Don’t fall prey to fad diets that don’t work and cause havoc with your metabolism. Eating a balanced, nutritious vegan diet that contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, quality plant protein and healthy fats is the best way to lose weight naturally.

CNM’s Natural Chef course teaches the importance of a naturopathic diet that encourages the use of whole, organic and seasonal plant-based foods prepared and eaten in a way to ensure maximum nutrient absorption and healthy, sustainable weight loss.