This is the second article in a series of six on the benefits of a plant-based diet. The first article was on how a plant-based diet boosts your immune system. Another benefit of a plant-based diet is weight loss.
Listed below are different ways a plant-based diet contributes to weight loss and maintains weight loss.
Why should we lose weight?
Besides stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Being overweight or obese contributes to 12 different types of cancer, including colon, breast, kidney, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers. Not only cancer but type 2 diabetes as well.
Benefits of high fiber
All unprocessed plant foods have fiber. Fiber improves your gut health, allowing nutrients to be better absorbed. Therefore, improving support for your immune system and reducing inflammation. It can lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. It is great for bowel management. Fiber reduces colon cancer risks.
Understanding calorie density can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Calorie density is how many calories are in a pound of food. Choosing foods that are low in calories means you can eat more and have a lower calorie intake. One of the highest calorie densities is oil, cheese, and meat products. Examples of lower calorie density are plant-based foods such as potatoes, rice, beans, fruit, and vegetables. Salads with plenty of vegetables will have a lower calorie density until you pour on the salad dressing that is high in fat. You can substitute applesauce or aquafaba (juice from garbanzo beans) for oil in many recipes. There are plenty of recipes for oil-free salad dressings on the internet, such as oil-free vegan creamy Italian dressing.
Vegetables are the lowest in calorie density, so load up your plate with plenty of non-starchy vegetables such as kale, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce. Dark green leafy vegetables can reduce hunger and fight your craving for unhealthy foods. Half your plate should be non-starchy vegetables, and the other half should be whole foods that curb your hunger, such as grains, legumes (beans), and starchy vegetables.
Avoid liquid calories
Even if juiced at home, juices can be high in sugar and almost no fiber. If you want to lose or maintain your weight, avoid high-sugar drinks such as sports drinks, sodas, sweetened beverages, and alcohol.
Get plenty of water.
Water is your friend. We need 8+ glasses a day. It helps flush all of the toxins from your body. If you have difficulty drinking water because there is no flavor, try making cold water infusion drinks. Put a bag of your favorite herbal tea in a glass of water. Let it infuse for eight minutes. Add some ice, and you are ready to go. Make it in the morning to take with you to work. It will help you avoid drinking sodas. Need a little sugar? Add a small amount of agave, honey, or stevia.
Avoid Vegan junk food.
Even if junk food is made from plants, that does not mean it is healthy. Read the label. Often, they contain high amounts of oil. Look for snacks that are not highly processed. Dried fruit in small quantities, raw nuts, and seeds are good choices.
In addition to eating plant-based, exercise is important for weight loss and a healthy body and immune system. If you walk, run, go to the gym, etc., try and get some exercise every day. You may have to start slow but keep at it.
All vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans), and fruit have fiber. Plant-based fiber helps with weight loss, protects against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and improves your gut health. The amazing thing about fiber is that it makes you feel full and satisfied.
As your tastes adjust to the new foods, you lose your desire for unhealthy foods. Believe it or not, when you reduce your processed sugar intake and replace it with natural sugars such as dates, you will no longer enjoy those morning donuts with your coffee.
The risk of obesity is reduced with a plant-based diet. Following the above tips will help you lose and maintain a healthy weight. Below is a recipe with plenty of vegetables that will satisfy your hunger and low-calorie density.
Vegetable Lo Mein
This dish is low in fat and full of fresh vegetables, noodles, and a plant-based non-meat by PAOW™. The Korean BBQ-flavored pieces are sweet and mildly spiced, creating this delicious dish. These pieces contain no fat or cholesterol. They have 5g of fiber and 15g of protein. Check out other plant-based items at PAOW.
8 ounces PAOW™ Korean BBQ Flavored Pieces
4 ounces Lo Mein Noodles
1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
1 cup Carrots, diced
1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
8 ounces Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cooked Broccoli florets
1 cup sliced Celery
1 cup Cabbage, chopped (Napa, red, or green)
1 cup shelled Edamame
½ red pepper, chopped
1 can of Bamboo Shoots, sliced (optional)
1 can Water Chestnuts, sliced (optional)
2 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce, low sodium (Braggs Aminos)
2 teaspoons dark Soy Sauce (Teriyaki sauce, Hoisin Sauce, or Tamari)
½ teaspoon white pepper ground (optional)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Rice Wine Vinegar, Mirin)
- Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Sauté PAOW™ Korean BBQ Flavored Pieces 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Set aside
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil or water in a wok or sauté pan. Add vegetables (except the green onions) and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft.
- When vegetables are cooked, add the cooked PAOW™ Korean BBQ Flavored Pieces and the cooked noodles and pour over the prepared sauce.
- Toss and combine well, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add red pepper flakes or Sriracha to taste if you like a little more heat.
- Top the mixture with the sliced green onions.
Note: If using a sauté pan, cook the mushrooms by themselves after cooking the PAO W™ Korean BBQ Flavored Pieces. Mushrooms don’t need any oil to sauté. They will provide their own liquid. You can use a small amount of water if needed.