Most people who try to lose weight usually count calories and reduce portions. While this may work in the short term, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to sustain over time.
Can you really lose weight without counting calories? The answer is yes – if you eat the right foods.
Early this year, PCRM – Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine – published research showing that a healthy plant-based vegetarian diet helps you lose weight without counting calories.
This meta-analysis, conducted by PCRM, was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Thursday, January 22, 2015. A total of 15 studies were reviewed, that were conducted with 755 participants in Finland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. The studies, some short as four weeks, with others last as long as two years; showed an average weight loss of 10 pounds over a 44-week period.
Neal Barnard, M.D., lead author of the study, president of the Physicians Committee, and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was quoted as saying:
“The take-home message is that a plant-based diet can help you lose weight without counting calories and without ramping up your exercise routine. We hope health care providers will take note and prescribe this approach to patients looking to manage their weight and health.”
Here’s the 7 ways whole plant-based diets work to help you lose weight without counting calories.
1. The main ‘secret’ ingredient of whole plant based diets can be summed up in one important F word: FIBRE.
Or for those in the US – fiber. Fibre is a special type of carbohydrate found only in plants that cannot be digested by the body. It is naturally low in calories, yet it helps fill us up, and is critical in preventing or combating such conditions as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease.
2. Choosing whole plant foods means you avoid consuming foods made with white, refined flour and sugar, which tend to be calorie-dense but nutrient-poor.
This means consuming mostly whole vegetables (raw and cooked – especially dark leafy greens), whole fruit, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, such as oats, brown rice and protein-rich quinoa. Avoid foods that are processed to the point where they lose most of their fibre and other micro-nutrients (such as fruit juice). Choosing whole plantbased food means choosing plant food that is in, or close to, its natural state.
3. If you eat mostly, or all whole, natural foods, you don’t have to worry about getting too much (or not enough) fat, carbs, or protein.
4. Whole plant foods are mostly low in fat, which has more than double the calories of protein or carbohydrates.
With the exceptions such as raw nuts, seeds, avocado and whole olives (not oil) which are healthy sources of good fats, essential omega 3, omega 6 and protein. Several studies have also shown that eating small amounts of nuts helps with weight loss because the fibre and protein help you feel full longer.
5. Whole plants foods are naturally low in salt and sugar.
Even the natural sugar in fruit is of the low GI variety, as the fibre in whole fruit ensures as low release of the energy.
6. Plant foods provide a kaleidoscope of colours, tastes, and textures that add interest, flavour and variety to food – without piling on the pounds!
Instead of mixing fatty, creamy sauces and dressings, or adding lots of butter, cheese or refined oils, you can utilise the vast range of natural herbs, seasonings and spices that add both zest and healthy nutrients to your dishes – without adding extra calories.
7. Whole plant foods are non-addictive and health-promoting.
Foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (think cheese, pastries, sweets, fried food, processed meats) tend to over-stimulate our palate, and can lead to food addiction, or at least over-consumption. Fast, or ‘junk’ food is a prime example of this. Sugary white buns, fatty meats and cheese, rich sauces and condiments, ice cream, fried chips – all these type of foods are loaded with calories, are not very filling, and can have a devastating effect on our health.
It turns out that the best diet to lose weight – and keep it off – is also the most protective against the main killer diseases that afflict so many people in our society; including cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The answer to the question, ‘what is the best diet to enable you to have and maintain a healthy weight and body?’ is simple: whole-foods, plant-based.
Let me know in the comments what you think is the best eating plan for you, or if you have any questions.