Health & Wellness,  Lifestyle

Going meatless for weight loss?

I was a miserable bitch without a period and even more agitated than I can hormonally be. Thinking about beef pissed me off, hunger was a monster and I found it unfair. Why did I have to give up meat and fat to lose weight? But I gave it a try anyways. For a year and some change I went meatless by first going vegetarian, then going vegan until I eventually went with all raw foods for a few months. Hovering around 220 pounds for almost a year after initially losing 15 pounds was enough to make me slap any gleefully righteous vegan or vegetarian that swore I just wasn’t trying hard enough. A year and 6 months ended with a beef patty after an intense dream I had about eating a beef patty. Dreaming about meat is where I drew the line.

But some find vegetarian and vegan diets to be the bee’s knees when it comes to weight loss and improving health. It helps them implement healthier lifestyles and see some serious weight loss. However, I find some of these studies and occurrences misleading. Eliminating meat and animal products isn’t really why people lose weight on meatless diets.

Why do people become vegans and vegetarians to lose weight? 

It is believed that vegans and vegetarians weigh less and are overall healthier than omnivores. According to this article, below 10 percent of those that eat meatless diets are obese and meatless dieters typically have body weights 3 to 20 percent lower than omnivores. And this article cited research stating vegans and vegetarians lost more weight than those that eat meat.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are also seen as beneficial for weight loss because they are low in dietary fat, you can freely eat fruits and veggies with little to no guilt, and you don’t have to worry about cutting carbohydrates. Making these diets appear easier to stick to for weight loss. For many looking to lose weight, the thought of having to starve themselves and cut out their favorite foods can be daunting. What looks so attractive about the vegetarian and vegan diets is the idea that there isn’t going to be much limitation on the amount of food you eat because all you have to do is cut out animal products and find healthy subs for your favorite animal products. Well that’s how it was sold to me. As long as the diet is low in fat, new vegans and vegetarians often times have the perception they can enjoy fruit, vegetables, tubers, beans, lentils, vegan junk foods, and nuts as they please and still lose weight.

Cutting out animal products seems like an attractive, simple fix that also comes with “positive” stereotypes. Lets face it, vegetarians and vegans are often times looked at as the pillars of good health. Studies are always saying they weigh less, experience less diseases and cancers, and also live longer. These studies rarely touch upon the other lifestyle changes vegans and vegetarians make, but that’s another story.

Why do people really lose weigh on vegan and vegetarian diets 

Vegan and vegetarian diets do for overweight people what needs to happened anyways: they eliminate a lot of the heavily processed foods that were making them accumulate excess fat to begin with. Those overweight that adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet are sure to see weight loss when they get rid of sugary sodas and juices, stop consuming factory farmed meats and dairy products, remove junk foods, and cut out other processed, chemically produced foods.

Any diet that implements whole foods of the earth in place of the Standard American diet will lead to weight loss. Vegetarian and vegan diets are essentially good elimination diets. But people don’t lose weight on these diets because they remove animal products. They lose weight because they are no longer depending upon heavily processed foods. They cut carbohydrates by hundreds of grams and greatly lower their sugar intake.

I’ve also found that studies comparing vegans and vegetarians to omnivores fail to point out the details of the omnivore’s diet. Are the omnivores of these studies eating whole food diets that include healthy animals or are they on Standard American Diets, eating way too much sugar, way too many carbs and excessive amounts of protein? Likely they’re on crappy omnivorous diets. Of course plant-based eaters weigh less than omnivores when these omnivores are on crappy diets. It’s an unfair comparison and misleading.

Conclusion: So will a meatless diet help you lose more weight?

A vegetarian or vegan diet will help you lose weight, but not because you’ve removed animals from the mix. It’ll help because it drastically lowers carbohydrate and sugar consumption as well as the damaging effects (like inflammation) of heavily processed foods. Any diet that does that is sure to help improve health and lower weight.

In order to accurately determine if vegan and vegetarian diets do more for weight loss than omnivorous diets, studies need to compare meatless diets to whole food omnivorous diets that are geared towards weight loss.

I was still a hungry hippo as a vegan. Tackling hunger and cravings as a vegan caused me to eat much more carbohydrates in the form of nuts, nut butters, sweet potatoes, sprouted-grain bread, brown rice, beans, oats, and dried fruits. I lost weight, but stalled and craved a lot. One day, the cravings became too much and I fried up the fattest beef patty I could. I didn’t feel guilty but was tempted to punch any vegan in the throat that told me I didn’t try hard enough.

What I found to work the most is a diet with much less carbohydrates and way more fat than a vegan or vegetarian diet. So far I’m the lowest weight I’ve ever been and I haven’t regained the weight. Even if I backslide, I remain in better control of my cravings and find it much easier to get back to my routine.

A cool read on “these” studies 

“In Defense of Animal Protein”

 

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