Have you ever thought it could be healthy to overeat?
It is a common struggle for many. Overindulging in food may come easily for you, and may have heavily contributed to you packing on a few more pounds than you would have liked. You do not have to carry around this extra weight for the rest of your life, nor do you have to suffer with the poor health quality that tends to come with being very overweight or obese. As you may well know, there are two primary factors that impact your weight: the food you eat and your level of physical activity. A whole foods, plant-based diet holds the solution to your weight loss. This vegan weight mitigating method is simple, and allows you to eat as much as you please, so long as you are eating the healthy plant-based foods required.
The Simple Science of Weight Gain and Weight Loss
You may have heard statements such as "you are what you eat." In many respects, this holds a significant truth that we should all be considering as we reflect on our diets. Are you eating food that is really healthy for you? Or is the food you are eating contributing to the larger problem that is weight gain and an increase of body fat?
While I am not one for counting calories in my daily life (and I did not do this during the course of my 65+ pound weight loss), calories serve the purpose of representing mathematically "energy" to be acquired from food. Of course, they are not the full picture, as calories alone do not tell us anything about the macro-nutritient (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and micro-nutrient (specific vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C and Zinc) values which are of even more significance.
Most foods that are heavily processed and coated with unhealthy fat, sugar, and salt tend to be high in calories (they provide your body plenty of perceived energy), but lack in any real substantive nutritional content. As much as I hate to admit it, these foods also have a tendency to taste good, because we are exposed to them from such young ages. There is a reason why fast food chains like McDonald's do so well, because their food is addictive. When kids are exposed to this kind of food with positive reinforcement techniques (in the form of the toys given away in Happy Meals), it leads to a vicious cycle not unlike drug addiction. While some people have enough self control to limit the amount of processed food in their diet, many people throughout the world struggle with having this control as is evident by the rising rates of obesity.
So How Can I Overeat but Still Lose Weight?
Remember: if calories represent energy, and if the goal of weight loss is to decrease caloric intake and increase nutritional value, then it becomes obvious that a whole foods, plant-based diet is a simple solution to a problem we are told is complicated.
Of course, for some weight gain may have a genetic component, or may be related to certain medications and medical conditions. In very specific situations like these, weight loss may not be so simple, but for your average person who struggle with their weight: it is this easy. Eat a plant-based, vegan diet and reap the rewards as you shed the pounds.
The reason why you can "overeat" on a plant-based diet is because most vegetables, fruits, andstarches are low calorie, but high in nutrients. Many also have a lot of water content as well. The reason why potato diets have become so popular is because of the variety of recipes featuring this starchy root vegetable, as well as how full you feel after consuming a relatively small number of calories.
The average person is said to need around 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight (this is usually a little bit less for women). If you eat several meals a day comprised primarily of the plant-based foods groups, you will find you have plenty to eat without racking up many calories at all. You can eat, and eat, and eat until your stomach is content.
How Many Calories are in the Fruits and Vegetables I Am Eating?
From time to time I enjoy looking at the Nutritional Facts for various fruits & veggies I purchase at the store or grow in my backyard garden. It usually gives me a good chuckle to notice how few calories are in the food I am eating, yet how full I feel after a good meal. Below are some examples of a variety of plant-based foods I eat frequently and their corresponding caloric values:
- Swiss Chard - 7 Calories/Cup
- Spinach - 7 Calories/Cup
- Broccoli - 35 Calories/Cup
- Carrots - 25 Calories/Medium Carrot (61 grams)
- Apples - 95 Calories/Medium Apple (182 grams)
- Blueberries - 85 Calories/Cup
- Raspberries - 65 Calories/Cup
- Strawberries - 45 Calories/Cup
- Banana - 105 Calories/Medium Banana (118 grams)
- Kale - 33 Calories/Cup
- Tomato - 22 Calories/Medium Tomato (123 grams)
- Potato - 163 Calories/Medium Potato (213 grams)
- Sweet Potato - 114 Calories/Cup
- Zucchini - 33 Calories/Medium Zucchini (196 grams)
The list is virtually endless as there are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables available. Green leafy vegetables tend to have the lowest caloric value, whereas heavier starches carry more calories but also will fill you up quicker as well.
How to Lose Weight Eating 1,000 Calories of Plant-Based Foods?
Please keep in mind that your specific nutritional needs may vary. The information presented here is meant to provide an example of how you can satisfy your feeling of hunger without going overboard and eating an excessive amount of unhealthy food. While it is very easy to eat 1,000 calories when consuming meat, dairy, and high fat foods; a plant-based diet makes it easier to lose weight because you have to be more diligent to get the calories to add up to values that would cause weight gain.
Sample Vegan Meal Plan for a 1,200 Calorie Diet:
1 Cup Steel Cut Oatmeal - 170 Calories
1/2 Cup Strawberries - 22 Calories
1/2 Cup Crockpot Beans - About 350 Calories
Whole Baked Potato (cooked to taste) - About 163 Calories
1 Cup Frozen Fruit Sorbet - About 150 Calories
1 Whole Apple - 95 Calories
1 Cup Whole Wheat, Vegan Mac & Cheese - About 250 Calories
We have plenty of other meals you can try for all times of day in our Recipes Section!
Key Things to Keep in Mind When Trying to Lose Weight on a WFPB Diet
If you find that you need to eat fewer calories, remember that you can substitute some foods for green, leafy vegetables which are the lowest in calorie content. Also keep in mind that, in general, you will want to consume water as your primary beverage as your body needs to stay hydrates as it burns away fat. Of course, if you need a drink with more taste, consider making a fresh smoothie out of some of the fruits and vegetables already making their way to your plate. It is a simple way to add variety to a plant-based diet, and the natural sugar content found in many of these (such as strawberries, oranges, blueberries, etc.) will help you cope with doing away with sugary store bought fruit juices and sugars for good.
Of most importance, remember that being happy and satisfied with the food you are eating is also important to your mental health. Calories are not everything, either, and the make up of a 1,200 calorie plant-based diet is jam packed with nutritional content that blows a 1,200 calorie processed food, dairy, meat Standardized American diet out of the water. The sample daily meal plan provided above is very, very low in fat and contains no trans fats, which tends to coat those processed foods.
Diligence, Time and a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet Will Change Your Life!
Plant-Smart Living is about learning how to be smart about the things we eat. I am not trying to sell a new diet fad. Eating plant-based is simple and returns humanity to it's earliest form before mass production and slaughter of thousands upon thousands of animals for our stomach's benefit became a part of our modern world. Our bodies were not made for these foods. The only value they added was convenience, and as we can see, too much of a good things is having detrimental effects on the health of our society.
With a whole food, plant-based diet you can eat until you are full and feel good about your food choices. It only takes one day to start changing to life. If you are struggling with losing weight despite trying other diets that force you to count calories or "eat whatever you want," I would highly suggest you give a plant-based diet a try. Who knows, maybe you will end up enjoying it and turning it into a full blown plant-based lifestyle as I have. This lifestyle has changed my life for the better as I dropped 65+ pounds and regained my health.
For more recipes, be sure to check out the Plant-Smart Living Digital Recipe Guide available for donation through LeanPub.