By Molly Patrick
Jun 12, 2021,
People transition to a whole food plant based way of eating for many different reasons, and none of those reasons are wrong or right. It’s up to the individual. One common question that comes up for people is: “Will eating a whole food plant based diet help me lose weight?” I see this question a lot in our private Facebook group, and we get many emails about it.
People wonder if eating so many carbs will keep them from losing weight.
Some people worry they won’t get enough protein or fat with this way of eating because some diets advocate eating higher protein and/or fat to lose weight.
Other people worry that there’s too much fat.
Some people think this way of eating will feel restrictive and too much like an unsustainable diet.
Others think there’s too much variety and that a simpler regimen will help them resist the temptation of eating too much.
Now, there are many factors that could potentially impact the speed and ease of losing weight, but regardless of those factors:
When you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight.
When you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.
This is true for any and all ways of eating, which means you can lose weight regardless of which dietary pattern you follow, as long as you expend more calories than you take in.
This is great news because if you’re eating a certain way just to lose weight, you can stop right now, reassess, and decide what way of eating aligns with your whole being instead of eating for a number you want to see on a scale.
When you take weight out of the equation and whether or not you will lose any by eating a certain way, it leaves you with a clean slate to explore and decide how you want to eat.
Will eating a whole food plant based diet help me lose weight?
For me, I love eating a nutrient-rich, whole food plant based diet because I have no desire to eat animals or animal by-products, and I really enjoy eating whole plant foods. I am energized, I rarely get sick, I feel zingy and alive, I sleep well, I love cooking with plants, and I love eating many different colors. Following a whole food plant based way of eating brings me so much joy (full disclosure, I totally eat gluten-free vegan cake sometimes).
If I wanted to lose weight I would not change my overall dietary pattern. Instead, I would first cut out any processed foods that have crept into my routine (I’m lookin’ at you cake). Then I would look at the more calorie-dense whole plant foods that I eat and alter those choices so I eat fewer calories, or I would exercise more, or a combination of both.
I’m not a fan of focusing on calories, but knowing which foods are more calorie-dense than others is helpful when taking stock of where you are and where you want to go.
A whole food plant based way of eating can definitely help people lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.
We see it all the time in our community. This is most likely because whole plant foods are more nutrient-dense than they are calorie-dense (shout out to fiber and water), so you can eat bigger portions and feel really satisfied with fewer calories. However, it’s entirely possible to follow a whole food plant based way of eating and take in more calories than you burn, making it hard to lose weight.
It goes back to the logic of metabolic math:
You must burn more calories than you eat in order to lose weight.
Recognizing that this is more about math and less about drama, ask yourself:
How do I want to eat? What feels right to me? What does my body want? What feels good all the way to my soul?
Maybe it’s not one specific way of eating. Maybe it is. It doesn’t matter, this is your life and you get to decide. When you understand that you can lose weight, regardless of what dietary pattern you follow, it allows space for you to discover how you want to eat instead of how you think you should be eating to achieve a lower number on the scale.
And that my friend, is an amazing and empowered place to make a choice.
- 3 cups mushrooms 175 g / any variety, sliced
- 1 cup firm tofu liquid pressed out and then cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup daikon radish 65 g, chopped
- 3 cups napa cabbage (AKA Chinese cabbage) 60 g, sliced
- 1 tablespoon green onions use the bottom white part, sliced
- 1 carton low sodium 32 oz / 1 liter, oil free vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce 60 ml
- 3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Coconut Aminos
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon peeled and roughly chopped ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
- Make the broth by placing all of the broth ingredients into your blender and blending until totally smooth, without any chunks of garlic or ginger (vegetable broth, soy sauce, brown rice vinegar, Coconut Aminos, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, white pepper, garbanzo bean flour).
- Transfer the broth to a large pot and add the mushrooms, tofu, daikon, cabbage and green onions. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add salt to taste if needed.
Wishing you a happy week. Instead of asking yourself “will a whole food plant based diet help me lose weight” – try exploring what you want to eat. Our Meal Plan subscribers are loving what they eat! Read their reviews here.
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Having been through pregnancies, nursing, and post pregnancy while being WFPB, so I can tell you all about altering calorie content to meet different needs. While eating for two, I focused on calorie dense foods like avocados, nut butters, occasional processed stuff and whatever my body was craving (even if it wasn’t WFPB). Post pregnancy, I didn’t have to work too hard to lose baby weight (because I had gained an appropriate amount to begin with and I was lucky enough to breast feed) but I would focus more on non-starchy vegetables (the McDougall Maximum Weight Loss Plan explains this well).
Nowadays, when I need to lose 3-5 pounds (after too much celebratory indulgence) I just do a day or two of only fruits and veg or only fresh juice.
I was able to have two LARGE healthy babies despite uninformed people being concerned about how much protein I was getting. Those babies are now active, healthy kids who fight over roasted Brussels sprouts.
Christy – Thank you for sharing that this way of eating is completely sustainable for different stages of life. Also a huge hug for mentioning that you were “lucky enough to breastfeed”. As you know, that is not the case for all mommas. ❤️
Looking forward to trying this recipe, as soon as i get to the store for more soy sauce/tamari & coconut aminos. Thanks Molly!
I lost 50 lbs when I switched to a vegan diet, and have maintained the weight for the last 10years by continuing to eat vegan.