THE

TAKEAWAY:

Yes, you can absolutely lose weight on a plant-based diet (and have a lot of fun doing it!). In fact, eating a plant-based diet is a natural and healthy way to lose weight. The key is to get most of your calories from nutrient dense whole foods, and limit high-calorie processed foods.

The 80/20 Plants method is not a diet of deprivation. We want you to eat enough food to fill you up and make you feel healthy and vibrant. (In fact, it’s about eating MORE, not less…)

But how are you supposed to figure out if you are getting the right amount of calories or the right kind or if you’re eating too little or too much?

Whole or minimally processed plant foods are generally high in fiber and low in calories, which can cause some people to feel full quickly, leading them to eat fewer calories. Now, you may be thinking, why is that a bad thing? Well, you have to ensure you are also getting all the essential macro and micronutrients in your food and if you under-eat, you do run the risk of missing out on some key nutrients. The other danger of not understanding caloric density in the context of plant-foods is you could end up eating very calorie-dense foods and thereby overeating in terms of calories. As you can imagine, this is obviously also not a good outcome for your health, especially if you are trying to drop a few pounds. All you need to know is which plant foods have a low-calorie density.

Calorie density is basically calories per pound, or how much energy is provided per unit measure of food. Generally, whole plant foods such as cruciferous vegetables, starchy vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, as well as beans, lentils, and peas all are lower on the calorie density scale. On the other hand nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, processed foods, refined grain products (white breads, bagels, muffins, and cakes, as well as processed cereals and products with added sugars) are high-calorie density foods. Further, meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood are all calorie-dense foods, as well as plant-based meats, cheeses, and other alternatives to animal protein.

Load up on green leafy vegetables, non-starchy and starchy vegetables, and other whole plant foods that can help you increase your fiber and other nutrient intakes without necessarily loading you up with calories that may hinder your weight loss and health goals. Studies have shown that diets based on low-calorie density foods tend to be more healthy and effective for weight management than the simple calories in vs. calories out approach. The other issue of weight loss and caloric intake is the issue of getting and staying full. Low-calorie density foods offer more bites per calorie. To get and stay full you must incorporate foods that support your body’s need to feel full. Low-calorie dense foods, with small amounts of high-calorie density foods, do the best job at creating that satisfying full feeling.

If you remember only one thing for today: Calorie density is calories per pound, or how much energy is provided per unit measure of food. Generally, whole plant foods such as cruciferous vegetables, starchy vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, as well as beans, lentils, and peas all are lower on the calorie density scale. On the other hand nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, processed foods, refined grain products such as white breads, bagels, muffins, and cakes, as well as processed cereals and products with added sugars are high-calorie density foods.