Many people struggle with weight loss, however vegan meal prep can help set you up for success in your weight loss journey. Continue reading to learn how.
A vegan diet consists of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. It excludes animal foods such as meats, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy.
Research indicates that vegan diets can help promote a healthy body weight in individuals who are overweight, have type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, there’s more to vegan diets than just weight loss. This diet can also reduce blood pressure, improve blood sugar control, and lower blood cholesterol levels.
How do vegan diets promote a healthy body weight? A vegan diet is rich in plant-based foods which are higher in fibre and lower in calories compared to animal meats and products. Fibre is a type of complex carbohydrate that can help you feel fuller longer, resulting in you eating fewer calories.
Rapid weight loss can actually result in a variety of negative health consequences such as low metabolism, muscle loss and malnutrition. If weight loss is what you desire, a steady loss of 1-2 pounds per week is recommended and more sustainable. Speak with a plant-based dietitian to learn how a vegan diet can help you achieve weight loss in a safe and effective manner.
A vegan diet that is well-balanced is key to supporting any weight loss efforts. However, there are some foods you should pay extra attention to help you achieve your goals.
Prioritize eating whole plant-based foods over pre-packaged and processed vegan foods, as they are more nutrient-dense. Nutrient-dense foods refer to foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and lower in trans fats, saturated fats, simple sugars and sodium- nutrients associated with increased disease risk and weight gain.
Nutrient-dense vegan foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Plant-based protein foods are very important to include in your vegan weight loss diet. Why is that the case?
Firstly, protein takes longer to digest in your stomach, and this can help you stay satisfied for longer.
Additionally, your body needs more energy to break down protein versus other nutrients. So, by eating protein you are actually burning some calories.
Finally, protein is important for building your muscles. Individuals with a higher muscle mass burn more calories at rest because muscle is more metabolically active compared to fat.
Thus, make sure your vegan diet is full of protein-rich plant foods to enjoy all the benefits of protein.
For each day, aim to get about 0.9 g of protein per kg of body weight. However, this value may differ depending on your physical activity, age, health, goals, and other factors. Talk with a vegan dietitian to determine your personalized protein requirements.
You might be thinking there is no way I can meet my high protein needs through a vegan diet, but rest assured you definitely can!
While plant-based proteins have lower amounts of protein versus animal sources, studies indicate that most vegans are able to meet or exceed their protein needs if their diet contains a variety of plant-based proteins and they eat enough calories.
So, if you include a wide range of whole plant-based proteins like legumes (lentils, chickpeas, soy, etc.), nuts and seeds in your diet you will get a sufficient amount of high-quality protein to meet your needs.
To give you a better idea of how many plant-based protein foods you should be eating as a vegan, here’s the protein content of some common plant proteins:
As previously mentioned, fibre can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Thus, it’s important to include fibre-rich foods in your vegan diet. You should aim to get about 25-38 grams of fibre a day.
Luckily most plant-based foods are high in fibre. Here are some ways you can increase your fibre intake:
Meal prepping is a great option if you want to start a vegan diet for weight loss, but don’t know how.
Meal prep may look slightly different depending on a person’s preferences, but in general, meal prep is the act of planning and making all or some parts of meals in advance.
There are many reasons why you may want to consider meal prep for a vegan weight loss diet.
Since you’re preparing your meals ahead of time, your fridge will remain well stocked with meals you can grab whenever you need them. This means you’ll be less likely to order takeout or eat whatever you can get your hands on. Additionally, you have more control over what goes into your meals, making them more nutritious.
Cooking every day is much more time-consuming than meal prepping which may just require a single day of cooking. You’re also going into meal prepping with much more planning which means you have all the ingredients you need on hand and there’s no need for last-minute trips to the grocery store.
You’ll know exactly what ingredients you’ll need if you’re meal prepping. That means you won’t end up buying foods you don’t need, saving you some money in the long run.
Here’s a breakdown of how you can vegan meal prep for weight loss.
Good planning will really set you up for success. Here are some things to think about during the planning stage:
There are many different approaches you can take to meal prepping. For example, some people meal prep for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the week, and others just prepare a couple of meals. Use the questions below to determine the best meal prep methods for you.
If you’re okay with eating the same breakfast every day, make breakfast recipes that can last the whole week. For example, you could make a big batch of oatmeal cookies to have for breakfast each morning, and you could even freeze some for later use.
If you rather have variety, ask yourself how much variety you’d like. For example, is just changing out the type of fruit in your breakfast enough? If not, then try making recipes like tofu scramble which can easily paired with various sides to really need to switch it up every morning,
Try incorporating breakfast shakes into your meal prep. You can do this by preparing freezer smoothie packs ahead of time. These packs will then be ready to mix whenever you need them in the morning.
If you prefer leftovers, make sure you’re cooking enough food so you have extra portions available to eat for the next couple of days. If you prefer variety, cook big batches of food over the weekend, so you have different lunches ready for the week.
Not eating for long periods of time may cause you to feel extremely hungry later and overeat If this is you, try incorporating snacks into your meal prep. Specifically, have a snack that contains a protein or carbohydrate every 2-4 hours.
If you answered yes to this question, it’s important to ask yourself why this might be happening. For example, if it’s because you often run out of food to eat by the end of the week, cook larger portions, so your meals last you into the weekend. Freeze some portions, so they remain fresh.
The recipes you select don’t have to be complicated, instead choose recipes that match your cooking skills.
However, make sure the recipes you select are well-balanced and nutrient-dense. Remember the importance of high protein and fibre foods in a vegan weight loss diet.
Finally, some foods may not translate well into meal prepping such as lettuce, cut fruit and crackers, so keep that in the back of your mind when picking out recipes.
Need some recipe ideas? Check out the 5 vegan meal prep recipes at the end of this article!
Once you have a plan and selected some recipes, it’s time to go shopping!
Before you go to the grocery store it’s a good idea to make a list of all the ingredients you need, so you don’t forget anything. While your list will be personalized to the recipes you choose, here’s an example grocery list of the items you may end up buying:
Cooking is often thought to be time-consuming. However, by meal prepping you are already helping yourself reduce the amount of time needed.
To save even more time, here are some additional tips you can use in the kitchen:
Now for the final step, storing your meals. Once you are done cooking your meals, make sure to either refrigerate or freeze them.
Refrigerated meals should be stored using airtight containers and will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
Frozen meals can be stored using freezer bags or sealed containers and can last you weeks to months. Always label and date your frozen meals so you know when you made them. The safest way to defrost your frozen meals is to put them in the refrigerator, so remember to account for this additional thawing time when eating these meals.
We asked members of a vegan Facebook group what their biggest challenges are when meal prepping, and we’ve included some of their responses along with some advice below.
To help your meals stay fresh for at least 4 days, try out the following:
This is a common concern for many vegans because the vegan diet is lower in some vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. However, if you plan your meals to contain a variety of nutrient-dense and fortified foods, you can surely meet all your nutritional needs. Here are the foods you should be including in your meals:
Tip: pair the above foods with vitamin C-rich foods to help you get even more iron from your food! Examples of vitamin C foods include sweet potatoes, limes, lemons, bell peppers and tomatoes.
You might find it challenging to incorporate some of the above foods into your diet and in that case, you may need to take a supplement. Speak with a vegan dietitian to determine your personal supplement requirements.
Here are some things you can try to keep things interesting:
The tofu in this recipe not only tastes like eggs, but it’s also a great plant-based protein. Additionally, the recipe is very versatile. Once made, just store it in your fridge and use it to make balanced meals like salads, wraps, or bowls throughout the week.
This delicious casserole contains many nutrient-dense ingredients like eggplant, chickpeas and cannelloni beans. This dish is not only ready in 10 minutes but it’s also packed with a lot of protein and fibre.
This creamy and flavourful soup is a great option if you want to try freezer meals. All you need to do is chop up the ingredients and pop them in the freezer. The next time you’re craving stew just take it out of the freezer and cook it with a slow cooker for a yummy and nutritious meal.
These nutritious falafel cakes are super easy and quick to make. You can eat them on their own or add them to pita bread or a salad. These also freeze great!
Enjoy all the flavours of instant ramen without all the added sodium. This well-balanced dish provides you with a ton of protein and veggies. It’s also very customizable, as you can add whatever vegetables you prefer or have available.
Vegan meal prepping can get you on the right track in terms of your overall health and weight, but it may require some trial and error as you get started, so remember to be patient as you start this journey.
Still feel like you need additional support? Arrange a free discovery call with one of our plant-based dietitians to build a vegan meal prep plan that is tailored to your needs and preferences.
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