A healthy diet for weight loss – this authors experiences
First things first, this isn’t one of those usual, “you have to try this” diet plan because it’s the latest greatest idea to come out. If you’re looking for that sort of thing, I’d go to a different web page. What I’m about to discuss is a different healthy diet for weight loss that I started as an experiment and ended up losing about 10kgs in 2 months and I ate a lot and had a bit of alcohol too. More on that later.
Whilst I could do to lose a little bit of “love handles real estate”, I’m by no means fat. I’m a runner, but as it’s been summer here, I haven’t been running anywhere near as much as I will be doing. Christmas here is hot, so no running, lots of drinking and eating though.
Great conditions to be like a polar bear and store fat for the cooler months!
I’m also not going to claim any that this healthy diet for weight loss will work for you, it might, but you might also hate it, or it not work. I’m just telling you what happened to me.
I know it is a bit of a trend now, that a lot of people are talking about plant-based this, and that. More people than ever are plant-based or vegan, and it’s become more popular than ever. Honestly, I could care less – what was my reason for doing it? So I could run faster. Yep, it’s a sickness.
I, like probably a lot of you reading this, have watched a lot of the Netflix documentaries on subjects surrounding plant-based diets – forks over knives, cowspiracy, game-changers. And like a lot of people I talked to, I have been skeptical. I like the idea of it, but like you all, I couldn’t do it. I’d miss my steaks too much. And a lot of it was badly biased, I mean that couldn’t be true.
Well, thanks to Netflix – Game Changers changed that for me. But it did so at the point where the guy presenting it, an ex-UFC fighter was on the battle ropes, and at the top of his game, he did 8 minutes maximum. Then as a vegan, he tried it again, sometime later, nowhere near in the same shape, and managed to go over an hour. Where do I sign up?! I want me some of that. I can work with a benefit like that, and all the other benefits are just bonuses.
Initially this wasn’t an experiment for a healthy diet for weight loss, that turned out to be an additional benefit, but more on that later…
The eating experiment
And there started the experiment.
I thought I’d do a few days or maybe a week – and see if anything changed.
How hard could it be? I didn’t eat meat every day – but to be honest I did for most of them.
I thought I could probably do it for a short time.
But do it completely – no meat, no dairy – like a vegan (but without that lifestyle choice)
I wanted to give it the best chance of showing me that it worked.
The first run I went on, I wasn’t sure if it made a difference. I could do something that I’d never done before – it was easier – not the difference between 8 minutes and an hour easier.
But it did seem like something was helping me to run. So I continued.
The Vegan Turbo
If there is a downside to this healthy diet for weight loss, it is the following. Trust me its necessary to feel all the benefits, and it really isn’t that bad. But if you’re not expecting it, you’re probably not going to be happy about it either!
After a bit over a week eating an only plant-based diet, your digestion changes. Initially, it doesn’t seem like it’s for the better. You get bloated and fart like an elephant after a curry. Nobody tells you about it, but it happens. But once that passes – ha ha ha – things change for the better.
Sorry to disappoint and you don’t get a built in turbo… Well, actually you do, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
What I mean about this is that your digestion gets noticeably smoother, easier, less stressful on your body. So if you eat a meal with meat in it, particularly red meat, it can take 2 days to digest, during which time your body is working hard.
During this time, you will probably feel a bit blocked up, and maybe bloated. Once your body gets “used to” the vegetables, it takes 40 minutes for them to digest.
It all feels a lot easier and more comfortable.
In all honesty, I didn’t expect this to happen, but this is one of the main reasons why I like this diet.
I just feel less tired.
Not that I ever really had a lack of energy – but that extra work your body no longer must do to digest does make a difference.
And once you got through the “turbo phase”, it is very noticeable.
This Food Tastes Yummy!
Okay, so this one wasn’t something I expected as part of my little experiment.
I noticed after about a week that food seemed to taste a lot better, the tastes were stronger, the food tasted sweeter.
This was noticeable with frozen vegetables – like peas, carrots, and sweetcorn.
The same food, but tastier. What’s not to love about that?
And some food tastes or smells nasty
Then there’s the flipside of that coin – the smell or taste of meat or dairy. Sometimes you just can’t beat the smell of cooking steak. I’m the first to admit it, it smells amazing.
I went with my wife to have a burger – I had vegan, she had a meat patty. She enjoyed the first few bites – I’d call her flexitarian, then she didn’t like it. So I thought, throw out the patty and the cheese, and I’ll eat everything else.
It tasted like an abattoir – it was nasty. Didn’t expect that.
But that got me thinking – if my taste buds have changed, is this the true smell and taste of the food I have been eating, but got used to? I’m glad I experienced this – sort of a bit like a truth revealed to me.
I still consider myself someone who likes a burger or steak, so that was a complete surprise. Were my taste buds revealing to me what this food really tastes like?
I don’t know. But that experience happened before when I cooked chicken for my wife, cos she fancied it. It smelled the same again, nasty like a slaughterhouse.
Certainly, that day chicken was not something that I fancied.
Eating stuff that tastes like meat or cheese
I never have understood the need for people to have vegan burgers, and complain that they don’t taste like meat.
To me, the food needs to be tasty, and that’s all.
I think you set yourself up for a world of hurt trying to eat what you had before and make it taste as similar as it did before.
I also think you will be surprised – your tastes will have changed, as I mentioned earlier.
So something like a bean burrito is awesome, or even a simple salad has so much more flavor than it ever did before.
One of my favorite meals is oven-roasted veg – roasted potatoes, pumpkin, onion, mushroom, carrot, pepper, zucchini, garlic.
It’s so tasty and so easy to do.
But until your taste buds change, you probably won’t agree with me.
I get it, I was the same – that doesn’t sound “awesome” at all. Just trust me.
But, occasionally if you want to revisit a lasagna, then you can absolutely use vegan mine and vegan cheese. It will probably surprise you have good it tastes, but unfortunately it isn’t that great for you (due to the processed nature). If you want alternatives, there are plenty of those, but that’s not the focus of this article.
How carefully you look at what you’re eating
On this healthy diet for weight loss, what naturally happens, is you are forced to consider what you are eating.
This is because you are either reducing or completely stopping your consumption of meat and dairy.
So you need to know, right? It’s natural.
The interesting effect here is that you also become aware of the other ingredients, chemicals, and processing that is going on with the food.
So that becomes part of your choice – eat it, or don’t. I find that I make a lot healthier choices, rather than by default eating whatever is on offer, or in front of me.
That has a lot of sugar.
Half of those ingredients are chemicals, or at least I have no idea what they are. Pass on that too.
I don’t do plant-based burgers with vegan cheese that much, because they’re quite processed.
Occasionally, or when going out with friends, I’ll do it.
Most of the time, I prefer to try to move to a plant-based whole food diet – limiting processed foods. Nowhere near there yet, but it’s always in the back of my mind now.
I think that has a bit effect on the body fat you store – because you’re much more aware that you put it there if that is important to you.
And what about milk?
For me, no milk.
I didn’t find it a big deal, as I often have black coffee anyway.
But, if I fancy the equivalent of a coffee with milk – like a cappuccino, or latte type drink…
I find that coconut milk is awesome – it tastes like a coffee with one of those syrups in it, but nicer.
So tasty, hmmm…
I drink a lot of those – essentially coconut milk is water with creamed coconut in it, to give it a bit of thickness.
You can use almond milk, oat milk (super easy to make), cashew milk, there’s a large number of kinds of milk out there for you, depending upon your tastes.
And, remember, your tastes will change – to me than made the coconut milk even tastier.
I honestly don’t know why you’d have normal milk, especially as it blocks you up – when these taste so much nicer.
But, I do know for some people they struggle with the idea.
You just have to give it, and your body a chance.
Going against our culture
I think it terms of your ability to do this diet – we are very much culturally meat-eaters and going against that trend can be hard at times.
Once you’re eating that way and used to it, I don’t think you’ll go back.
It’s hard to explain to people how good it is, as we’ve all been programmed to want meat because of any number of marketing drives.
For me, this is a big part of my choice. Going against that marketing driven machine that says that meat and dairy are awesome, and anything else is sub-standard. When you choose to avoid eating it, you see the truth.
Everything is with meat, or has cheese, or cream in it.
Why? It makes companies money.
I don’t have a problem with that at all – I think it needs a bit more honesty.
Like you can’t get protein from plants.
Nonsense, I run 50km ultra last year. Will again.
I’d say that that is due to the diet and recovery it offers me.
I’m absolutely sure that couldn’t happen if I wasn’t getting enough protein, or nutrients.
But that is your choice – to believe of find out for yourself.
If you can find foods that you can cook easily and enjoy the taste of – they don’t have to be anything fancy.
I used to have a lot of rice and tuna, now I have rice and frozen veg (obviously cooked).
My approach was to find a few meals I could easily do.
Once I had things to eat, look for recipes to do every so often to try, so I didn’t get caught up trying waiting for the perfect meal plan.
Do I have to cut out Alcohol?
On a slightly different subject, I also have a few beers on the weekend.
Not a massive amount, but I’m not at all bothered about having a few.
All the things described here happened even with me having beers, wines, and whiskey on weekends.
Yes, I said that.
Is it the most healthiest thing I could do? Probably not, but the results speak for themselves.
For me personally, any experiment I do, be it for running faster, or for a healthy diet for weight loss, I need it to be enjoyable. What I mean here is, the meals I have are nice, and on balance I enjoy what you’re eating.
There are so many things I can eat, and it will probably surprise you how healthy they are for you.
However, did you know that a lot of alcohols are not vegan?
Wine for example, often has milk in it, so if you’re fully vegan you will want to find vegan wine.
Bizarre right? I wondered why that might be.
There’s also other animal products like fish used in the wine.
Apparently in the “finishing process”. And they are removed after, but there are still particles in there.
Amazing what you learn when you’re looking.
Other than that, it’s up to you what your aims are, and whether alcohol is fits with those goals.
My suggestion would be to have enough to enjoy, and exercise enough to easily burn it off in addition to you calorie intake.
If you’re consuming more that you can burn off, and you want to lose fat. Perhaps consider reducing, or cutting it out?
Do I have To Watch My Carbs?
Let me explain something.
Carbohydrates are not bad.
They are an energy source.
What is bad is when you remove all the nutrients from the natural sources, by processing them.
So a bag of chips, white bread – very little nutritional value.
If instead, you were consuming carbs from vegetables, they would likely contain fiber, which will make you full.
They may have other nutrients that will make you feel satisfied too.
You could have white bread, and that would still be plant-based, my point here is that when you look at the things you eat, you can make better choices without them really affecting your enjoyment of food.
An example could be a big bag of popcorn, versus say a sweet potato or yam.
You could probably eat the whole popcorn bag, and it won’t really fill you up. That’s my experience at least.
But a full sweet potato? That would fill you up. And have other vitamins and nutrients that come with it.
Again, it’s about smart choices. The point with the popcorn is, those should be for enjoyment, once you’ve covered most of your carb intake requirements with something more healthy.
Then you’re not eating the popcorn to fill you up.
Since I am a runner, I probably have to care a lot less about the carbs I eat.
During a long run, I can burn through a few thousand calories easily.
So in my case, I need to eat so that I don’t become thin, like a weed.
That being said, there’s nothing stopping you going for a walk (my tip – walk during your commute to and from work)
Do I have to eat less?
On a Friday we often choose to have a day where we have something to mark the end of the week.
Often that is chips and veg chili.
Now I can eat probably double the amount of chili than I could have if it had meat in it.
And I don’t feel stuffed.
The interesting thing is though, I can also eat half the amount, and still feel satisfied.
I have no scientific proof for this, but I believe it is because…
Nutrient packed food is normal
When you eat vegetables for all your meals – or salad, you get in a lot more nutrients. Lots more vitamins.
Protein, carbs if you want them.
It’s all in abundance.
What that does is it makes you feel satisfied a lot more easily.
This is the main point where this is a healthy diet for weight loss.
You get all the goodness, your body isn’t battling against feeling “a bit ordinary” all the time, and sort of feels a bit like you fitted a supercharger (not the turbo!)
That’s how it felt to me at least – I don’t need to eat anywhere near the amount I used to do, to feel full.
If I’m enjoying a meal, I’ll have more, because it also doesn’t make me feel too full.
And it doesn’t make me store fat. So I find if I enjoy a meal, I can enjoy it more.
I would say that everybody is different here, so unless you’re active like me, you perhaps won’t be able to do what I do, to the same extent.
But what about carbs and protein?
This is all marketing – there are tons of carbs and protein in vegetables.
There is one difference though, if you’re getting your carbs from unprocessed vegetables, then this is good.
You do get full eventually, and so find yourself eating the right amount of carbs.
With processed carbs – this isn’t a meat thing, just an awareness of what you’re eating – you have chips or bagels or whatever, they have very little value in terms of making you feel satisfied.
So you don’t feel full.
And you don’t get any nutritional value from it either.
But just so you know, there are plant based sources of both carb and protein that are way higher than the highest animal product sources. And you don’t have to have protein powder to get them either – although you could if you wanted to.
If you’re looking for fat loss, my view is that if you get more nutrients you need, that’s what you should aim for.
Perfectly possible with or without meat and dairy. So that’s your choice.
In this case I’d say to make sure that you are getting the right amounts, you need to be actively tracking what you consume.
Whatever your diet, if you actively look for a balanced diet, you’ll be better off.
If you find you can get what you want from a plant based diet, you should try it.
A tool to help you track your nutrients is https://cronometer.com/.
The unexpected fat loss
Now, back to the fat loss.
Last year I ran a marathon, and I was putting in up to 80 km a week running – using up a massive amount of calories.
I was always hungry – I ate reasonably to get rid of the hunger.
And I didn’t lose any weight.
What, you just said that you didn’t lose weight, right?
This was eating a diet that included meat and dairy.
Yeah, you’d think the fat would drop off.
And I didn’t lose any fat.
As I said, we’ve been in the hot part of the year, so my running has been a lot less than it will be as it gets cooler.
I may do 20 to 30 km in a week, often a lot less.
I would say I generally eat the same amount or more – I’m never feeling hungry.
But this time it’s a plat based diet – no meat or dairy.
And the fat just dropped off me.
Happy about it, but I wouldn’t have cared if that never happened.
That wasn’t my aim at all.
I have no scientific basis for this at all.
It happened to me.
It may happen to you, but just as easily, it could have been that it was hot, and that did it.
But it is a nice bonus.
Is this diet for you?
You may be realizing this is quite a lifestyle change – not just a healthy diet for weight loss that you do for a few weeks, then stop.
If you think the benefits outweigh the “trauma” you experience from missing meat and dairy, then give it a go.
Do what I did, and try it for a week, or two. Give it a bit of a chance.
I’d say you’d need 2 weeks to really feel the differences.
I do understand a lot of people find this a very hard challenge.
I don’t think you will miss meat and dairy, and I think if you give it a good few weeks, you will feel better and not want to go back.
And you don’t have to go completely meatless and without dairy – you can have them less but still have them if you like.
My advice would be to start by cutting them out, until you understand what it’s like, simply because you could miss out on feeling awesome if you don’t. What I mean is, if you just reduce them, your body won’t change, or detoxify from the animal products in your body. It might improve, but I don’t think that it will as fully as it could do. That would be a shame.
I love the plant-based diet personally.
This article is about as non-scientific as it could be.
I hope you don’t read it and think it’s biased.
I wanted only to represent how I feel, what I experienced and how you could too.
Here are a few places that are great for recipes, in case you were wondering:https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/
But I am not hating on meat, far from it.
I still like a steak occasionally – I just haven’t had one for a long time (well over a year at the time of this edit).
I hope you end up experiencing the health and well being I have described here with my description of a healthy diet for weight loss.
I hope that it makes you feel great and you lose weight as a bonus, and that it helps you whatever your quest!