Plant-Based Weight Loss – The Ultimate Guide

(upbeat music) – My main weight losstips are really to start from a place of kindness to yourself.

And I say that because, having directed a weight management program for 15 years, what I've seen is that peopleget incredibly frustrated.

It's a challengingprocess, and people can get really down on themselves, because ultimately, there are a lot of factorsoutside of our control that go into maintaining our body weight.

And so while there'slots of things we can do to address our body weight, it's important to start from a place of compassion and kindness to yourself.

And so from that place, once you start looking at making healthy lifestyle choices and start moving in the direction of healthier diet, moreexercise, better sleep, and other factors that affect weight, then in many cases theweight does tend to start to take care of itself.

I always tell my patientsthat no two people lose weight at the same rate.

Everybody is very different.

And not everybody fallsout to the same point.

So the endpoint is differentfor two different people.

And there is a realphenomenon where you get to a point where you've lost weight, and it does become harder to lose weight.

And that's not anyone's particular fault or a lack of willpower.

It's just biology.

And so it's important to be realistic about where you're going with it and not to be hard on yourself or feel, to minimize the shame youmight feel if you slip up, because again, everybody's human.

So what I often will tell patients when they come to see me whoare trying to lose weight is that I would like verymuch not to actually focus on the number on the scale.

In fact, I have patients when they come to see me who, we don't look, we don't even check a body weight, because that can actuallyfrustrate people more, if it's not going asquickly as they would like or if it's even goingin the wrong direction.

And to focus, instead, on tracking the actual behaviorchanges that you're making.

'Cause that is something thatyou're more in control of.

You're not in control of howquickly your weight changes.

And so that strategy Ifound to be very useful for people, because I want you to focus on things that are reallytangible that you're doing.

And finally, my last tip would really be not to rely on willpower.

So we know that willpower extinguishes by, I always say by about one p.


So it's not really agood long-term strategy for weight loss to relyon denying yourself and willpower and tryingto white knuckle yourself through a dietary plan.

What I think is actuallymuch more important is to change your environment.

And that looks like changing the foods that you just happen to have in your home, working with whoever you live with to help strategize withyou, having a partner who's working with you on this, a friend or a significant other, changing your routine so that, for example, if you know that you have a habit of walking by a certain bakery everyday and getting that donut, that's a habit that, it would be better just to walk on a different block so that you're not tempted to do that, because again, willpoweris just, we're all human.

And you're gonna make those choices if you make it easier for yourself.

(upbeat music) There is some advice that'sout there in the mainstream about weight loss thatis really quite dubious.

And I think that one of the ones that I hear quite a bit isthat, avoiding carbohydrates.

That's probably the most common one.

And on the one hand, Ican kind of understand why people would say that, because there are many carbohydrate-rich foodsthat are not healthy for us and that are very dense in calories.

And then if you make iteasy to overeat calories, so that if you eat a lot of them, it will be very hard to lose weight, and you probably will gain weight.

And these are foodslike white flour foods, crackers, cookies, junk foods, foods with added sugar, desserts.

These of course are foods that nobody thinks is good for you.

It's wonderful if youdecide to mostly eliminate those foods from your diet.

And, but that's whatpeople are talking about when they're talking about carbs.

Unfortunately then what happens is that people lump that into all foods that contain carbohydrates.

So they start thinking, well, then I shouldn't have a sweet potato, or I shouldn't have oatmeal, or I shouldn't have brown rice, or I shouldn't have fruit.

That's my, that's the onethat I think strikes me as the most crazy, becausethese are all foods that, when people eat them in, aspart of staples of their diet, people who eat this way tend to have the healthiestbody weights, overall.

And they've never been shownto cause weight gain over time, unlike the highly processed carbs.

So I think it's reallyimportant to separate out those types of carbohydrates.

And in fact, I never use nutrient terms when giving weight loss advice or any kind of nutrition advice, because it just gets confusing for people if you talk about carbs, protein, and fat.

I prefer to talk aboutthe foods themselves that are beneficial.

So healthy carbohydrate-richfoods like beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, of course, those are all extremely health-promoting and can promote a healthybody weight, as well, and should not really be avoided.

Some other weight lossadvice that I've heard that I think requires some correction is really advice around protein.

So I think for a longtime people have thought that the more protein that they ate, the more muscle they would gain and the leaner and fitter they would be.

And that's a myth thatpersists to this day.

And the reality is thatthere is some truth.

We do definitely need to getour requirement of protein.

There's a certain amount ofprotein that we all need to eat.

And you need a little bitmore if you're very athletic or very active.

And in fact if you're eating a diet that is low in calories, you also do need to focus on protein and makesure you're getting enough.

But that said, just eating more protein does not magically turnus into body builders and lean and fit athletes.

Of course that requires a lot more than just the protein in our diet.

So I would say that proteinis not necessarily something to overly focus on.

Just make sure that you're getting enough for your daily needs, andmake sure you're getting it from a healthy place, because protein, when it comes from animal sources, tends to be, promotes more inflammation.

It tends to come with unhealthy nutrients such as saturated fats and heme iron and other things that canpromote chronic disease, whereas when you get yourprotein from plant sources, you kinda get the best of all worlds.

You get the amino acids that you need, along with fiber, alongwith phytonutrients, along with vitamins andminerals that we need.

And it tends to be anti-inflammatory.

So that would be my advice around protein.

And I would say that the thirdpiece of weight loss advice or one of the mythsthat I hear all the time is that I can exercise myway out of an unhealthy diet, or I can just exercise myway to weight loss, period.

Now, I will say that thereare definitely some cases in which people can exercise tremendously and lose some weight if they're not increasing their calorie intake or matching their exercise needs.

But for the vast majority of people, what the science shows is that exercise is not that helpful for weight loss.

It's important.

It's great for many other reasons.

But it doesn't reallyhelp people lose weight.

When it comes to weightloss, it's really much more about the diet and thefoods that you choose.

Now, when it comes to notregaining the weight back, in other words, maintainingthe weight loss, then exercise does play a bigger role.

And so it's great to getinto the exercise habit early in your weight loss process, because it will help you along the way and help defend your newbody weight that you reach.

But it won't, in and ofitself, as the sole factor be the reason that you loseweight, for most people.

(upbeat music) Obesogenic environmentrefers to the current modern day context that we live in, in which the foods thatare readily available to us and most convenient forus and, quite frankly, that we are biologically driven to crave are all around us.

So these are what we callthe ultra-processed foods, foods that contain additivesthat are not actually found in nature, and they're engineered to be incredibly deliciousand make us keep wanting to come back for more.

The fact that the portionsizes have increased in most restaurants and in takeout, the fact that sugarybeverages are everywhere, it is very, very hard, if you think about it, it is very, very hard to make the choice to eat a healthful diet.

You really are swimming upstream.

And so this is why it'snever one individual's fault when they are strugglingwith their eating habits.

This is really about a societal issue.

And so this is why it's so important to look at your own home environment and work with your family and your friends and get some social supportaround eating a healthful diet and really building aroutine and environment for yourself thatinvolves healthier foods, because it's verychallenging to make choices in an obesogenic environmentwithout that support.

(upbeat music) There's a lot of lore in thehealth and wellness space, again, around carbohydrates.

And people tend to lumptogether all kinds of foods that contain carbohydrates, forgetting that some of the healthiest foods on earth contain a lot of carbohydratesand are great for us.

The other things that Ithink, that I see a lot are this perception thatthere's really one magic bullet.

So if I wake up in the morning and I drink apple cider vinegar with water every morning, suddenly I'mgonna get to the body weight that I crave.

And unfortunately, if it were so easy, I think a lot of people woulddo it and be successful.

But the reality is it's much more about what you do day in andday out for the long term.

And that's another reason that, I think, that doing things thatare quick fixes may, there are some quick fix diets out there where you can lose weight very quickly.

But these tend to be dietswhere people regain the weight, because it's just not sustainable.

And when we're talking about weight loss, we really need to betalking about something that you can keep up forthe rest of your life.

This is, we're not trying to get someone to get to a specificbody weight very quickly and then maintain it.

It's much more about working this into your life pattern so that it becomes, it's a natural flow of what you're doing, and therefore you're more likely to actually keep the weight off long term.

(upbeat music) So my recommendation, specifically, for dietary changes forpeople who are interested in losing weight is reallyactually the same advice I give people who don't wanna lose weight.

It's the same advice I give people who are healthy and thepeople who are living with chronic illnessesand wanna get healthier.

And that's to eat a wholefoods, plant-based diet.

And what that really means is eliminating or primarily avoidinghighly processed foods like white flour foods, added sugar, junk foods, and also reducing, ideally eliminating or reducing animal foods.

So you're really making your plate focus on foods like legumes andnon-starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds, and some of the fattierplant foods, like avocado.

Now, if you're doing that kind of strategy for weight loss, you may wantto focus a little bit more on the non-starchyvegetables and the legumes.

In fact, one of the strategiesI think works really well is to, if you imagine your plate and divide it in half, about half of your plate should be non-starchyvegetables like leafy greens or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower or zucchini, peppers.

And then a quarter of yourplate would be a legume or tofu or tempeh, somekind of bean or lentil.

And then another quarter of your plate would be a whole grain like brown rice or quinoa, barley, farro, some kind of grain like that.

And actually thatbalance works really well for people who are trying to work towards weight management.

And if you find that youwant dessert afterwards, then that's a perfecttime to have some fruit or some, whether it's berries or frozen banana turned into ice cream.

Those are some really great strategies, I think, for weight loss.

But it's the same advice that I give to people who just wantgeneral nutrition advice.

So this is a strategythat is high in fiber.

It's very nutrient dense.

And it's been associatednot just with weight loss in many, many studies, but it's also, probably more importantly, been associated with reduction in chronic disease risk and even longevity.

And that's why I picked that advice.

(upbeat music) So the data are very strongthat eating a plant-based diet is associated with a healthier body weight and preventing weight gain over time.

And we also have interventional studies showing that when people adopta plant-based eating pattern, that they can successfully lose weight, and in many cases withoutbeing specifically told to count calories, whichis an interesting feature.

There are still a lotof other diets out there that can help people lose weight.

So why should you choosea plant-based diet? I would say that the reason I would recommend a plant-based diet is because we also have extremely strong data for overall health promotion.

So for example, we know that when, from a very landmarkstudy that was published a couple of years ago thatwhen women are divided into two groups and one is asked to follow sort of an average protein diet versus a high protein diet and they lose the same amount of weight, those that eat a high animal protein diet, they actually still haveall the metabolic disarray that they started with, despite having lost weight.

So you do all this work to lose weight.

And yet it's negated.

You still have the sameamount of insulin resistance and inflammation, because you're consuming a high animal protein diet.

So this is why I wouldrecommend a plant-based diet, specifically, as astrategy, 'cause you know it will help you loseweight, in most cases, and it will also serveyou for the long term.

(upbeat music) People transition to a plant-based diet in all kinds of different ways.

But I think the key tosuccess is, number one, do some planning and research, and educate yourself about a healthy way to eat plant based, so thatyou're not just diving in without any knowledge.

And we know that when people don't plan and they end up suddenly in a situation where there's no plant options around that they're not gonna, they're gonna flounder and not know what to do.

So planning is really key.

And you also wanna feel good, and you wanna take care of your health while you're doing it.

So if you just go out thereand don't educate yourself on what are some healthy strategies as far as plant based goes and making sure you're supplementing appropriately, primarily with vitaminB12, you may not feel well.

And you may under-eat calories.

You may over-eat calories.

So planning and researchare really important.

Beyond that, I would say you can do this in a number of different ways.

You can, if you feellike you wanna go all out once you've done your researchand done some planning, you could do one ofthe 21-day kick-starts.

And those are really fun, because then you're just all in for three weeks.

And people can see healthchanges really quickly.

And it gets you, like speed dials you into this new way of eating.

And that's, some peopledo really well with that.

And then there are other people who, for many, many reasons, I would say this is probably the majority of people, who need to do it more slowly.

And that's fine, too.

Just kinda know what you need and what your circumstances call for.

I would also say thatI've seen patients try, say, maybe I'm justgonna go with breakfast for the first couple weeks and just work on building up a repertoire of breakfasts that don'tcontain animal products or highly processed foods.

And build up a repertoire.

And then move on to lunch, and then move on to dinner.

That's one way.

The other way I've seen people do it is, I'm gonna work first on one type of food.

Some I'm gonna eliminate dairy.

And I'm gonna substitute, I'm gonna see what other, what non-dairy milks I like and try to start experimentingand substituting that in.

And once you've masteredthat, you can go on to say, now I'm gonna work oneliminating poultry from my diet.

And I'm gonna see howI can creatively play with other foods to substitute instead.

So those are two different waysthat I've seen people do it.

(upbeat music) So I think it is a good idea to be mindful of the density of calories of the foods that you're eating.

And what I mean by that is really, if you look at foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and even whole grains to an extent, and tuberslike sweet potatoes, all of these foods tendto be less calorie-dense than certainly many animal foods, than the highly processed foods, where they can reallypack a lot of calories into a small space by using white flour, by using sugars, by nothaving a lot of fiber in those foods.

And they're also less dense in calories than, say, the healthyfoods that are plant foods like nuts and seeds and avocadoand then foods like oils.

So all of those, oilsare actually probably the most calorie-densefood that you can eat.

And so it's importantto be mindful of that, because they usuallydon't make you feel full.

And yet they contributequite a bit of calories to your day.

So what that really looks likein terms of practical advice is building your plate around veggies, fruits, whole grains, and beans.

And if you choose to havedressings and sauces, just be mindful of howmuch you're putting on.

If you're not meetingyour weight loss goals, you should really think about how many calorie-dense foods youhave in your diet first.

And then this also translates into advice around liquid calories.

So this is really critical for people trying to lose weight.

And I would say one of thefirst things I would limit is the calories that you'reputting into your body in liquid form.

So that looks like foods like, any kind of sweetened drinks.

It also looks like 100% juice.

That is basically pouringfructose into your body, which has downstream effectsin terms of your liver and your diabetes risk.

And even foods like smoothies, I would say those are fine if you're using them asa replacement for a meal.

But some smoothies canhave a lot of calories, depending on what you put in them.

So just be mindful of how you're using those liquid calories.

(upbeat music) So there's actually a lotof great spots online, if you just google cooking oil-free, and most of them have to do with roasting, techniques around roasting, techniques around sauteing with vegetable broth.

There are air fryers that people can use, where food can get really crispy without actually having to use oil at all.

And I would say onceyou get into the habit of eating foods without oils, most people get used to it and don't really miss it too much.

And this is an importantstrategy, I think, if you are adopting a plant-based diet and you notice you're still consuming oils and sauces and dressings that contain oil and you're not losing weight.

That's a reasonable place tolook for the hidden calories.

When it comes to sugars, sugars are really added ubiquitously all over the place.

So again, this is, they're hidden in breads.

They're hidden in sauces.

They're hidden all over the place.

So probably the first place I would look is in your beverages, because companies can reallypack a lot of added sugar into beverages.

And try to get in thehabit of getting those out of your routine.

And one word of cautionis I would not turn to the non-nutritive sweeteners, so the sweeteners that are zero calories.

I usually don't recommendthose, for a few reasons.

One is that there issome emerging evidence that they may affect, in a negative way, our gut bacteria and thetype of patterns that we have and sort of move things ina more negative direction.

But more realistically, the other thing that they do is that theykeep you craving sweet food, because many of them tastehundreds of times sweeter to your taste buds than sugar itself.

And so I would say it's probably better to just break yourselfcold from added sugars and just get used to foodsthat don't have sugars added.

And trust me, once you do that and you eat a piece ofmango, it will taste so sweet to you.

It will be like heaven.

So there's a little bit of a light at the end of that tunnel.

(upbeat music) Salt's a really important, is really important to think about, because there's, even if you have normal blood pressure, for example, if youeat a high sodium diet, it does raise your risk fordeveloping high blood pressure later in life.

So you're not necessarily immune to getting high blood pressure if your blood pressure's normal now and you're eating salt.

So it is a good thing forall of us to be careful with.

And most salt comes in processed foods.

In fact, there's a lot ofsodium in typical breads.

There's sodium in many, many sauces and in pre-prepared foods.

So by cooking more at home, you have much more control about the salt that you add.

And if you buy foodsthat are less processed that don't have salt added, that's a great place to start.

And if you do buy foodslike sauces and so forth, try to purchase the low sodium varieties.

(upbeat music) An example of a meal thatwould be great for weight loss would basically be, I like to recommend structuring your meal around the plate.

So half of the plate wouldbe non-starchy vegetables, ideally a lot of different colors.

So you would have a leafy green, a dark leafy green.

You would have cauliflower.

You'd have red pepper.

You would have broccoli and so forth.

So a mix of different colorson the non-starchy half of the plate.

And then you might have some lentils, which are very high in proteinand fiber and phytonutrients.

And that might fill upa quarter of your plate.

And another quarter of your plate might be a food likequinoa, which is also, obviously, delicious and high in fiber and many phytonutrients as well.

So this ratio of foods really lends itself to achieving a healthier body weight, because it's less dense in calories than if you were to fill up half the plate with a whole grain orhalf the plate with beans.

It's really a very, very good ratio.

And I always say, if youfinish that whole plate and you still feel hungry, just try to wait 10 minutes, ideally 20 minutes.

And if you're stillhungry, serve yourself more of the non-starchyvegetables and the beans, in that order.

And you should not feel hungry.

You should really feel satisfied.

But that's an example of a meal I think would be really great.

And of course you'd havea glass of water with it, avoiding liquid calories.

And you can kinda dress up your water by, you can put fruit in your water, you could put lemon in your water.

And then for dessert, youmight have additional fruit or frozen banana.

(upbeat music) So increasingly there arequite a few physicians and healthcare practitionerswho have not only heard of plant-based nutritionbut are actually excited about it.

So more and more I'vefound that other doctors that I talk to haveheard about this approach and are interested andintrigued to learn more.

But if you find that yourdoctor has never heard of it or is even skeptical, I would say it would be a good idea to come with a couple of articlesthat you could share with your physician tokinda go over the basics of a plant-based nutrition, something that's been peer reviewed and scientifically published that they, but that's not too long, 'cause they usually don't have a lot of time to read right there in the office.

And so that would actually, hopefully, bridge them to understanda little bit more about why you're choosing this approach.

And you can also sayto your doctor, listen, this is something I'veheard great things about.

I've done my own research, and I've taken the time to educate myself on howto do this healthfully.

And I'd really like your support.

I'd like to do this for, say, you can say two or three months, and I'd really like to see how this goes.

And if you have any concernsalong the way, let me know.

It's really important to have a doctor that's on board with you, even if they don't understandcompletely the diet itself.

It's really important thatthey partner with you, because if you're takingmedications, especially, you may actually need to haveyour medications adjusted once you change your eating habits.

Your blood pressure may go down.

Your blood sugar maygo down, and so forth.

So it's good to have yourdoctor partner with you.

(upbeat music) There are so many factors that contribute to our body weight.

And it's not just the food that we eat.

It's not just how much we exercise.

It also has to do with our genetics, plays quite a big role.

Our microbiome plays a role, the type of gut bacterialpatterns that we have.

Our mood plays a role.

So whether you have beenliving with depression or anxiety or other health issues around the mood space, that can actually affect your eating habits quite a bit.

Sleep is emerging as a huge player in terms of maintenance of body weight.

There are very compelling data that when we are sleep deprived or we have fragmented sleep that we make different food choices, that our appetites are different.

And so again, it is neverany one individual's fault if they're living withoverweight or obesity.

There's so many things that go into it.

And this is why it's so important that we, as individuals, have compassion for ourselves and compassion for other people who are living with obesity.

(upbeat music).

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