How To Lose Weight On A Whole-Food Plant Based Diet

I’m following a plant-based diet since 2015. While I started my plant-based diet for ethical reasons (I’ve read ‘Eating Animals’, by Jonathan Safran Foer)… [1]

I’ve actually seen a rock-hard sixpack a few months later.

8 years in, I’m still in wonderful shape (and no protein deficiency to be found):

whole food plant based success story, whole food plant based diet, plant based diet, vegan diet, florian wuest

I’m not an exception – and I’m not blessed with ‘great genes’.

Yes, 8 years later… I’m considered an international expert at fat loss (and a published author).

Yet what I did for myself worked for hundreds of people I’ve personally coached. Here’s a quick glimpse on 3 of our most amazing whole-food plant based success stories:

The reality is that a plant-based diet made achieving a sixpack easier for me, but if it would not have been for a few important secrets – I would have not achieved the shape that I’m in so seamlessly.

In this article, you’ll learn what I mean by that. Let’s start with the basics:

salad, whole meal, real food

What is a whole food plant-based diet?

Take an omnivore diet, and remove all animal products (meat, cheese, milk, egg, fish). What do you got? A vegan diet, or a plant-based diet. [2]

Now, remove all the junk food. What do you got? A whole-food plant-based diet. [3]

A vegan diet is wonderful for the animals. Yet, if it’s full of junk (french fries, oreos) – it’s not wonderful for your own body.

Plant based foods are wonderful for your health. It’s the only diet ever shown to reverse heart disease [4], and according to the China Study [5], it decreases cancer risk significantly.

What differentiates a whole food plant based diet from a vegan diet?

The junk food, that is often prevalent in vegan diets (and not whole food diets). And often the incentives for following these diets.

Vegan diets are often followed for ethical reasons. Whole-food plant based diets are followed for health reasons (sometimes because of doctor’s recommendations).

Can you lose weight on a whole food plant-based diet?

Yes, absolutely. You can lose weight on a whole-food plant based diet.

On another note, you CAN lose weight on a twinkie diet as well. [6] So the question is not whether you CAN lose weight or not. The question is: Can you lose weight as effortlessly as possible – and make it sustainable?

A Whole Food Plant Based Diet Is The Best For Weight Loss

In regards to the latter question, the whole-food plant based diet is the best diet in the world. So please, make no mistake: A plant based diet works!

No other diet makes losing weight as effortless – and as sustainable – as a whole-food plant based diet.

belly, body, calories

Whole Food Plant Based Diet For Weight Loss: The Basics

How does weight loss actually work?

Fat loss is fundamentally a reduction of the size of fat cells. Fat cells have 3 fundamental tasks:

  1. Mechanical buffer (meaning: If we got a big belly, and we get punched in the stomach: We don’t feel it that much)

  2. Thermal insulation (meaning: If we are overweight and we live in cold climates, our fat cells keep us warm to a degree)

  3. Energy storage (#1 task: Our fat cells store energy)

Fat cells are not ‘toxin deposits’ or ‘hormone dumps’ – or any other quack the fitness industry wants you to believe (I expose one of the quacks of the fitness industry here). Instead, fat cells are energy storage units. Like tiny batteries that populate your inside.

Energy is known in physics as ‘Joule’. On the nutrition side, joule is not as common – so we use another term, which is the ‘calorie’.

The way you lose weight is always by reducing the calories: E.g., committing to a caloric deficit.

According to a Harvard release [7], this is how all diets work. Low fat, low carb, SouthBeach Diet and all others you can think of. The only thing that matters for the speed of weight loss, is a caloric deficit.

PS: This doesn’t mean that ‘low fat’ is not better than ‘low carb’. It actually is. But… we’ll look at this a bit later in this article.

What is calorie density?

We’ve seen before that the ONLY way to lose fat is to get into a caloric deficit.

When most people are confronted by this cardinal truth, they inevitably try to reduce their portion sizes. This is precisely the wrong way to do it.

Instead, weight loss has everything to do with nutritional choices – and almost nothing to do with portion size!

Take for example a vegetable called ‘watercress’. It has 11 calories per 100g. An insanely low amount. You’d need to eat tens of kilos of this vegetable to hit your minimum recommended caloric intake.

On another note, oil has about 884 calories per 100ml. That is insanely high. If you’d be equally insane to drink 2 glasses of oil, you’d be packing on the fat cells quickly.

How much weight can you lose eating plant-based?

Similar as there’s no ceiling to weight gain – there is no ceiling to weight loss. You can lose weight until infinity. The only question is: Should you?

I think the inferred question is: “How much weight can you lose eating plant-based – while changing nothing else?”

The answer to that is some amount of weight, likely between 5-10lbs depending on your BMI previous to starting a plant-based diet. If the BMI is 30+ though, this can be much, much more.

How can I lose weight fast plant based?

If you’re looking to lose weight quickly, switching to a plant-based diet is often not enough. You’ll have to do additional strategies, such as:

  1. Stepping on a weighing scale on a daily basis. [8]

  2. Tracking your calories (and routinizing your nutrition, so you don’t have to track calories anymore) [9]

How to lose belly fat on plant-based diet?

You can not spot-reduce body fat. [10] While muscles are always built locally, fat cells are lost systematically. Meaning: If you’re in a caloric deficit, your body will lose fat over the entire body – not just on the belly (unfortunately).

tape, tomato, glas

7 Daily Hacks For Plant Based Weight Loss (Plant Based Foods)

Until now, we’ve covered the basics. Wonderful.

You now know that weight loss is all about calories. And the easiest way to make weight loss easier is to understand (and frankly MASTER) calorie density.

In this chapter, you’ll learn 7 daily hacks to get into a caloric deficit by optimizing calorie density (without necessarily counting calories).

broccoli, vegetables, healthy

1. Load half your plate with nonstarchy veggies

The easiest, and frankly the best hack of them all: Eat more veggies. Cooked. With no oil.

Especially leafy greens – such as spinach, cauliflower and broccoli (to get the most healthy plant foods).

  • Not only will this make you incredibly satiated – you’ll not feel hungry.

  • This will also change your microbiome – making it easy to sustain the weight loss over the long-term.

Here’s an (almost) viral video I’ve made in regards to that:

potato, new harvest, nature

2. Eat lots of fiber-rich foods

Non-starchy vegetables already contain a lot of fiber. But when it comes to fiber: The more the merrier!

As a general rule of thumb, the more fiber you have in your nutrition, the more satiated you will be – and the bigger the sustainable weight loss.

The other foods which should fill the other half of your plate should be complex carbohydrates, whole grains or protein. That includes:

  • Oats (whole grains)

  • Brown rice (whole grains)

  • Quinoa (whole grains

  • Potato (veggie/complex carbohydrate)

  • Tofu (protein)

  • Seitan (protein)

I suggest most of my clients to eat oats as a breakfast. It’s the best breakfast there is – in my opinion.

Then, for lunch and dinner, have 1/2 of the plate as veggies, and the other 1/2 filled with complex carbohydrates, whole grains or protein (as listed above).

Btw, protein is important in a whole foods plant-based diet, but it’s deficiency is rare. Learn more about the truth of protein in this article here: Is this a NEW early symptom of vegan protein deficiency?

pumpkin soup, soup, cream of pumpkin soup

3. More soups

One of the factors that influence daily caloric content is how quickly you eat.

Fun story: My ex-girlfriend’s sister was together with a person that was raised in poverty-stricken Malawi (South Africa). She shared how slowly said guy (which experienced poverty as a child) would eat.

Said behaviour was probably an adaptive mechanism to deal with little food. The boyfriend of my ex-girlfriend’s sister realized as a child, that the slower he eats, the less food he’ll need. Said behaviour persisted until adulthood.

What does this mean for you? 2-3x per week, replace your dinner meal with a BIG soup. This will not only improve your sleep quality, it will also help you lose fat predictably.

olive oil, olives, food

4. Cut out added oil

Remember my previous example as the most calorie-dense food? Yep, it’s oil.

Irrespective of the many health claims oil has (largely unfounded), realize that it’s detrimental to your fat loss progress. It not only contains a lot of calories, it also adds little to no satiety to your meals.

Oil should be used very sparsely (if at all) during your fat loss routine.

PS: To prevent any type of eating disorder here, it’s important to note that food is neither ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Some food is just ‘better’ than other.

A skill fit people that stay in shape for LIFE need to develop, is to start looking at their nutrition like an economist. You have a limited amount of resources (money, daily caloric budget) – you NEED to invest it in the right opportunities (food, stock/companies).

Looking at your nutrition choices like an economist, you’ll quickly realize that oil is simply not a good opportunity to spend your limited resources on.

cans, can, coke

5. Avoid liquid calories

What is true for oil is true for any type of liquid calories: Eat your calories. Don’t drink them.

Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Pepsi – they all offer no satiety, and a good chunk of calories!

Again, if you look at your nutrition choices like an economist, they’re not the best choice. A much better choice of liquid intake is water. Water intake actually burns some calories!

If you drink enough water throughout the day (~1 gallon), you automatically, and accidentally get into a caloric deficit.

french fries, meal, snack