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THE vegan is a type of vegetarian who is very strict; not consuming dairy products, eggs, or any other food from animals. According to Kirk Bolton, standards and regulation committee chair for the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition & Dietetics, the good news is that research has shown that a vegan diet can result in weight loss.
But Bolton pointed out that, like many other weight loss objectives, the following factors must be considered before you embark on this mission — age, height, current weight, diet, physical activity levels, metabolic health, and other medical issues.
“Any objective to lose weight must take the above factors into consideration. It is also advisable that vegans do take B12 supplements. A deficiency of this vitamin impacts on energy metabolism in the cells, proper brain function, red blood cell formation, plus other body processes. Additionally B12 deficiency can cause anaemia, depression, fatigue, and much more,” he explained.
That said, Bolton shares below some tips to ensure weight loss on the vegan diet.
1. Regulate meal time
“Try to eat at the same time each day. This will get the mind and stomach into a more predictable pattern,” Bolton said.
He further explained that breakfast, which is the most important meal for the day, should be larger than the other meals consumed for the day.
“Consume foods at least 45 – 60 minutes after exercising, and try not to eat at least two hours before bedtime. You really don't want too much work to be going on in your digestive system which may disturb your sleep. It has been shown that consumptions closer to bedtime is associated with weight gain,” he explained.
2. Portion control
According to Bolton, portion control is critical to ensure that you do not over-consume, and/or that you consume for weight loss. He said your dietitian or nutritionist is the professional qualified to assist you in knowing your specific portions of the respective food groups that you need to consume, regardless of you being on a vegan diet or another type.
He also cautioned against downloading a diet prescription online as each diet must be specific to the individual. As a result, regardless of standards available, the only sustainable help you will get will be with a dietitian or nutritionist.
3. Adequate protein intake
Bolton said since a vegan diet is void of any food from animal items, it's going to be very important that a substitute be identified that is rich in protein. He said legumes (peas and beans) is the food group that's rich in protein and vegans may substitute the meats for a mix of peas and beans.
“Plant-based protein is considered incomplete protein because it doesn't contain the full complement of essential amino acids required as the building blocks to make appropriate protein structures for the body. As such, it's recommended that the legumes for a vegan diet should be properly mixed with a variety of peas and beans so as to ensure that essential amino acids are present to make the required protein in the body,” Bolton said.
4. To juice or not to juice
The dietitian explained that if you are to make a cup of orange juice it would take about two to four medium oranges; and so, if your diet prescription recommended one orange and you consume the cup of orange juice, then at that point you would be consuming two to four oranges in one drink. Instead, for weight loss, he recommended water before and after each meal and suggested that this be continued throughout the day even if you don't actually feel thirsty.
Of note, Bolton said one very important step you should take is to speak to a nutrition professional — dietitian or nutritionist —as these practitioners are the experts in the science of nutrition and dietetics.
“They are qualified to advise you on how to eat properly and teach you how to use your foods to meet your health objectives. So the next time you visit your physician, ask for a referral to see a nutritionist or dietitian, or let us direct you to one in your area by either calling us at 876-345-FOOD (3663) or visiting and sending us a message on our website at www.japinad.com. Stop the confusion, let us educate you on how to meet your health goals through proper nutrition,” he said.