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7 Vegan Foods to Lose Weight: Vegan Diet Guide 2023

Christine VanDoren

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

vegan foods for weight loss

If adopting a healthier eating plan for weight loss without using fat burners is part of your fitness program, adding certain vegan foods for weight loss can help you meet your goals.

Eating vegan means removing meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products from your diet. A vegan diet focuses on fresh, whole food options, taking advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes such as beans and lentils. 

Though raw vegan diets restrict eating even further, a general vegan diet includes deliciously cooked dishes that emphasize flavor and freshness. When appropriately balanced for calories, protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates, a vegan diet can elevate your energy level while providing you with a wealth of vital nutrients.

Does Eating Vegan Foods Help You Lose Weight?

Adopting a vegan diet can certainly improve the nutritional quality of your diet, if done properly. . But does being vegan help you lose weight? 

Because plant-based foods naturally contain fewer calories than animal-based foods[1], a vegan diet can help you achieve a calorie deficit while ramping up fiber, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are necessary for healthy weight loss. 

Unfortunately, the ever-expanding selection of vegan options has introduced many vegan processed foods into the grocery world, but they aren’t always produced with health and wellness in mind. Your best strategy for losing weight on a vegan diet is to stick with fresh and minimally processed whole foods.

7 Foods to Eat on a Vegan Diet for Weight Loss

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a vegan power food, and they are rich in fiber and vitamins A, B6, and C. Their low-glycemic-index status makes them a healthier option than regular potatoes. When a food has a lower glycemic index value, the body digests it slowly and absorbs more of its nutritional value, which in turn prevents drastic raises in blood sugar levels. Sweet potatoes are also a versatile ingredient for many flavorful recipes, and you can use them in many recipes that ordinarily call for white or yellow potatoes. 

For example, mashed sweet potatoes make a satisfying replacement for traditional mashed potatoes, and baked sweet potatoes topped with a bit of healthy fat from olive or coconut oil are a delicious way to get the necessary nutrients on a vegan diet. Sweet potatoes are also lower in calories than regular potatoes, making them an ally in your weight loss ventures.  

Leafy Greens

Garden-grown greens are a nutritional gold mine and a great way to up your fiber intake. A higher fiber diet helps make you feel more full while eating fewer calories.

Leafy greens come in a variety of options, but it’s best to choose darker greens more often. Dark leafy greens contain more phytonutrients like beta-carotene and lutein[2], which are excellent for general good health. Options like spinach and kale also provide folate, iron, and calcium, all of which play a part in fat burning and weight loss. 

And because of their low-calorie status, leafy greens are an ideal vegan choice for loading up salads and wraps, as well as for including in smoothies and cooked dishes.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a low-glycemic gem when it comes to including healthy grains in your vegan diet. Though it is a bit higher in calories than white rice, the extra protein and complex carbohydrates provided make brown rice a valuable option to keep in your vegan diet arsenal. 

In addition, by helping balance your blood sugar, brown rice also helps control your appetite and keeps cravings at bay in between meals. This makes it a vital element in your efforts to shed unwanted pounds. 

As part of a vegan weight-loss plan, brown rice is excellent paired with beans of any kind to create various dishes with cultural flavor—everything from Mexican to Greek to Turkish, depending on what vegetables and seasonings you throw in. 
However you dress up your brown rice and beans, the two foods together provide the full range of amino acids, creating what nutritionists consider a complete protein[3] which contains all the essential amino acids (protein-building blocks) your body needs.

Chia Seeds

As far as superfoods go, chia seeds are top of the list. They’re loaded with healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, plenty of B vitamins, nearly ten grams of fiber, lots of antioxidants, and a whopping five grams of protein per serving. This is pretty great considering each one is only slightly larger than a poppy seed!

Chia seeds are also incredibly versatile in regards to how they can be used in a vegan diet. 

In dry form, they can be sprinkled on oatmeal or other cooked cereals and added to green salads. When ground up, they can be blended into smoothies for a healthy boost, similar to wheat germ. And when soaked in water or plant-based milk, chia seeds inflate and soften and can be flavored to become delicious vegan puddings for a healthy dessert treat, similar to rice or tapioca pudding.

Kidney Beans

High in both protein and fiber, kidney beans are an ideal vegan go-to ingredient when weight loss is the goal. Their nutritional profile, texture, and versatility make them a prime candidate for replacing meat[4] in your favorite recipes. 

The fiber in kidney beans will help you feel full, which can make it easier to lose weight on a vegan diet. When beans are mixed with brown rice, they become a complete protein, making them an excellent option for maintaining muscle mass while losing fat. 

Kidney beans are also inexpensive and abundant on grocery store shelves. When seasoned properly, they’re a delicious way to curb any lingering cravings for ground beef or chicken.

Almond Butter

Almonds are one of the healthiest tree nuts around, and when they’re turned into creamy almond butter, they become even more satisfying. Almond butter provides monounsaturated fats, which help protect your heart. Almonds are also a rich source of protein, calcium, vitamin E, and magnesium. 

As a spread, almond butter perfectly complements fresh fruit like apples and strawberries. It can be added to smoothies for an extra blast of creaminess and flavor or mixed into oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon for a tasty breakfast. But proceed with caution –  almond butter is high in fat and so calories can add up quickly. To support weight loss, stick to the serving size on the label. 

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds have long been studied and valued for their robust nutritional profile, including protein, omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, and vitamin E. They’re harvested from cannabis plants, but they cause none of the mind-altering effects found in the leaves. Hemp seeds are most well known for their cardiovascular benefits[5]

Because they’re similar in size and composition to chia seeds or sesame seeds, hemp seeds are safe to consume in similar ways. They can also be used in vegan baked goods to add flavor and crunch or can be sprinkled on fruit and coconut yogurt parfaits. 

They also make excellent additions to smoothies, giving your fresh fruit and greens an extra nutritional kick to keep your weight loss plans moving in the right direction!

Vegan Meals for Weight Loss

If you’re wondering how all these nutrient-rich vegan foods might come together in your diet, here’s easy to prepare a one-day vegan meal plan to get you started on your weight loss journey. The recipes leave room for you to add additional vegetables, seasonings, and healthy toppings of your choice, which will alter the nutritional value shown slightly.


Oatmeal with Almond Butter and Hemp Seeds

Add a tablespoon of almond butter to ½ cup of cooked oatmeal flavored with a bit of cinnamon and ginger. Sprinkle one teaspoon of hemp seeds on top and stir. The blend of flavors and textures makes for a delicious, satisfying, and slightly sweet start to your day, providing nutritious, high-fiber energy to get you revved up.

One serving contains the following:

  • 420 calories
  • 11.5 grams of protein
  • 33 grams of carbohydrates


Rice and Beans Bowl

Combine ½ cup of cooked brown rice with ½ cup of cooked kidney beans and sprinkle in ½ teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder. Add in some chopped red pepper and green onions. Top it all with a squeeze of lime for a tangy kick. This healthy, fiber-filled vegan lunch will make you feel like you’re splurging when really you’re staying right on track.

One  serving contains the following:

  • 213 calories
  • 10 grams of protein
  • 72 grams of carbohydrates


Apples and Almond Butter

Spread one tablespoon of almond butter over slices of a medium apple and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon. This healthy vegan treat tastes like a decadent dessert with enough fiber and protein to fill you up between meals. This makes it easier to stay within your calorie and nutrient needs for weight loss.

One serving contains the following:

  • 193 calories
  • 3.4 grams of protein
  • 28 grams of carbohydrates


Sweet Potato with Quinoa and Spinach Salad

Bake a medium sweet potato and top with a blend of one cup cooked quinoa, chopped vegetables, and garlic and onion powders to taste. Prepare a salad using one cup of fresh spinach topped with your choice of garden vegetables. 

Sprinkle one teaspoon of chia seeds on top and dress it with a mixture of one tablespoon apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon olive oil. The fiber, vitamins, and minerals in this combination are a dynamic and delicious meal. Plus, it won’t leave you feeling hungry and will help you continue losing weight.

One serving contains the following:

  • 356 calories
  • 17 grams of protein
  • 87 grams of carbohydrates

What Are Healthy Vegetarian Foods For Weight Loss?

The vegetarian diet differs from the vegan diet by allowing dairy products to come into the mix. This gives you a better range of meal options for weight loss if the vegan diet feels too restrictive. Foods you can try to on the vegetarian include:

  • Eggs
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Milk
  • Low-fat ice cream and frozen yogurt
  • Kefir

Final Thoughts

Achieving a calorie deficit is necessary on any weight loss diet, including on a vegan diet. If a vegan diet sounds like a possibility for you, make sure you plan your meals to include plenty of protein and healthy fats like coconut oil, which has been shown to aid in weight loss. 

Though eating vegan can ultimately help you lose weight, it is still possible to gain weight on a vegan diet if you aren’t eating the right balance of foods or are not burning more calories than you’re consuming. 

The best way to ensure that a plant-based diet assists with your weight loss goals are to only consume vegan junk food as an occasional treat, and focus on the health benefits of a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods.

+ 5 sources

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  1. Tran, E., Dale, H.F., Jensen, C. and Lied, G.A. (2020). Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Weight Status: A Systematic Review. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, [online] Volume 13, pp.3433–3448. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7533223/#:~:text=An%20observational%20study%20with%20more,eat%20a%20plant%2Dbased%20diet.
  2. ‌Usda.gov. (2013). Dark Green Leafy Vegetables : USDA ARS. [online] Available at: https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/ ‌
  3. Mariotti and Gardner (2019). Dietary Protein and Amino Acids in Vegetarian Diets—A Review. Nutrients, [online] 11(11), p.2661. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6893534/ ‌
  4. Bonnema, A.L., Altschwager, D., Thomas, W. and Slavin, J.L. (2015). The Effects of a Beef-Based Meal Compared to a Calorie Matched Bean-Based Meal on Appetite and Food Intake. Journal of Food Science, [online] 80(9), pp.H2088–H2093. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26270740/ ‌
  5. Rodriguez-Leyva, D. and Pierce, G.N. (2010). The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed. Nutrition & Metabolism, [online] 7(1), p.32. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2868018/
Christine VanDoren

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her passion is helping others learn how strong and healthy they can become by transforming their daily habits. Christine spends most of her time in the gym, hiking, painting, and learning how she can influence others through positivity!

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

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