Losing weight can often be one of life’s biggest challenges. It’s just not easy to eat less, have good sleep, exercise lots AND have enough energy or time to do everything you want to do. The biggest challenge is not just to lose it. It’s keeping it off.
I have recently changed to a vegan, plant-based diet. And after 6 days, I have lost 6 pounds. Let me tell you the journey how I got here.
I used to be a meat lover
I was always a meat eater. Sunday roasts, Spaghetti Bolognese with mince (usually turkey, for the illusion of health), meat on pizza, full English breakfasts, steak, fried chicken growing up, and Vietnamese cuisine like Beef pho or pork Banh Mi’s were staples of my diet.
This was all pretty much fine for my body in terms of weight and fitness until I was about 22-23. I used to be very sporty and active. Then as I transitioned into adulthood, I became less active but never gave up my diet.
Until my mid-late 20s when my body started telling me that I had big issues. I put on weight, going up to 220lbs at 6 ft tall. But I also started having bowel and digestion issues.
I went through some trending weight loss programs, many tests and meetings with nutritionists and gastroenterologists all to try to reduce the problem and my weight.
I tried Lactose-free
The first one was going lactose free. This actually was important as one of my tests showed that I was actually lactose intolerant. Within 6 months of this I had also gone mostly gluten free as well.
This did help a lot, initially. I wasn’t getting quite as tired, and my digestive problems weren’t quite so frequent. They did still happen on a semi-regular basis though.
I tried Low-carb
Then I tried reducing carb-heavy food. Reducing my pizza intake, less pasta. I took salt off my menu too. These all had impacts, but ultimately, I was still unable to bring my weight down past 210lbs or so, I was still lacking energy at times and having regular bowel/ digestive issues.
I turned to following the diet most people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) follow, which is to avoid consuming food and drinks that are high in FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols).
I did this, and again, what felt like a bit of improvement turned into nothing more than an initial placebo effect.
Meal Replacement Shakes
So I got a bit radical. I tried a meal replacement shake. I did this for 21 days. Essentially it was to replace breakfast with this shake, and another meal either dinner or lunch.
I found no change, except my appetite grew, my digestive issues worsened, and I was actually putting ON weight.
I tried intermittent fasting
Then I tried intermittent fasting. I did the 16:8 schedule, limiting my energy intake to between the hours of 12pm and 8pm ONLY. I did this for 21 days as well.
Did I feel better? No. Quite the opposite. I felt way worse. No energy, no focus, no weight loss. I was on the brink of giving up. And then I had a penny drop moment.
Finally, full vegan bro
After watching a documentary on Netflix and reading a book, I gave in to what I had probably subconsciously known all along. I’d already dropped lactose, so why not go that extra couple of steps, and drop all animal products?
So I did. And the results were a couple of days of feeling mentally better but my stomach went through a bit of a purge. Then, I had more energy. I was walking to work faster, I was running harder and further on the treadmill that week. It may have been psychological but it really was there.
I used to run about 2kms on the treadmill, in around 12-15 minutes depending on my body, at an average pace of 6:40 per km. The first day in the gym on the plant-based diet I ran 3kms in 15 minutes, at 5:00 per km. By day 6, I stepped on the scales, and my weight had dropped to 204lbs.
Maybe it’s all coincidence, but in the 2 weeks since, my weight has maintained a consistent drop at around 2lbs per week. Sustainable, manageable, healthy. I’ve not felt this good in 10 years.
The part that I thought I would struggle with is meat cravings, however, I’ve not had that yet. Sure, I’ve walked past a cafe and smelled that glorious smell of frying bacon, but I haven’t felt any desire to put meat in my mouth. Going vegan doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly disgusted by the thought of meat either. It just means not having it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still eat my roast turkey on Christmas Day, but that’s it. The rest of the year, vegan.
The best part of all of this is the recipes. We have had some amazing home cooked vegan meals in our house. I made vegan bean burritos, vegan spaghetti (with pasta made from lentils and kale), vegan mushroom/ bean burger patties, and more.
The vegan burritos especially now give me extreme cravings. I had them just last night and I’m already craving again. Once you get into it, the flavours and the options are wider than you think - especially for home cooking.
Being vegan for me is not about saving the animals, or even the economic argument (even though they can be made). Being vegan for me is about health, and how I feel in my body.
As long as I feel good in my body, I will keep being vegan. I would encourage you all to try it, for 1 month, and then reflect on how you feel after. It’s working great for me when nothing else would.
Important: The information in this article is only for reference. Consult your doctor before employing any change in your diet for weight loss.