The plant-based diet has been praised for many years for its ability to help maintain body weight. With advances in the plant-based diet such as the introduction of plant-based meat, more and more people are turning to the plant-based diet in hopes that it will help them shed a few pounds.
However, the question with regards to whether plant-based meats, in particular, helping with weight loss, is one that should be considered and explored. After all, plant-based meats are new to the market and we are yet to fully understand the true value of these products.
As per Dr Shireen Kassam at the University of Winchester, studies that considered the non-vegan population over a period of 20 to 30 years illustrated that eating more plant food in the diet leads to less proneness to put on weight in comparison to those within the study that consumed, meat, dairy and eggs on a frequent basis.
Studies such as those mentioned above are a clear tell-tale sign that a plant-based diet, in particular, do help assist better weight management. However, does it lead to immediate results; that is a question that depends on a host of other factors such as calorie intake and the amount of exercise.
Don’t get us wrong, the plant-based diet is a great way to maintain weight and even lose weight. However, the results that you see depends on a host of other factors such as consuming fewer calories than you are burning to which exercise is a component.
Apart from the weight loss that is experienced through a plant-based diet, those who consumed a plant-based diet composed of about 85% plant-based foods tended to live longer, had a healthier outlook of life and had less disease.
It goes without saying that the plant-based diet has many advantages to health and plant-based meats, which are the topping on the cake are adding tremendous value to the diet.
What are Plant-Based Meats?
Plant-based meats have only recently seen the advanced in taste and smell and have in recent years surprised consumers with products that taste and smell like real meat.
Plant-based meats are products that are made from plants that mimic the taste and smell of real meat. They are a highly processed food that goes through various laboratory processes to allow them to mimic the taste of real meat. It is the fact that these plant-based meats are able to mimic the taste and smell of real meat is what makes them so great for consumers who are looking to lean more towards a plant-based lifestyle.
There are a host of ingredients that go into making these plant-based meats. They could contain,
- nuts and seeds
- beans and lentils
- coconut oil
- potato starch
- pea protein
- soy and tofu
- vital wheat gluten or seitan
These ingredients are used to make vegetarian-friendly alternatives for burgers, ground meat, sausages, chicken, scampi, prawns, salmon and even tuna.
When it comes to plant-based meats, there is a huge variety on the types of products in the market that you can pick and choose from. Almost all of these products will have varying ingredients. Some may contain mushrooms and beans, while others may contain pea protein, soy or seitan.
All in all, these products have the ability to excellently mimic the texture of meat. This is why they have gained popularity in recent years for their ability to replace meat in meals with healthier ingredients which may even help you lose weight.
Weight Loss and Plant-Based Meats
In a study conducted on 1,100 people, it was noted that the vegetarian diet, eaten for 18 weeks resulted in 4.5 pounds (2 kg) of weight loss. This leads to the inclination that plant-based meats should in theory lead to weight loss and help assist better weight management.
Plant-based meats contain fewer calories in comparison to regular meat products. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit when plant-based meat is used as a primary component in meals in comparison to real meat products. Most plant-based meats also contain a lower fat content in comparison to real meat. The fat in plant-based meat is composed of plant compounds that are considered better for the health of your heart.
The table below gives you a good idea on the comparison of fat and caloric content of real meat versus plant-based meat.
|Meat product||Plant-based product|
As you may have observed, almost all types of plant-based meat products have a slightly lower caloric content, while the amount of fat is considerably less. However, it is worth noting that plant-based meats contain a lot more carbohydrates. This makes them less desirable on low-carb diets including ketogenic diets.
Typically, you find anywhere between 7.9 to 16.7 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of plant-based meat. Though you can still consume some plant-based meat on a low-carb diet, you simply cannot consume a whole lot. Hence, for those on a low-carb diet, plant-based meat does not offer the luxury to overindulge without repercussions.
That being said, new research has led us to believe that high-carb diets can actually help facilitate weight loss. This is extremely good news for plant-based meats. Plant-based meats have low caloric content, low fat, both great contributors to weight loss. Combining this with the fact that we now understand a high-carb diet to help facilitate weight loss, plant-based meats become an obvious choice for those who are looking to shed a few pounds.
In a study published in the journal Nutrients, overweight people who were placed on a high-carb diet for 16 weeks actually noticed reduced overall body weight and body fat. This was observed without any external tangents of exercise. However, that being the case, any food eaten in excess can lead to weight gain. Regardless of whether your diet is high in fat or carbohydrates, if you consume more energy than you burn, your body will store it as fat, thereby resulting in weight gain.
However, to answer the question with regards to whether plant-based meats actually facilitate weight loss; studies lead us to believe that they do. Just so long as you do not overconsume plant-based meats to the point that you are consuming more energy than you are burning, you are sure to observe the loss of weight. As with all weight-loss strategies, it is important that you understand the need to burn more energy than you consume. This is what leads to weight loss and this is what you have to ensure regardless of whether you are eating plant-based meats or real meat.
With plant-based meats, it becomes easier to consume the same amount of food and consume less energy, which means either than you can eat more plant-based meat in comparison to real meat, or expect to lose weight due to the caloric deficit created by switching over to plant-based meat.
Plant-Based Meat and Metabolism
The plant-based diet has been known for its ability to increase metabolism and improve weight management. A low-fat, plant-based diet increased the amount of energy burnt after a meal and this leads to more energy being used at rest.
Hence, in comparison to real meat, plant-based meats work to boost your metabolism better, which results in the more effective burning of energy. Not just that, the stronger your metabolism, the more likely that your body will start to burn stored fat, resulting in a noticeable loss of weight.
Not to undermine exercise or the importance of exercise on weight loss and metabolism, but plant-based meats and the plant-based diet, in particular, has been studied to show improved metabolic rates in those who took part in the studies. This obviously means that plant-based meats can lead to better weight management, even without the need for exercise. Obvious to state, the more your exercise, the more weight you will lose. However, plant-based meat did show results of better weight management and even weight loss in comparison to a diet rich in real meat, which often leads to weight gain.
Advantage of Fibre in Plant-Based Meat
In comparison to real meat, plant-based meat carries the added advantage that they contain fibre. The more fibre that you consume, the more likely you would stay full from the meal.
The fibre works to not only better regulate your digestive system leading to better intestinal health, but the fibre also works to keep you full for a longer period of time. This means, if you eat real sausages which contain no fibre, you are more likely to experience the craving for a snack within a few hours of the meal. The fibre in plant-based sausages in comparison works to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time, which resultantly prevents you from snacking and other unhealthy eating habits.
The fibre not only results in you becoming fuller after eating a small quantity, but it also keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time. Both these elements affect the number of calories you consume. Not only are you reducing the number of calories consumed per meal, but you are also consuming fewer calories due to the lack of snacking and meals in between meals.
Though plant-based meats contain fewer calories, which is an obvious plus point, the fibre content of plant-based meats means you will consume fewer calories overall. This makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit, which results in observable weight loss.
Saturated Fat Content of Plant-Based Meats
Though in general, plant-based meats contain lower amounts of fat in comparison to real meat products, some plant-based meats do contain a high level of saturated fat.
Hence when it comes to picking a plant-based meat to help you better manage your weight and even lead to weight loss, you want to ensure that you pick something that has a low saturated fat content.
The lower the saturated fat content, the healthier the choice. Some plant-based meats contain almost equal amounts of saturated fat in comparison to real meat. Some even contain more saturated fat than real meat. Hence, when you are looking to plant-based meats as the means to actually lose weight, you want to be very mindful of the saturated fat content.
The label of each product usually sets out how much saturated fat the product contains. You should look to ensure that saturated fat does not contribute to more than 10% of the calories. This is a good way to understand what is considered a healthy amount of saturated fat in a product.
Remember, if you are looking to lose weight by switching to plant-based meats, you must consider the saturated fat content. Do not overlook this point, as it may be the defining criteria as to whether you actually notice weight loss through the switch or not.
Are Plant-Based Meats Healthy?
With the obvious answer that plant-based meats do lead to weight loss, the question on everyone’s mind may be as to whether plant-based meats are actually healthy?
Plant-based meats are actually a brilliant source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You find a host of nutrients in plant-based meat that you simply do not find in real meat. It almost intensifies the expression, eat your vegetables. We use this expression for the obvious reason of vegetables being a great source of nutrients. Plant-based meats allow you to combine the nutrient value of vegetables with the taste and smell of meat, which is an obvious win-win in terms of nutrition.
Not only is the plant-based diet good for weight management, but it is also better for those who suffer from diabetes and can prevent a host of health complications including hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
There is also a connection between cancer and real red and processed meats. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown a great deal of concern about the increased consumption of red meat which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. In comparison to real meat which contains carcinogens, plant-based meats actually contain antioxidants that work to fight cancer. These antioxidants work to fight the action of free radicals in the body that cause cancer.
To further add, the American Heart Association (AHA) has advised that eating more plant protein in comparison to animal protein can actually work to improve the heart of your heart.
That being the case, plant-based meats are a highly processed food that often contains fillers and added sodium. They may also be high in saturated fats. Further to this, not all plant-based meats have vitamin B-12 added to them, which is an essential vitamin for the body. These elements do make plant-based meats inferior in comparison to real meats. They also contain fewer amounts of zinc, which you abundantly find in real meat.
To get a better idea as to whether plant-based meats are healthy and considered good for you, we recommend that you read this article, linked herewith.
How to Choose the Healthier Plant-Based Meats
With the obvious answer to our initial question being yes, with plant-based meats actually helping and aiding weight loss, you may be wondering how to go about choosing the healthier option when it comes to plant-based meats. After all, there is quite a selection of plant-based meats in the market and you want to ensure what you are consuming is actually healthy and good for your body.
The best way to understand the healthiness of plant-based meat is by looking at the ingredients or the nutrition labels. It is best to choose products that contain a list of nutrient sources including beans, legumes, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. This enables you to get a better nutrient profile from your meal which has a greater advantage in comparison to single-ingredient products such as soy burgers.
You also want to be on the lookout for saturated fat content. Some plant-based meats are high in saturated fat which makes them unsuitable as a healthy option for weight loss. You want to ensure that the saturated fat content contributes to less than 10% of the calorie content of the product. This is the best way to go about identifying products with a healthy saturated fat content.
As mentioned, one of the drawbacks of plant-based meats is the added sodium. You want to ensure that you pick products that have lower sodium content. The lower the sodium the healthier the option. It is advised that you consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. You would also attain some of this sodium from salt in your diet, hence ensure that you pick a product with low sodium content, to be on the safer side.
Vitamin B-12 is an essential vitamin in our bodies. Though real meat contains vitamin B-12, plant-based meat does not contain them unless they are specifically added by the manufacturer. Hence, when you are picking a plant-based meat, be on the lookout for added nutrients. Vitamin B-12 and vitamin D, which you usually find in animal products are not naturally found in plant-based meats. The more essential vitamins and minerals added to the plant-based meat product, the healthier of an option it will be.
Lastly, you want to consider the protein content of the product you choose. Though real meat is loaded with protein, plant-based meats do not contain the same amount of protein. Protein is an important nutrient in our body and is required for muscle maintenance and even good red blood cell count. With protein being difficult to source on a plant-based diet, the more protein the product contains the better. Opt for products that contain protein-rich ingredients which will help you attain recommended daily protein intakes. Pea protein and soy protein are both good ingredients in plant-based meats which provide a good amount of protein from each meal.
So long as you ensure to check these various elements when picking a plant-based meat, you should have in your hand a healthy product that you can rely on to provide you with good nutrition and reliable weight loss.
Plant-based meats are the newest fad which brings with it many benefits in terms of health and wellbeing. Not only are these products animal cruelty-free, but they are also considered healthy for you.
If you are looking to switch to plant-based meats in hopes of losing a few pounds, you have the answer you need. So long as you pick a healthy plant-based meat, you could notice real weight loss which could be heightened by combining a good amount of healthy exercise.
Plant-based meats are a great way to consume the same amount of food but in lower calories. They contain a host of nutrients that you would otherwise not find in meat. As mentioned repeated within this article, studies have proven the plant-based diet to be an effective means to lose weight.
Hence, we hope you found the answer to the question that led you to us and that reading this word to word has helped you better understand the position of plant-based meats with regards to weight loss.
Remember, pick a plant-based meat that is healthy and doesn’t contain too much sodium or saturated fat and you would have in your hands a product that could really assist you well on your weight loss journey.