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Vegan Fat Loss Myth: “If you Eat a Whole Food Plant based diet, You don’t need to count calories.” AKA Clean Eating

Many vegans and Plant based eaters often think and preaach that if you just eat a “clean WFPB Diet” you will automatically lose weight because you’re consuming all of your calories from healthy, nutritient dense foods. Now, there is some truth to this as a lot of healthy, nutritious foods are ridiculously filling and have low caloric densities. I eat pretty clean 80% of the time and I definitely recommend it.


Don’t automatically assume that clean eating is THE answer to your fat loss struggle.

Let me break this down for you.

If you’re burning 2,000 calories per day, and you eat 2,700 calories of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, you’ll have damn near perfect blood work, but as far as weight loss? Not happening.

On the flip side, if you’re burning 2,000 calories per day and only eat 1,750 calories per day and it’s solely from junk food, you WILL lose weight.

This is not about our feelings towards the two examples, this is about the Fundamental principle of fat loss and how the body works.

If you eat fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight then you WILL lose weight. Regardless of the type of foods you choose.

It’s all about Energy Balance. I did a 30-minute group lecture about Energy Balance with our coaching clients, you can access the full lecture inside of the Built By Plants Pocket Coach.

About 12 years ago, a professor from Kansas State U named Mark Haub ran a weight-loss experiment to prove that energy balance is the only thing that matters for fat loss.

At the start of the experiment, he was 211 pounds, with 33.4% body fat. In two months, he lost 27 pounds on a junk food diet of Twinkies, Doritos, and Oreos.

Do I recommend that you adopt a junk food diet to lose fat?

Of course not.

The point is, that his experiment backed up the fundamental law of fat loss.

Eating a clean whole food plant-based diet won’t contribute to fat loss if you don’t maintain a caloric deficit.

Let’s talk about Macros.

You have Carbs, Fats, and Proteins.

1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

Here’s the part where people lose it.

One gram of carbohydrate found in broccoli contains the same amount of Energy as one gram of carbohydrate found in oreos.

Notice, I said ENERGY.

They contain VERY different Micronutrient profiles, meaning the vitamins and minerals, but as far as Energy, they are the same.

Not understanding this is why so many people eating vegan diets fail to lose weight by trying to just “eat clean.”

Now that my point has been made, I definitely recommend you eat more whole plant based foods AND track your calorie intake so that you can understand how many calories you’re consuming.

Nutrient-dense plant foods give our bodies the vitamins and minerals we need which is required, but they can also give our bodies an excess of calories if you’re overconsuming and picking high-calorie-dense options.

Learn to track your caloric intake so that you can understand the number of calories that are in the food choices you’re making to ensure that you’re in a caloric deficit.

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