How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight On A Vegan Diet? (Backed by Science)


Are you interested in starting a vegan diet to lose weight? Are you wondering how long would it take to achieve your weight loss? While veganism is much more than a weight loss diet, vegans are thought to be healthier and thinner than omnivores, and studies show that they have a lower average BMI (body mass index). But, how long does it take to lose weight on a vegan diet?

Studies have shown that vegans can lose an average of 5.6 pounds in 18 weeks or an average of 7.5% of their body weight in 6 months. In 7 of 10 studies on the effects of a vegan diet, it appeared to be more effective than the control diet at helping participants lose weight.

This can be due to the lower fat content on most plant-based diets or the higher intake of dietary fiber, which keeps people feel full for longer making them consume fewer calories.

In this article. I’ll go into more detail about the effect of a vegan diet for weight loss including how long you’d need to wait to see results and what common mistakes to avoid to succeed in your weight loss goals.

Vegan Diets and Weight Loss

For a long time, vegan diets have been accused of either lacking nutrients and protein or on the other end of being “too healthy” and involving eating only lettuce.

No matter what the haters keep saying, there is now lots of evidence that back up all the health and environmental benefits of a vegan diet, one of those being its advantages for weight loss and a healthier metabolism.

Here are what some of the studies on the topic have shown:

  • A 2014 trial compared examined the changes in body weight among individuals on a plant-based diet versus a vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. They concluded that vegan diets were more effective for weight loss than other diets.•
  • Another study in 2016 study compared weight loss results over 6 months and showed that people on a vegan diet lost more weight than those on other diets including vegetarian and omnivore ones.
  • 2015 study suggests that a plant-based diet rich in vegetable fats may even boost metabolism. This means you might burn more calories while at rest, making their weight loss efforts more effective.
  • A new study compared the Mediterranean diet (that was thought to be one of the most effective for weight loss) to a vegan one for 16 weeks. People on the plant-based diet lost about 7.5 pounds more fat, and lost 13 pounds on average, versus no meaningful change on the Mediterranean diet.

There is a lot of evidence that supports the benefits of a vegan diet for weight loss. Now let’s talk about why exactly this happens and how long would it take you to lose weight when going vegan.

How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight as a Vegan?

According to studies from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM), the average weight loss after transitioning to a whole-food, plant-based diet is about a pound a week.

“That means that after one year, you could be some 52 pounds lighter, with only one change”

Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

But weight loss doesn’t happen at the same speed for everybody and It varies depending on many factors.

Until a few years ago, it was believed that 1 pound of fat equaled 3,500 calories which meant that you would lose one pound of fat in the amount of time it took you to create that deficit.

This meant that if you decrease your intake by 500 calories daily, you would lose 1 pound per week.

But, while the 3,500-calories-per-pound rule seems to work well in the short term and for those who want to lose only a few pounds, it doesn’t apply in the long term or for those trying to lose a significant amount of weight.

Factors like individual stats, physiological adaptations, and lifestyle changes can affect weight loss. Without taking these into consideration, this rule can result in an overestimation of how much weight you will lose over time which and set you for disappointment.

If you are looking to lose a few pounds, the 3,500-calories-per-pound rule is a good reference. But, if you are trying to lose a significant amount of weight, you might experience faster and easier weight loss at first that will naturally slow-down as your body adapts.

How does vegan weight loss happen?

By now we know that there is a correlation between veganism and weight loss but why is it exactly that eating a plant-based diet promotes weight loss? And, is it always the case?

Let’s find out!

Intuitive eating vs calorie counting

As the name suggests intuitive eating means simply eating what you feels like without restriction. On the other hand, calorie counting involves tracking your food to eat a certain number of calories.

In all the studies mentioned until now, the participants followed a plant-based diet and were instructed to eat whatever they wanted (as long as it was vegan) until they were full.

This means that these results were achieved by adopting a vegan diet and eating intuitively. There was no calorie counting nor restriction involves. This brings us to our next question…

How do people lose weight on a vegan diet?

The main factor that influences weight loss is a caloric deficit. Be it with a vegan diet or any other, if you want to lose weight you want to eat fewer calories than what your body burns on a daily basis.

When you do this, you are giving your body less energy than it needs so it will resort to using fat stores for energy, creating a reduction in body fat. Over time, a consistent calorie deficit frees fat from fat cells, after which it’s converted into energy to fuel your body.

What does this mean for a vegan diet?

While not all vegan diets are the same and don’t always equal weight loss, some studies like this one found that on average, vegans consume 600 calories less per day than meat-eaters.

Here are some of the reasons why vegans tend to eat fewer calories on average than people on other types of diets:

  • Vegan foods are high in fiber when compared to animal products that have non of it. Fiber increases a feeling of satiety that causes people on a plant-based diet to eat less.
  • Most plant-based whole foods are less calorically dense than animal foods. This means that for the same number of calories, vegan foods have more value and therefore occupy more space in the stomach causing people to feel full with fewer calories. The image below makes this concept pretty clear.
How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight On A Vegan Diet?
  • Less junk food available. A lot of processed foods are not vegan and not only the obvious ones like burgers and fried chicken but also things like pizza, donuts, ice cream and even french fires depending on where you ask.

    You can find junk vegan food but it is not so easily available and it is no so tempting to go to a fast-food restaurant because you can’t eat 90% of the menu.

    Processed and fast food is higher in calories than whole foods so just by cutting them out of your diet you are reducing your caloric intake.
  • You become more health-conscious. A side effect of going vegan whether it was your motivation or not is that you start to pay more attention to where your foods come from, what are the ingredients, etc.

    This will make you more conscious of what you put into your body and how food makes you feel which will motivate you to choose healthier alternatives that are naturally lower in calories.

Factors That Affect How Long it Takes You To Lose Weight As a Vegan

By now we know that not two bodies nor two vegan diets are the same but, why do some people seem to lose weight faster than others? Is it luck, genes, or if not, what are the factors that affect weight loss speed and how can you turn them in your favor?

1. What was your previous diet like?

If you were used to eating a pretty unhealthy diet with regular junk food and alcohol, switching to a vegan diet will be a dramatic difference for your body that will reflect in faster weight loss, at least at the beginning.

If, on the other hand, your diet was already healthy with lots of vegetables and whole foods and maybe a caloric deficit, a vegan diet won’t speed your weight loss too much. If this is your case, trying a low-fat vegan diet might help you see faster results.

2. How much weight you want to lose?

The higher your body fat, the faster you’ll be able to lose weight. If you already have a low fat percentage, weight loss will tend to go slower because your body won’t let go of the remaining of its fat stores so easily.

Additionally, the lower your weight, the fewer calories you need on a daily basis which means you’ll need to either reduce your caloric intake further or increase your activity level (aka exercise) to help create a bigger deficit.

3. What are you eating as a vegan?

Not all vegan diets are the same and you can be vegan and eat purely french fries and Oreos (yes, they are vegan). So, I don’t think I need to say but just in case, not because it is vegan, it means it is healthy.

If you want to support your wegith loss goals, favor plant-based whole foods that will help you feel full faster and for longer due to their fiber contnet. They’ll also provide you with the nutrients that your body needs so you’ll feel energized and free of cravings.

4. Your macronutrients

I hate to be the one to break the news to you but calories are not the only factor that affects weight loss. Macronutrients also known as “macros” also play a big role.

Macronutrients are the three key food groups that you require for your body to function:

Striking the right balance of these macros can be game-changing when it comes to losing weight. According to McMaster University research, a 5 : 3.5 : 1.5 ratio of carbs, protein, and fat can deliver healthy fat loss results.

You can get your ideal macronutrient in minutes using an online macro calculator. This is my favorite one.

Getting the right amount of protein is key to maintaining your muscle and keep a healthy metabolism, otherwise, you might end up losing muscle instead of fat.

Fats provide you with vital nutrients that keep your mind and heart healthy. But, if you eat more than you need, it’ll be easier for your body to store them as body fat.

And carbohydrates are to the most efficient energy source for your body and brain so you want to get as much as you can while maintain a caloric deficit.

It’s also been shown that a low-fat vegan diet is a great way to promote weight loss so if you want to speed up yours, consider cutting out oils (they have zero benefits) and reducing the amount of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds.

Make sure to check out this article later to learn more about the benefits of a Low-fat vegan diet for weight loss.

5. Exercise

Another factor that has a huge impact on weight loss is exercise. Exercise doesn’t only burn calories but it also promotes a healthy metabolism and helps you build muscle. These are both key to burning more calories while at rest and will result in faster weight loss.

On the contrary, without exercise, your metabolism will probably slow down over time, which means you’ll need fewer calories and it’ll be harder to lose weight in the long term.

While every type of exercise promotes weight loss, weight-lifting is one type that is particularly helpful to improve your body composition and make sure you maintain your results over time.

When you build muscle, you increase the amount of lean tissue on your body which at the same time, burns more calories and helps you lose fat. Strenght-training also avoids that you lose muscle mass instead of fat which can happen if you do a lot of cardio and won’t give you the aesthetic results you are looking for.

How long did it take these vegans to lose weight?

While we know by now that every person is different and that there are many factors affecting the speed of weight loss, here are some stories of people that lost weight on a vegan diet and how long it took them.

1. Heather M lost lost 125lbs In less than a year


At 39 years old, Heather found herself an overweight smoker and drinker. She also had arthritis in both knees and chronic back pain. When a coworker mentioned a plant-based diet, she decided to give it a try and in less than a year, lost 125lbs (which she has maintained for over a year!), is no longer in pain, and is off her medication for an irregular heartbeat.

2. Dave Wegener Lost 100 Pounds in One Year

In March 2016, Dave weighed 335 pounds. He started educating himself about nutrition and started eating a more plant-based. “The weight came off, rapidly and almost effortlessly.”

Six months later, he had lost 60 pounds and a lot of his health markers had improved. Four months later, he had lost another 40 pounds and decided to stop counting calories and fully embrace a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle.

3. Keyrah lost 100 pounds in 10 months

After many years of unhealthy eating Keyrah found herself at 288 pounds. She came to a turning point and decided to change her life completely and became vegan! Keyrah started by trying a plant-based instructional detox which was a vegan meal and exercise plan.

“I lost 19 pounds by day 11 and I was amazed, encouraged, and excited. Becoming vegan has been the best decision of my life. Not only did I lose 100 pounds in 10 months, I have also been able to inspire many people to become vegan by allowing them to watch my 128-pound weight loss journey on social media.”


4. Hannah lost 40 pounds in six months

YouTube star “High Carb Hannah” had struggled with her weight her entire life and had tried every diet out there but she would lose 10 pounds and end up bingeing and gain everything back.

She was so sick of following restrictive diets. so decided to stick to a plant-based diet, but other than that, she had no restrictions. Following a vegan high carb low-fat diet, Hannah lost her first 40 pounds in just six months.

How to speed up vegan weight loss?

Are you still wondering how long will it take you to reach your weight loss goals and want some tips on speeding things up?

While it is not recommended to lose more than 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week, here are some tips you can try if you are not seeing any results with losing weight with a vegan diet:

  • Avoid oil and seasonings. These are two calorically dense foods that can turn a low-calorie meal into a high-calorie and high-fat one.
  • Avoid processed foods such as meat and cheese substitutes. These are usually high in sodium and pack a lot of calories in a small serving. Always favor fresh whole foods when possible.
  • Consider tracking your calories and macronutrients. A caloric deficit is key to weight loss. While you can create it by eating a whole-food plant-based diet intuitively, some people find it is easier and more freeing to know exactly what they need to eat to achieve their goals.
  • Eat high-protein vegan foods. Protein is key to maintaining a healthy metabolism and a lean physique. Plus it helps you stay full for longer. Make sure to check out this list for lots of ideas on high-protein vegan foods.
  • Exercise. Unless you can’t physically exercise, you should be doing it. It will help speed up your weight loss process as well as helping your overall health. A secondary benefit of exercise is that you will feel better and won’t resort to food as a way to boost your mood.
  • Incorporate weight-loss foods into your diet. While they won’t have a dramatic effect, they can increase your metabolism and have a significant effect in the long term.

Is a Vegan Diet The Best Way to Lose Weight?

While veganism is an ethical lifestyle and not a weight loss diet, I also believe it is the healthiest, most effective, and sustainable way to lose weight.

Before going vegan for health reasons, I had tried all the other diets out there… keto, Atkins, paleo, you name it. I could never stick to any of them because I’d feel miserable, sluggish and always found myself bouncing back with a couple of extra pounds.

With a plant-based diet I can eat as much as as I want (of whole foods mostly) and never be hungry or tired. Not to mention I feel better than I ever have and haven’t gotten sick in 5 years.

Our bodies and brains feed on carbohydrates which are abundant in a vegan diet so it is really easy to stick with it without feeling restricted.

If you are new to a plant-based diet, it t may take some time to adjust to vegan eating, but you’ll grow to love the foods, the benefits, and the results!

Here are some resources to help you succeed in your weight loss journey as a vegan:


Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!