Use the Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate to help you understand exactly what type, and how much food to add to your plate to be healthy and lose weight on a plant-based diet.
I’m showing you exactly how to use the Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate to help you improve your health and lose weight on a vegan diet.
You are going to understand exactly what type of food you should be eating to have a balanced healthy diet.
And we’re not going to stop there. You’ll also understand exactly how much food to add to your plate to be healthy and lose weight on a plant-based diet.
Watch The Explainer Video
What Is A Plant-Based Plate
The Food Plate was developed by the Harvard School of Public Health. It is a replacement for the food pyramid which you might remember.
This is an image of the old-style food pyramid. Thankfully things have evolved a lot since then. It is no longer recommended that you get most of your calories from carbs. We also now know that you don’t have to eat meat or dairy to eat a balanced healthy diet. You can get all of the nutrients you need exclusively from plants.
The food plate gives you a visual guide to the proportions of food you should be eating at each meal.
Guidelines from public health boards in different countries are incorporating guidelines for vegans to help them eat a balanced diet.
Guidelines from Canada are to base half of your plate on leaves, fruits, and veg, a quarter of your plate on protein sources, and a quarter of your plate on nutritious carbs.
These plant-based plates are a great way to show vegans how to eat a healthy diet, and I’m very happy to see more official dietary guidelines including vegans in their advice.
The Problem With Most Plant-Based Plates
Plant-based plate guidelines are a great start to a balanced diet, but one thing they don’t do is help you lose weight.
Just eating a balanced, healthy diet isn’t enough to ensure you lose weight. This is because you might be overeating some high-calorie foods.
Plates can vary in size, and it’s possible to pile plates high with food, and also to cram a lot of high-calorie foods such as oils into a small space on a plate.
When you eat more calories than you need, you will gain weight, even if you do have a very healthy diet.
A lot of people think that switching to a vegan diet is enough to help them to lose weight and reach their ideal weight, and for some people, this is all they need to do.
But unfortunately, just going plant-based isn’t enough for most people to lose the weight they want to lose.
It’s very easy to overeat as a vegan and consume more calories than you are burning each day, which leads to weight gain.
How To Lose Weight With A Plant-Based Plate
To lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn. Everybody burns a different number of calories each day depending on various things such as height, weight, activity level, the food they consume, and their metabolism.
We can get a general idea of the number of calories we need to eat each day to lose weight by using a weight loss calculator.
Here is a weight loss calculator you can use to calculate how many calories you need which is personalized to you.
To use my Weight Loss Calculator, all you do is type in your age, gender, height, and weight.
Now you need to select your energy expenditure from the drop-down list. If you don’t know what to choose, just guess and go with the more conservative option to stand a better chance of success.
You don’t have to know your body fat percentage to get the results, but if you do know this figure, input it because the lower your body fat percentage, the more you can eat. This is a great incentive for dropping body fat and gaining muscle because it allows you to eat more while your weight stays the same and you look a lot leaner. The figure on the scales doesn’t matter if you are building muscle at the same time as losing fat because your weight could go up or stay the same while you look slimmer and more toned.
When you get your results, the calculator will show you how many calories you need to eat every day to maintain your weight, lose 1 pound or 2 pounds a week or gain 1 or 2 pounds a week.
However, one thing to note is that there is a minimum number of calories that you should eat each day for good health.
The Havard Medical School recommends that calorie intake should not fall below 1,200 a day in women or 1,500 a day in men so that you don’t deprive yourself of necessary nutrition.
That’s why none of my plans are ever lower than 1,200 a day.
A lot of the people that I help are very busy, myself included, and busy people often don’t have time to make elaborate snacks, and would prefer that their meals be filling enough to last them from one meal to another, rather than constantly having to be thinking about food and snacking all day long.
The way in which I structure the meals in my weight loss plans is to base them on 400 calories each. I explain exactly why I do this in a little while.
What Is The Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate
I have created my own Plant-Based Plate which is called The Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate.
The Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate is designed to help people lose weight in a healthy way by eating a plant-based diet.
I have been using this model to lose weight myself and also have helped thousands of people to lose weight using this system with the meal plans in my weight loss system called The Leaf System, so I know it works incredibly well.
My meals are always plant-based, gluten-free, and based mainly on whole foods.
At first glance, my Healthy-Weight, Plant-Based Plate is very similar to the standard plant plate. Half of the plate is nutrients from leaves, fruit, and veg, a quarter of the plate is nutritious carbs and a quarter of the plate is plate-based proteins.
I agree with this model and think it’s a great starting point. But I do have a couple of additions to the plate in terms of food groups which I will explain in detail in a minute.
The main difference between my Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate and the standard Plant-Based Plate is that I have a recommendation for the number of calories that each food type should contain.
It is not effective enough to just add food groups to a portion of your plate and hope that’s going to be enough for weight loss.
Weight loss is mostly a scientific calculation based on numbers. You can almost guarantee weight loss based on calories consumed, especially if you’re also eating healthy food.
If you ignore the calories, you are just playing a guessing game when it comes to your weight loss. Many vegan recipes will tell you to drizzle olive oil on top of your salad.
For example, each tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories. Imagine if you accidentally drizzled 4 tablespoons of oil on top of a healthy salad. You could quite easily double the calorie count of your whole meal by just guessing when it comes to weight loss by not being aware of the calories in different foods.
We know that too much oil and fat is going to stop you from losing weight, but we don’t want to go to the other end of the extreme either and avoid fat completely.
Fat is essential for good health. Some people cut fat out completely and start to suffer from health problems as a result. A certain amount of fat is essential for us, and most health agencies recommend you don’t drop your calorie intake below 10% from fats.
We need a small number of fats in our diet, and we also need our food to be tasty. Taste is an essential element of my own plant plate because if food isn’t tasty, we feel deprived and feel like we’re on a restricted diet.
On my meal plans, I don’t like people to feel hungry or deprived, so I make my food tasty and still have some amount of healthy fat included.
In addition to tasty food, I also like to create beautiful food that people are actually going to want to eat. The old saying that we taste with our eyes is so true. If we enjoy the look of our food, we are going to want to keep eating like this. And that will lead to more weight loss and better health in the long term.
There are 5 different elements of my Healthy-Weight Plant-Based-Plates which are an acronym of the word PLANT. The 5 elements are as follows:
Leaves, Fruit & Veg
I am going to explain each section in a bit more detail now.
Protein is the first element of the plant plate. Making sure you have high sources of protein on each plate helps you feel fuller for longer, so it really helps you feel satisfied after eating a meal. It helps you last longer between meals and keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
What Is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient. There are 3 macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. We need all 3 macros to give us calories. Proteins are made up of amino acids.
What Does Protein Do In The Body?
Protein in the body has a huge amount of different roles in different areas, such as the functioning of our organs, the immune system, and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in our blood. Protein helps muscles and bones to grow, and also keeps our muscles and bones healthy throughout our lives.
How Much Protein Do We Need?
Our protein requirements are based on our weight. It is recommended that we need 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. On average, it is recommended that men get 56g a day and women get 45g a day.
However, most men eat around 85g and women eat around 67g of protein per day. We generally eat more than enough protein, even on a plant-based diet. So people don’t have to worry about not getting enough protein.
However, some people such as athletes, older adults, and those on a calorie-restricted diet are recommended to eat more protein than the recommended amount.
Why We Don’t Have To Worry About Not Getting Enough Protein
The reason why we don’t have to worry about not getting enough protein is that protein is in almost all foods.
Protein is in all whole foods, so if you are eating whole foods, and you are eating at least 1,200 a day, you are definitely getting enough protein on any diet.
Highest Sources Of Plant-Based Protein
Almost all foods contain protein and it all adds up very quickly. But I like to include at least one of the following higher protein sources in every one of my plant plates.
Some of the highest sources of plant-based protein include:
- Soy/Pea Protein Isolate Protein Powder
- Powdered Peanut Butter
- Soy Milk
- Soy Yogurt
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Chickpea/ Gram Flour
- Nutritional Yeast
- Yeast Extract
How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Meal?
On my plant plates, I try to add around 150 calories worth of protein to each plate. By adding around 150 calories of plant-based protein to each meal, it almost guarantees you meet the protein requirements for the day, just from the highest protein sources alone.
As almost all foods contain protein, the daily protein amount for the 3 meals is usually much higher than the minimum requirements. This is perfect for those who are losing weight as they need to eat more protein to make sure they are losing fat rather than muscle tissue as they lose weight.
Leaves, Fruit & Veg
It is essential to include either leaves, fruit, or vegetables in every single meal that you eat. This food group is the most essential food group by far.
Many people think that you can’t have a balanced diet just by eating leaves, fruit, and vegetables, but the truth is that you can.
Surprisingly, leaves, fruit, and vegetables contain all of the macro and micronutrients that we need for optimal health, so it’s very easy to not only survive but thrive if you were just to eat this food group alone.
Highest Sources Of Nutrients
Not only can you get all of your nutrients from leaves, fruit, and veg, but did you know that you can get ALL of your body’s nutritional requirements for one day by eating only 570 calories of certain leaves and vegetables?
You can get ALL of your protein, vitamins, and minerals, and double the amount of fiber you need each day just by eating 3 vegetables.
These 3 vegetables are what I would call superfoods. They aren’t expensive and you can buy them pretty much anywhere.
The 3 superfoods are:
Granted, if you wanted to get all of your nutrients just from these 3 vegetables, you’d have to eat them in very high quantities, and you’d probably get bored of eating this way very quickly. I’m not suggesting you get all of your nutrients just from these 3 vegetables, but I wanted to illustrate my point that all vegetables contain protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in large quantities.
You can also replace kale with spinach to get most of the same nutrients that kale provides.
Benefits Of Leaves, Fruit, And Veg
- If you’re not consuming fruit, veg, and leaves every day as a vegan you’re not going to be able to get the essential vitamins and minerals you need from food. Although you can take a multivitamin as a backup, the quality of these nutrients won’t benefit the body like whole food can.
- They are a fantastic source of fiber. Fiber is essential to help you avoid digestive problems.
- Fiber carries more calories out of the body, which means, the more fiber you eat, the higher the calories you can eat and still lose weight. Fiber helps to carry unhealthy food out of the body too, so if you indulge, eat some fiber-rich foods alongside it to help eliminate it more quickly out of your body.
- They reduce your risk of major health problems.
- They help to bulk out your meals meaning you can eat very large quantities of food for much lower calories.
- When you fill your stomach full of low-calorie density food like leaves, fruit, and veg, you feel satisfied after every meal.
- Seeing a larger amount of food on your plate helps you feel less deprived while you are trying to lose weight.
- Leaves, Fruits, and Veg create a balanced plate and balance out the heavier foods on the plate helping you enjoy your food more.
How Much Leafy Greens, Fruit And Veg Should You Eat Per Meal?
On my plant plates, I try to add around 100 calories worth of leaves, fruit, or veg to each plate. By adding around 100 calories of low-calorie density plants to each meal, it helps you get the majority of your nutrients from food sources and enables you to eat a larger quantity of food.
As almost all plant-based foods contain nutrients, the amount of vitamins and minerals you will be consuming for the 3 meals is usually much higher than the minimum requirements. This is perfect for those who are losing weight as they need to make sure their body still has the nutrients they need as they take in fewer calories to lose weight.
We know that we feel less deprived and more likely to stick to a diet if we enjoy our food. But did you know that the way the food looks contributes a lot to how much you enjoy your food?
Benefits Of Aesthetic Additions
A new study led by Professor Charles Spence, an Oxford University gastrophysicist, has proven beyond doubt that making something look good makes it effectively taste better too.
The study found that thoughtful presentation meant diners found the food more flavourful. Even just the method of slicing a cucumber made the dishes considerably more appetizing – and appear to be more expensive. People were willing to spend 3 times more for food that was presented nicely and they found it to be much tastier.
To enjoy your food more, you need to spend a couple of extra seconds adding the finishing touches to a meal. These finishing touches are usually little things such as adding some fresh herbs, pickles, sesame seeds, chilies or green onions to the top of your plate.
I call these finishing touches aesthetic additions, and I think they are essential to the enjoyment you will get out of making your own meals and your willingness to make that meal again.
Most Common Aesthetic Additions
Here are the plate toppers that I use most often to make my plates look more pretty.
- Ground black pepper and salt
- Spring onion sliced lengthways
- Sesame Seeds, white and black
- Pomegranate seeds
- Fresh herbs
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Fresh chilies
- Chili flakes
- Flaked almonds
- Shredded coconut
- Poppy seeds
- Lambs lettuce, rocket, arugula
- Pine nuts
- Other seeds
- Drizzle sauce such as sriracha
How Many Aesthetic Additions To Add To Your Plate
I usually add a small sprinkle of something. I don’t usually add enough to significantly adjust the calorie count of a recipe. A small sprinkle of something goes a long way in terms of the presentation of a plate.
Nutritious Carbs are foods that are a higher source of carbohydrates than other foods. Almost all whole plant foods contain carbohydrates in some form, so if you want to eat a healthy diet, it’s impossible to eliminate carbohydrates.
Carbs have a very bad reputation at the moment and most people think you have to avoid carbs to lose weight. This simply isn’t true.
A lot of people avoid carbs because they are avoiding processed junk food sources of carbs such as cakes, cookies, doughnuts, white bread etc.
But people have gone too far by labelling all carbs as the enemy when this simply isn’t true.
There are many plant-based foods which are higher in carbs that are extremely nutritious and good for your health.
The main thing that determines whether you lose weight is consuming less calories than you burn, and plenty of people are able to easily lose weight by including carbohydrates in their diet.
In some ways, I do agree with limiting the number of high-carbohydrate foods you consume because if you don’t, there simply won’t be enough room on your plate for other nutritious foods. People are prone to eating a diet solely made up of mainly high-carb foods such as sandwiches, pizza, and pasta. And when you eat all of your calories from high-carb foods, you aren’t eating a balanced diet, and your health will suffer.
It is also very difficult to lose weight by eating a diet mainly based on carbs because you won’t be eating a large volume of food if you’re sticking to your calorie requirements for weight loss. When your stomach is empty your body sends you signals to eat more. Carbs are also not as filling as protein sources so it’s good to limit the number of carbs you eat.
Nutritious carbs are the one food group that if you eliminated it, it would have the least impact on your health. This is because if you eat a plant-based diet, you’ll still be getting enough carbohydrates from your protein sources, and your leaves, fruit and veg.
So if you wanted to cut anything out of your diet, it wouldn’t be a great loss to cut out the foods that are high in carbs. But that doesn’t mean you would be eating a very low-carb diet. On a plant-based diet, it is very difficult if not impossible to eat a very low-carb diet so there’s no point in really trying.
Benefits Of Nutritious Carbs
Nutritious Carbs are a good source of:
They also help to balance out a meal and help you feel satisfied which is crucial when it comes to sticking to this way of eating for longer.
That’s why when it comes to meals I tend to try and include at least one Nutritious Carb per meal. Even if it would lower the calorie count of the meal if I replaced rice with cauliflower rice, I tend not to do that, because I’ve noticed I feel more satisfied after eating the rice than more vegetables. And satisfaction in my meals helps me look forward to eating and continue to eat this way.
Carbs are also essential for brain functioning. You only have to look towards the negative side effects of diets such as keto diets to realize how detrimental it can be to cut carbs out of the diet.
Best Sources Of Nutritious Carbs
Here are some of the best Nutritious Carbs:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Gluten-free rice pasta
- Gluten-free flour
Almost all of the items on this list are grains, and all of them are gluten-free.
The only item on this list that isn’t a grain is white and sweet potatoes. The only reason why I put potatoes in the list of carbs rather than leaves, fruit, and veg is that they tend to be very high in calories so it’s better to treat them as a carb than a vegetable. However, potatoes are some of the highest-nutrient foods on this list because technically they are a vegetable.
How Much Nutritious Carbs To Add To Your Plate
On my plant plates, I try to add around 100 calories worth of nutritious carbs to each plate. Adding around 100 calories of healthy grains or potatoes to each meal helps you feel balanced and satisfied.
As almost all plant-based foods contain carbohydrates, the amount of carbohydrates you will be consuming for the 3 meals is usually much higher than the amount you get from the Nutritious Carbs alone.
Taste is the final element of the Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plate. Taste is a food group that you add to any meal to make it tastier.
Benefits Of Taste
It’s not just the presentation that helps us to enjoy food. It is the balance of the different elements of the food on the plate.
Our mouth doesn’t usually start watering when we see a plate full of raw vegetables. But if you add some spicy roasted chickpeas or some grilled tofu to the plate, we suddenly start craving the food.
Similarly, if you just saw a plate full of protein-dense food like black beans on a plate it wouldn’t appeal too much to you. But if you add an array of rainbow vegetables and fruit to the plate, suddenly the whole dish appeals a lot more to you.
And if you add to that a creamy vegan sauce drizzled over the top with some pinches of basil, suddenly you’d give anything to eat that meal right now.
Our eyes don’t deceive us. Balance appeals to our eyes, and to our tastebuds because balance is good for our health.
And although a lot of people avoid using oil in their cooking if they want to lose weight, we don’t need to eliminate it entirely, we can just reduce it. A meal doesn’t feel balanced without some kind of fat, and some recipes just lend themselves to still including a little bit of oil, such as when you want to saute onion in a small amount of oil before making a stew.
The 6 Tastes In A Balanced Meal
For a long time, we have been told that there are 5 main tastes that your palette wants to taste in each bite of food to say that a food is tasty.
If you include all of these different tastes in each recipe, you should enjoy your food. In each of my meals, I make sure I include all of these different tastes:
- Sweet (fruit, sweet veg, syrup)
- Salty (salt, vegetables)
- Sour (lemon juice, vinegar)
- Bitter (leafy greens, ginger, chocolate)
- Umami (tamari, tomato paste, nutritional yeast)
Now researchers have added a sixth taste to the taste equation. They have been arguing for a long time that fat needs to be the sixth taste.
Fat is usually equated with a sensation and not necessarily a taste, but they have now proven that fat does have a taste, and we need to see some element of fat in our dishes to balance our palette properly.
Best Ways To Add Taste To Your Plate
Here are some of the best ways to add taste to your plate. I use some of these food types to add the 6 tastes into each recipe:
- salad dressings
- spice mixes
- Cooking oil
How Much Taste To Add To Your Plate
On my plant plates, I try to add around 50 calories worth of taste to each plate. Adding around 50 calories of Taste to each meal helps you enjoy the taste of your meal.
All Taste ingredients work together to draw out the plants’ natural tastes, change the texture, and enhance the flavor in a healthy way.
Why Healthy Plant Plates Are 400 Calories
If you eat 3 meals a day that each contain 400 calories, in total, you’ll be getting 1,200 calories a day which is the minimum number of calories for everybody.
And because some people do need more than 1,200 calories, what they can do is add more nutritious carbs to their meals, or they can add another meal at supper time, or other additional snacks throughout the day if they have time for them.
400-calorie meals are also very filling, so they’ll help you feel satisfied after every meal and last until your next meal without hunger.
If you eat less than 400 calories at each meal, you’ll often feel deprived and will be hungry a couple of hours later. At that point, you’ll be hunting around for something else to eat.
The main reason why people gain weight or fail to lose weight is not that their meals are too high in calories, it’s often because they are eating too many high-calorie snacks in addition to their meals.
The reason why unplanned snacking is so detrimental to your weight loss efforts is that meals are often planned, nutritious, filling, and often calorie counted.
If you follow a recipe or even warm up a ready meal, that meal will contain a certain number of calories which often isn’t excessive.
However, when you start to snack, these snacks are often not planned. And when you don’t plan to eat a set quantity of food, you don’t have any endpoint. There is nobody holding up a stop sign when you start to eat a bag of Doritos or a packet of cookies. Very soon that whole packet is gone in the blink of an eye, and with it, you’ve just eaten your entire calorie allocation for the whole day.
That’s why it’s very important to fill yourself up at every meal so you don’t end up engaging in unplanned snacking.
I also recommend that you have some emergency low-calorie snacks planned, just in case you do want to snack, and you won’t end up going overboard, because you’ll get out the exact portion of snack you need, and not the whole packet.
Eating less than 400 calories per meal leads to way more unplanned snacking.
It’s not a case of the fewer calories the better. If you eat too few calories your body will think you are starving yourself and send out such intense hunger signals it would take all the willpower in the world to resist them.
Another good reason for eating 400-calorie meals is that you will get most of your nutrients from your meals as they are perfectly balanced. You’ll have most of your protein, nutritious carbs, nutrients, and healthy fats coming from your meals.
Most people don’t have the time to make perfectly balanced snacks in addition to their meals. So that’s why it’s important to eat most of your calories in the form of whole meals that you’ve planned in advance. Snacks tend to be void of much nutrition or unbalanced.
All of my complete meal recipes on my blog and my YouTube channel will adhere to the formula that I’ve laid out here as much as possible but some recipes can’t stick to this as easily. That’s because if you want to create a particular type of recipe, for it to resemble the recipe you are trying to create, it’s sometimes impossible. For example, if you are making a pizza, the carb and Taste elements are going to be higher and the veg and the protein amounts are going to be lower. It would be similar if you are eating a plant-based burger with fries.
And that’s why these types of recipes tend to be eaten at the weekend as a treat instead of during the week because they are not healthy enough for daily consumption.
The only way to guarantee you can stick to the exact formula that I’ve laid out is to create buddha bowls where you add individual items to the plate.
But not everyone wants to eat Buddha bowls for every meal.
That’s why I take a balanced approach with the type of meals that I create as well as the breakdown of nutrients. If we do the healthiest thing most of the time, we’ll still see a big improvement in our health.
But what I do focus on is creating recipes that are around 400 calories as that is the most important factor for weight loss.
So all of my meals will tend to be slightly over or slightly under 400 calories. I don’t deviate from this when it comes to complete meals.
However, being flexible with the ingredients is essential for various reasons. You might want to use up some food in your fridge, and if you try to be too strict about sticking to the different sections of the plant-based plate you will have more food waste.
Another thing to note is that all of the recipes featured on my YouTube channel will have an associated recipe on my blog.
Now that you know my formula, you don’t just have to follow my recipes, you can use my method of creating Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plates to make your own delicious creations.
Mistakes To Avoid
Here are some mistakes to avoid when creating your own Healthy-Weight Plant-Based Plates:
- Don’t get too fixated on the individual sections. It is the overall calorie count of the meal that matters the most
- Take a multivitamin to cover your bases and stop you from getting obsessed about meeting your nutritional requirements every day.
- Don’t try and be too perfect in too many ways especially if you are new to a plant-based or gluten-free diet. It can be overwhelming to focus on too many things. Choose one and learn about that first.
- Eat balanced the majority of the time but allow yourself some treats within calorie ranges. For example, eat a cake instead of lunch sometimes. It’s not great for your health, but it will keep you sane, help you stick to a healthier diet in the long term, and you’ll stay on track with your weight loss.
Next Steps To Lose Weight On A Plant-Based Diet
If you would like to learn more about my weight loss system which is based on plant based gluten free delicious meals that are around 400 calories per meal, I encourage you to go to:
Now it’s your turn to reach a healthy weight by making plant-based plates.
Now it’s your turn to make magic in the kitchen.