The Skinny Vegan Diet was created by the authors of the Skinny Bitch series, Rory Freedman, a former modeling agent, and Kim Barnouin, MS, a former model. The Skinny Vegan Diet is a low-calorie diet that promotes weight loss through a vegan diet. But some nutritionists are concerned that the Skinny Vegan Diet cuts nutritional corners, and that could mean trouble.
The Skinny Vegan Diet: How Does It Work?
The Skinny Vegan Diet outlines a weight-loss plan with “no animal products, no fast food, no processed food, plenty of high-fiber natural foods, fruits and vegetables, and soy products,” says registered dietitian Keri Gans, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “It claims that you’ll be healthier, happier, and more energized and skinny.”
The Skinny Vegan Diet is an elimination diet. Its creators encourage people to remove all animal products from their diets to achieve weight loss and to be healthier. It also discourages snacking and recommends waiting until you’re famished to eat, says registered dietitian Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Miami and author of The Reunion Diet.
The Skinny Vegan Diet: Sample Diet
Here’s what you’ll eat on a typical day:
Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Oatmeal with blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries
Veggie burger on a whole-grain bun with onion, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts
Vegan potato salad
Imitation chicken patty with brown rice, lentils, and steamed kale
The Skinny Vegan Diet: Pros and Cons
There are two distinct sides to the Skinny Vegan Diet.
The advantages include:
It encourages people to think about making healthy food choices. The Skinny Vegan Diet promotes fresh produce and whole grains. “It gets you to eat more vegetables and fruits,” says registered dietitian Tara Gidus, RD, a nutrition consultant in Orlando, Fla.
Physical activity and stress management are part of the plan. “It encourages regular exercise, especially yoga,” says Gans.
Some drawbacks to consider:
There is a risk of developing vitamin deficiencies. “You could end up deficient in calcium, vitamin D, and iron,” says Gidus. “For instance, calcium in leafy vegetables is not absorbed very well.” Another vitamin at risk is B12, which is plentiful in animal products, but hard to find in non-animal, non-fortified sources.
More guidance on portion sizes is needed. For example, one sample lunch menu item is “soup and salad,” with no information beyond that, says Gidus. The book gives vague directions like, “Feel free to snack on a handful of nuts a day,” Gidus points out.
The lack of portion control could prevent weight loss or even lead to weight gain, especially since the Skinny Vegan Diet allows for foods such as organic ice cream and chips. “Because there are no portion sizes, foods that are high in calories could add up and you could gain weight,” adds Dorfman.
There’s lack of scientific research. “This is not evidence-based information,” says Dorfman. “There is no proof that people will lose weight on this diet.”
“Skinny” does not necessarily mean healthy. “You don’t have to be a vegan to lose weight and look good,” says Gidus. “And just because you are thin, it does not necessarily mean that you are healthy.”
It can be expensive. “The Skinny Vegan recommends organic foods, which tend to be more expensive,” says Dorfman.
The Skinny Vegan Diet: Short- and Long-Term Effects
In the short term, people on the Skinny Vegan Diet will probably lose weight because they can only eat limited foods. You might also feel better, experience better gastrointestinal function, see positive changes in skin and hair, and be more relaxed from doing yoga, says Dorfman.
The main issue with the Skinny Vegan Diet is that it may be difficult to maintain for the long term. “A vegan diet is not realistic for most people,” says Gidus. “It’s very difficult to avoid all sources of animal protein in our society. People have to work, travel, and so on.”
Another factor that could hamper being on the Skinny Vegan Diet for the long term is that the diet is simply about switching to vegan foods. “We become empowered when we understand a diet,” says Dorfman. “If the diet is only about choosing different foods, without allowing room for slip-ups, then that doesn’t last long in the diet world.”