This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Alina Petre, sports dietician.

This might sound deceptively simple, but I’d start by replacing low-nutrient, high-calorie foods with lower-calorie, nutrient-dense ones.

Years ago, I too dreamed of getting a flat stomach. One that I didn't need to suck in when sitting down. Basically, a stomach that looked good regardless of the rise of my pants or the type of shirt I wore.

I have always been physically active, so I had an feeling that changing my diet was likely to be the solution I was looking for. I just wasn’t sure where to start.

I began experimenting with different ways of eating fewer calories than my body burned each day, and I successfully lost the belly fat. Then proceeded to gain it back and lose it again several times over the next few years.

I only stepped off this rollercoaster when I decided that I no longer wished to eat animal products.

Looking back, the amount of food I had to limit myself to as an omnivore in order to lose the fat and keep it off on was often mentally unsatisfying.

Since switching to a fiber-rich, whole food vegan diet, I’ve noticed that I eat more but have less body fat, including around my stomach [area].

That’s the beauty of caloric density; most plant-based food contain far fewer calories (and generally more nutrients) than the same volume of animal-food.

Do you need to follow a vegan diet to eat fewer calories? Absolutely not.

However, if you're like me, a vegan diet based on whole plant foods can make it much easier to eat less without feeling hungry.

I went from measuring portions and limiting fats and carbohydrates to eating to my heart’s content without losing my flat stomach — something I imagined impossible years ago!

I won’t lie: A vegan diet is not always easy, especially in social situations. But over time, you’ll develop a variety of troubleshooting tips to help you deal with any challenges.

All-in-all, a vegan diet is not the only solution to weight loss. But for me, it’s been the most sustainable, enjoyable and definitely the most nourishing.

If you’d like to maximize the way the vegan diet affects weight loss, here are some simple action steps you can take today:

  1. Go online and search for vegan alternatives to your favorite meals and snacks. These recipes should be made up (as much as possible) of whole foods.
  2. Make sure that vegetables make up at least half of each meal.
  3. Learn to trust your body; eat only when you feel hungry, and stop eating when you feel full (this takes some time to getting used to, so don’t fret if you don’t succeed right away; it gets easier with time)!
  4. Track your meals and snacks in an online food journal so you can adjust what you eat according to your nutrient needs.

If you’re interested in learning about the other (many) benefits of veganism, I suggest you check out the Vegan Society website. I’ve found it to be a good place to start.

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