Blog
Diet for yoga lifestyle graphic

What Is a Yoga Diet? Everything You Need To Know (2021)

yoga diet banner

If you want to know more about the concept of a yoga diet and exactly what kind of diet is best to complement your yoga practice, then you’re in the right place!

Whether you want to take your practice to the next level and follow a fully yogic diet, or just get some tips on how to pair your practice with the right food for weight loss, we’ve got you covered.

Below, we have shared everything that you need to know, including how to follow a yogic diet, what to eat and when, and some tips to help you to stay on track.

But first, why not take your understanding of nutrition to the next level by studying a REPs accredited Level 4 nutrition qualificationOr if you’ve ever considered a career in the world of health and fitness, you can download our free online course prospectus here.

Also, feel free to download your FREE 45 Minute Yoga Sequence Workout below:

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

6 Steps To Follow For A Yogic Diet

If you’re here because you want to know how to follow a yogic diet, then we have absolutely got you covered.

Below are 6 factors that you need to consider if you truly want to follow the yogic diet.

Here because you want to know more about yoga and diet for weight loss? Once we’ve explained these core principles, we have included some useful tips for staying on track with these healthy lifestyle changes.

So, what makes a ‘yogic diet’? 

The first thing to know is that although this is referred to as a ‘diet’, this is not a temporary fix or quick solution to weight loss, if you’re a passionate yogi especially, you should view the principles below as a long term solution to leading a healthier lifestyle overall.

When you take into account the principles of Ahimsa, Sattva, and Prana, a true yoga lifestyle diet should be:

  1. Vegetarian
  2. Sattvic
  3. Free from chemicals (organic) 
  4. Made up of fresh foods
  5. Eaten at regular intervals
  6. Fasted for at least one day

Allow us to explain!

Interested in making a career out of your passion for yoga? Check out our latest article about how to become a yoga instructor.

#1 Vegetarian 

Yoga diet meal plan graphic

Nowadays, one of the biggest questions that anybody has when starting a new diet is “should I be eating meat?”.

If you’re searching for a yoga diet and meal plan, we have no doubt that you are asking this question, too.

Vegetarianism and Veganism are becoming increasingly popular, so giving up meat in favour of meat in favour of a plant-based diet isn’t that radical of an idea.

But, is it necessary to give up meat if you want to adopt a true yoga lifestyle and diet? 

If you’re practicing yoga for weight loss and your goal is purely to improve your fitness, rather than adopt a full yoga lifestyle, there’s absolutely no reason to give up meat.

You can absolutely still achieve your weight loss goals and live an overall healthy life without committing to a plant-based diet.

However, if you want to follow a true yogic diet, then you’ll need to consider the principles of Ahimsa or Ayurvedic, and the concepts of Sattva, and Prana, which are a little ‘stricter’ in terms of what you should or shouldn’t eat.

Basically, if you want to follow a yogic diet and adhere to the principles stated above, the answer is yes, you should go veggie!

Yoga and diet for weight loss graphic

There are a number of reasons that yogi’s ‘should’ eat a vegetarian diet, some of which overlap with the points that we will make very soon, such as eating organic and chemical free foods!

According to Yoga Journal, the best diet for yoga practice needs to follow the principle of Ahimsa.

"Ahimsa is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings."

The reference to avoiding ‘nonviolence’ is applied to all living beings, and therefore needs to be considered in the food that yogi’s eat, as well as the impact that their diet has on the earth.

Taking this into account, it only makes sense that a true Yogic diet should be vegetarian (and arguably vegan) in order to ensure nonviolence towards animals, as well as our planet, for example through pollution and deforestation.  

#2 Sattvic 

yoga diet plan graphic

To truly combine yoga and diet into your lifestyle, any food or drink that you consume should be Sattvic.

Sattvic foods are believed to make up the purest diet and the best way to nourish both mind and body, allowing yogis to achieve inner peace and good health.

If you’ve already done some research into the best diet for yoga practice, you might have found that a lot of people use the terms ‘Sattvic diet’ and Yogic diet’ interchangeably.

But what does this mean?

According to the Wikipedia definition:

“A sattvic diet is meant to include foods and eating habits that are "pure, essential, natural, vital, energy-containing, clean, conscious, true, honest, wise."

Here are some examples of Sattvic foods:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains, nuts, and seeds
  • Beans and lentils 
  • Dairy (milk, butter, cheese)
  • Natural and unrefined sugars (e.g. honey)
  • Spices 

One thing that you should know is that to follow a true Sattvic diet, you will need to pay attention to seasonal foods. 

Although fresh fruits and vegetables are absolutely fine to consume as part of this diet, yogis believe in avoiding foods when they are out of season, as it is not natural for certain foods to be available all year round.

Plus, despite dairy products such as milk, butter, and cheese technically fitting in with a sattvic or yogic diet, there are a couple of things to consider.

For example, consuming cow's milk is considered sattvic, but only if the cow has been fed and milked in ‘appropriate’ conditions.

“A sattvic diet can also exemplify Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence, or not causing harm to other living things, which is one reason that yogis often follow a vegetarian diet.” 

siddhaspirituality.com/sattvic-diet

However, what is defined as ‘appropriate’ conditions can be argued among yogis, plus, there are a lot of negative environmental implications of farming cows for dairy.

As a result of this, a lot of people following this lifestyle choose to cut out dairy altogether. 

Considering there are now several dairy free alternatives to milk, it’s actually pretty easy to opt for almond milk or coconut milk and have the peace of mind that your diet will be truly sattvic.

Want to know more about how to follow a vegan yoga diet plan and stay fit? Check out the OriGym guide to vegan weight training complete with more dieting advice and our favourite workout tips.

#3 Free From Chemicals 

When you’re writing up your yoga diet plan, one thing to remember is that to really feel the benefits of this lifestyle change, any food that you do consume should be completely free from chemicals (or in other words, organic).

This might seem like a big challenge in this day and age, as a lot of our food is pumped with chemicals and artificial sweeteners without us even realising.

But, implementing small changes like cutting out caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, are all brilliant steps to take towards a better lifestyle to fit alongside your yoga practice.

Wherever possible, you should also avoid any processed snacks or foods, as these would not be Sattvic, but consuming these kinds of chemicals is also believed to really hinder your yoga practice and get in the way of achieving peace of mind and overall good health.

Unsure on where to start with an organic and vegan diet? Here are the best vegan cookbooks of 2020.

#4 Eat Fresh Foods

Following on from the fact that you should eat organic foods, it shouldn’t come as much as a surprise when we say that a true yogic diet should be made up of fresh foods.

This means always preparing a fresh meal from scratch, rather than relying on frozen vegetables or readily prepared meals, regardless of whether they are technically made up of ‘sattvic’ foods.

If you are serious about following a strict diet for your yoga lifestyle, some yogis will even argue that you should go as far as to avoid eating frozen left-overs, even when you have prepared them yourself from fresh foods initially.

However, as we will cover very soon in regard to our tips for sticking to a yoga diet for weight loss, sometimes this value might have to be compromised in favour of meal prepping, especially for those who don’t have the time to cook 3 fresh meals everyday.

#5 Eat At Regular Intervals

yoga diet and nutrition

Another rule to follow when sticking to a true yoga diet plan, is that you have to eat at regular intervals.

Fans of the yogic diet believe that if you eat at regular and steady intervals, you can train your body to better utilise the energy it gets from food.

Specifically, when sticking to a yoga diet plan you should always eat two hours before asana (or any kind of yoga practice), and at least 2 hours before sleeping.

This is believed to help your body to function at its absolute best by ensuring that your food is properly digested before sleeping, allowing the hormones that are produced during sleep to repair your body and fight infection, instead of this energy being used for digestion. 

In terms of waiting 2 hours between eating and exercising, the reasoning behind it is pretty similar.

Advocates say that this is the best diet for yoga practice because it saves your energy for your practice, allowing you to execute each pose perfectly, whereas if you were to eat just before practicing, your postures might be compromised because your body will need energy for digestion.

Interested in finding a new routine to compliment your yoga diet? Check out our favourite yoga poses for 2 for some inspiration. 

#6 Fast For At Least One Day

YOGA DIET PLAN CalendarThe final step to take if you want to follow a yogic diet, is that you should fast for at least one full day a week.

Whether you want to do a strict fast, only drinking water, or allow yourself to drink fresh fruit juices too, well-practiced yogis encourage fasting for at least one day in the aim of purifying the mind and body.

If you don’t think that you can commit to fasting for one day every week, that’s absolutely fine!

Sticking to a yoga diet, especially fasting, can be really tough, so don’t bite off more than you can chew by trying to be the perfect yogi right from the get go!

Be realistic with how often you can fast, and don’t get yourself down if you can’t fit fasting into your yoga diet plan as often as you might like.

Want to learn more about yoga and pilates? Why not check out our recent article discussing the history of pilates.

Yoga Diet Recipes & Meal Plans

Yoga diet recipes graphic

If this is the first time that you have researched a yogic diet, the information might look like a lot to take in.

To make it as easy as possible for you to get started, we thought we’d include some of our favourite meals, plus an ideal yoga diet meal plan.

So, here is what to eat in a week to follow a yoga meal plan, followed by the recipes for our all time favorite sattvic recipes.

Monday

Breakfast: Banana overnight oats

Lunch: Sweet potato & avocado salad

Dinner: Roasted cauliflower steak

Tuesday 

Breakfast: Sattvic green smoothie

Lunch: Superfood salad

Dinner: Stir fried vegetables with tofu and wholemeal rice

Wednesday

Breakfast: Greek yoghurt and fresh berries 

Lunch: Rice, organic tofu, and asparagus 

Dinner: Chickpea and vegetable coconut curry

Thursday

Breakfast: Fresh fruit salad

Lunch: Lentil & sweet potato soup

Dinner: Mango rice with chickpeas and coconut milk 

Friday

Breakfast: Porridge (using almond milk) and berries

Lunch: Quinoa salad

Dinner: Salt and pepper tofu with stir-fry veg 

Saturday

Breakfast: Breakfast burrito with tofu, beans, brown rice, and veggies 

Lunch: Kale & carrot soup

Dinner: Butternut lentil curry and brown rice 

Sunday

Breakfast: Tofu scramble on sourdough or wholemeal bread

Lunch: Sweet potato with kale & ginger

Dinner:  Lentil veggie stew 

Outside of your standard 3 meals a day, we all get hungry for an afternoon snack to tie us over until tea time. 

So what can you snack but still stay on plan? Our favourite sattvic snacks include:

  • Trail mix
  • Fresh fruit
  • Berries in organic yoghurt
  • Hummus and chopped vegetables 
  • Apple slices and almond butter

Yoga Meal Plan: Breakfast Options

Yoga diet and nutrition  image

For a quick and easy breakfast, you really can’t go wrong with fresh fruit. A fresh fruit salad made up of your favorite fruits like mango, watermelon, pineapple, blueberries, and grapes, is a really easy way to follow a yoga meal plan even on busy mornings.

If you have a little extra time to prepare your morning meal, smoothies are always a brilliant way to start your day. 

We love this smoothie from the healthy maven, made using:

  • A cup of blueberries
  • ½ a banana 
  • ½ an avocado
  • Kale
  • Fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric
  • ½ tsp maca powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon 
  • A pinch of salt
  • Water! 

Yoga Meal Plan: Lunch Options

Yoga diet for weight loss image

For a lot of people, following the yoga lifestyle diet is most difficult during the day as being out and about makes it more difficult to find yogic foods, and for anybody who works full-time, preparing fresh food can be pretty difficult.

A good salad is always the perfect way to have a fresh lunch that doesn’t leave you feeling lethargic in the afternoon. 

If you get particularly hungry during the day and think a salad is too light to tie you over until tea time, making a superfood salad bowl is a great way to make a more filling meal.

Alongside kale, grated carrot, and whatever else you like in a salad, add in cubed sweet potato pieces, edamame beans, or sliced avocado.

Need more carbs in your yoga diet meal plan? Adding a cup of brown rice to your salad can make a really filling, but fresh, and yogic lunch!

Yoga Diet Meal Plan: Dinner Options

When it comes to your evening meals, there are tons of exciting options to choose from.

Spices are really prevalent within a yogic diet, so meals like this brilliant Masala Bhaat from DivineTaste are pretty popular.

For the days when you don’t have much time to prepare your dinner, this coconut tamarind rice is one of the best yoga diet recipes to make a sattvic meal quickly.

According to this recipe from sattvicerecipe.com, all you need is:

  • A cup of grated coconut
  • Tbsp groundnut
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • ¼ cup tamarind pulp
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • Jaggery
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 portion of cooked rice

Once you have all of your ingredients, all you need to do is grind the Jaggery, and then add it to the tamarind pulp and turmeric powder. From there, mix it in with the rice and finish by adding in the mustard seeds and seasoning!

How To Stick To A Yoga Diet For Weight Loss

If you aren’t as fussed about following a strict yogic diet, but you are interested in following a yoga diet and exercise plan for weight loss, then that’s fine too!

So if you’re here because you want to know how to use yoga and diet for weight loss, you’re in luck, because we're about to share the best tips to achieve that very goal. 

Following the steps above can be tough, so we don’t blame you if you want to start making small changes rather than switching straight to a strict diet.

The practice of yoga is all about leading a generally healthier lifestyle overall, and for a lot of people, weight loss comes naturally with this move towards a healthier lifestyle.

Want to know how to make the most out of this and stick to a healthy diet too? Here are our tips to help you stay on track.

Before we get stuck in, why not check out our latest review of the best yoga podcasts out there.

#1 Curb Emotional Eating Cravings

Yoga and diet for weight loss  image

Emotional eating is an easy habit to get into as well as a really common cause for weight gain.

You’re probably already well aware, but emotional eating is a term used to describe eating in response to any negative emotions or feelings, like stress, sadness, anger, or even boredom.

According to mayoclinic:

“Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts.”

It's fair to say that at some point, we have all experienced some kind of emotional eating behaviour, but why do we do this?

Here’s a brief explanation from healthline:

“Negative emotions may lead to a feeling of emptiness or an emotional void. Food is believed to be a way to fill that void and create a false feeling of ‘fullness’ or temporary wholeness.” 

As pointed out by mayclinic.org, this emotional eating can really get in the way of weight loss, and in some cases, getting into a habit of eating when we feel down can contribute to weight gain.

So, how can you curb emotional eating and stay on track with your yoga diet plan?

Fortunately, being a yogi should mean that you have generally lowered levels of stress, as some of the many benefits of practicing yoga include stress relief, improved mindfulness, and reduced tension.

If you feel the urge to head to the fridge when you’re feeling emotional rather than physically hungry, taking some time out to mediate can be a really effective way to relax your cravings!

Next time you question whether you are truly hungry or just in the mood for junk food in response to a negative emotion, a quick yoga workout might be all you need to curb your cravings!

Want to know more about the benefits of yoga? Check out our full list of yoga pros and cons here!

#2 Meal Prep & Planning

The best way to stick to a yoga diet for weight loss, or any diet for that matter, is to plan and prepare your meals in advance.

By creating a yoga diet meal plan complete with meals and snacks, you can make sticking to your diet as easy as possible.

You will have no need to grab a bite to eat whilst you’re out and about because you know that you have all of the ingredients for a nutritious meal waiting for you at home.

Plus, by forward planning your meals and doing your food shopping accordingly, you can minimise the amount of food that you waste - helping the planet and your purse!

It's actually really simple, plus, there are tons of useful apps and diaries out there that can help you to create a full meal plan that you can actually stick with.

Obviously we couldn't mention meal planning without talking about meal prep!

Organising your diet plan with meal prep by batch cooking will make this lifestyle change even easier.

A lot of people spend 2 or 3 nights a week cooking multiple servings and then storing them so that even on the nights after a long day at work, they can make a healthy meal in minutes instead of having to cook from scratch. 

Of course, freezing meals and eating leftovers as a practice is questionable from the perspective of a true yogic diet because the sattvic diet should be made up of strictly fresh foods.

If you are just following a yoga diet and exercise plan because you want to lose weight, then this isn’t a problem and meal prep is absolutely the way forward.

However if you want to follow a strict yogic diet, some people might argue that you shouldn’t eat meals that have been prepared in advance.

At the end of the day, the choice is completely up to you!

Sticking to a new diet is far from easy, so if you find that meal prep helps you to stay on track, that's fine! 

You can always transition to a stricter yogic diet once you get used to the other principles applied to the traditional diet for a yoga lifestyle.

Unsure about what exactly should make up your meal prep? Click here for a full personal trainer meal plan.

#3 Don’t Keep Tempting Treats In Your House 

We’ve all used the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to helping a friend forget about an ex or something else unpleasant, but this popular statement can also help us when it comes to avoiding all of those foods that just don’t fit into a yoga diet.

If you find yourself unable to keep your favourite snack in the cupboard without eating it (no judgement here), then the most simple solution is to not store them in your house at all.

To truly avoid the temptation, take all of your favourite snacks and junk foods off your shopping list and only buy the foods that you want to put in your body.

Trust us, you’ll be a lot less likely to dig into a pack of digestive biscuits if you have to go back out to the shops to buy them!

Instead, you’ll make do with what you already have in your fridge. Carrot sticks or fresh fruits can easily replace your favourites when they’re the more convenient option!

#4 Accept That You Will Want To Snack!

Speaking of carrot sticks and fresh fruit, one of the biggest mistakes that people make when creating their yoga diet plan, is skipping snacks out of their list!

Snacking is inevitable, and by convincing yourself otherwise, you are essentially setting yourself up for failure.

Instead of forcing yourself to fast between meals, accept that you will crave the odd snack, and prepare for that by finding healthy alternatives to your old favourites.

There are tons of healthy alternatives to sweet treats out there, one of our personal favourites is frozen fruits and berries in place of sugary sweets.

More of a crisp person? A side of hummus with a bunch sliced peppers, carrots, and cucumber, will suppress those cravings.

Rather than insisting that you will be able to go without eating all afternoon, plan ahead and pack a healthy snack into your bag, we promise this will not get in the way in your weight loss, if anything it will help it by preventing you from picking up that sneaky chocolate bar. 

#5 Keep A Record Of Your Progress

Finally, one tip for sticking with any diet, is to keep a record of your progress!

One of the most popular reasons that people give up on a yoga diet is that they don’t feel that they are making any progress.

And we get it, following a yogic diet requires a lot of dedication, and if you don’t get the results in return, then it can be easy to give up.

The problem is, that these people do actually make a lot of progress by following a yoga diet plan, but because they don’t keep track of things like their measurements, weight, and overall fitness, they can’t see that progress for themselves! 

Changes to health and fitness happen little and often over a period of time, which makes it’s hard to notice any real progress day to day. 

Because we see ourselves in the mirror every and our fitness improves so gradually, noticing significant progress in ourselves is pretty much impossible!

But, when you look back at an old photo, or think about a time where you genuinely thought you couldn’t make it through that Bikram class, you realise that you have actually come a long way.

Sometimes a little reminder of how much progress we have made is all we need to get back into the swing of following a strict diet plan.

Keeping a track of your weight can be misleading, especially if your diet is accompanied by exercise, as the scales don’t show the benefits of building muscle.

If weight loss is your main goal, our advice is to write down what you are eating, take pictures of yourself every week or two, and maybe record some measurements of your waist, hips, and chest.

If you’re also interested in how your diet is benefiting your yoga practice, or how your fitness is coming along in general, you could also keep a note of your workouts, what you struggled with, and where you felt like you had improved.

Before You Go!

We hope that we have helped you to figure out what you need to do to follow a yogic diet, or at least how to stik to a yoga diet and exercise plan that will help you to achieve your exercise goals.

Whilst we're here, why not enquire about our new Level 4 advanced nutrition course and take your knowledge of nutrition to a completly different level. 

Alternatively, you can download our full course prospectus here to learn more about the range of qualifications that we offer here at OriGym.  

References 

  1. Deshpande, R. (2019, November 08). What is Ahimsa? Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/what-is-ahimsa
  2. Khirolkar, N. (2019, October 08). Sattvic Diet For Glorious Life. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://siddhaspirituality.com/sattvic-diet-for-glorious-life/
  3. Marcin, A. (2018, August 28). Emotional Eating: Why It Happens and How to Stop It. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/emotional-eating
  4. Mayoclinic. (2018, November 14). Tips to stop emotional eating. Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

Recommended Posts

Download your 45 Minute Yoga Sequence Workout

Download your 45 Minute Yoga Sequence Workout