Many people have the mistaken idea that vegetarians are never overweight or that adopting a vegetarian eating plan will automatically help them lose extra pounds. That’s far from the truth, but the myths are based in fact; vegetarians tend to weigh less, eat fewer calories and eat less fat than their omnivorous counterparts. If you can learn to balance meals, you may enjoy great weight loss success with a vegetarian diet.
Several major weight loss and diet programs have options available for vegetarian followers. Usually, those plans do not provide prepackaged meals but operate on a points system or simply provide guidelines about what to eat so that you can prepare your own meat-free meals at home. Such programs may also provide access to certified nutritionists or registered dietitians, who can provide further advice about how to incorporate the weight loss tenets of the program into a vegetarian eating plan.
With no meat options on the table, vegetarians tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, which can provide benefits far beyond a sleeker physique. In addition to reducing risks of obesity and becoming overweight. Eating more fruits and veggies can cut risks of chronic health problems including diabetes, kidney stones, stroke, heart disease, bone loss and cancer.
The vegetarian food pyramid is very similar to the traditional MyPyramid model; it simply replaces “meat and beans” with “protein-rich foods.” The pyramid’s main groups are grains, protein-rich foods, vegetables, fruits and fats. You should get six, five, four, two and two servings of each group per day, respectively. A serving can vary in size, but for grains and meat substitutes, it is usually about 1 ounce, and for fruits and vegetables, it’s about a half cup.
Many new vegetarians worry about nutrition, specifically about whether they will be able to get enough protein. That’s a valid concern, since meat is many people’s primary source of protein. Vegetarians should plan balanced meals in advance, to aim for a diet that is low in total fat and to include plenty of lean protein sources. The Vegetarian Resource Group names beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, peas, tofu, tempeh and low-fat or nonfat dairy products as some of the best high-protein, meatless options.
Before beginning a vegetarian diet or any new eating plan for weight loss, speak with your physician, who can offer personalized suggestions that may help you maintain your plan through time. Remember that weight loss is a matter of burning more calories than you take in, so regardless of what eating plan you follow, you will need to decrease your daily caloric intake, increase your physical activity or do both to notice results.