The basic strategies for weight loss apply regardless of your dietary choices. To lose 10 pounds, you must switch to healthier foods, watch portion sizes and the calorie content of your meals and increase physical activity. However, even vegetarians can face dietary pitfalls that can foil the best weight-loss intentions.
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Determine how many calories you burn in a day. Use a website where you input your age, gender, size and activity level, and set a daily intake goal of about 250 to 1,000 calories less per day than this burn amount to lose between 0.5 and 2 pounds per week -- a safe and sustainable rate according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With this amount, you'll reach your 10-pound weight-loss goal in a matter of weeks.
Learn to distinguish between healthy vegetarian options and unhealthy ones. Avoid processed foods like canned soups and frozen entrees that often contain a lot of extra sodium, fat, refined grains and calories with minimal nutrition. Remember, just because a food does not contain meat does not mean it is low in calories. Stick to whole foods close to nature to coax the 10 pounds off more quickly -- preservatives and sodium encourage your body to hold onto water weight.
Cut back on calorie-dense flavorings. Use vegetable broth, herbs, spices, citrus and vinegar to flavor dishes rather than cheese and cream. Choose olive oil-based dressings for salads and use a moderate amount. Fats, even healthy monounsaturated varieties, are high in calories and if you do not pay attention, they will quickly fill up your caloric allotment for the day and stall weight loss. Keep intake to about 20 to 35 percent of daily calories, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine.
Choose whole grains over refined flours. Experiment with whole-grain pastas, quinoa, brown rice and barley to help fill you up and burn fat. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that switching to whole grains induces more fat loss in the belly, as reported in a 2008 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."
Seek out low-fat vegetarian protein sources to help you feel full, support lean muscle mass and reduce cravings. Choose tofu, tempeh, soy protein, beans and, if your diet allows, low-fat dairy and egg whites. Include one of these choices at every meal along with a serving of whole grains and a small amount of healthy fats.
Bulk up your meals using fresh produce. Pour only half a bowl of cereal and top it off with fresh berries. Stretch a smaller serving of pasta by adding zucchini ribbons and extra marinara sauce. Use peppers and cucumbers, instead of chips or bread, to dip into hummus. You can save hundreds of calories a day using this technique without feeling deprived, making you more likely to stick to your diet.