Vegetarianism is a safe and effective way to get healthy and start losing weight, according to the American Dietetic Association, ADA. However, this is only true of well-planned vegetarian diets. Since meatless diets tend to lack certain vital nutrients, it's important to make sure your diet is correctly planned. For this reason alone, the ADA suggests consulting a licensed dietician before starting your vegetarian lifestyle.
Losing weight and flattening your belly really comes down to burning more calories than you consume. This is a concept the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, call a calorie deficit — another way of saying weight loss. Well-planned vegetarian diets can be as nutritious, yet lower in calories, compared to diets that include meat. This can help you start losing weight almost immediately and certainly within 30 days.
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To lose weight at the CDC's maximum recommended rate of 1 to 2 lbs. per week, you must cut 500 to 1,000 calories from your diet, respectively. Exercise can also help contribute toward a calorie deficit. You can determine your starting point, in terms of daily calories, through figuring out your basal metabolic rate, BMR. Your BMR will tell you how many calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight; subtract 500 to 1,000 from this number to get your daily calorie target. You can use a free online BMR calculator to quickly figure out this information.
The Mayo Clinic suggests following the ADA's Vegetarian Food Guide Pyramid to get all the daily nutrition your body needs. This includes six servings of grains, five servings of legumes/nuts/proteins, four servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit and two servings of fats. Choose low-calorie foods free from added sugars. Remember to stick to your daily calorie goal to start burning away the excess fat around your waistline.
A diet lacking meat may fall short in supplying you enough of the nutrients your body needs, if it is not planned out properly. The Mayo Clinic suggests making sure you get enough calcium, iodine, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and zinc. As long as you eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and vitamin-fortified foods, you should get enough of these nutrients.
Meeting your daily weight loss calorie goal can start flattening your stomach within a week or two. Exercising your abdominal muscles can help tone your abs for a sleeker look. Exercise your abs up to three times per week for 10 to 15 minutes per session to further define your abdominal area. A few of the most effective ab exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise, include the bicycle maneuver, captain's chair and exercise ball crunches.