If you want to lose weight, a vegetarian diet can help you avoid high-calorie, unhealthy foods such as red meat. But there are still plenty of tempting unhealthy foods that are vegetarian, which can lead you to pack on pounds. It is important to maintain a balanced diet, and careful meal planning will help. Following daily, low-calorie meal plans can help you lose weight while staying true to your vegetarian diet.
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The formula for weight loss is consuming less calories than you burn, and it takes about 3,500 calories to equal one lb. So if you eat 500 calories less than you burn each day, you will lose about 1 lb. in a week. Vegetarians can reduce their caloric intake to lose weight by consuming nutrient-rich foods that are low in calories. Avoid empty calories such as fried foods, processed snack foods and baked desserts. The USDA Daily Food Plan can help you create a healthy eating plan for your weight and activity level.
Eating breakfast is important to jump-start your metabolism each day and give you energy to think and function well. There are a variety of vegetarian breakfast options you can include in your meal plan. Aim to include food from all of the food groups in your breakfast. A sample vegetarian breakfast to help you lose weight includes a piece of whole wheat toast, low-fat margarine or butter, scrambled egg whites with veggies -- or if you do not eat eggs, a protein substitute such as soy sausage, low fat yogurt, a piece of fruit and water to drink.
Your meal plan should include a nutritious lunch. For a quick meal to bring to work or if you are on-the-go, bring a veggie sandwich on wheat bread with hummus spread, which is rich in essential fatty acids. Include a slice of low-fat cheese, veggies and fat-free mayonnaise or yogurt dressing on your sandwich. Add a piece of fruit and nuts for a snack. If you have more preparation time, cook whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and your favorite veggies. Have a piece of wheat bread sprinkled with garlic for a side and fruit with low-fat yogurt for dessert.
For a low-calorie, vegetarian dinner, incorporate plenty of vegetables into your meal. Lentils are rich in nutrients and a great source of protein for vegetarians, and have little to no fat. Buy or make some lentil soup for dinner and add vegetables. Put a tablespoon of fat-free sour cream on top of your soup or sprinkle low-fat cheese in it. A whole wheat roll with low-fat, low-calorie spread is an ideal side item. Have a piece of fruit for dessert.