Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet:
- Many people turn to vegetarianism out of concern for the treatment of animals, health reasons, or environmental factors—all good reasons to avoid meat and animal products.
- However, if you’re not careful, you can sabotage your weight loss goals if you adopt this diet without being smart about it. Here are 7 simple tips to help you lose weight on a vegetarian diet.
Step 1: Eat enough protein
Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet: Meat is, by far, most people’s biggest source of protein, but animal products are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol.
A vegetarian diet can be really low in protein if you don’t make an effort to eat more. To maintain lean muscle mass (which keeps your metabolism up), aim for 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight—so if you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim for about 75 grams of protein per day.
Many vegetarians have soy as their primary source of protein, but it’s not that great when compared to other plant-based options.
Try to get your protein from beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and tofu instead. Or try my favorite: Greek yogurt! It has twice as much protein as regular yogurt while being lower in sugar and higher in calcium.
The best part? It’s delicious! I love mixing berries into plain Greek yogurt or adding some honey for sweetness.
Step 2: Balance your food intake with physical activity
Make sure you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming. If you want to lose weight, make exercise a regular part of your routine and enjoy food in moderation. As with anything else, there are fad diets that do not work and only end up frustrating people.
A vegetarian diet can be very healthy if it is done correctly but it is important that you choose nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains and dairy products rather than just cutting out meat.
There are many ways to eat a vegetarian diet and still meet all of your nutritional needs so consult with a nutritionist before starting any new diet. To get started here are some basic tips:
- Choose nutritious carbohydrates (whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables) instead of refined carbohydrates (sugar or white flour).
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try to include at least five servings per day for optimal health.
- Drink plenty of water – about 8 glasses per day – which will help flush toxins from your body through urine.
- Limit or avoid high-fat foods like fried potatoes, cheese, red meat and butter or stick with leaner cuts of beef or pork when you eat these meats.
Step 3: Eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide fiber and other nutrients that your body needs for optimal health.
Vegetarians who eat fewer animal products—especially if they also consume less fat and more whole grains—may be more likely to meet recommendations for vitamins A, C, E, calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium.
In fact, some research suggests that vegetarians have a reduced risk of cancer and lower blood pressure than meat-eaters.
What’s more? Meat-free meals are often lower in calories; vegetarian chili can have as few as 95 calories per cup when made with kidney beans.
Avoid eating too much-saturated fat by limiting cheese intake or choosing low-fat dairy products. Instead, choose foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts and avocados.
Step 4: Choose healthy fats over unhealthy ones
When it comes to weight loss, there are good fats and bad fats. Healthy fats help your body by regulating blood pressure and protecting you from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Unhealthy fats can clog your arteries and make you gain weight. In fact, unhealthy fat is so detrimental to your health that if you were unable to put weight back on when dieting or after a period of being ill, it’s likely because too much unhealthy fat was causing inflammation in your body.
To lose weight safely but quickly, choose healthy fats over unhealthy ones. The best way to do that is by eating avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil and fatty fish like salmon as part of a balanced diet.
Avoid processed vegetable oils such as corn oil or sunflower oil. These oils often contain trans-fats which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Trans-fats also increase inflammation which may be why they contribute to weight gain. Instead use extra virgin olive oil for cooking, cold-pressed rapeseed (canola) oil for salads and coconut oil for cooking at high temperatures (but not for low-temperature dishes).
Step 5: Make time for exercise in your daily routine
This could be as simple as parking farther away from your destination so you get in more steps or moving closer to work. Make sure you schedule time for exercise into your day and block it off.
The easiest way to stick with an exercise routine is by making it part of your daily schedule, just like meetings and appointments.
If you know that going to gym after work is one of your daily obligations, you’re more likely to go even if you don’t feel like it or have any energy left for exercising. Creating a solid workout routine will help support all other healthy choices you’re trying to make—like eating less sugar or quitting smoking.
It can also provide structure and consistency in your life when things are hectic. Schedule time for exercise during particularly stressful times to avoid emotional eating, which can lead to weight gain.
Step 6: Avoid calorie-rich beverages like soda, juice, alcohol, etc.
Liquid calories can add up fast, especially when you’re not keeping an eye on portion sizes. To lose weight safely and quickly, reduce your liquid calorie intake.
If you’re like most people, you may have no idea how many calories are in that big soda or glass of juice. Many large drinks contain over 500 calories each!
Avoid sugary beverages as much as possible and keep track of your daily liquid calorie intake so that you don’t accidentally overload yourself throughout the day. Remember: Water is always your best bet for hydration!
Step 7: Don’t forget about portion control!
This can be challenging for those with limited options or who eat only at home. However, don’t let that stop you from taking control of your portions.
If you don’t have access to traditional measuring tools, use a small plate and get in the habit of filling up half your plate with produce.
If you’re not sure how big a serving is, write it down! Portion sizes at most restaurants far exceed what we should be eating in one sitting.
Take charge of your diet by deciding ahead of time what counts as one serving when dining out—it may take some research, but it will be worth it! It will also help prevent you from overindulging, which is all too easy when faced with rich sauces and buttery breads.