Can You Lose Weight By Going Vegetarian?

Denise Austin by Denise Austin | February 22, 2021 | Nutrition

What do you think can you lose weight by going vegetarian?

There are plenty of reasons to eat less meat – it’s usually a healthier move for most people; whole, fresh veggies and fruits and beans and legumes are great for you; and it adds more fiber to your diet – important for staying regular and keeping your energy levels up.

But if you go vegetarian, or even just try it out for a period of time, can you lose weight? The answer is YES – if you do it right you can lose weight!! Swapping out a burger for two orders of fries, or eating a bowl of sugary, high-carb cereal instead of a hard-boiled egg on whole grain bread isn’t doing your body any favors – and will likely lead to weight gain. So what’s the best answer if you are interested in eating less meat and want to promote a healthy weight? Try these tips:

  • Consider meat to be the side dish, not the main entrée. The more you load up on veggies, the more you will feel fulla dn satisfied.
  • Start eating more meatless meals that are familiar to you already. Think vegetable soups and chili, bean burritos, pastas, salads… the ideas are almost endless. (And if you need some guidance, try my 7-day Vegetarian Challenge for recipes every day!!)
  • Make at least one meal a day meat-free. Swap out a veggie patty for a burger at lunch, omit the meat from a lasagna and replace with veggies – you get the idea!
  • Expand your dining habits. Many ethnic cuisines are free of meat and use tofu or other meat-free alternatives – give them a try to not only cut down on meat, but tantalize your tastebuds, too!

I am a big proponent of cutting out meat now and then … it can help you cut down on the amount of saturated fat you are taking in, and increase the amount of produce you are eating. This is a win-win for most people! That’s why I have my Vegetarian Challenge as part of my membership. It offers a sampling of what it would be like to take on a vegetarian diet, without the full commitment that some people may not be ready to do, for whatever reason. You can try out the ENTIRE 7-day challenge when you start your free trial of my Plan!!!

So what does it mean to be vegetarian? According to Andrew Weil, M.D., a vegetarian diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts… and eliminates meat, fish and chicken. There are different versions of vegetarian diets, such as lacto-vegetarian, which includes dairy such as cheese and milk, as well as the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet which includes dairy as well as eggs. Another subset is the pescatarian diet, which allows for fish.

The common theme here is that all of these diets have a strong focus on healthy foods that can help you to lose weight!

Vegetables. The nutritional powerhouse in our diet! Veggies should make up a portion (a large portion in my opinion!) of every meal. Because vegetables (and fruit!) contain a lot of fiber and water, they fill you up for very few calories. Most veggies have 10 to 15 calories per serving. Even the few exceptions, such as avocado, lima beans, and potatoes, have just around a hundred calories per serving. Best of all, they keep you feeling full. Plus they are excellent sources of vitamins A to zinc; they provide fiber; and give you a good dose of anti-oxidants, too. I’m a big fan of adding a rainbow of veggies to my meals: onions, yellow bell peppers, bright crunchy peas, carrots, beets, dark leafy greens… the list and recipes are endless!

Fruits. While fruit contains fiber and water, they will fill you up… but it’s important to keep in mind that unlike vegetables they typically contain more natural sugar, and as a result more calories. So if you are trying to lose weight, focus on veggies a little more than fruits. Regardless of fruits or vegetables, learn when to choose organic!

Beans and legumes. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to get more protein, beans and lentils are the way to go! Both are good sources of protein and fiber, and are perfect for people who follow vegetarian or vegan diets, as they can be eaten in abundance without breaking the bank.

Whole grains. These are an excellent source of fiber and nutrients, and can provide much needed protein as well! By choosing grains like quinoa, brown rice and barley, you will be adding excellent vegetarian sources of fiber and protein to your diet!

Seeds and nuts. Walnuts, almonds, sunflower and chia seeds… all provide protein – important for our health, especially as we age. While they can be high in fat, some nuts – like walnuts – provide the good, healthy omega-3 fats we need for our health. Almonds are a good choice too, and you can add both to salads for an extra serving of protein.

So how can YOU start to get more of these healthy foods in your diet? Try my Vegetarian Challenge!! It includes recipes like my Kale and White Bean Soup, Hummus and Veggie Sandwich, Black Bean Burrito Bowl, and more! It is a lacto-ovo vegetarian plan, so it includes eggs and dairy, but you can easily swap out the eggs for tofu or tempeh, and omit the cheese or substitute in a non-dairy option. Either way, you will be forgoing meat, fish and chicken, and most likely eating a lot more healthy produce!! Give it a try today!!

Let’s get fitter, together – inside and out,

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