The latest trend is that people are turning vegetarian to shed the extra kilos. Many claim that they have lost pounds on switching to a vegetarian diet. Have you ever wondered if this is true? Research shows that adults and children who follow a vegetarian diet are generally leaner than non-vegetarians. This is true when meat, poultry, seafood and eggs are eliminated and plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and plant protein through legumes and nuts are included. Such a vegetarian diet is lower in calories, has less fat, is high in fiber and includes plant protein through foods that are more filling.
However, following a vegetarian diet alone does not automatically make it low calorie or healthy and therefore, does not ensure weight loss. One can easily gain weight on a vegetarian diet if the portion size is too big or if one eats high calorie, high fat and high carbohydrate foods such as sweetened beverages, fruit juices, starches through potatoes, parathas, puris, bread, rice, sandwiches, oily curries, biscuits, fried foods, calorie dense snack foods like namkeens, samosas, pakoras, desserts and sweets.
Even some foods marketed as vegetarian can be high in calories and fat such as soy products, mock meats, soy sausages, vegetarian burgers and snack bars. That’s why one tends to gain weight even while being on a vegetarian diet. Today, being vegan for most practitioners is a matter of choice and not a medical requirement. Lactose intolerance is no more the only reason to go vegan. Some choose if for its health benefits, others to loose weight and yet others, because they love animals.
According to the American Dietic Association, “Appropriately planned vegetable vegetarians diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” We get plenty of protein from beans and grains, calcium from nuts, seeds and greens and other nutrients from vegetables and fruits.
Prudence is the Key:
Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can make unhealthy choices that contribute towards weight gain such as eating large portions of high calorie low nutrient foods. Therefore, whether you follow a vegetarian diet for cultural, religious, ethical or health reasons, or eliminate or reduce meat, poultry, seafood and other animal products to become healthier and/or to lose weight, make prudent choices, non-vegetarians should include fatty fish, lean meats in moderate amounts along with plenty of vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, whole grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds in their diet.
Also Read: Best Weight Loss Food for Men and Women
The basics of achieving and maintaining an ideal healthy weight are the same for everyone, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian – variety, balance, and moderation; control portion size, choose nutrient dense foods and exercise more.
Vegetarian Weight Loss Tips:
• Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, enriched grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.
• Choose low-fat protein sources such as low-fat dairy, beans, dals and other legumes.
• Limit foods and beverages that are too sweet.
• Apply healthy cooking methods. Instead of frying and rich curries, try steaming, boiling, grilling or roasting.
• Keep an eye on calories. Even healthy fats, such as nuts and cold pressed oils, have calories that add up quickly. Use smaller amounts or try low fat versions of salad dressings and condiments.
• Choose a diet rich in Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Omega 3. Supplements for these nutrients may be considered. Include foods rich in Omega 3 fats such as flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, mustard, sesame, soy and green leafy vegetables.
• Engage in regular physical activity.