Being a vegetarian doesn’t automatically mean being the ideal weight. Like their meat-eating friends, vegetarians can sometimes feel the need to lose a few pounds. Weight loss for vegetarians involves getting proper exercise in addition to eating a balanced diet with alternative sources of protein.
Weight loss for vegetarians can be tricky due to the need for the proper balance of food groups and nutrients while excluding meat from the diet. To help vegetarians achieve weight loss, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has devised a Vegetarian Food Pyramid for weight-loss diets. Vegetarians wishing to lose weight would follow the recommendations for a diet of 1200, 1500, or 1800 calories per day.
The 1200-calorie diet is the most restrictive and will result in the quickest weight loss. Vegetarians following this diet would consume 5 servings of grains, 3 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of fruit, 2 servings of dairy, and 5 ounces of protein in the form of dry beans, eggs, meat substitutes, nuts, and seeds. The total fat intake for this diet should be 30 to 35 grams.
Vegetarians wishing to lose weight on the 1500-calorie diet should consume 6 servings of grains, 3 servings of vegetables, 3 servings of fruit, 2 to 3 servings of dairy, and 6 ounces of protein per day. Their total fat intake would be 40 to 50 grams.
For those on the 1800-calorie diet, the recommended amount of most food groups is higher. Vegetarians trying to lose weight on this diet should have 8 servings of grains, 5 servings of vegetables, 3 servings of fruit, 2 to 3 servings of dairy, 7 ounces of protein, and 50 to 60 grams of fat every day.
In addition to following the USDA’s Vegetarian Food Pyramid, it is important to be aware of the nutritional information of each food. When planning meals and snacks, vegetarians wishing to lose weight should keep in mind that many vegetarian foods are high in calories and fat. One reason is that some products contain fat that was added as a flavoring to make up for the absence of meat. In addition, dairy foods can be high in both calories and fat. When possible, it is best to opt for low-fat cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. Other foods high in fat or calories should be limited or avoided.
One reason for weight problems is the tendency to overeat. Although some people gravitate toward the wrong foods or eat when they are not even hungry, many people overeat because they always feel hungry. One way to remedy this problem is to eat complex carbohydrates. They provide a feeling of fullness in addition to their nutritional value. It is also important to drink plenty of water, which will also contribute to feeling full without adding any calories.
Exercise is important for any weight-loss regimen. Whether it’s an intensive exercise program or merely a short walk, it is important to get some type of exercise every day in order to help burn off more calories per day than are consumed.
Anyone following a weight-loss diet should take a multi-vitamin. These supplements are formulated to include the recommended vitamins and minerals.
As with all dieters, it is important for vegetarians to have the proper nutrition while striving to lose weight. Following the FDA guidelines and the additional tips provided will help vegetarians protect their health while losing weight.