Statistics show that vegetarians are leaner than their omnivorous counterparts. This was shown in a study performed by Susan Berkow and Neal Barnard published in a paper that analyzed over 80 studies from the past. It indicates that vegetarians had a 6% chance of being obese, whereas meat eaters had 5%-45% chance of being obese. In general, vegetarians weighed less.
Now, that doesn’t mean that by going vegetarian you’ll naturally lose weight. Most vegetarians will naturally shed a few pounds and keep it off, but some actually gain weight as a result of going vegetarian. This is because they replace the meat in their diet with highly processed, easy-to-eat foods that are loaded with calories with little nutritional value. This might include soda, chips, cheese, snack foods, and all the other obvious culprits.
Here are some tips to lose weight on the vegetarian diet, and keep it off.
Eat Whole Foods
As stated earlier, highly processed foods tend to have more calories and less nutritional benefit. It also doesn’t help that they cost more (they are value added products in the most literal sense). One way of looking at these foods is that they are “pre-digested”, so your body has to exert little energy to fully incorporate it into the body. This is one reason these foods are prone to make you put on weight – your body actually uses a good number of calories simply digesting the food that you eat.
Eating real foods – as closely mirrored to when they were harvested in the field as possible – will not only help you shed pounds, but increase the diversity of vitamins and nutrients that you receive. Try cutting these processed foods from your diet whenever possible, and replace them with whole foods such as; whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, etc.), legumes (beans and peas), vegetables, fruits, and nuts. You’ll not only lose weight, but feel better and have more energy.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low-calories, high-nutrition foods. When eaten on their own or in combination with other wholesome foods, they can both leave you feeling full, while also providing your body with badly needed nutrients. These will provide you with healthy calories that will propel you through your day, leaving you feeling good and energized, so you’ll be less likely to lapse back into old eating habits.
Snacking is not an intrinsically bad thing – it’s only natural to want to nibble on something between meals. This is espescailly true if you have a desk job, and the opportunity is constantly presenting itself. You might think, I might as well have a soda or bag of chips on the desk.
Try to limit the amount of snacking you do to about twice a day. When you do feel the need to chomp on something, make sure it’s a real, healthy food. This might include a handful of nuts, a fresh piece of fruit, a raw vegetable, and all of these. A hardboiled egg can come in handy, too, if you’re needing a little protein boost. These will all top off your stomach, as well as give you an energy rush, while also fulfilling larger health roles in the body. Make sure to keep a bowl of fresh fruit and vegetables next to the door, so you can grab it easily when rushing out the door in the morning!
While what you eat is important in weight loss, how you use those calories is equally important. You can only lose as much weight as you burn off, so make sure to work exercise into your daily regimen. This need not be a grueling 10 mil run. It can be as simple as taking a brisk 30 minute walk.
The best type of exercise, though, is the kind you don’t need to think about. Seamlessly working your exercise in your day will ensure that you actually do it. Try commuting to work by bike. If it’s too far to ride, try taking the bus – you’ll at least have to do more walking. Take your child or dog on a walk with you to synergize your exercise routine, as getting outdoors can work wonders on both your physical and mental health.
Keeping a wide array of healthy foods available to you is a sure-fire way to maintaining a healthy diet. If you have a jug of olive oil, many types of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes on hand at all times, you’re sure to eat them, rather than decide to dine out for the third night in a row. By cooking these healthy foods yourself, you’ll be able to see exactly what goes into everything you eat – it’s hard to see (but easy to taste) all the fat and salt that is loaded into most plates of food.
Having all these great foods on hand also means that you’ll be able to whip together quick, healthy meals without thinking. Make a quick veggie scramble. Throw together a healthy burrito. Sandwiches, easy. Many dietitians suggest planning all your meals in advance, and having a good grip on what you’ll be eating for a week in advance. This is great in theory, but, in practice, it becomes trying – a chore that needs to be done, and will eventually be swept off the to-do list in due time. Making meal time a quick activity is key to healthy eating, which will eventually lead to weight loss.
Keep At It
Weight loss won’t happen overnight – it can take a few weeks to get the body to follow along with your diet. But, rest assured, if you are eating healthy foods, you’ll naturally eat the correct amounts of food for your body. The exercise will burn off a little extra of these calories, and you’ll naturally lose weight over time. The single best part of this is: you’ll keep that weight off for good.