Weight Loss Myths and Facts:Vegetarian diets mean weight loss and better health

Vegetarian Weight Loss PlanBest Weight Loss Diet Plan Myth 4B: A Vegetarian diet means you are sure to lose weight and be healthier.

Myth = As in non-vegetarian diets, vegetarian diets have their own set of challenges to nutritional adequacy. Nutrients that non-vegetarians normally consume from animal products may not always be found in a vegetarian eating plan. Additionally, vegetarians, just as non-vegetarians, can make poor food choices for weight loss and are not immune to being overweight. 

The Term

Let me begin by offering a general definition for the term “vegetarian”  by simply stating that this term includes a range of practices and defined differently by different people, I hope we all good about that. For the most part, we are talking about a diet whose base foods include cereal grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nut and seeds. The variances involve sources of animal products, including dairy and/or eggs. We have the following plans under the vegetarian umbrella:

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – meat, fish and poultry are avoided.
  • Lacto-vegetarian – meat, fish, poultry and eggs are avoided.
  • Ovo-vegetarion – meat, fish, poultry, milk and milk products are avoided.
  • Vegan – all foods of animal origin are avoided.
This list not definitive either. You are “semi-vegetarian” if you eat meat occasionally, during a family get together or special occasion. Or perhaps you are a “pollo-vegetarian or pesco-vegetarian,” those who include chicken and fish, respectively.  Needless to say, there is a vegetarian variation to fit all of our eating practices.
 
There are approximately 14 million North Americans who consider themselves vegetarians with one-third of those calling themselves “true” vegans.
The Challenges
Research does show that most people who follow a vegetarian eating plan, on average, eat fewer calories and less fat than non-vegetarians. As well, they tend to have lower body weights relative to their heights than non-vegetarians.
 
However, vegetarians can make poor food choices within their plan. For instance, a steady diet of vegetarian pizza or french fries cooked in vegetable oil are prime examples of high-fat, high-calorie vegetarian foods. Many processed foods like fruit juices, snack bars, crackers and chips have very little nutritional value and are calorie dense. So, it isn’t that difficult to see that vegetarians face challenges non-vegetarians face when it comes to calories and fat.
 
Now, vegetarians do seem to have a challenge that most non-vegetarians do not when it comes to nutritional adequacy during growth periods. I suggest those with children need to consult with their doctor to devise a carefully planned and monitored vegetarian diet.

Additionally, with vegetarian diets having fewer calories and fat, there is a challenge for those who are active and have higher energy requirements. An increase in starchy foods such as breads, cereals, vegetables and legumes can help address those requirements. Higher fat foods like nuts, nut butters, seeds and oil can contribute nutritionally to caloric intake.

Typically, vegetarians must be mindful of being low in these nutrients: iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc and essential amino acids (protein.)

"Healthstyle Way, Best Weight Loss Diet Plan Tips to Live By"My Personal Common Sense Weight Loss Diet Plan Tip: Choose a vegetarian eating plan that is low in fat (no more than 30% of calories from fat) and that provides all the nutrients your body needs.  Here are some sources for those nutrients lacking in a vegetarian diet:

  • Iron: cashews, spinach,lentils, garbanzo beans, fortified bread or cereal.
  • Calcium: dairy products, fortified soy-based beverages, fruit juices, tofu, collard greens, kale, broccoli, sesame seeds/tahini.
  • Vitamin D: sun, fortified foods & beverages including milk, soy-based beverages, fruit juices, cereals.
  • Vitamin B12: eggs, dairy products, fortified cereal, soy-based beverages, tempeh, miso.
  • Zinc: whole grains, nuts, tofu, leafy green vegetables (spinach, cabbage,kale.)
  • Protein: eggs, egg whites, dairy products, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh,soy-based burgers.

Action Step to a Successful Weight Loss Diet Plan:  Now, please don’t go out to your local grocery store and start loading up on the list of foods above. I suggest reviewing what you are currently eating on a regular basis and compare it to the list above.

Ladies, pay particular attention to calcium sources to help prevent osteoporosis, I strongly suggest weight-bearing exercises as your main source to protect bone size and density. Men, I suggest limiting soy-based products, I am personally not a big fan given what I have read about the possibility of soy messing with your estrogen levels, just a thought, govern yourself accordingly and speak to your doctor about it.

Again, we all need to visit with our doctors, vegetarians and non, to determine if we are deficient of any nutrients and if so, devise a plan going forward.

Take the action step today and soon you’ll be looking, performing and being your best, after all, isn’t this what it’s all about?

And as always, feel free to reach out and suggest a myth to successful weight loss you may want clarified. I look forward to your feedback and words of wisdom.

Friday’s Myths/Facts Weight Loss Diets 5A: You shouldn’t step on a scale, weighing yourself is not helpful.

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We become what we think about!

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