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Vegetarian Weight Loss

Starting the New Year

The New Year has come, and 2010 flew by.  What goals did you accomplish in 2010?  Like many we always feel like we didn’t do everything we wanted to do.  But the gift of life is that we always have the present moment to change that.  I’d say that many people have a 2011 resolution of losing some weight.  When 2 out of 3 Americans are over weight, 1 out of 3 are obese, and there is growing health care costs every year associated with problems stemming from an unhealthy weight, it’s a good goal.  Like any goal it is very achievable with some planning and persistence.

The thing that I believe you have to remember when considering losing weight, is that there is no magic bullet.  There are no pills, drink mixes, and potions, that are safe and reliable for long term weight loss.  It will be a life long effort.  It begins and ends with eating correctly. Eating a whole food, nutrient dense, plant-based diet will keep you at a healthy weight. Also remember, loosing weight is a calorie game.

Cutting Calories

A pound of fat is 3500 calories.  Therefore when you cut 500 calories from your diet a day, you loose a pound of fat a week.  You can cut those 500 calories in two ways: not consuming them, or burning them off with exercise.  The math is that simple.  Cut back on eating 500 calories, and exercise to burn off 500 calories, and your burning off two pounds a week, 8 pounds a month, 48 pounds in six months.

To begin, I’d suggest switching to veggies.  A vegetarian diet has many factors that can help people lose weight.  For one consider this table:

Calories Per Gram
Carbohydrates – 4
Protein – 4
Fat – 9

Non plant based foods such as meat and diary are inherently high in fats.  Not only fats but cholesterol, saturated fat, and lack important nutrients (although milk has good nutrients).  So just by cutting down or taking out meat completely in your diet you can halve your calorie intake.

Benefits of Vegetarian Diet for Weight Loss

A vegetarian diet consisting of mostly of fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help you loose weight because they are low in fat and calories, but packed with nutrients to keep you full.  Your diet will be high in fiber, which helps promote weight loss. Foods high in fiber keep you full longer, by slowing the process of food leaving the stomach. Fiber also collects carcinogens that make their way into our body and carry them out the intestines.

High fiber diets are associated with lower rates of cancer and lower levels of cholesterol.  You can’t find this fiber content in meat.  And if you do it will be low and only because the animal was eating a plant based diet! Fruits and vegetables are packed with many nutrients, such as a antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that will keep your energy up, mind sharp, and disease free.

The important thing to keep in mind is eating the right plant based foods.  You may be skeptical of this article because you know a few overweight vegetarians.  Sure, its easy to gain weight on a vegetarian diet, if you eat mostly white breads, pastas, french fries, sodas, and all the rest of these high calorie and sugar and low nutrient foods. You have to make fruits, vegetables, and whole grains your foods of choice.  Have a salad everyday.  Put as many vegetables in it as possible.  Buy a big tub of spinach and mixed greens from the supermarket, (organic if you can) and throw in as many vegetables as you like.  Make a big plate of that for lunch everyday. Have an apple, pear, or other fruits between breakfast and lunch so you don’t go into lunch starving. Plus its always better to eat your fruits first on an empty stomach, they are easier to digest that way.

For dinner have some whole wheat pasta, perhaps another side salad, or at least some kind of side vegetable.  And of course NEVER skip breakfast.  It sets up your whole day.  Start buying cereals that are below 10g of sugar per serving in them.  Get some with at least 20% of your daily fiber in them.  This will keep your full longer and promote weight loss.  Add fruits to your cereal, like banana slices.  I personally like to add frozen blueberries and flax seeds for extra fiber and omega 3’s.

Studies have shown that people on plant-based diets tend to actually eat more and still lose weight.

“So by eating a health meal, you may reduce the calories that you consume, digest, and absorb, even if you eat significantly more food” – The China Study

Exercise

Diet can do a lot for you but adding a regular exercise routine will really help.  15 to 45 minutes a day is ideal.

Check out this great vegetarian blog that focuses a lot on weight loss, building muscle, be active as a vegetarian, at ActiveVegetarian.com.

“Vegetarians have been observed to have a slightly higher rate of metabolism during rest, meaning they burn up slightly more of their ingested calories as body heat rather then depositing them as body fat.”

A plant-based diet will also give you more energy.  In a study where 2 sets of rats where studied.  One set was given a diet of 20% casein, (milk protein) and the other was given 5%.  The 5% group voluntarily exercised twice as much.  So you can be more inclined to work out, then once you start loosing weight, it will be easier to work out, and the effect snowballs.

What’s important is to not think of it as a diet, but a lifestyle change.  Next time you go shopping, go to the produce section first.  Buy some organic fruits and vegetables.  Try to eat in more.  Make your own food.  When you go out, get salads, and skip the fatty creamy dressings. Worried about your protein intake? Check out The Protein Myth post.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment with any weight loss tips or questions you may have.

- Tommy

Sources:
Mayo Clinic
The China Study

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2 Responses to “Vegetarian Weight Loss”

  1. On January 8, 2011 at 2:25 pm Sue responded with... #

    Great information !! I also drink lots of water to curb my appetite especially before going out. My time is limited but it’s not an excuse not to exercise, park as far away from the store and hustle in ,take steps whenever possible, get creative!

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