Many people assume that vegetarian and vegan lifestyles lead easily to weight loss. Unfortunately, this is frequently not the case. Many people find that switching to a vegetarian diet can cause weight gain, as meat is replaced with high-fat cheese, plentiful oils, and calorie-heavy nuts and nut butters. Vegetarian weight loss plans are plentiful, however, though not necessarily any easier than weight loss plans that include meat and animal products.
One important tip for vegetarian weight loss works for any weight loss plan: count calories. Either through a food journal or a free online tracking plan, keeping an accurate and honest record of calories will illuminate a lot about why a weight loss plan is or is not working. Although a faulty metabolism or certain medications can add to the problem, weight loss is generally determined by calories in versus calories out. Keeping a food diary and calorie count will show exactly what is taken in, and give important information for those planning a workout regime or vegetarian weight loss plan.
Meat is a primary source of protein for many people. While there are plentiful choices for non-meat protein sources, it is important to consider the calorie and fat content of protein options when trying to achieve vegetarian weight loss. Dairy products or substitutes, such as cheese or cheese alternatives provide a lot of protein but at a considerable calorie and fat cost. Moreover, cheese or nut butters are usually eaten in association with other foods, as part of sandwiches or dishes, that add to the calories. Look for low-calorie protein sources that require little embellishment, such as beans or soy products.
What could be healthier than a salad? Almost anything, if the salad is piled high with unhealthy toppings. Salads can be a great addition to a vegetarian weight loss plan, but be on the look out for calorie saboteurs, such as high-fat dressings, nuts, dried fruit, or croutons. Try to remember that salads should be almost all vegetable in nature; feel free to pile on spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. Look for light dressings, or simply spritz salad with lemon juice, herbs, and pepper for a guiltless dressing.
A vegetarian weight loss plan leaves out meat, but leaves in plenty of options for poor food choices. As with any diet, guard against high-calorie beverages that can add hundreds of calories without fulfilling the least bit of hunger. Sodas may come to mind as the worst offenders, but juices are typically high in calories and contain walloping doses of sugar. Drink as much water as desired, and feel free to indulge in flavorful iced tea so long as the sweetener is left off.