Can a Vegetarian Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Can a vegetarian diet help you lose weight? Yes, there’s no question about it: vegetarian diets have beneficial effects on weight loss, as well as on overall health. According to one study, less than 10% of vegetarian and vegan American adults (aged 20 and older) are overweight—in comparison to about 65%, for the rest of the population. In one eight-week study, vegetarians lost more weight overall than their omnivorous counterparts—even two months after the end of the study. Another four months after that, it was shown that they had actually lost almost six percent of their initial body weight. Moreover, long-time vegetarians tend to have less body fat and lower cholesterol than their meat-eating counterparts. They also tend to be leaner, whether they're adults or children.

One reason vegetarian diets cause weight loss is because they don't include fatty, high-calorie animal products, like processed meats and poultry with the skin. As such, vegetarians tend to eat a higher proportion of vegetables, fruits, plant-based proteins and whole grains. Not only do these foods have a lower concentration of both fat and calories, but they are also more filling. As well, fruits and vegetables contain lots of healthy nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants.  

Another reason vegetarian diets are linked to weight loss is because fruits and vegetables have higher concentrations of healthy nutrients, like fiber, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin C. These nutrients are correlated with better levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. In the long term, eating many fruits and vegetables can reduce risk of stroke and heart disease, contribute to appetite suppression, and yield beneficial effects on blood sugar.

Vegetarian diets also have the obvious benefit of being better for the environment than omnivorous diets. By not consuming animal products, vegetarians don't contribute to animal slaughter or to the keeping of animals in tiny cages, which is more often than not the tragic reality.

So, want to start a vegetarian diet? That's great news—both for your health and the environment. That being said, being vegetarian doesn't mean you won't eat unhealthy food. There’s a wide variety of processed vegetarian food on the market—from vegan cupcakes to vegetarian pizza to plain old cakes, cookies and pies. So make sure you eat healthy foods, like vegetables and fruits (avocado is especially beneficial), whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and soy proteins. Be wary of smoothies and shakes: while they're not necessarily unhealthy, they're much less filling than whole fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed foods, refined grains, and foods that contain butter, as they are heavy in calories and trans fats. Vary what you eat: different foods will provide you with different—yet equally viable—nutrients. Incorporate plants of different colors into your diet: for example, yellow squash, orange bell peppers, red tomatoes, and dark leafy greens, like broccoli.

Finally, remember that no diet is complete without exercise. Exercise will give you more energy, help you feel better, and tone your body—and, of course, it will also help you lose weight. More info on popular diet plans you can find here > my diet story home page