In the 1880s, very often, I find people wanting to become vegetarians to lose weight. Not only this, many claim to have lost pounds on switching to a vegetarian diet. Whether this is based on sound science or is simply a belief, needs to be explored.
Research shows that adults and children who follow a vegetarian diet are generally leaner than non-vegetarians. This is true when meat, poultry, seafood and eggs are eliminated and replaced with fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and plant protein through legumes and nuts. Such a vegetarian diet is lower in calories, has less fat, is high in fibre and includes plant protein through foods that are more filling.
Simply following a vegetarian diet, however, does not automatically make it low calorie or healthy and therefore, does not ensure weight loss. One can easily gain weight on a vegetarian diet if portion sizes are too big or if one eats high-calorie, high fat and heavy carbohydrate foods, such as sweetened beverages, fruit juices, potatoes, parathas, puris, bread, rice, sandwiches, oily curries, biscuits, fried foods, calorie-dense snack foods like namkeens, samosas, pakoras, desserts and sweets. Even some foods marketed as vegetarian can be high in calories and fat, such as soy products — mock meats, soy sausages, vegetarian burgers and snack bars. This is why it’s possible to be overweight while following a vegetarian diet.
Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can make unhealthy choices that contribute to weight gain, such as eating large portions of high-calorie low nutrient foods. Therefore, whether you follow a vegetarian diet for cultural, religious, ethical or health reasons, or eliminate or reduce meat, poultry, seafood and other animal products to become healthier or to lose weight, make prudent choices. For those, who do follow a non-vegetarian diet, ensure that you choose fatty fish, lean meats in moderate amounts along with plenty of vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, whole grains, legumes, pulses, nuts & seeds.
The basics of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are the same for everyone. Follow the principles of healthy eating-variety, balance and moderation. Eat less, choose nutrient dense foods and exercise more.