The Lowdown on Vegetarian Diets

In practical terms, the Vegetarian Diet is something that’s much, much older than humanity itself. Long before we walked upright and decided that building a chain of fast-food restaurants was the key to true happiness, herbivores roamed this great planet as dinosaurs and other animals, eating only what nature provided.

Vegetarianism isn’t so much of a diet; it’s much more of a lifestyle. Most vegetarian people not only exercise proper eating habits that are completely bereft of meat, but they also refuse to wear animal products and will often support better treatment of animals bred and kept for human consumption.

Using a vegetarian diet to lose weight is something a lot of people turn to. It can be a bit unhealthy to switch off of meat completely for a long period of time while losing weight, only to then pick up where you left off with steaks and sausages. But in terms of shedding pounds, the lack of fat and the introduction of all-natural fruits and vegetables in your diet, when combined with proper exercise, will certainly help you to lose weight.

It’s almost pointless to explain a vegetarian diet further. After all, how much more would one need to know other than you should stay away from meat on this type of diet?

Well, that’s where the grey always comes in and rears its ugly head. You see, there are a few different types of the vegetarian diet – some even “allow” for meat products (fish only, though), and some allow for dairy and eggs.

If you’re looking to try the vegetarian diet as a lifestyle choice because you want to get off of meat completely, then you would be more suited for a vegan lifestyle – a diet where no animal is ingested at all, including dairy and eggs.

The Vegan
This diet excludes all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. It’s very high in fiber, soy, fruits and veggies. Becoming a vegan after being a meat eater is difficult but possible with persistence and diligence.

Lacto-Vegetarian

This type of vegetarian diet will also exclude all meat, poultry, fish and eggs, as well as foods that contain them, but dairy products—like milk, yogurt, cheeses, etc—are okay.

Lacto-ovo Vegetarian

This type of vegetarian diet also excludes meat and poultry, obviously, but sometimes people on this diet will eat a piece of fish. Technically, that’s supposed to be a no-no. But for the purposes of using this diet as a weight loss regimen, the occasional piece of fish is okay to some.

When people add fish, they turn this type of diet more into a semi-vegetarian diet. Overall, though, dairy products and eggs are still okay on the lacto-ovo diet.

How to Eat

This diet is a little difficult to summarize because of the virtually endless combination of foods you can eat, and the virtually endless “types” of diet plans people employ. The Vegetarian Diet isn’t one diet; it’s purely a lifestyle.

However, when it comes to effectively losing weight, we can work up a little bit of an outline – foods you should eat and how often you should eat them per day in order to properly balance your diet.

Remember: exercise on this type of diet is essential. Because you are not getting the type of protein you would from meat, weight training and heavy cardio is not recommended. And you should look into supplementing your diet with protein shakes, a multivitamin, etc. But increasing your metabolic rate and burning fat with exercise is important with this diet.

As far as what you should eat, we’ll take a closer look. The following here is based on daily amounts:

Grains: For your grain intake, you should be eating six servings per day. Whether you get your grain from whole wheat, oats, etc, make sure that you’re eating plenty. Fiber-rich food is also ideal on any vegetarian diet plan.

Nuts/Seeds: When it comes to nuts, seeds, legumes, and other foods of this variety, we’re going one step up the pyramid here. You should consume five servings per day or this or any other protein-rich food (a shake supplement would take the place of one serving).

Vegetables: Unlike the Atkins or CSIRO diets, you do not have to worry about limiting your carbohydrate intake. So any type of vegetable you want to eat is perfectly acceptable, and you should be getting four servings of veggies every day.

Fruits: The same thing with the fruits here – you do not have to worry about your carbohydrate intake from sugary fruits. Instead, just worry about the amount of fruit you’re getting. You should have two to four servings of fruit per day.

Fats: Because you are not getting meat in your diet, it is essential that you get fats from somewhere. Nuts and seeds have a good amount of fat, as well as fruits like avocados. Stick with monounsaturated fats - they’re healthier and help to burn fat. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, peanut oil, etc – they’re all good choices.

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