There has been a trend toward low carb diets in recent years, but studies have shown that the healthiest diets incorporate food from all the food groups.
It’s possible to get all the variety you need from a plant-based diet, but the best vegetarian weight loss diet is one that provides plenty of protein, fats, and carbs. All of these food groups play role a role in successful weight loss.
The Importance of Protein
Protein fuels our muscles and helps us build more lean muscle mass. It is digested slower than carbohydrates, so it helps us feel satisfied longer. Protein is a food of choice for sustained energy; runners eat protein to keep their energy levels high during marathon runs.
One criticism of vegetarian diets is that they don’t provide enough protein. This is actually a baseless fear, since you can get plenty of protein without eating meat.
A vegetarian weight loss diet can incorporate protein from nuts and nut butters; soy and meat substitutes; and low-fat dairy products. These proteins are even more complete than the ones you get from meat, and they’re much lower in saturated fat.
In addition to protein, a good vegetarian weight loss diet should include plenty of calcium. It has proven fat-burning qualities that will have you slimmer in no time.
The Importance of Fats
Like protein, dietary fat keeps our hunger under control. It’s also one of the most misunderstood food groups. Low-fat diets are often unsatisfying, but trans and saturated fats are dangerous to our hearts. How can a vegetarian weight loss diet be healthy if it’s high in fat?
All fats should be eaten in moderation, but unsaturated fats should be part of a heart-healthy diet. These fats come from plant sources like olives and olive oil, avocados, and nuts, making them a perfect choice for vegetarians.
Unsaturated fats have been shown to prevent heart disease, and they can even reduce plaque build-up caused by high cholesterol. These fats raise levels of good cholesterol, which sweeps through arteries and clears away plaque. Unsaturated fats also lower levels of the bad cholesterol that accumulates in arteries.
Because of its ability to satisfy hunger and reduce cravings, fat is an important tool for dieters. If you go too long without it, you risk having strong cravings and feeling hungry most of the time – a recipe for weight loss disaster!
Carbs & Vitamins
Vegetarian diets provide plenty of carbohydrates. Carbs are good for quick energy, so they’re a good food choice before and after workouts. But be careful which carbs you eat. Some, like products containing a lot of refined sugar, starch, or white flour, can actually make you gain weight and can leave you hungrier than before!
The best carbohydrate sources are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you can’t give up bread and pasta, switch to whole wheat and whole grain varieties. These products contain more fiber than their refined counterparts, and they don’t cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.
The Dangers of Soy
Soy is a common protein source for vegetarians, but too much of a good thing can cause problems. Soy consumption has been linked to thyroid disorders and slow weight loss. That doesn’t mean you should avoid it completely; just eat and drink it in moderation instead of with every meal.
How much soy is too much? Ask your doctor or nutritionist to make a recommendation. They will take your medical history into consideration and come up with an amount that’s right for you.