How Effective Is a Vegetarian Diet for Losing Weight?
Ready to give up meat?
This could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. A vegetarian diet can improve every aspect of your health and increase longevity. People who don’t eat meat have lower rates of heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and cancer.
They also live longer and enjoy better health. But how effective is a vegetarian diet for weight loss? Does it really help in the battle with the scale? Let’s find out!
How a Vegetarian Diet Can Improve Your Health
Vegetarian diets have been around since the beginning of mankind. Modern research supports their benefits on health and well-being. Those who embrace this lifestyle give up meat and other animal products, such as eggs and dairy.
This approach to nutrition has been shown effective in preventing chronic disorders, kidney stones, gallstones, diabetes, constipation, and high cholesterol.
According to researchers, going vegetarian could help avoid several million deaths per year over the next three decades. This dietary plan has been shown to decrease blood cholesterol levels by as much as 35 percent, diabetes by 75 percent, heart disease by 34 percent, and overall mortality by 18 percent.
A study conducted in 1999 has found that lacto-ovo vegetarians had a 38 percent lower rate of lung cancer compared to meat eaters.
Other studies indicate that people who don’t eat meat live an average of nine and a half years longer than their peers. They also find it easier to maintain a healthy body weight and report a better mood, higher libido, and fewer allergies.
Meat eaters, on the other hand, have higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, obesity, stroke, and type II diabetes. Statistics indicate that the total medical costs associated with meat consumption in the U.S. range from $30 to $60 billion a year.
Currently, more than seven million Americans are vegetarians. About one million are vegans, so they consume no animal foods at all. Another 22.8 million follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.
There are different types of vegetarian diets out there, and each has unique benefits.
- Lacto-vegetarians abstain from eating meat and eggs, but consume dairy.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat eggs and dairy, but no meat at all.
- Ovo-vegetarians only consume eggs, but no dairy and meat.
Other forms of vegetarianism include pescatarian, pollotarian, and flexitarian diets, but these are not officially recognized by vegetarian organizations. Most vegetarians consume honey.
A typical vegetarian diet is one based on whole plant foods, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Vegetables oils
- Dairy and/or eggs
This eating plan should provide all of the nutrients needed for optimum health. A common mistake that many people do is relying too heavily on processed foods, such as sweets, pastries, vegetarian pizza, fries, flavored soy yogurts, and ready-made meals.
Just because a meal or snack is meat-free, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Eating too many processed foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, and poor digestion.
The Health Benefits of Vegetarianism
From a healthier heart to weight loss and reduced cancer risk, there are plenty of reasons to become a vegetarian. Some people embrace this eating pattern to enjoy better health and want off diseases. Others give up meat to protect the environment, or for animal welfare.
There are also people who become vegetarians to save money. Plant-based foods are often cheaper than meat. Unless you opt for expensive meat substitutes and exotic ingredients, you’ll save thousands of dollars in the long run.
Vegetarian diets have been linked to a lower risk of bowel cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cognitive and sexual dysfunction, food-borne illnesses, and weight gain. Switching from the typical American diet to vegetarianism could add up to 13 years to your life. This eating pattern may also help prevent hormonal disorders, ease PMS symptoms, strengthen your bones, and boost your energy levels.
Can You Lose Weight on a Vegetarian Diet?
Obesity and weight gain are not necessarily related to meat consumption. While it’s true that meat eaters have an increased risk of obesity, there are many other factors affecting body weight. If you become a vegetarian but keep eating junk food and sweets, the pounds will pile up.
To lose weight, opt for whole, unprocessed foods. Eat your vegetables raw, steamed, or grilled. Avoid heavy sauces, dips, and refined vegetable oils.
Flavored yogurts, breakfast cereals, bagels, white bread, muffins, potato chips, and other common foods contain no meat, but are packed with empty calories and carbs. Make sure your diet provides enough protein, healthy fats, iron, zinc, calcium, and other essential nutrients. Take vitamin B12 to prevent deficiencies.
A vegetarian diet can definitely help you shed pounds. It all comes down to your daily food choices. If you eat clean and cook your meals the right way, you’ll slim down. Vegetarianism is anything but boring, so feel free to experiment in the kitchen and try new recipes.
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