Vegetarian Diet for Weight Loss
The vegetarian diet is a healthy diet proved to be effective for long-term weight loss. Learn how to plan your vegetarian diet to ensure you meet your daily nutritional needs.
The vegetarian diet excludes all meat products such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry and fish. Cereal grains, legumes, nuts and other protein rich foods form the foundation of the vegetarian diet. There are five types of the vegetarian diet which include or exclude various foods:
- The vegan diet, which excludes all animal products such as eggs, dairy products and honey. The raw vegan diet includes only uncooked foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- The lacto-vegetarian diet, which excludes all meat products and eggs but includes dairy products.
- The ovo vegetarian diet which excludes all meat and dairy products but includes eggs.
- The ovo-lacto vegetarian diet, which excludes all meat products but includes eggs, dairy products and honey. The ovo-lacto vegetarian diet is often referred to as “traditional vegetarian diet”.
- The semi-vegetarian diet, which may include fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs in small quantities.
Beneficial aspects of the vegetarian diet include low consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat and high consumption of foods rich in dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamins C, vitamin E, and magnesium.
If you eat a variety of foods, you can meet your daily nutritional needs; however, you should ensure that you get enough protein, zinc, iron, calcium and vitamin B12. The vegetarian diet can be low in protein containing essential amino acids, which cannot be synthesized by the body. Make sure your diet includes enough soy, buckwheat, brown rice, beans and quinoa to provide the adequate intake of amino acids. Beans are also good sources of zinc. To get enough iron, include beans, oatmeal, raisins and sunflower seeds in your diet. Leafy greens are a very good source of calcium. You cannot get enough vitamin B12 from plants. However, dairy products and eggs are good sources of vitamin B12. If you follow the vegan style of eating, you may need vitamin supplements.
The current dietary recommendations for vegetarians are 5-7 servings of grains, 3 servings of legumes and soy, 2 servings of nuts, 6-8 servings of vegetables, 3-4 servings of fruits and 1-2 servings of vegetable oils.