(Name witheld) asks: My doctor says I need to lose weight. I read being a vegetarian will help?
Yes, being a vegetarian can help. Research has shown people following a typical vegetarian diet consume, on average, around 500 fewer calories daily than their meat-eating counterparts. Interestingly, the research showed that they actually ate more food than non-vegetarians.
This can be attributed to the fact that vegetarians' diets are comprised mainly of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are starchy, fibre-rich foods, and are naturally low in fat. Examples of complex carbohydrates are legumes and other vegetables and grains.
Although consuming less calories will lead to weight loss, it's also perfectly logical that some vegetarians don't lose any weight when they eliminate meat. Eliminating meat in and of itself doesn't necessarily lead to a calorie deficit since you replace it with other foods. This is especially true if the individual replaces meat with products like cheese or milk.
Eating the wrong types of food could actually lead to weight gain on a vegetarian diet, as with any other way-of-eating.
The trick to losing weight on a vegetarian diet - and all diets - is to plan your meals in advance, ensuring they include a good variety of fruit, vegetables and grains. And of course regular exercise is essential for an enduring weight loss regime.
Becoming a vegetarian means you will need to rethink your meals carefully. If not, you will be inclined to resort to quick, junk-style food. Not only will your weight management efforts suffer, your general wellness will wane due to poor nutrition.
Seek out recipes that incorporate boiled, steamed or sauteed vegetables. If you're trying to lose weight, you'll want to avoid high-fat casseroles and fried veggies whenever possible. Lots of recipe ideas here.
Thanks for writing and good luck with your weight loss efforts!