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Vegetarian Weight-Loss Fundamentals
Weight loss on any type of diet occurs when you eat fewer calories than you burn. A deficit of 3,500 calories leads to 1 pound lost. You create this deficit by cutting calories, exercising more or a combination of the two.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not losing weight at a rate faster than about 2 pounds per week or you’ll be less likely to keep it off. This may not fit your definition of “fast,” but it’s the most manageable and safest rate.
A 2-pound-per-week weight loss requires a deficit of about 1,000 calories per day. But don’t consume fewer than 1,200 calories per day, which can leave you nutritionally deficient.
After you figure out your daily burn — use an online calculator like LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate or consult with a dietitian — determine if you can safely cut out 1,000 calories. If not, plan on using a combination of physical activity and reduced calories to achieve your goal. Exercise expedites weight loss for vegetarians and omnivores.
From there, plan on eating a 40-30-30 split between getting 40 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and 30 percent each from fats and protein. To help you accomplish that, here’s a quick (but not comprehensive) list of the best vegetarian foods for weight loss.
Selection vegan protein sources on wood background
Vegetarian Protein for Weight Loss
Vegetarian Carbohydrates for Weight Loss
Vegetarian Fats for Weight Loss
Extra virgin olive oil
Nuts and seeds
Flaxseed (ground or as oil)
Health Food for Fitness
Types of Vegetarian Diets for Weight Loss
One of the benefits of a vegetarian diet is that you’re cutting out potentially high-calorie foods, such as fatty meats, poultry with the skin and processed meats. A vegetarian diet includes no animal flesh and sometimes no animal products. Here’s a breakdown of the basic differences between the types of vegetarians:
A lacto-ovo vegetarian chooses to eat dairy and eggs along with plant foods.
A lacto-vegetarian eats dairy and no eggs.
A ovo-vegetarian only eats eggs, but no dairy.
A pescatarian eats fish and seafood along with plan foods.
A vegan consumes only plant foods.
All can help you lose weight, but lacto-ovo vegetarian variations need to be extra careful to avoid full-fat dairy and baked treats made with butter and eggs.
Weight-Loss Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
A 2007 study in the journal Obesity compared a low-fat, vegan diet with the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet, or TLC, diet promoted by the National Cholesterol Education Program on weight loss for 14 weeks and weight-loss maintenance over two years.
Researchers found that vegans lost more weight than TLC dieters and kept lost weight off better. The TLC diet restricts fat intake, advising dieters to skip butter and cheese as well as red meat, but permits dieters to eat lean animal proteins, including skinless chicken and fish. A vegan diet has eaters subsist on leafy greens, starchy vegetables, soy proteins, beans and legumes and some nuts and oils.
Read more: 12 Tips to Getting a Vegetarian Diet Right
A Vegetarian Weight-Loss Plan
Once you know exactly how many calories you need to prompt weight loss, and how you want to structure your veggie diet, make those calories consist of whole, unprocessed foods. Skip the refined sugar and grain options that may fit the definition of vegetarian, but add excess calories and limited nutrients.