Simply going vegetarian isn't the key to successful weight loss, even if most vegetarians tend to weigh a bit less than those who eat meat. If you're a vegetarian looking to shed a few pounds, rest assured that it can be done. Fill your grocery cart with low-calorie foods rich in protein and fiber, and you'll likely succeed in losing weight. The trick, of course, is to eat fewer calories than you burn, which is the ultimate formula for weight loss.
1. Protein Foods
Moms need about 46 grams of protein each day and children need between 13 and 52 grams, depending on their age. Protein helps supply your body with energy and is crucial for the formation and maintenance of healthy cells, tissues and muscles. If you're trying to lose weight, many foods rich in protein are also low in fat and calories. A cup of beans supplies about 16 grams of protein, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both canned and dry beans are readily available in supermarkets, and, as an added bonus, they're also inexpensive. Low-fat dairy foods, such as plain yogurt and reduced-fat cheese, also supply protein and can fit into a healthy vegetarian diet. Eggs, which are also quite cheap, supply a good dose of protein and are low in both fat and calories.
2. Enriched Options
Besides protein, vegetarians can become deficient in certain nutrients that non-vegetarians get from eating meat. Choosing enriched foods can help you get these vitamins and minerals that you would otherwise be missing. Iron is an essential mineral that helps your body make red blood cells and plays a role in the function of your immune system. Purchase beans, lentils and enriched grains, such as whole-wheat pasta, to help you get enough iron. They're also low in fat, which makes them a good addition to your weight-loss diet. Look for foods enriched with vitamin B-12, such as low-sugar breakfast cereal, too. Vitamin B-12 also helps with red blood cell production, and many vegetarians are deficient in this nutrient.
3. Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are essential parts of any diet, vegetarian or not. For example, leafy greens are low in fat and calories, and supply a wealth of nutrients, including iron. Many whole-grain foods are also fortified with nutrients, such as zinc, that you might not get enough of if you don't eat meat. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains also contain fiber, which can help you feel full for an extended amount of time. If you don't feel hungry, chances are you'll eat less, which will help you shed excess weight.
A calorie is still a calorie no matter where it's coming from. You won't lose any weight simply by giving up meat if you're swapping that meat for high-calorie foods such as full-fat cheese and frozen cheese pizzas. Even foods that are marketed as being vegetarian, such as soy hot dogs, can be high in calories, according to MayoClinic.com. Cutting your calorie consumption is the key to successful weight loss. With any weight-loss plan, limit your intake of sugar and fat, especially saturated fat, and squeeze in plenty of exercise to help burn calories.
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