VEGETARIAN DIET TO LOSE WEIGHT: HOW TO MAKE A VEGETARIAN DIET WORK FOR YOU
Here is thing: vegetarian diets can be SUPER healthy or SUPER unhealthy depending on what you choose to include in your diet.
Most vegetarians struggle to eat enough protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins and load up on heavy starchy carbs and vegetables oils. Let me tell ya, if your goal is to lose weight or improve your body composition, you need to make a few tweaks to your diet.
VEGETARIAN DIET TO LOSE WEIGHTS: MY 6 TIPS ON MAKING IT WORK!
Here are my tips on how to make a vegetarian diet healthy and nutritious, so you can lose weight and improve your body composition!
- Get rid of refined vegetable oils: If you are cooking with vegetable oil like canola, sunflower and rapeseed oil, get rid of it and do it FAST. This also includes vegetable based “Pam” sprays. You see vegetable oils are highly refined and contain no nutritional value. Instead they will contribute to increasing your bad cholesterol and will put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. Instead choose to cook with coconut or avocado oil which are mainly made up of good fats like medium chain triglycerides! These are the fats that keep you feeling full and contribute to good skin, hair and overall health.
- Switch your refined starchy carbs with unrefined whole foods: Stop eating pasta, bread and couscous! All these foods are highly refined! Choose to eat whole foods like whole grain brown rice, sweet potatoes, yams, crucifirous veggies, and quinoa. I am totally NOT suggesting that you go carb free, but rather choose carbohydrates that are unrefined like whole grain brown rice. Tip: A great healthier subsitutire for past is zucchini noodles (a classic recipe in my meal plan!)
- Get away from wheat products: As a vegetarian you may think muffins, crackers and bagels are your only source of energy! They are NOT! Wheat products in general are hyperallergenic meaning they can cause inflammation and digestive issues. Replace wheat products with fresh vegetables and fruits. There is endless amounts of colourful fruits and vegetables you can be eating! So go shopping and pick up more veggies!
- Replace dairy with dairy alternatives: For those of you lacto-vegetarians who consume cheese, milk, yogurt and dairy products, give it a break! Dairy is another hypoallergenic food. Many of us have some sort of intolerance to dairy and dairy products and may not even realize it. Get rid of dairy products and instead replace them with dairy alternatives. These include cashew, coconut, rice or almond milk. There are even cashew based yogurt and coconut milk ice cream!
- Make away from soy: So I could probably write pages and pages about this… soy is one of the worst foods in our food chain. It has been linked to diseases such as malnutrition, thyroid malfunction, digestive distress among others. The biggest issue with soy and soy products (including edamame) is that they convert into xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are man made chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogens in our bodies. Once digested, our bodies cannot tell the difference between them and its actual hormones. Yup, that means we are essentially eating “fake” hormones causing disruptions in our endocrine system. Soy also contains goitrogens which interrupt our thyroid’s from using iodine (to manufacture thyroid hormones). If you are going to eat soy keep it to one or two servings per week. It’s best to stick with sprouted soy (like tempeh) which are safer to eat. Or alternatively include other plant based protein options like eggs, hemp, pea based protein and legumes.
- Reduce refined sugars and junk: Many vegetarians rely on sugar and junk for their calorie intake. This may in come in the form of “vegan” baked goods or Vegan protein bars. Be wary! Sugar is still sugar! Instead choose to eat more unrefined sugars from fruits (like watermelon, pineapple, apples, pears, kiwi….) Apples pair perfectly with natural nut butter. They are a great way to get your fiber, natural sugars, protein and good fats!
If you stick to the above rules, you will not only be healthier, you will also improve your body composition. Be sure to also check my Vegetarian Friendly Grocery List and my Vegetarian meal plan (which includes a meal chart and healthy recipes!)