Posted on December 01 2021
In recent years, vegetarianism has become increasingly widespread.
A vegetarian diet relates to a low risk of chronic diseases. Further, this diet is also credited for aiding weight loss. Nevertheless, you may find it extremely difficult to lose weight on a vegetarian diet if you consume a lot of oil's or highly processed foods.
In this article, we will focus on how to lose weight on a vegetarian diet. Further, this article will include vegetarian Indian lunch ideas (along with their recipes) for weight loss.
What is a vegetarian diet?
A vegetarian diet is one that excludes meat, fish, and poultry. While some people follow this diet for religious or ethical reasons, others may follow it because of it's health benefits.
Vegetarian diet is a broad term and includes the following:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: In this diet you are only allowed to eat eggs and dairy but exclude meat, fish, and poultry.
- Lacto-vegetarian: In this diet, you can eat dairy but exclude eggs, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Ovo-vegetarian: In this diet, you are allowed to eat eggs but excludes dairy, meat, fish, and poultry.
- Vegan: In this diet, you have to exclude all animal products, including honey, dairy, and eggs.
Other plant-based eating patterns include:
Flexitarian: In this diet, you can include some animal foods, but it is primarily vegetarian.
Pescatarian: In this diet, you can include fish but not meat.
Typically vegetarian diets emphasize fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and seeds. These foods are rich in micronutrients, fibre, beneficial plant compounds, and they tend to be lower in fat, calories, and protein than animal foods.
The vegetarian diet primarily focuses on nutrient-rich foods. Therefore, it is often linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers. Additionally, following a vegetarian diet can be an operative way to lose weight.
Nevertheless, the benefits of vegetarianism chiefly depend on the types of foods you consume daily and your overall lifestyle habits.
Choosing highly processed or saturated fats rich foods will provide fewer benefits than a diet grounded on unrefined, whole plant foods. Further, it may also have several downsides.
What are the barriers to losing weight on a vegetarian diet?
Vegetarianism seems like an effective way to shed excess weight, but several factors can prevent this from happening. Some of these barriers are listed below:
- Not being aware of bodies satiety hormone: When you eat more calories than you need, you can gain weight. Most often, this is because we are either consumed by technology or work while eating, thus, don't realise when we feel full, or choose foods that don't satiate us enough. Here is a classic example of how different foods worth 500 calories fill up our stomach:
Imagine gorging down a bag of chips and still not feeling full, but having just one apple will fill most of us up. This is because plants are high in fibre, thus, triggering us to stop eating when we have reached satiety.
- Eating too many refined carbs: Foods rich in refined carbs, like white pasta, white bread and white rice lack fibre, and they do not curb hunger as much as complex carbs or whole-grain. As a result of this, they load you down with excess calories. Additionally, some studies also suggest that refined carbs can trigger the release of extra insulin (a blood sugar regulating hormone), contributing to weight gain.
- Overdoing calorie-rich foods: Vegetarian meals cooked using too many nuts/ oil's and seeds are still high in fats. Fats account for 9 calories for every gram compared to 4 calories per gram of proteins and carbs. Sure nuts/ seeds are healthy, but only in moderation.
Why choose a vegetarian diet for fat loss?
A vegetarian diet is a lifestyle choice. It is not necessarily a diet plan that is specifically targeted at weight loss. However, both adults and children that eat vegetarian-based diets are mostly slimmer than those who eat non-vegetarian foods.
One of the many reasons for this could be because a vegetarian diet frequently includes recipes centred on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fibre and plant-based proteins. All of these are lower in calories and lower in fats too. They also help trigger satiety faster, thus, prevent overeating.
If fat loss is your goal, lifestyle changes, besides nutrition become of utmost importance. Watch this to understand more:
Yet, a vegetarian diet is not always low in calories. Vegetarians can also gain weight if they consume too many high-calorie foods, like sweetened beverages, sweets, fried foods, processed foods, etc., or if their portion sizes are too large.
People also use a vegetarian diet to help them gain weight without the side effects of metabolic diseases that come from consuming meat. Here is an example:
- South Indian diet for Muscle Gain and Weight Gain.
- Punjabi Diet Plan For Weight Gain and Bodybuilding.
Top 5 Myths around a Vegetarian Diet
There are so many so-called facts about vegetarian eating that are false. Let's bust some here:
- Vegetarianism guarantees weight loss
As stated above, every vegetarian and vegan diet are not always healthful. Processed foods, especially in restaurants can pile on 1000's of extra calories even if it is vegetarian. Thus, the key to weight loss is a healthful diet along with regular exercise. Yet, there is evidence following a plant-based diet and weight loss. For example, a review published in Translational Psychiatry states that:
"We found robust evidence for short- to moderate-term beneficial effects of plant-based diets versus conventional diets […] on weight status, energy metabolism, and systemic inflammation."
Another review in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care examined the impact of plant-based diets on diabetic people. The authors concluded that these diets associates with a "significant improvement" in weight loss, among other benefits.
- Vegetarians and vegans cannot get enough protein
Another myth about vegetarianism or veganism needs to be smashed. Protein's are the building of plants and everything you eat has proteins. The RDA for proteins is set as low as 0.8- 1.2 grams per KG of bodyweight. So if I am 55 kilo's, my protein requirements would be 40 grams per day. Just a cup of lentils could have as high as 10 grams.
- There are various other protein choices such as tofu, lentils, seitan, chickpeas, many other types of spelt, bean, spirulina, oats, quinoa, seeds, wild rice, and nuts.
Further, there are protein-rich vegetables like broccoli, spinach, asparagus, potatoes, artichokes, brussels sprouts, peas, and sweet potatoes. So vegans do get their share of protein from these sources.
- You cannot get B12 from a vegetarian diet
B12 is a nutrient produced by bacteria in the soil. Nor animals, nor plants are sources of B12. B12 deficiency is as much of a non- vegetarian problem as a vegetarian problem.
The best source of B12 would be getting outdoor time in the mud like playgrounds, a walk in the beach or time spend gardening. Alternatively, a good B12 supplement does the trick.
- Dairy is essential for strong bones
This is far far far from the truth. The calcium from dairy is not the most optimal source for humans and leads to brittle bones instead of strong bones. Read this for more:
Choose plant- based calcium sources for better health. There are plenty of calcium-rich foods like lentils, soy-based foods, spinach, figs, beans, chia, peas, turnips, seaweed, flax, sesame seeds, and nuts.
What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
Following are the health benefits of a vegetarian diet:
- It can improve heart health and lower the risk of heart disease
- A vegetarian diet can reduce the chance of colon cancer
- It can also prevent Type II diabetes
- The symptoms of asthma can reduce significantly following a vegetarian diet
- A vegetarian diet is credited for lowering blood pressure level
- It helps improves bone and joint health
Is a vegetarian diet safe?
People not only can survive, but thrive on a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet is a safe and healthy diet. Adults, children, pregnant and lactating women can meet all their nutritional requirements by following a vegetarian diet.
In fact minerals and vitamins are predominantly made by plants, thus, as long as one eats enough calories, a vegetarian diet is more nutritionally dense that a meat heavy diet.
Besides this, a vegetarian diet is anti- inflammatory, naturally heart healthy and anti- oxidant. This is provided you consume whole plants and not junk food.
What vegetarian foods are good for weight loss?
If you are a vegetarian or if you are planning a vegan diet, then you should incorporate the following foods into your recipes to provide proper nutrition and help losing weight:
- Seasonal fruit
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Legumes and lentils
- Sprouts and micro greens
- Whole nuts and seeds
- Soy and its by- products
Can you lose weight by being a vegetarian?
Here are the top 12 tips for eating vegetarian meals and losing weight simultaneously:
- Eating a high-fibre diet: A high-fibre diet promotes digestion, and it also helps achieve early satiety. This type of diet primarily includes fruits and vegetables.
- Eating whole grains: Whole grains such as brown rice, bread, whole-wheat pasta, etc., are more nutritious than their more processed counterparts. Therefore, they help us feel full for longer and also provide more nutrients.
- Decreasing fat intake and increasing protein and fiber intake: Protein helps pep up our metabolism more than fat, and it is lesser in total calories than fats.
- Adding good fats to the diet: Essential fats from nuts and seeds help the brain function well. They are also heart healthy.
- Eating nutritious snacks: Nutritious or healthy snacks can include celery, fruit, hummus, roasted nuts, and baked zucchini. Snacking can prevent overeating during meals, and healthy, low-calorie snacks do not hamper weight loss.
- Reducing salt content: While iodised salt in the daily diet is of utmost importance, you want to steer clear of packaged snacks that are high in sodium.
- Steaming, air frying, or grilling, and food instead of frying: This reduces the oil consumption, but also reduces the AGE (inflammatory molecules) in the food.
- Reducing sugar intake: Reduce sugar as much as possible by avoiding sodas, desserts, and commercial fruit drinks because the body receives unwanted calories.
- Use apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar, or any vinegar actually, contains something called acetic acid that delays the absorption of fats in the body.
- Drink herbal tea: Taking herbal teas like green tea can help boost metabolism and aids in digestion.
- Cooking at home and reducing eating out: By doing so, you are consuming smaller portions and reducing calorie consumption.
- Reducing alcohol consumption: Alcohol leads to hormonal fluctuations and stores extra body fat. Besides this, it piles on additional, unwanted calories.
My personal favourite lunch recipes for weight loss.
Weight loss is often seen as a considerable challenge requiring one to be mindful of their diet and lifestyle at all times. Yes, it is necessary to an extent, but it might not be as difficult as it may sound.
Start your weight loss journey with a bit of patience and consistency, you will soon reach your goal. However, a subtle tug here and there in your diet and lifestyle can prove to be a huge deal. So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the healthiest yet tastiest Indian food recipes for weight loss.
1) Edamame beans sambhar and Red rice:
Because I strongly believe in consuming a diverse variety of plant's always, I try and switch the edamame beans every now and then for chickpeas, kidney beans and other pulses. It is also wise to switch up brown rice for other types of rice.
I also insist you keep this recipe oil- free and temper the dry spices without any water. They, once the whole spices are aromatic, add water and sauté the onions. This cut's down on the unwanted calories coming from oil.
Recipe inspired by Madhu's Everyday Indian.
2) Chickpea 'tuna' sandwich:
3) Diwani Handi vegetable with millet phulka:
4) Rajma Pulao:
5) Moong sprout and coconut curry:
Recipe inspired by Cookilicious.
6) Kerala style Kadala curry:
The spices in this dish are just mind blowing! Warning, this is going to be a spicy one! But healthy and wholesome at the same time. Best paired with appam's or kerela red rice.
I also insist having this alongside a bowl of leafy green salad to make sure you are coving your nutrients in for the meal. If you struggle with a weak gut and find pulses hard to digest, I also suggest mashing them 50% in the gravy to help with digestion.
7) Sarson da Saag:
Such a delicious way to get some leafy greens in! I absolutely love this recipe and is a staple at my home. Make sure to not overcook the mustard greens to a point that they turn black. Instead, bright to dark green is the colour you are looking for.
This is best paired with corn flour chapatti's. Best to avoid any added 'makhani', 'butter's', 'ghee' or oil's to this dish. Have it fresh, right after it is cooked. Avoid letting this dish sit on the countertop for too long or storing it for multiple days.
Recipe inspired by Hold Cow Vegan.
8) Bajra Vegetable Khichdi:
9) Stuffed dill leaves and cauliflower paratha:
10) Oats Pongal:
Not only is this a staple for lunch at my place, but also a common breakfast recipe. We love starting the morning with a hot bowl of pongal and chutney. For non oats lovers, trust me, you will not even taste the oats.
The bottom line is a vegetarian diet that focuses on wholesome plant foods can help in reducing weight.
Therefore, make mindful choices and working your way towards a plant- centric meal plan is always a good idea. Try these recipes and comment below on how you like them.
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