Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Becoming a Vegetarian: Does it help with weight loss or just weigh you down?

So you want to lose weight and think that you can do so by cutting back or completely eliminating meats. Although lean proteins derived from animals can be an important component for weight loss, some consumers tend to feel that they prefer to lose weight by adopting a vegetarian diet. A common mistake usually made here is when we decide to substitute a meatless item in place of meat assuming that meat is high in fat and cholesterol. But the meat isn't always the culprit...

So what do we do? We decide to order the baked potato with dressings and toppings instead of the steak, or add hash browns instead of bacon to breakfast, or order the refried beans instead of the shredded beef/chicken at our favorite Tex-Mex joint. In a sense, we are substituting carbohydrates and unhealthy fats instead of proteins, which can actually deter you from your weight loss goals.

So now I’ve brought up yet another nutrition myth--- carbs. Carbohydrates are essentially simple sugars which are absorbed quickly by the body so their stores are quickly depleted and hunger can be triggered quicker. If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to choose the right carbohydrates and to do so in moderation. Good sources of carbohydrates for vegetarians-and-meat-eaters-alike include beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and eating whole grain forms of carbohydrates rather than refined.

So all-in-all, if you want to go meatless go for it! Vegetarianism can most definitely be done in a healthy way. Just be sure to substitute healthy proteins such as beans and soy products while incorporating healthy carbs and fats. The important lesson is this: you don’t need to cut protein, fat, or carbs to lose weight. It’s about moderation across the board. My favorite motto remains as this: “Moderation is key… always!”

Any questions? Need help managing your weight? Want to know how to incorporate a vegetarian or vegan diet while eating on campus? Contact the Campus Dietitian, Sarah Feye, at 832-842-5996 or today to set-up a free nutrition consultation.

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