Weight loss has triggered many dietary fads like gluten-free, paleo diets. But Vegetarianism for weight loss? Yes it's a thing. While some find it easy to give up certain food groups, as a meat lover myself (chicken, fish, pork, steak, I love them all!), the idea of giving up the main component of what makes two of my three meals is frightening, to say the least.
Then again, if someone had a credible case that vegetarianism actually led to weight loss, I might consider it; making no promises here. I spoke to two experts to see if going vegetarianism is really a silver bullet for weight loss. Here's what they had to say:
- Darshi Shah, Nutritional Therapist, Health Coach and Author of The RIGHT Diet For Autoimmunity
"There was a time when I decided to go vegetarian as a New Year’s Resolution, just to see if I could do it and to see the personal impact." Erm, she lost 15lb in a year... hmmm. "Although the first two weeks I battled some meat cravings, after three weeks they completely disappeared. I could be in the same room as a hamburger, and there wasn’t any temptation. Perhaps the increased fiber intake (from the vegetables) helped to satisfy my hunger, so I ate fewer calories. Over time, I learned how to balance my proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for optimal nutrition."
- Rene Ficek, Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating
"A vegetarian diet is healthy because it is typically low in fat and high in fiber. However, even a vegetarian diet can be high in fat if it includes excessive amounts of fatty snack foods, fried foods, and whole milk dairy products. Therefore, a vegetarian diet, like any healthy diet, must be well planned."
It seems like when it comes to weight loss, the basic principle is that calories in versus calories out is still the rule of thumb, that is you should eat fewer calories than the number of calories you expend (through energy) to actually burn stored energy (fat) and shed pounds. Simply going vegetarian won't do it, you need to make changes in your overall eating habits as well that keep your calorie intake and overall balanced nutrition in mind. But, isn't that true for any diet?
Consider this: Atkins, one of the most popular diet plans, thrives on an increased intake of protein and low intake of carbs, which is why most meat eaters find it easier to stick to than other diet plans. If it's about picking light meat over dark, fish over steak, and skinless chicken over one with skin, then let me eat my meat in peace.
As for the rest of you, if you find it in you to pass the duck over to the next guy, could you please send it my way instead?