November 19, 2020

CAN I LOSE WEIGHT IF I EAT LESS MEAT?

Exercise is good for health, but it won’t help you lose weight unless you eat right as well.
Pic credit "RunningStyles" by Chris Hunkeler is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Vegetarian diets can promote weight loss because they include a lot of low-calorie foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy. Vegan diets go further and remove calorie-rich dairy foods like ice-cream and cheese.

But being vegetarian or vegan doesn't mean you automatically eat less calories – doughnuts, cupcakes and french fries are vegetarian but they’re also calorie bombs laden with fat and sugar.

French Fries are vegetarian but they won’t help you lose weight, Sorry.
"French Fries with platter - Limor's" by avlxyz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What are the smart vegetarian food swaps to lose weight?

You still have to focus on portion size and calories - those rules don’t really change.

So if you want to lose weight, you still have to make smart food choices and reduce the number of calories you normally eat. You still have to focus on portion size and calories  - those rules don’t really change. Sigh. 

Because muscles burn more calories than other body tissues, you’re smart to think about what your muscles need– and that’s protein.  So do include vegetarian proteins to make up for the meat you are cutting out. Some good swaps are beans, nuts, and soy products. If you’re willing to eat some animal products, eggs, and milk-based proteins like quark, yoghurt and cheese are also excellent sources of protein.

Protein also helps you feel full for longer- and that definitely matters when you’re trying to lose weight.

Top toast with low fat quark or thick yoghurt for a lower fat breakfast than butter
"Raspberries and Yoghurt on Toast" by avlxyz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Yoghurt with muesli has protein, carbs and fruit so you feel full for longer
"Græsk yoghurt med solbærsyltetøj og müsli" by cyclonebill is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Korean Chilli Gyoza dumplings

How planning meals ahead helps you lose weight

Arlene plant-based cuisine is vegan and halal and they’ve got unusual options...

If you often come home from work too tired to cook a healthy meal, plan ahead so you don’t inhale a family bag of chips and a packet of cookies just to fill your growling stomach.

Cook in batches and freeze some portions so you can get dinner on the table quickly. Or add salads and side dishes to a ready-made vegetarian meal.

Arlene plant-based cuisine is vegan and halal and they’ve got unusual options from Chinese spring rolls and Dan dan noodles, to Korean Chilli Gyoza dumplings and Kebab with pistachio - and they’re all created by proper chefs.

Kebab with pistachio
Dan Dan Sauce with Noodles

How much exercise do I need to do to lose weight?

In reality, diet is way more important.

Many of us believe doing more exercise will help us lose fat - especially cardio exercise like running or cycling. In reality, diet is way more important.

A famous systematic review measured 21 controlled trials done between1988 and 2013. These trials involved more than 3,500 overweight adults aged 35 to 70 who took part in various diet and exercise programmes. Some stressed low-fat, high fibre foods including fruits and vegetables, while the exercise programs included aerobic activity like walking and resistance or weight training.

To measure what worked best to reduce body fat and improve heart health, the studies measured body size before and after, plus cardiovascular health readings  like blood pressure and cholesterol

And guess what? Exercise is great for your overall health. But changes in diet contribute more to weight loss than exercise.

Exercise is great for health, but it won’t help you lose weight unless you eat right too
"Running" by rorris is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

What’s the flexitarian approach to losing weight?

This is where you don’t give up meat entirely.

But changing how you eat is tough enough without trying to do it all at once. So if you’re new to vegetarian food, and you also want to lose weight, maybe try the “flexitarian” approach? This is where you don’t give up meat entirely. But you do eat more plant-based foods.

Start by adding a piece of fruit or a salad to your meals. And try swapping some meat meals for plant-based options. If you like a hearty dinner try Arlene’s Chili Sin Carne or Spaghetti Bolognese - they’re both vegan and halal.

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