Many Hollywood stars successfully adopted the vegetarian lifestyle for multiple reasons, including environment/animal concerns, health, financial, or ethical reasons.

Actress Natalie Portman is one of many celebrities advocating the benefits of a vegetarian diet. She has been a vegetarian since her preteen years . Natalie’s main  reason for following it may be due to her love of animals, however it also helped her give up the salt, fat, and calorie packed foods.

Vegetarianism has amazing health benefits proven by research. It helps with lower body weight, better cholesterol levels, living longer, lower risk of developing diabetes, and cancer.

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The American Dietetic Association (ADA) classifies vegetarians in the following ways:

– Vegans or total vegetarians exclude all animal products (e.g. meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, and other dairy products).

– Lacto-vegetarians exclude meat, poultry, fish, and eggs but include dairy products.

– Lacto-ovovegetarians exclude meat, poultry, and fish but include dairy products and eggs.

How effective is a vegetarian diet for losing weight and what factors should we consider when following such a diet?

Iron supplements should be taken from time to time since the iron found in grains and vegetables is not always enough or well absorbed.

Most likely, it’s the consumption of plenty of fruits and vegetables, and not necessarily the exclusion of meat that makes vegetarians so healthy. The lower body weight of vegetarians is due to a lower total calorie intake and a high-fiber intake, which helps curb hunger.  To avoid falling short on protein, it is best to incorporate more beans, nuts, legumes, and soy foods into your meals and snacks.

Here’s a sample of a vegetarian menu :

Breakfast

– Fruit or juice

– Cheese / milk

– Breakfast cereal / oatmeal

Lunch

– Yogurt

–  Salads and Veggies

– Soup or legumes

Snacks

– Almonds/seeds

– Berries

Milk/Yogurt

Dinner

– Vegetables

– Beans /pasta/ lentils

vegetarian pasta

The key to any healthy diet is to choose a wide variety of foods, and to consume enough calories to meet your energy needs.  Eating a wide variety of foods and enough calories during the day will fulfill your protein needs. Good sources of protein include whole grains, lentils, beans, low-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, and peas.

Vegetarians can meet their calcium needs if they consume adequate amounts of low-fat and fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Calcium is also found in many plant foods, including dark  leafy greens, broccoli, beans, dried figs, and sunflower seeds.

The American Dietetic Association recommends anyone adopting vegetarianism to:

– Choose whole-grain products (whole wheat bread, brown rice, or whole-grain cereals instead of refined or white grains).

– Eat a wide variety of foods.

– Choose non-fat or low-fat dairy.

– Use eggs in moderation

– Limit intake of sweets and high fat foods.

– Use a regular source of vitamin B-12, and if sunlight exposure is limited, of vitamin D.

– Ready-to-eat, whole-grain breakfast cereals, oatmeal

– Canned beans:  pinto, black beans, and garbanzo beans

– Pasta (now available in whole wheat, spinach, and other flavours) with tomato sauce and canned beans and/or chopped veggies

– Corn or flour tortillas

– Vegetarian soups like lentil

– Plain vegetables

– Nut spreads (e.g. peanut or almond butter)

– Canned and frozen fruit

The bottom line is to balance the calories you take in from food with the calories you expend to reach your weight loss goals. Also, why not take a look at this healthy low carb diet plan for vegetarians to kick-start your weight loss efforts!

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