Does a Vegetarian Diet Decrease Obesity?

It is hard to ignore the growing craze of diet to decrease obesity. There are many diets in trend to lose weight and get in shape. However, a few among all others are famous, such as the vegetarian diet, especially when its advocates include celebrities including Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé, and the Williams sisters. A vegetarian diet has proved itself to be effective in decreasing obesity, fighting against heart diseases, chronic health conditions, and diabetes. You may ask how it can be a useful way of decreasing obesity.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

A vegetarian diet is a diet free of any kind of meat and full of plant-based foods. Although a vegetarian diet doesn’t include any meat or fish, habits of vegetarians vary and cover a wide spectrum. Some consume dairy products and eggs, while the strictest vegans choose to eat no animal products at all, including honey. Some eat fish and are technically pescatarians.  Raw foodists also claim to be vegetarian because they mainly eat vegetables, fruits, sprouts, nuts, and legumes.

How does a Vegetarian Diet Decrease Obesity?

To lose weight or fight obesity, some people become vegetarian. As we already discussed the increasing obesity in children & teens in America, such a vegetarian diet can be effective in losing weight. Parents can motivate their children and indulge them in a vegetarian-based diet from an early age to fight obesity.

When it comes to health concerns, even doctors recommend a diet full of fresh and natural products such as vegetables and fruits. A vegetarian diet is the most effective one when it comes to losing weight. A study was carried out on 38,000 people who maintained a vegetarian diet. They mainly ate vegetarian foods and results showed a lower body mass index as compared to meat-eaters.

Here are a few reasons how a vegetarian diet will help decreasing obesity in children and teenagers.

#1: Vegetarian Diet is Higher in Fiber

Fiber intake is not only for keeping regular but it is a key for losing weight. It keeps us satiated and gives a feeling of fullness until our next meal. If we take enough fiber in our daily food intake, we will feel fewer temptations for cheat snacks. Other benefits of fiber intake are:

  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Regulated blood pressure
  • Boosts anti-inflammatory properties of our body

The aforementioned factors make a high fiber diet necessary for weight loss or decreasing obesity.

A study was conducted between vegetarians and omnivores and the results suggested that vegetarian dieters consumed more fiber, approximately 24g more, than omnivores. So, this is how a vegetarian diet will give more fiber and helps in decreasing obesity.

Here is a list of vegetarian diet foods containing a surplus amount of fiber:

  • Lima beans
  • Black beans
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Artichokes
  • Blackberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Raspberries
  • Dark-colored vegetables

#2: Vegetarian Diet is Low in Saturated Fat

Cutting on animal meat significantly reduces the intake of saturated fat right off the bat. A vegetarian diet full of plant-based food, whole food, beans, and lentils emphasizes good carbohydrates and low saturated fats. This diet will help you in the intake of antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins which are key factors of losing weight and managing a healthy diet.

#3: Vegetarian Diet is Low in Calories

While being on a vegetarian diet, you will naturally eat fewer calories as plants are lower in calories. Foods like whole grains, fruits, leafy green vegetables, and beans can be equally filling but contain much fewer fats and calories than meat. Eating a fiber-rich diet will easily fill you up and cause a decrease in obesity. When the body doesn’t get necessary fats for functioning, it will use stored fats thus resulting in weight loss.

#4: Vegetarian Diet gives you More Energy

A vegetarian diet can give you more energy if you will eat the right kind of carbohydrates daily. Your body will need less energy to process foods such as seeds, beans, nuts, and vegetables and in turn give you more energy throughout the day. You can utilize this energy in a regular workout session to see faster results in weight loss.

Here is the list of vegetarian food that will give you more energy:

  • Oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Beetroots
  • Quinoa

Is a Vegetarian Diet Safe for Children & Teens?

In the past, a diet without meat was considered unusual in the U.S. Attitudes have changed dramatically with time and a vegetarian diet is a growing trend. If you are already a vegetarian or planning to become one, you’re in better company.  The important thing before starting a vegetarian diet is to educate yourself. A vegetarian diet is risk-free for children and teens but only if it is appropriately planned. If you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose weight, you will have to balance the essential nutrients in your diet, because dropping certain foods from your diet is not healthy if you don’t find a way to balance it.

To continue a risk-free vegetarian diet plan, you have to include the following key nutrients in your diet.

  • Iron
  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12

Note: Vegetarian diets typically lack the essential amount of these nutrients. You have to eat foods which will provide these nutrients.

Where will You Get Iron?

Here is a list of foods that are high in iron supply and still a part of a vegetarian diet:

  • Tofu
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Legumes (dried peas, beans, and lentils)
  • Green leafy vegetables (Broccoli and Asian green vegetables)
  • Nuts (Cashews)
  • Eggs
  • Dried fruits (apricot, figs, and raisins)
  • Sea vegetables (wakame, dulse, and nori)
  • Soya beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Blackstrap molasses

Note: This is a shortlist but you can find more iron-rich foods on the internet.

Young girls need to take a sufficient amount of iron because iron is lost during menstruation. Try to add the aforementioned foods in your vegetarian diet for a daily iron supply.

Where will You Get Calcium?

Here is a list of foods that will help you get enough calcium:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified soy milk
  • Tofu
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Dried figs
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice

Where will You Get Vitamin D?

Here is a list of foods that will help you get enough Vitamin D:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified soy milk

Note: Sunlight is a direct source of vitamin D.

Where will You Get Protein?

Here is a list of foods that will help you get enough Protein:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Soy milk
  • Vegetables
  • Cereals

Where will You Get Vitamin B12 & Zinc?

Here is a list of foods that will help you get enough vitamin B12 & Zinc:

  • Eggs & dairy
  • Fortified soy milk
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Dried beans
  • Nuts
  • Tofu & tempeh

Tips to Get Started

To continue a vegetarian diet, gradually reduce the meat quantity in your diet and increase the number of vegetables and fruits. Here are a few tips to help you start your vegetarian diet:

  • Ramp Up: Reduce meat intake with every meal. Replace it with green vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and collards.
  • Substitute: Eat your favorite food without meat. Add beans in your recipes instead of meat. Use tofu rather than chicken. You can simply substitute it with vegetables and still enjoy the taste.
  • Branch out: Use online help to know more about vegetarian diet menus. You can also buy vegetarian cookbooks. This will help you stay longer on your vegetarian diet plan and lose weight.

Final Thought A vegetarian diet will help decrease obesity in children, teenagers, and adults. It is a better alternative to other available diets and research has proved its effectiveness. If you set healthy eating habits for your children, the results will be life-changing!