weight loss

3 minute read

How to lose weight if you're vegetarian

By Joe Young | Medically reviewed by Dr Luke Pratsides
How to lose weight if you're vegetarian

Weight gain is possible with any diet if you do it wrong. There’s no such thing as a quick-fix diet. And it’s surprisingly easy to indulge in all the wrong foods when you don’t have meat. 

Here's how you can stop that.

1. Avoid poor substitutes 

It might seem like a vegetarian diet would be healthy, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of replacing meat with something worse. You may turn to foods naturally high in fat like nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut to keep you satisfied. 

It’s also tempting to turn to highly-processed substitutes for meat. Chicken nuggets, vegan cream cheese, and veggie burgers are a one-way ticket to weight gain. They’re often high in calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats. If you find it hard to plan meals, have a look at our 7-day high-cholesterol diet plan or prediabetes diet plan to kickstart a nutritional diet. 

This brings us to the next point…

2. Focus on the whole

The more your food has been tampered with, the more it’s likely to cause harm. In simple terms, whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or nuts. 

But we know the deal. Childhood trauma of planes filled with brussels sprouts hurtling towards your mouth is hard to forget. But there are plenty of tasty ways to add fruit and vegetables to your diet without it being a chore. They're also a bit of a superfood since they're low in calories but high in fibre. 

Other whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and wholewheat pasta, are also a good way to stay full for longer. 

3. Keep your portions in check

That old wives’ tale, too much of a good thing, is very much true. Plant-based foods tend to be low in calories, but it’s important to avoid overeating. For example, you might think a 500ml smoothie is a brilliant shortcut to weight loss - but it’s quite the opposite.

When blended, the natural sugars are released from the cell wall in fruit, making them free sugars, contributing to weight gain. A healthy serving of a smoothie is only 150ml.

To avoid overdoing portion sizes, try investing in a split-portion plate, avoiding carbs before bedtime, and keeping a food diary. 

4. Go for plant-based proteins 

Animal products are a surefire way to get your fix of protein. But it’s a bit of a myth that vegetarians have no way of getting it in their diet. Plant-based proteins are aplenty. 

Grains and pulses, dairy products, eggs, and nuts are just a few great sources. Protein is an essential nutrient that’s important for building and repairing tissues, and it can also help keep you full. Ideal for fighting off weight-gaining cravings. 

When it’s hard to think of what to eat, it’s best to buy in advance.  It might also be a good idea to do a blood test to see if you lack any particular nutrients, as a vegetarian diet can lead to conditions like anaemia. 

5. Don’t ignore exercise

You might think eating healthy is enough to lose weight - but it’s just one of the key elements. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is important for weight loss. It helps cardiovascular wellbeing, fitness, lifespan, decreases the likelihood of diabetes, and regulates hunger.

There are plenty of ways to get moving in your day, even if you struggle to find something you enjoy. The type of exercise you choose is up to you, but it's important to find an activity that you’ll stick with long term. 

The numan take 

Don't rely on lazy assumptions. Just saying you’re a vegetarian doesn’t make you healthy. Focus on whole foods, watch your portion sizes, eat plant-based protein, and stay active to shed unwanted pounds. Do something about your health the right way.