Susan Silberstein & Marilyn Joyce (Health and Nutrition Educator & Heath Counselor) gives expert video advice on: Will I lose weight if I go on a vegetarian diet? and more...
What is a "vegetarian"?
The vegetarian diet is actually in various forms. We hear about various things like the vegan diet which is all plant based; no animal products whatsoever and actually many vegans won't even wear clothing, belts, shoes, or anything that is made with animal hide, so the vegan is very rigid. We often hear about people today who are what we call flexatarians, or vegan plus fish. These are people who are basically completely vegan, but may add in fish for the components that we know are found in fish that create health in our body. There's also the lacto-ovo vegetarian who will include dairy products and eggs, but no other animal products. Then there's the lacto or the ovo vegetarian, so one would just have dairy products, but no other animal products, the other one would have eggs, but no other animal products. So, there are various forms of vegetarianism, but the most important or most significant part about it is that it's eliminating the flesh of animal meat (other than in the flexatarian diet which includes fish).
What is a balanced vegetarian diet?
A balanced vegetarian diet will include the number of servings that we recommend of vegetables, which would be about seven to nine servings of whole, fresh vegetables everyday. Three to five servings of whole, fresh fruit everyday. It also includes at least one to two servings of legumes and grains combined. Now that could be as simple as a nut butter on sprouted bread for one of the meals, and it could be some sort of legume -- beans, peas, split peas or whatever -- in another meal with grains. You know, for example, even split pea soup with brown rice in it. You know, that type of thing. That would be a healthy, balanced vegetarian diet. The best ways are to basically focus on whole foods in whole food form as much as possible and limit, again, the packaged, processed foods that we're always telling people to avoid, in general, just for health, no matter what kind of diet they're on. So that's basically a healthy vegetarian diet. It's all plant food overall. If they do incorporate eggs or dairy products, then we look at how to incorporate those in a healthy fashion so that they're not overloading their diet with cheese and eggs to fill them up versus having salads and, you know, healthy dressings on the salad that will help to fill them up, with healthy oils in the dressing and so on.
Will I lose weight if I go on a vegetarian diet?
When it comes to a vegetarian diet, most people think that they will probably lose weight if they go on a vegetarian diet. We often see a lot of young people go on a vegetarian diet with the thought that I can lose weight if I cut out meat and go on this restrictive diet. There are vegetarian diets and there are vegetarian diets. The healthiest vegetarians are the ones who eat a really good plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes. That's a good vegetarian diet. However, a lot of people go on a vegetarian diet and eat a ton of carbohydrate food, you know the rolls and bagels. They think that as long as it doesn't have animal fats or animal protein in it, it's okay to eat but they are not getting the balance of the fruits and vegetables and salads and things that will keep them slim. It's the types of foods you eat, not the type of diet you are on, that will help you to get slim and stay slim.