Can a vegetarian diet help you lose weight faster?

Pumpkin or poultry – which of the two meal choices are likely to help you drop the pounds? Research shows that following a vegetarian diet may actually help you lose weight faster.

There are many reasons why people choose to go vegetarian. Some are compelled by the environmental impact of confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO). Others are guided by ethical concerns or religious reasons. But many choose a vegetarian diet because they’re under the impression that it’s a healthier choice from a nutritional perspective.

Vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index (a measure of body fat) than their meat-eating counterparts. If you’re doing it right – ie eating lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains – you’ll likely feel full on fewer calories than you’re allowed each day. With that “calorie deficit” and a little physical activity, you’re bound to lose those extra kilos.

According to research published inNutrition journal, people who ate a vegan or vegetarian diet lost about twice as much weight as those following modified vegetarian or omnivorous diet. Overweight and obese adults were randomly assigned one of five low-fat and low-glycemic index diets for this six month study: vegan (no animal products), vegetarian (dairy products included), pesco-vegetarian (dairy products and seafood included), semi-vegetarian (all food included, but red meat no more than once a week and poultry no more than five times a week), or omnivorous (no restrictions on food type and frequency). The dieters were not given goals for limiting the number of calories they ate. After six months, those in the vegan group had lost the most weight, an average of 7.5 pounds. The vegetarian group was not far behind, with an average loss of 6.3 pounds. Those in the other groups lost only half as much weight.

One of the key reasons why being vegetarian can accelerate weight-loss is because most practitioners follow a fiber-rich diet, which helps clean out your system. Animal products like red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk and cheese on the other hand contain zero fiber.

Some of the key vegetarian foods that are good for weight loss are:

Hot peppers
boost metabolism and circulation, reduces cravings

Whole grains
oatmeal and brown rice complex carbohydrates that speed up metabolism by stabilizing our insulin levels

Broccoli
high in calcium, vitamins C, K and A and the best detox food you can add to your diet

Soups
speeding up the metabolism and burning fat

Green tea
boosts the metabolism, rich in antioxidants that actively fight harmful free radicals

Apples and pears
boost metabolism and speed up weight-loss

Citrus fruits
burn fat and keep our metabolism high, high amount of vitamin C, a helpful and healthful component that reduces insulin spikes

While plant-based diets offer significant benefits to one’s health, the few risks they come with should be mentioned. For one, essential nutrients may be lacking partially or completely with strict vegetarian/vegan diets. Several studies have shown that both vegetarians and vegans are prone to deficiencies in B12, calcium, iron, zinc, the long-chain fatty acids EPA & DHA, and fat-soluble vitamins like A & D.