Will being a vegetarian help me lose weight?
No, not necessarily. Being a vegetarian does not mean you will eat less calories, it simply means that your calories come from different sources. When people switch to a vegetarian diet they replace the meat in their meals with plant protein like beans, tofu, peanut butter, and nuts. Plant proteins do have calories and fat (although mostly good fats!) and switching from meat to these types of protein will not necessarily lead to weight loss.
When going vegetarian it is important to monitor your food intake and make sure you eat a variety of foods. Some vegetarian foods like cheeses, dairy products, baked goods, and snack foods are high in calories and unhealthy fats. Choosing to eat a lot of these foods and not as many healthy foods may actually cause weight gain!
In general, a healthy vegetarian diet consists mostly of plant protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These types of foods are high in vitamins and minerals and lower in calories. Eating a combination of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods and less fatty snack foods like cookies, chips, and high fat cheeses can help promote weight loss. However, it's important to remember that weight loss does not only occur by making healthy food choices, but by increasing physical activity as well. If weight loss is your primary reason for going vegetarian consider speaking with a registered dietitian before making the switch.
by Julia Driggers, RD