Becoming a vegetarian may not always equate with losing weight. While eliminating beef, pork or chicken from your diet may mean fewer calories from meat sources, you may still put on a few pounds when you consume more vegetables that are loaded with complex carbohydrates or high in calories.
Vegetarians may pile on the calories coming from the fruits and vegetables they eat. Some tend to eat more to feel full and by doing so, they unwittingly fill themselves with more calories than meat eaters do.
Replacing meat with fruits and vegetables may help improve your health, but if you intend to lose weight in the process, you should still observe the following general principles of healthy eating:
Eat the right kinds of food
Vegetarian chips, oatmeal cookies, power bars and other meal replacement products may be loaded with carbohydrates and packed with calories. The idea that these are not made from meat products should not serve as your excuse to consume large quantities of these items and subsist on them alone.
It is best to eat moderate amounts of a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. Plan your meals so that you can take a closer look at the calorie content and other nutritional values of the food you eat.
Ensure you consume the right amount of protein from non-meat sources: soy products and pulses are good examples.
Watch your food portions
Studies show that vegetarians tend to eat more than non-vegetarians. Whether you are a carnivore or a vegetarian, eating more than what your body needs for nourishment may still translate into weight gain. If you have an inactive lifestyle, you need less food to get you through the day; otherwise, your body may store the excess calories that cause you to gain weight.
Mind how your food is prepared
The way your vegetables are cooked may add some fat to your diet. This is particularly true for fried foods. Frying vegetables may cause you to gain weight because the cooking process incorporates fat from the cooking oil into your otherwise fat-free food. Vegetable tempura, for example, is coated with a batter mixture of flour and egg that absorbs plenty of oil as it is deep-fried.
Watch out also for dishes that soak vegetables in high-fat sauces and avoid these if you are trying to lose weight. Choose vegetables that are boiled, steamed or sautéed. Oftentimes, it is best to eat at home or prepare your own meals to ensure that your food is prepared the healthy way.
Increasing physical activity is essential in any weight loss plan
Good nutrition and regular exercise must always go together in order to maintain your current weight or to shed some pounds. Eating the right kinds and adequate amounts of food is only the first step towards losing weight. If you spend some time doing exercises every week, you will not only be able to keep the pounds away, but may even lose some weight as a result.
Physical activities like running, biking, brisk walking, swimming and playing some sport are excellent opportunities for your body to spend the calories it consumes from the food you eat. Remember, you may not gain weight if your body burns more of the calories that it consumes daily.
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