Since vegetarian diets are often full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, it often follows that such a fibre-rich and nutrient-packed diet will be lower in calories and may therefore lead to weight loss.
Studies show a vegetarian diet can be effective way to lose weight, but of course, the benefits of a vegetarian diet could be cancelled out if you choose foods and meals full of refined carbs or highly processed foods.1
So what makes the best vegetarian diet for weight loss? We take a closer look.
What are the best foods to lose weight?
Our Health Hub article on the best foods for weight loss details a number of foods that may support weight loss as part of a calorie controlled diet, as well as highlighting that there is no one, specific food which will, on its own, magically help you shift weight.
The real key to weight loss is having a balance of foods that contain all the nutrients your body needs.
And the best food for weight loss is a mix of foods from these groups, whether you eat meat and fish or you are vegetarian or vegan:
fruit and vegetables
low-fat dairy (or alternatives)
In the end, weight loss is all about calories. The calories that you are consuming need to be lower than your calorie output if you want to lose weight.
The NHS weight loss plan offers support for those looking to lose weight safely, by keeping a track of your calories and can help you learn to make healthier food choices.2 The weekly plans include vegetarian options for all food groups.
One benefit of vegetarian foods is that they are often also high in fibre which in turn keeps you feeling full and therefore helps you resist the temptation to snack in between meals.3We stock all sorts of foods for vegans and vegetarians, so have a browse and see what foods can be included in your weight loss diet plans.
Planning healthy and delicious vegetarian or vegan meal plans does not have to be tedious and time consuming.
Vegetarian diet plans are easier than ever to create and stick to, thanks to the abundance of foods and choices available.
Here is an example of three days of meals that keeps your calorie allowance within the 1,900-1,400kcal NHS-recommended range for weight loss.4
Apricot porridge, minestrone soup, wholemeal fruit bar, tofu stir fry
Apple and muesli smoothie, mulligatawny soup, fruit and nut bar, black eyed bean, feta and herb burger, fruit sundae
Check out the meal planner at Diabetes UK for more calorie and diet specific meal plans.5
I am vegetarian so what is stopping my weight loss?
If you were to track your calories, chances are that you are going to find out that you are eating more calories than you should be.
Here are some of the key reasons why your vegetarian diet might not be resulting in the weight loss you are hoping for:
Eating too many refined carbohydrates
Bread, pizza and pasta seem to be a go-to veggie option, especially when you are eating out.
However, these foods do not contain enough fibre to keep you feeling full. So you are more likely to feel hungry again soon after.
Choose healthier, complex carbohydrates where possible.
Eating large portions
Don’t let yourself be convinced that the “healthy” vegetarian choice means that you can go for larger portions.
This can result in weight gain and be counter-productive to your weight loss aims!
Not eating enough protein
This can be a challenging one for those shifting from relying on meat as their main protein source.
If you do not eat enough protein, you might not feel full and then you will be more likely to binge on other foods, upping your calorie intake.
Check out our Health Hub article for how to get plenty of vegetarian protein article into your vegetarian diet plan.
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.