One of the strange things I’ve always found about my vegetarian friends is that many of them are, if not exactly overweight, then a bit plump or zaftig. How is it possible, I always wondered to myself, to put on extra pounds if you’re eating carrots and celery all day?
Well, it turns out that vegetarians eat far more than just carrots and celery. In fact their diets tend to be a bit high in fats thanks to all the nuts and soy they eat, which means that for many, a vegetarian weight loss diet is a real concern.
The problem with eating tons of nuts is simply the fat content. Nuts all nuts, but obviously some more than others are very high in fat. In most instances it’s the type of fat that’s not “bad” for your heart or anything like that, but it’s still nevertheless fat. It’s metabolized much more slowly than traditional carbs and is much harder to burn off during exercise.
The problem with soy isn’t the fat content, but rather the fact that it slows down your overall metabolism. Soy is a great food, able to be molded for just about any dish, and can even be quite tasty on its own, so it plays a big part of most vegetarian diets. However when it comes to a vegetarian weight loss diet, it’s a hindrance because during weight loss cycles you want to jump-start your metabolism, not slow it down. The proteins from soy are unlike those from, say, fish or white meat chicken, proteins that you’d find on most non vegetarian weight loss plans.
So how exactly do vegetarians lose weight anyway? Well, part of it is that they simply have to exercise harder and find alternate ways to take in protein. Certain grains like brown rice or quinoa have protein in them, and can be genetically modified to produce higher amounts of protein in them to replace nuts and soy in the diet. The other, more traditional way is to do what people have been doing for time immemorial: Beans and rice.
Yes, the old standby still works. Red kidney beans and brown rice combine to form what nutritionists consider a “complete protein,” based upon the way it reacts chemically with your body. It increases your metabolism and encourages muscle growth, making it a staple part of any vegetarian weight loss plan that isn’t just slashing calories for a desired effect.