Research shows that vegetarians are less likely to be overweight or obese than their meat-eating counterparts. But some vegetarians find they put on pounds when they switch over to a vegetarian diet. If you’re a vegetarian whose clothes are fitting a bit too snug, take a closer look at what you’re eating. Here’s why you’re gaining weight on a vegetarian diet.
Gaining Weight on a Vegetarian Diet: Are You Eating Too Many of the Wrong Carbs?
It may come as a shock, but some vegetarians rarely put a vegetable in their mouth. Instead they indulge in white potatoes, white rice, white bread – and order convenience foods like French fries, pizza and pasta. Most of these foods are not only high in calories, but they spike insulin levels, which leads to fat storage. On the other hand, there’s a wealth low-glycemic vegetables to choose from that are low in calories and won’t cause insulin spikes. Add some natural color to your plate by choosing more fruits and vegetables if you’re gaining weight on a vegetarian diet.
You’re Not Reading Labels on Convenience Foods
Packaged vegetarian foods are sometimes as high in calories and fat as non-vegetarian items – and many are higher. Some manufacturers try to pump up the taste of what they offer by adding lots of cheese, oil and butter. Some people assume that because it’s vegetarian, it must be healthy and low in calories. Don’t be fooled, always read labels – and choose fresh foods whenever possible.
You’re Substituting Cheese for Meat
Some vegetarians, if they’re not vegan, turn to cheese as their main source of non-meat protein – and no wonder they gain weight. Cheddar cheese has almost three times the calories by weight as chicken breast. If you’re choosing dishes with lots of cheese such as cheese ravioli, cheese pizza, or pasta with cheese sauce, you’re taking in lots of calories even if you’re not eating meat. If you eat a significant amounts of cheese, choose a low-fat version or try a softer cheese such as feta or mozzarella.
You’re Eating More Because You Think It’s Healthy
Some vegetarians think they can eat what they want, because a vegetarian diet is healthier. Sure, there are health benefits to a vegetarian diet, but it’s not a ticket to overindulge. Unless you eat lettuce and raw vegetables, you can gain weight by eating too much of anything. Don’t be duped into believing you can eat as much as you want if you don’t eat meat. Vegetarian foods still have calories.
Gaining Weight on a Vegetarian Diet: The Bottom Line?
Eating a vegetarian diet has health benefits, and, overall, vegetarians are less likely to be obese – but make your food choices wisely. There’s no such thing as a free lunch – even a vegetarian one.