One of the weird things I’ve always found about my vegetarian friends is that many of them are, if not exactly overweight, then a bit zoftig or plump. How is it possible, I always wondered to myself, to put on extra pounds if you’re eating celery and carrots all day?
Well, it turns out that vegetarians eat far more than celery and carrots. 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, vegetarian weight loss is a real concern.
The problem with eating tons of nuts is simple 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 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 overal 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’s a big part of most vegetarian diets. However when it comes to vegetarian weight loss, 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, white meat chicken or fish, proteins that you’d find on most non vegetarian weight loss plans.
So how do vegetarians lose weight? Well, part of it is that they simply have to exercise harder and find alternate ways to take in protein. Certain grains like quinoa or brown rice 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.