Is a Vegetarian Diet really Healthy?

Many people believe that a vegetarian diet is the key for a long and healthy life; others become vegetarians for ethical reasons. Over the years arguments about the lack of nutrients and vitamins from a vegetarian diet has been debated and it has now been established that an equal amount of nutrition can be obtained from vegetables and fruits; but what happens if you become a vegetarian for healthy reasons and suddenly start gaining weight?

 The lack of animal food, especially red meat will lower your risk of heart diseases and obesity.  However, the problem that many “new vegetarians” experience is that their diet is based on cheese-based dishes, pasties and quiches; even salads are not really healthy when they are smothered in mayonnaise.

A meat-free diet does not necessarily mean that it is healthy choice and the perfect balance of nutrients, vitamins, proteins, calcium, zinc and iron is normally overlooked by the false believe of a nutritional vegetarian meal.  Bad eating habit in vegetarians is common, partly blamed on the popular assumption of the many benefits of a healthy vegetarian dish.


Lose weight with a nutritionally balanced veggie diet

        1.  Avoid pasties and cheese-based meals.

        2.  Take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement

        3.  Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day.


        4.  Try to eat a portion of protein with each meal: good quality protein in your diet has a direct impact on your metabolic rate; accelerating weight loss and improving your immunity body defence and muscles fitness. The main rich-quality protein meals are: tofu, nuts, eggs, beans, rice, lentils, soya-based products and milk.


        5.  Eat plenty of iron-rich food: a diet lacking of iron could cause anaemia; this is in fact, one of the most common nutritional problems in the UK and US. Try to eat dried apricots, sesame seeds, peanuts, peas, lentils, and breakfast cereals. All these foods are low in fat and the perfect choice if you are trying to lose weight.


        6.  Essential fats (Omega 3 and 6) for a healthy nervous system, hormones and skin. It is important to realise that there are good and bad fats. You should avoid bad fats (saturated fats: e.g.: ice cream, cheese, coconut milk, cocoa butter, palm oil and others) if you are trying to lose weight and be healthier; and replace them with good fat (not-saturated). The best sources of essential fats are: nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil (increases the rate of fat burning), avocado (weight loss friendly thanks to the mono-saturated fat content) and flax oil.


        7.   Include at least five portions of vegetable and 3 portions of fruit into your diet; more if possible but if you are trying to lose weight focus more on the vegetables rather than the fruit. The idea is simple: the darker the fruit and vegetable, the higher the antioxidant content (berries, plums, dark green vegetables and oranges are great sources of antioxidants) they provide lots of nutrients and vitamins.


        8.  Two weekly sessions of sauna will help you lose weight as well. It is now considered a light exercise and contributes to weight loss.


         9.  Try to eat small but regular meals: 5 or 6 small meals a day is perfect to avoid the hunger feeling; if you have only 3 normal meals a day you might feel hungry in-between meals and the snacks available might not be the healthier ones.


         10.  Regular exercise: 3 weekly sessions of moderate physical exercise is ideal for weight loss; if possible try to include a 30 to 45 minutes of intense exercise as well. An excellent exercise for weight loss is Bikram Yoga.


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