Whether you decide to eat vegetarian for moral or health reasons, a meat-free diet can have many benefits. Eliminating red meats improves your cardiac health, while excluding animal fat can help you lose inches from your waist.
Nevertheless, vegetarian is not always synonymous with healthy. If you overcompensate food restrictions by indulging with other kinds of treats, you might end up gaining weight, and may even put your health at risk. Below are some of the leading causes of vegetarian weight gain.
1. Assuming vegetarian menu options are lighter
While you can save a lot of calories by eliminating fatty meats from your diet, you shouldn’t assume that all vegetarian meals are healthy. Cheese pizza, for example, is loaded with calories and lacking nutritional value. Despite being vegetarian, pizza is not usually a nutritious meal. Even while cooking at home, you have to look at nutrition labels to know what’s good. Whether it’s veggie lasagna or a veggie sandwich, you still need to be mindful of what you eat. Watch out for heavy sauces or high-calorie ingredients.
Next time you hit the grocery store, take this Ultimate Vegetarian Shopping List along with you! Chockfull of healthy essentials, this list includes everything you need to whip up an endless list of vegetarian recipes.
2. Loading up on processed carbs
The easiest vegetarian meals tend to consist of processed carbs. This includes pastas, breads, tortillas, white rice, and more. Processed carbs metabolize quickly, causing sugar spikes and leading to weight gain. Whether you’re eating vegetarian or not, it’s good practice to combine a single portion of carbs with some lean protein, healthy fats, and light vegetables.
Whip up these low carb Quinoa (Meatless) Meatballs for a satisfying snack or dinner addition. And if you’re searching for a guilt-free, post-dinner indulgence, give these low-carb 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cups a try!
3. Overdoing the cheese
Cheese is one easy way to add flavor to food. Make sure you’re not overcompensating for the lack of meat by adding extra cheese. This might not only cause weight gain, but might also mean you’re consuming too many unhealthy fats.
4. Missing out on important protein
Protein plays an important role in our diets. It helps us build lean muscle, is paramount in workout recovery, and keeps us feeling full for longer. If you eliminate meat from your diet, you have to make sure you’re getting it from vegetarian sources. Beans, nuts, and quinoa are excellent sources of protein. You might also consider adding a protein powder to your diet.
When exercising a vegetarian lifestyle, reaching for the right plants is crucial, as they can offer more powerful protein than the kind you’d find in meat or dairy. Stay healthy and strong on a plant-based diet with these 9 Plant-Based Proteins!
5. Only eating starchy vegetables
Vegetables come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, and they all have different nutritional values. Starchy vegetables (meaning potatoes and many other roots) are mostly made up of simple carbs that cause blood sugar spikes and can lead to weight gain. If most of the vegetables you eat are starchy, you might end up gaining weight. This includes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, yams, and squash. Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, bell peppers, and greens.
Recipes like this delicious Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole or this Wilted Kale, Broccoli, and Tomatoes dish let you shine the spotlight on non-starchy veggies, while enjoying a meal that’s both delicious and satisfying!
6. Being a processed food vegetarian
Processed food is bad for your waistline, even if it’s vegetarian. French fries, deep fried food, ice cream, and cakes are all vegetarian, but they’re packed with unnecessary calories. When we’re on a restrictive diet, we often overcompensate by treating ourselves in other areas. This is especially true for individuals eating a vegan diet. When we find a dairy-free, egg-free, meat-free treat, it’s difficult not to overdo it. However, in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, we should still limit treats to once or twice per week.
Processed sugars in particular can wreak havoc on your health. And unfortunately, you’ll find these sneaky sweeteners everywhere; they’ve even made their way into unexpected items like pizza sauces and salad dressings. Check out these 7 Things Processed Sugar Does to Your Body to learn why you should definitely keep your distance!
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