Hey! By the way… TheEdibleTerrace is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission and as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks in advance for your support!
Will you lose weight if you stop eating meat? Many people start a vegetarian and vegan diets motivated by the idea that it will help them control or reduce their weight. In fact, a recent study found that people who eat vegan can drop as much as 30 lbs.
While technically a plant based diet should be lower in calories because fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in calories than meat and dairy, it is important to understand that it can quickly turn unhealthy and will hurt your weight loss efforts.
For example, Oreo’s are vegan. Vegans or vegetarians who eat junk food many of which are vegan will find themselves in trouble. You can lose weight by not eating meat, but this is NOT the way to do it.
Sometimes, those who seek to lose weight by going vegetarian are unaware of the key principals of successful weight loss. And regardless of dietary changes, will struggle with their weight. Today, we talk about scientifically proven steps to weight loss that are safe for vegetarians, vegans and plant-based eaters.
We Must Eat Less Calories Than We Burn
It has been scientifically proven that to lose weight you must expend more calories than you consume for a prolonged period. Your daily caloric needs are a combination of your basal metabolic rate plus any physical activity you engage in. Your basal metabolic rate is largely determined by the amount of muscle mass your body has, with those who have more muscle having a higher metabolic rate.
For many people wanting to lose weight it can be helpful to understand how many calories their body requires each day. Thankfully, there are many reasonably accurate calculators available online which can do this for you.
A website I recommend to calculate the calories you want to take in to lose weight is https://www.calculators.org/health/weight-loss.php
Once you know how many calories your body needs each day, aim to create a daily deficit of around 500 calories from a combination of reduced dietary intake and increased physical activity.
Simple strategies to reduce your calorie intake include:
- Decreasing meal and snack portion sizes (When I get super serious about losing weight, I will actually measure my food so it’s easier for me to track in my weight loss app)
- Choosing healthier, less calorie dense foods such as fruits and vegetables
- Limiting (or eliminating) the consumption of sugary beverages such as fruit juice and soft drinks
Now here is where following a vegetarian diet can play a special role. Plant foods are lower in calories, and very low in fat (which also increases calories in food) so you can eat more while sticking with the deficit discussed above.
Let’s compare two meals – meatless and with meat
A salad with…
2 cups of lettuce (16 calories)
1 tomato (16 calories)
½ cup of cucumber (8 calories)
1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon vinegar (41 calories)
1 cup of cooked black beans (227 calories)
Total calories: 308
The same salad but with the beans removed and…
1 chicken breast (boneless and skinless) – (284 calories)
Total calories: 365
A difference of 57 calories!
The black beans also give you 15 grams of fiber that keep you full longer, a key element of a quality food in weight loss.
Moreover, the fat count is lower in the vegan meal as well, with the chicken breast adding an extra 5 grams of fat over the black beans that only has 1 gram of fat per cup.
As you can see the 57 calories per meal is a big difference, and that is just one meal. There are many more examples that can save tons of calories, so you can choose to save calories, but you can also eat more with plant foods and that makes losing weight easier.
Here is a Good Vegetarian Diet to Lose Weight
Increasing your physical activity will also increase your energy expenditure
Getting some exercise is a healthy way to increase the amount of calories you burn each day and will assist with weight loss when combined with a sensible calorie controlled diet. Best of all for those who do not like running or going to the gym, it really does not matter what physical activity you do.
Simply choose something you enjoy and stick with it for the long run (no pun intended, of course), whether it is going for a walk with a friend, attending a dance class or doing power yoga, it really does not matter.
Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption will help you make healthier food choices
People who have significant fruit and vegetable intakes tend to have less difficulty managing their weight. This is primarily because fruit and vegetables contain fiber, which will keep you fuller longer and prevent you from snacking on less healthy food choices in between meals.
Aim to consume at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. Determining the size of a serving of fruit is easy, with one medium piece considered a serving.
Reduce your intake of high sugar/fat foods and beverages
When attempting to lose weight it is important to limit the quantity of high fat and sugar food choices such as chips, cake, muffins, biscuits, and sweets. This applies universally to all eaters, including vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters.
These foods provide little nutritional benefit and contribute significant amounts of sugar, fat, and therefore empty calories. To lose weight, try swapping these foods with healthier snack choices such as fruit, yogurt, raw vegetables, nuts, and even cheese on whole-wheat biscuits.
Limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks
I know. I know. NOBODY likes to hear that. But here’s the fact – alcohol contributes a whopping 7 calories per gram; therefore, it is unsurprising why many drinkers have difficulty achieving significant weight loss. When drinking, it is highly recommended that you limit your consumption to one or two alcoholic drinks spaced with water. This will help you limit your calorie consumption and provide a significant benefit to your health and waistline.
Going Vegetarian To Lose Weight (or Vegan)
In reality, going meat free and focusing on a plant-based lifestyle has many more benefits than just losing weight. Most vegetables and fruit are incredibly nutrient rich especially if you include a variety of colors in your diet (Did you know that antioxidants are actually in the colors?!? Mind blown! 💥).
So you’re giving your body a serious nutrient boost by making your plate more about plants than about meat AND the reduced calories will help you lose that excess weight as well! That’s when you get some serious bang for your buck!
To answer the question then of “Will you lose weight if you stop eating meat?” You can but all the same rules still apply as when you do eat meat. You still have to make really good choices in what you consume, and you should still exercise to help increase the calorie deficit. BUT, it is absolutely possible and in some cases, may be much easier.