Turns Out This Diet's Just as Calorie-Burning (and Healthy) as the Mediterranean

Vegetable pizza

Alberto Bogo / Stocksy

new study has found that the vegetarian diet is just as good for weight loss as the über-healthy Mediterranean diet. And the vegetarian diet was actually more effective at lowering LDL cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol. We know: There are so many ways so many diets and methods out there that it can get a bit exhausting. But a vegetarian diet is increasingly becoming one to consider since it's also been proven to help you burn twice as many calories as other diets.

For those who still turn their noses up at the vegetarian diet, being veggie is totally different these days. For a start, there are so many more veggie options, and there are some amazing recipes—not to mention restaurants—that cater to this diet. Want to know how it can help you lose weight, plus the best recipes to follow? Here's a super-quick download on the vegetarian diet.

What Is the Vegetarian Diet?

The vegetarian diet isn't as restrictive as a vegan diet, so while meat's off the table, you can still eat eggs and dairy products. However, you want to make sure you get your daily intake of protein. Many vegetarians get this from beans, pulses and eggs, with tofu and Quorn also being popular.

How Does It Help You Lose More Weight?

Food Effect author and nutritionist Michelle Braude, MD, confirmed that the vegetarian diet is the best for weight loss: "[One study of obsese individuals found] that most men and women lose weight when they switch to eating plant-based protein instead of red meat and animal protein." She also cited a study that followed 1730 male employees for seven years and found that the more animal protein and saturated fats people ate, the more at risk they were of becoming overweight or obese.

Braude also explained that animal protein, especially meat, is high in saturated fat, "so by cutting this out of your diet, you save a lot of calories." She even said that despite chicken's "healthy" label, "certain cuts of poultry, such as dark chicken with the skin on, are extremely high in fat and, therefore, calories." So since a vegetarian diet is generally low in fat, you end up shedding pounds easier. It's as simple as that.

I'm Sold—Where Do I Sign Up?

The first thing is to work out if you can curb your meat intake. It's also worth noting that if you're dairy intolerant or can't eat eggs or nuts, it's not as easy to get your protein, which you will need for a balanced diet. However, it can be done. Braude again offered some sage advice about how to get enough protein in your diet when becoming vegetarian.

"If you're wondering how you will get enough protein and iron if you don't eat animal protein, just consider that the world's strongest primate, the gorilla, consumes enough of these nutrients by just eating fruit and vegetables and leaves," she says. Unlike the gorilla, she continued, "a human's vegetarian diet is likely to be a lot more varied, with plenty of plant-based sources of protein (nuts, nut butter, beans, legumes and so on so you definitely have nothing to worry about."

If you are worried about getting enough protein (the recommended consumption for the average woman is 46 grams per day), Braude has created a useful table you can use to work it out by eating meat alternatives:

Meat Alternatives High in Protein

Food                                                   Protein amount

75g cooked lentils                              18g protein

75g cooked split peas                        16g protein

2 eggs                                                12g protein

250g 0% Greek yogurt 23g protein

100g uncooked oats                           7g protein

1 sweet potato                  4g protein

40g chia seeds                 12g protein

25g protein powder              20–25g protein

4 tbsp sunflower seeds           8g protein

vegetarian diet: Mildreds The Vegetarian Cookbook
Daniel Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman Mildreds: The Cookbook $27 $18
vegetarian diet: Fresh India 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes
Meera Sodha Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes $55 $14
vegetarian diet: Dr Michelle Braude The Food Effect Diet
Dr. Michelle Braude The Food Effect Diet $18 $9

Next up, nine small changes that will banish belly fat.

Article Sources
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  1. Sofi F, Dinu M, Pagliai G, et al. Low-Calorie Vegetarian Versus Mediterranean Diets for Reducing Body Weight and Improving Cardiovascular Risk Profile: CARDIVEG Study (Cardiovascular Prevention With Vegetarian Diet). Circulation. 2018;137(11):1103-1113 doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030088

  2. Kahleova H, Klementova M, Herynek V, et al. The Effect of a Vegetarian vs Conventional Hypocaloric Diabetic Diet on Thigh Adipose Tissue Distribution in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017;36(5):364-369. doi:10.1080/07315724.2017.1302367

  3. Turner-mcgrievy G, Mandes T, Crimarco A. A plant-based diet for overweight and obesity prevention and treatment. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017;14(5):369-374. doi:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.002

  4. Bujnowski D, Xun P, Daviglus ML, Van horn L, He K, Stamler J. Longitudinal association between animal and vegetable protein intake and obesity among men in the United States: the Chicago Western Electric Study. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111(8):1150-1155.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2011.05.002

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