According to research published by the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, people who follow a vegetarian diet or vegan diet — meaning they avoid all meat and possibly dairy, fish and eggs too — represent between 2 percent to 5 percent of the total adult population in the United States. (1) Several analyses that have compared vegetarian diets to non-vegetarian diets have found that those eating predominately plant-based diets have increased protection against health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, obesity and total mortality.
If you eat your dinner restaurant style on your plate rather than family style, helping yourself from bowls and platters on the table, you’ll lose weight. Most of us tend to eat an average of 150 percent more calories in the evening than in the morning. You’ll avoid that now because when your plate is empty, you’re finished; there’s no reaching for seconds.
Protein helps maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are good sources, and you don't need to eat large amounts to meet your protein needs. You can also get sufficient protein from plant-based foods if you eat a variety of them throughout the day. Plant sources include soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
To encourage ketone production, the amount of insulin in your bloodstream must be low. The lower your insulin, the higher your ketone production. And when you have a well-controlled, sufficiently large amount of ketones in your blood, it’s basically proof that your insulin is very low – and therefore, that you’re enjoying the maximum effect of your low-carbohydrate diet. That’s what’s called optimal ketosis.
People who eat a high amount of vegetables and fruit daily tend to have the best protection against weight gain as they age. Because plant-based foods like fresh veggies and fruit are very low in calories yet are high in terms of volume and therefore take up lots of room in your stomach, they are filling and keep you from over-eating. Plant-based (or “mostly plant-based”) diets are tied to a lowered risk for obesity, lower BMI status and reduced complications related to obesity, such as heart problems or metabolic syndrome. (6)
Non-dairy milks that are fortified with calcium, such as soymilk and almond milk can also contribute a significant amount of calcium in the diet. The calcium found in broccoli, bok choy, and kale have also been found to have calcium that is well absorbed in the body. Though the calcium content per serving is lower in these vegetables than a glass of milk, the absorption of the calcium into the body is higher. Other foods that contain calcium include calcium-set tofu, blackstrap molasses, turnip greens, mustard greens, soybeans, tempeh, almonds, okra, dried figs, and tahini. Though calcium can be found in Spinach, swiss chard, beans and beet greens, they are generally not considered to be a good source since the calcium binds to oxalic acid and is poorly absorbed into the body. Phytic acid found in nuts, seeds, and beans may also impact calcium absorption rates. See the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements for calcium needs for various ages, the Vegetarian Resource Group and the Vegetarian Nutrition Calcium Fact Sheet from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more specifics on how to obtain adequate calcium intake on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Make sure that everything you're eating is whole — as in nothing processed or packaged. Since salt is a preservative, these are the foods that are highest in sodium — something to keep in mind when planning your meals. Plan on making sure that all items you choose are fresh. That means filling up on fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
Sure, you certainly need to drink plenty of water to help expedite the process of ridding your body of excess sodium, you can (and should!) also consume high-water content foods. Reach for cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, asparagus, grapes, celery, artichokes, pineapple, and cranberries — all of which contain diuretic properties that will also help you stay full due to their higher fiber content.
The simplest definition of vegetarianism is a diet free of meat, fish, and fowl flesh. But eating habits of vegetarians cover a wide spectrum. At one end are lacto-ovo vegetarians, who avoid animal flesh but eat eggs and milk products. At the other end are vegans, who forgo eating (and often wearing) all animal-based products, including honey. Raw foodists are vegans who eat mainly raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, sprouts, and nuts.