5 Weight Control Tips for (Mostly) Vegetarian Diet

When I try to go vegetarian – except for fish & eggs – I gain weight.

Vegetarian Weight Gain

I eat quinoa, but generally find I must leave beans and rice alone. I’m 68, in good shape, and very active outdoors, hiking, snow shoeing and camping.

How can I control my weight and still be mostly vegetarian? Thank you! B. B.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Hi B. B. – I’ve gotten many similar questions over the last 8 years – including a letter from last year which sounds like it was from you.

I don’t have much to say that’s different – except, please consider taking the leap and going all the way vegetarian or vegan.

5 Weight Control Tips for (Mostly) Vegetarian Diet

1. Reduce dairy consumption, and go for low fat dairy options. Salmon and eggs are high calorie, so reduce the portion sizes and frequency. Eat a lot more veggies and fresh fruit in relation to the amount of grains and protein foods (2/1 is a good proportion). Include some raw, e.g. salads or smoothies. Eat little sugar, processed foods, added oils (empty calories). Steam or broil rather than fry. Eat more whole grains and much less bread.

2. There are many types of legumes and whole grains. Explore a bit and see if you can find some you can tolerate. Millet, barley, oats, buckwheat, spelt, amaranth, rye, corn are examples of grains. Mung beans and mung dahl, red lentils (masoor dahl), and urad dahl are some legumes that are easy to tolerate. Also black eyed peas and adzuki beans. Sprouting grains and legumes makes them easier to digest and more nutritious. Also, how you cook and prepare them makes a difference.

See the Savvy Vegetarian Nutrition Report and the Beans Without Gas Report for more information. Visit Savvy Vegetarian Recipes for tasty ways to cook those foods.


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3. A handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or chia seeds, ground or whole in cereals or smoothies every day will give you vital nutrients while supplying good fats which you need in small quantities. Same with walnuts and other nuts, and avocados.

4. People often don’t know just how many calories they’re eating. It’s a great reality check to eat as usual for a week, but write down everything you eat, then run a calorie count, using a service like nutrition data.com, or the usda nutrition data tables.


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5. Try going vegan for a week or two and see what happens to your weight.

Or establish a vegan day once or twice a week, on which you eat no dairy, egg or fish, but lots of veggies, fruits and whole grains.

I give much more detailed advice in other weight loss advice letters. Rather than repeat myself even more, I’ll list those most relevant to your situation:

Healthy 60 Year Old Vegetarian Wants to Lose Weight

Hidden Calories and Vegetarian Weight Gain

Take Control Of Your Weight With a Nutritious Vegetarian Diet

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4 Responses to “5 Weight Control Tips for (Mostly) Vegetarian Diet”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Part of the impetus for my change to a vegan diet was the hope of weight loss. It didn’t work! However, I felt so much better, I was sold on the lifestyle anyway. I did eventually lose the extra weight, but only after counting calories and starting an exercise program. No surprise, I guess!

  2. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Linda, I don’t think it’s obvious – most of us consume far more processed foods than we’re aware of or would admit to. I guess I assumed that for this man, who conscientiously eats healthy, that wasn’t part of the problem. But you’re right, I should have mentioned it. Never Assume! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Linda Watson says:

    You didn’t mention it, probably because it’s so obvious to you, but also drop the processed foods, including sodas. Factory foods use sugar and fat to hide the age and poor quality of their ingredients. Shelf life = pot belly.

  4. Jan says:

    I have the same problem. Something about veggie-protein, which is always mixed with carbs, seems to cause me to gain weight. I may not be able to ever be a 100% vegetarian. I have found, however, that eating a LOT of sprouts (a couple ounces) almost every day with a good variety (alfalfa, broccoli, clover, sunflower, etc. etc.) helps a lot. I can reduce the number of “meat days” in a week without feeling low-energy or suffering too much from low-carb-craziness, which seems to me to be an unavoidable emotional state associated with ketosis (burning fat for energy rather than carbs which is necessary for me to release weight). So, my recommendation is not likely to solve this problem altogether, but it may get you closer. Try adding sprouts to your regular diet.

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