Hey Angels and Alphas,
If you’re trying to lose weight right now, you’ve likely been reading about (and might even be dabbling in the idea) becoming a flexitarian. This approach to eating involves you eating less meat or switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet in order to lose weight.
After all, research does show that people who follow plant-powered diets tend to weigh less. But, if you can’t imagine a sandwich or dinner without meat in between the buns, this could be a difficult and stressful transition. And whether you decide to opt for meat or plant-based sources, it’s important to continue getting enough protein to feel satisfied at every meal and to maintain muscle throughout your weight-loss journey.
So let’s take a look at what the experts have to say and answer the question – should you really say goodbye to meatballs, steak, and chicken to lose weight?
THE CASE FOR EATING MEAT TO LOSE WEIGHT
Reducing your intake of red meat can indeed help you lose weight. Numerous studies show eating less meat has been linked to an overall lower body mass index (BMI.)
If you are one of those people who have meat at every meal, experts recommend eating less because there’s a lot of animal fat in animal protein sources. This can increase your overall calorie intake. If you are someone who eats meat about 3–4 times a week — which would be the general limit for overall health — more meat won’t help your waistline.
If you’re used to eating meat all the time, suddenly making it “off-limits” for your weight loss journey can make your job much harder than it has to be. For instance, 4 ounces (which would be about 120 grams) of lean ground beef will provide you with 24 grams of protein.
If you want to get the same amount from a plant-based protein such as quinoa, you would have to eat around 3 cups of it. This clocks in at nearly four times the calories, and not to mention, considerably more carbohydrates.
THE CASE FOR EATING LESS MEAT TO LOSE WEIGHT
Studies have shown that a plant-based diet that is rich fiber and protein foods is healthier, much cheaper, and much more effective for achieving weight loss than a meat eater’s diet.
The fiber found in beans and vegetables will help slow digestion and makes the person feel fuller for a longer period of time so they’re satisfied with fewer calories. Meat has no fiber and red meat, in particular, is pretty high in saturated fat.
You don’t need to cut out meat completely just so you can reap the weight-loss benefits of a plant-based diet. Decreasing your red meat intake to just about 3–4 times a week and then replacing the rest with quality poultry or plant-based proteins will help you reduce your overall fat and calorie intake. Then, you can also tip the scale in your favor by using other strategies such as filling half of your plate with low-calorie, nutrient-dense veggies, and then including satiating protein in every snack.
When people transition to a plant-based diet for weight loss, a lot of them will tend to overhaul their usual diet. However, this can be a drastic lifestyle change including more time grocery shopping and prepping meals. And honestly, not everyone has the time or skills to do that.
Let’s not forget: Just because something is vegan, vegetarian or plant-based will not necessarily mean it’s healthy or that it is some sort of magic bullet for successful weight loss. Bring balance in your diet, and include lean, satiating forms of animal protein that can help you lose weight without all the saturated fat in red meat.