Coach GP
Amina Aliyu

Vegetarians and Nutrients: Do they go hand-in-hand?

The inevitable thoughts are creeping in - the holidays are right around the corner, and weight loss will become top of mind before you know it. And while that seems to be the natural response for most of us, we tend to find it difficult to find a diet that actually works for us long-term.

But skipping past the post-holiday diets that will soon fizzle out we find ourselves at the resolution diets that some people take on after the new year rolls around. They decide they want to be healthier, eat cleaner, cut out unnecessary products in their diets so as to eliminate the toxins that enter their body through food on a daily basis.

One such diet that seems to come up quite frequently as a more long-term solution is vegetarianism. Vegetarians are known for eating only plant-based diets with no dairy, meat, or animal products whatsoever. However, some vegetarians do continue eating dairy and eggs (sometimes personal preferences and sometimes for protein upkeep). 

However, there are some skeptics out there that question whether or not vegetarians actually receive the appropriate amount of nutrients needed for a healthy diet on a daily basis if they only consume plant-based foods and no meat.

One study was conducted that actually showed the results of this highly sought after question.

After reviewing the nutrient levels of about 13,000 participants, the study proved that vegetarians were actually getting higher intake levels of nutrients than non-vegetarians. This seems almost impossible, right? But in actuality, it is completely plausible. 

What the study found was that the nutrients were absorbed easier by the body of a vegetarian because they were eating less of the harmful chemicals in processed foods and meat. Vegetarians were also found to get more fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E than their non-vegetarian counterparts. Therefore, the nutrient debate has been solved - vegetarians actually received more nutrients than non-vegetarians.

But choosing a vegetarian lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean that you will lose weight (contrary to popular belief). Nutrient-based diets used for weight loss are not feasible. While vegetarians do consume 363 fewer calories than non-vegetarians, according to the study, there were still subjects in the study who were overweight, even on a vegetarian diet.

Losing weight is absolutely feasible with a vegetarian diet for multiple reasons: fewer calories, more nutrients, and a higher metabolic resting rate. But weight loss goes deeper than just diets. One must also take care of their physical health and exercise to increase their chances at losing weight and maintaining the weight loss achieved.

Doctors and dieticians do agree that a vegetarian lifestyle is easier to maintain long term. When a person embarks on the vegetarian diet lifestyle, they realize how much better they feel after living without meat and animal products altogether! They also don’t have to count calories or watch their portion sizes. This is a win-win for everyone involved, which makes this diet much easier to maintain for the long term.

So if you’ve been wondering whether or not a vegetarian diet would leave you with a lack of nutrients, your answer has been found - no! You absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need while losing weight at a healthy rate by living a vegetarian lifestyle. Eat all of the leafy greens you want - you will be just fine!