I’ve maintained significant fat loss for over 10 years (formerly a size 28, I’m now a comfortable size 6). I still identify as having addictive tendencies around food, and I’ve spent the last decade designing a lifestyle in light of that tendency that enables me to live a healthy, joyful, engaged life in a strong, healthy body.
I’m not sure I could have made the strides I have toward recovery from my addiction without the benefit of eating meat. I, and most folks I work with, find that meat satiates like no other food can, providing quick, nutrient-dense satisfaction without any of the pesky cravings for more that come on the heels of starchy or solely veggie-based snacks.
But not everyone eats meat. This probably isn’t news to you.
I’ve supported several meat-disinclined clients through their approximations of the plan. They have had various levels of success, assuming we measure success as a combination of each of the following outcomes:
- Cravings subside
- Energy increases
- Satiety is the normal state
- Excess fat is lost and a healthy weight is achieved
- A healthy weight is maintained long term
Meat-disinclined folks who are obese tend to make modest progress compared to meat-eaters who adopt the plan whole-hog, as it were. I have a few theories as to why. First, specifically vegetarian offerings at most restaurants and social events are often carb-based. Also, in order to be sure they’re getting enough protein, many vegetarians cultivate the kind of portion awareness the plan cautions against. Lastly, but perhaps most significantly, vegetarian protein sources are often either high in fat or unnecessary carbohydrates for the grams of protein they provide.
So what nutritional changes do I suggest that folks make who can’t – or won’t – eat meat? After following clients on low-meat or meat-free variations of my plan, it seems success depends on the extent to which they do the following:
Eliminate grains, sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta and other simple starches
- Eat eggs and fish
- Eliminate frankenfoods & substitutions (vegetarian-specific frankenfoods & substitutions include anything with “non-,” “-style,” “-spread,” “-alternative,” or “-less” in the title)
- Eat high-protein, low-fat, plain greek yogurt
- Lastly, if nuts and beans must be eaten, eat them whole and unprocessed (no hummus, no tofu, no nut butters)
Vegetarians are likely to face more challenges than folks who follow my plan strictly. Acknowledge whatever your specific rough spots will be and then plan and act accordingly. Even making just one of the plan’s suggested changes, like choosing real, whole foods over anything fake or processed, or eliminating sugar or wheat, can bring about profoundly positive mental, emotional changes and go a long way toward righting a body out of balance.
Do stay tuned as I have many behavioral suggestions I’ll outline in future posts that you’re sure to find helpful, whether or not you eat meat.
If you have suggestions for vegetarians who are trying to lose excess stores of fat or get healthier generally I’d love to hear them!