The Flexitarian Diet
There’s a good chance that if you follow the Flexitarian diet, you’ll lose weight and keep it off. Expert medical nutritionists actually give the plan respectable scores for both short-term and long-term weight loss, and research suggests that semi-vegetarians weigh less than carnivores. By consuming mostly plant-based foods, such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains, you’ll likely consume fewer calories, which leads to lower weight. Flexitarians weigh 15 percent less than their more carnivorous counterparts; have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer; and live an average of 3.6 years longer.
The Flexitarian diet is a marriage of two worlds: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago, and in her 2009 book, The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life, registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner says you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits associated with vegetarianism. You can be a vegetarian most of the time, but still chow down on a burger or steak when the urge hits.
Becoming a flexitarian is about adding five food groups to your diet and not taking any away. These are: the “new meat” (tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds, and eggs); fruits and veggies; whole grains; dairy; and sugar and spice (everything from dried herbs to salad dressing to agave nectar sweetener). A five-week diet meal plan provides breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes. You can follow the plan as it’s outlined, or swap recipes from different weeks to meet your preferences. It’s a 3-4-5 diet regimen: Breakfast choices are around 300 calories, lunches 400, and dinners 500.
Snacks are about 150 calories each; add two, and your daily total clocks in at 1,500 calories. Depending on your activity level, gender, height, and weight, you can tweak the plan to allow for slightly greater or fewer calories. Flexitarian meals revolve around plant proteins rather than animal proteins. You might have cereal topped with soy milk, nuts, and berries for breakfast; black bean soup with a salad and whole-grain roll for lunch, an apple with peanut butter for a snack, and a barbeque veggie burger with sweet potato fries for dinner.