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I've been a vegetarian for years, but I just can't seem to lose weight. Why is this? — Kikki, MO

Jane Folkman


Vegetarian diets, like all diets, need to be planned appropriately to be nutritionally adequate and balanced. You can't lose weight because you're eating enough calories to maintain your weight. If you want to lose weight, you will either need to reduce your food intake or increase your exercise. Ideally you should do both.

A sensible approach is to reduce your caloric intake by 10 to 20 percent. For the average woman, this would be between a 250 and 500-calorie reduction each day. Combined with the increased exercise, you could easily lose about one pound per week. Most experts recommend a combined total of at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days. Smaller amounts are fine, but try to accumulate at least 30 minutes a day.

Use FoodFit's Healthy Weight Calculator and Burner Calculator to help you meet your goals. Choose an eating plan that includes three meals plus planned snacks. Use the Food Guide Pyramid to help you with the suggested number of servings to eat from each food group. To reduce weight, choose serving amounts from the lower end of the range for each group. Choose a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts and seeds. When possible, choose whole, unrefined foods over highly sweetened, fatty, and heavily refined foods. If you eat animal foods such as dairy products, choose lower-fat versions. Cheese and other high-fat dairy foods and eggs should be limited due to their saturated fat content and because they can often take the place of plant foods in some vegetarian diets.

About Jane Folkman

Jane Folkman, MS, RD graduated from Case Western Reserve University on a full scholarship with a Master's degree in Public Health Nutrition . She also attended the University of Vermont where she earned her BS degree with a double major in Human Nutrition and Foods and Animal Sciences. Her specialty areas are maternal and child health, diabetes, and nutrition communications.

Jane has served as an elected officer for the American Dietetic Association, and on numerous committees and task forces for this leading professional organization. She has also served as the President of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association. Jane was chosen the Distinguished Dietitian of the Year Award for Massachusetts in 1994.

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