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Consumption of a diet of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, and avoidance of meat and high-fat animal products leads to less obesity, lower blood cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. Adopting an uncontrolled vegan diet to lose weight can, however, be counterproductive. A strict vegan diet plan might lack key nutrients such as proteins, vitamins and minerals, resulting in harmful side effects.
The success of the weight loss depends on consumption of a balanced diet that incorporates all the required nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, fats including fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. Foods that provide such a balanced diet include phytochemical-rich plant foods, vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and dairy products.
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Rep Esselstyne's Engine 2 Diet
How to start a vegan diet? One approach is Rep Esselstyne’s Engine 2 Diet. This plant based diet incorporates whole grains, vegetables, legumes, tofu, and soy products, and mandates total abstinence from all animal based and refined foods. This diet ensures a low fat and sugar intake resulting in the calories burning away and consequently weight loss.
The Engine 2 Diet provides vegetarian alternatives for essential nutrients normally provided by non-vegetarian foods. For instance, it recommends ground flaxseed meal, walnuts, soybeans, and green leafy vegetables instead of fish oil for essential omega-3 fatty acids. Some dieticians however do not consider such vegetarian alternatives as sufficient and recommend incorporation of some non-vegetarian foods to balance a vegetarian diet.
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The Flexitarian Diet
"The Flexitarian Diet," expounded Dawn Jackson Blanter, ranks amongst the most popular vegan diets aimed at loosing weight. Adopting the Flexitarian menu diet for six to twelve months may result in reduction of about 30 pounds or up to 15 percent of body weight.
The Flexitarian menu centers on a five-meal plan, divided into three meals and two snacks that provides 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day. The diet plans for a 300-calorie intake for breakfast, 400-calorie intake for lunch, 500-calorie intake for dinner, and 150-calorie intake for each of the two snacks. Dieters can lower the calorie intake to 1,200 per day by eliminating snacks, or increase them to 1,800 calories by doubling the breakfast portion.
The diet has three levels: beginner, advanced, and expert. Beginners limit meat and poultry intake to 26 ounces a week. Advanced flexitarians limit meat and poultry to 18 ounces a week. The expert flexitarian either avoids meat and poultry or consumes only about nine ounces of meat or poultry a week. The meat composition in the advanced level translates to 50 calories, easily substituted by wholegrain, nuts, seeds and soy products if one opts for a strict vegan diet. Even in beginner and advanced level, meat is more a condiment or side dish rather than the focal point of the meal.
The Flexitarian menu includes a wide variety of "flex-food groups", including familiar foods such as peanut butter, cheese, marina sauce and the like found any grocery store, and some more unusual foods like kefir, sunflower seed butter, and tofu mousse, which may require a trip to the health food store. One hundred delicious and easy recipes, including popular menus such as pesto-style Portobello penne, pizza popcorn, grilled cheese sandwiches and barbecue Baja burgers, are based on these "flex-food groups."
A sample Flexitarian menu might include Apple and Almond Butter Toast or Sunflower Raisin Oatmeal for breakfast, Avocado and Black Bean Wraps or Marinated Garden Lentil Pita for lunch, Curried Quinoa Salad or Fried Brown Rice with Asparagus and Almonds for dinner, and Pizza Popcorn or Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries for snacks.
Consumption of plant based foods that are naturally low in calories results in weight loss and lead to a healthy lifestyle.The Flexitarian menu indicates the feasibility of adopting a such a strict vegan diet plan to lose weight, without drastically changing existing dietary habits, and provides a solution on how to start a vegan diet.
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Any medical information contained in this article is not a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action based on the contents of this article before consulting with a health care professional.
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- American Dietetic Association - http://www.eatright.org/
- ADA Times. Spring 2009, Vol 3. - http://old.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/adatimes/hs.xsl/index.html
- Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D. "The Flexitarian Diet." McGraw Hill (2009)
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