Thinking of adopting a vegetarian diet plan? More and more people are starting to make the switch from eating meat to choosing vegetarian-friendly foods instead.
For some people, it’s just a matter of cutting out meat once or twice throughout the week, while for others, they choose to go vegetarian because of their own personal beliefs.
Whatever the case, if you are thinking about going vegetarian, there are going to be some important points that you must remember before you do.
Those who go vegetarian without a game plan are not going to structure their diet properly and may be setting themselves up for long-term damage.
1. Vegetarian Does Not Mean Carb Loading
The very first thing that you absolutely must know about going vegetarian is that this doesn’t give you free rein to choose as many high carb foods as possible.
This is perhaps the biggest mistake people make. They think that, since they’re vegetarian, they should now be eating plates of pasta, bagels, bowls of cereal—basically anything that is a “whole” grain.
This isn’t the case at all. If you do this, there is a very good chance you will start to gain body fat as your body will consume far more calories and energy than it needs; not to mention, you’ll be on a roller coaster ride of hunger all throughout the day.
A proper vegetarian diet is actually quite low in all those foods just described. Instead, it’ll have you turning to ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, beans, lentils, and legumes, along with smaller amounts of rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal, and whole wheat pastas.
This will provide far greater nutritional balance in your day and help to prevent energy highs and lows over the 24 hour period.
2. You’ll Need To Plan Your Day Properly
Next, you need to start doing some planning if you are going to adopt the vegetarian way of eating.
Since you won’t be taking in nearly as many “complete” sources of protein, which animal proteins provide, food combining is going to be more important for you.
Food combining will allow you to get your protein needs met because you will get specific amino acids from both of the foods that you’re eating; the combined foods together will complete the full spectrum.
This is important because if you aren’t getting the full spectrum of amino acids, you are not going to maintain your muscle mass as well and may not recover from workouts as quickly either.
Whenever you are eating grains such as brown rice or barley, try and combine them with some beans and lentils as well to complete the protein source.
One exception to this rule is quinoa, which is a complete grain itself and perfect to consume on a vegetarian diet plan.
3. Your Risk Of Nutritional Deficiencies Goes Up
The next thing that you need to know before starting a vegetarian plan is that your risk of nutritional deficiencies may also go up.
Vegetarians are going to be at risk for experiencing nutritional deficiencies in a number of different vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
It’s going to be very important that you are either making sure to choose vegetarian friendly foods that are complete in these nutrients, or alternatively, supplementing with a multi-vitamin.
If you are going to choose to supplement with a vitamin, see if you can find one that is specifically designed for vegetarians.
This will ensure that you are getting as many of the nutrients you need as possible. Just always keep in mind that it is better to get your nutrients from whole foods whenever you can, so don’t think that just because you’re using a supplement, you don’t have to pay attention to your diet plan.
4. There Will Be An Adjustment Process
Finally, the last thing that you need to know and remember is that there will be a strong adjustment period when you first start up on a vegetarian diet plan.
You may find that it does take some time to get used to and at first, your energy levels may be low.
This will largely depend on just how well you structure your diet and if you are taking care to get the nutrients that you need.
Those who are paying good attention to proper vegetarian nutrition and use this right off the bat are less likely to find that they are dealing with energy slumps or related issues, so spend some time getting the proper concepts in place before you get going. It will be well worth the effort.
As you get started on the vegetarian diet plan, you may also want to consider using a vegetarian friendly protein supplement as well to make sure that your protein needs do get met.
Both hemp powder as well as soy protein powder can be used by those who are using the vegetarian diet and will offer high quality protein for few calories.
At times when you are trying to get your protein intake sufficiently met from beans, lentils, and other vegetarian sources such as tofu or tempeh, it can get harder to keep your calorie intake down as these foods, while they do contain protein, also contain quite a higher amount of fats and carbs as well.
By using the protein powder, which is almost entirely protein, you’ll avoid this problem.
So there you have the vital points to know about going vegetarian. Make sure that you fully research this way of eating so that you are prepared for all the challenges possible with a vegetarian diet plan.