What is a flexitarian diet?
A mix of the words flexible and vegetarian, the flexitarian diet encourages people to eat vegetarian most of the time for better health. By the way, it is not necessary to avoid meat completely, but the consumption of meat is limited. It is especially popular in the past years when meat substitute market is growing and public becomes more aware about animal foods industry and farming effects.
Advantage: Flexible diet
Benefit: Many (tasty) healthy recipes
Disadvantage: The emphasis is on home cooking
Disadvantage: The diet can be heavy if you don't like fruit and vegetables
Where does the Flexitarian diet come from?
The Flexitarian diet is a marriage of two words: flexible and vegetarian. The term was coined more than a decade ago. It comes from a 2009 book, The Flexitarian Diet: "the most vegetarian way to lose weight, be healthier, prevent disease and add years to your life," says dietician Jackson Blatner. You can be vegetarian for most of your diet, but still eat a hamburger or steak when the urge strikes. By eating more plants and less meat, it's suggested that dieters not only lose weight, but also improve their overall health.
How does the Flexitarian diet work?
The Flexitarian stands for eating products from 5 different food groups. The groups are as follows:
- Non-meat proteins such as beans, peas or eggs.
- Fruit and vegetables
- Whole grain cereals
- Sugar and spices
How many calories are you allowed during the Flexitarian diet?
The Flexitarian diet is a three-four-five-five principle.
Breakfast consists of about 300 calories, lunch of 400 calories and dinner of 500 calories. Snacks are each about 150 calories. Add about two snacks a day to your diet. Your daily calorie count then comes to about 1,600.
Depending on your activity level, gender, height and weight, you can adjust the plan to allow a little more or less calories.
Follow the Flexitarian diet at your own pace. Go for it and try out new recipes. Try to maintain this diet for at least 5 weeks and see if this diet is suitable for you.
How much does the Flexitarian diet cost?
The costs of the Flexitarian diet are not that high. No exotic ingredients are needed, so groceries should not cost more than they usually do. Scrapping meat is therefore an advantage in your wallet. For example, during this diet you can benefit from products that are on offer weekly.
Will the Flexitarian diet help me lose weight?
It is likely that you will lose some pounds with the Flexitarian diet. Research shows that vegetarians tend to eat less calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index (BMI) than their carnivorous peers. If you look at this diet you will eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains which will make you feel more full with less calories than you are used to. With the calorie deficiency and a bit of physical activity, you're almost guaranteed to lose some extra pounds.
Vegetarians weigh about 15 percent less than non-vegetarians. That's according to an overview of 87 previous studies, published in Nutrition Reviews in 2006. The percentage of obesity among vegetarians varies, according to the study, from zero to 6 percent. The body weight of both male and female vegetarians is on average 3 to 20 percent lower than that of meat eaters.
Even semi-vegetarians (or flexitarians) tend to weigh less than full-fledged carnivores. This was investigated in a six-year study with 38,000 adults, published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders in 2003.
How easy is the Flexitarian diet to follow?
This diet is very easy to follow. Jackson Blatner emphasizes that you don't have to follow the diet exactly - it's all about progress, not perfection.
The diet is convenient and flexible. Eating out and alcohol are allowed. The diet emphasizes flexibility - you don't have to abide by rules every day.
Recipes are simple
The book 'TheFlexitarian Diet' is full of recipes. They are designed to help you prepare easy, healthy and flexible food. Each recipe requires an average of only five main ingredients.
A good feeling full is no problem. Nutritionists emphasize the importance of satiety, the satisfied feeling that you have had enough. If you have a healthy vegetarian diet built around high-fibre vegetables, fruit and whole grains, you shouldn't be hungry between meals.
Taste varies daily. Recipes range from "lunch nachos" to a sandwich with grilled cheese and rosemary tomato, Caribbean black bean couscous and veggie enchiladas. For dessert, try a peach-raspberry crepe or pineapple with candied ginger and pecan nuts.
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