Everyone wants to be in shape nowadays, and while some may sharpen their exercise routine to raise their metabolism, others will try diets to reduce weight. It’s difficult to choose which diet to try next in the never-ending battle to stay healthy and fit, especially given there are so many options.
When considered healthy, many health benefits have been associated with vegetarian diets. If stacking leafy greens on your plate and foregoing the savory taste of a cheeseburger topped with the gooey goodness of cheese isn’t for you, the flexitarian diet might be for you.
What Is Flexitarian Diet?
The term “flexitarian” is a combination of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.” The idea behind a flexitarian diet is that you don’t have to fully abolish meat from your diet to reap the health benefits of vegetarianism; you may be a vegetarian for the majority of the time but still indulge in a burger or steak when the mood strikes. People who follow the diet are said to not only reduce weight but also improve their general health, lessening their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and living longer as a result of eating more vegetables and less meat.
In simpler terms defined, it is more of a hybrid diet that focuses mainly on adding more plant-based foods to your diet while still enjoying meats and other animal-based products in moderation. The key feature of this eating pattern is that it promotes a wide variety of meals rather than imposing constraints on what you can consume. It is based on the following basic principles:
- Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains should make up the majority of your diet
- You must concentrate on plant-based protein rather than animal-based protein
- You should be willing to experiment with meat and animal products from time to time
- You must ensure to consume foods that are as natural as possible
- Added sweets or sugar and baked goods in your diet should be kept to a minimum level
Rather than eliminating any food groups, becoming a flexitarian entails adding five food groups to your diet. The “new meat” (non-meat proteins such as beans, peas, or eggs), fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and seasonings are among them.
Eating a flexitarian diet can provide your body with several health benefits since you can tailor it to suit your own dietary needs, health goals, and taste preferences. However, as with all diets, there are some disadvantages to consider.
Pros Of Flexitarian Diet
No food groups are completely eliminated from the flexitarian diet. Rather, more emphasis is given to increasing plant-based foods than animal-based at the meal. Hence, it is easier to adapt it according to your lifestyle and create around ingredients you are at ease with.
- Since it includes all food groups, it is very unlikely to get nutrient deficient and this diet is likely to cover all of your nutrient requirements (perhaps with a little planning to ensure adequate iron intake).
- If compared, the vegan diets may fall shorter in terms of vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids quantity. But the diet allows you to still consume fish or other alternatives that can provide overall nutrient balance.
- This diet does not demand expensive meal replacements or the use of special recipes. Rather, you can select meals that are within your food budget. Even if you spend more money on vegetables each week, it tends to balance out because you spend less money on meat.
- Eating a flexitarian diet may also help you lose weight. This is partly due to the fact that flexitarians avoid high-calorie, highly processed foods in favor of plant-based foods, which are naturally lower in calories.
- The Flexitarian Diet may be beneficial to your health as well as to the environment. Reduced meat consumption can aid in the conservation of natural resources by lowering greenhouse gas emissions and land and water use.
Cons Of Flexitarian Diet
- Several studies have shown that in comparison to non-vegetarian women, semi-vegetarian women had higher incidences of low iron levels, iron deficiency, and anaemia. Depending on how often you eat meat as part of your flexitarian diet, you may need to supplement with more plant-based iron sources to balance out. Soy, lentils, beans, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains are among them.
- A flexitarian diet has been linked to a lower risk of diabetes. 5 Those with diabetes, on the other hand, may require a little extra help when following this diet.
- Carbohydrates are abundant in several plant-based protein sources, such as beans and lentils. It’s possible that the total carb content on your meals is a little greater than usual, which could alter blood sugar levels and hence should carefully be consumed.
- It may also be challenging to make the switch to more vegetarian if you grew up in a meat-and-potatoes family. The flexitarian diet, on the other hand, is about finding a way of living that works for you. Initially, this might mean going meatless only two days a week.
However, you can always modify your diet with mixed dishes by keeping them more vegetable-centric rather than meat-centric.
To begin with, follow a few nutritional tips before trying a flexitarian diet.
- Fuel up with whole foods such as tofu, lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, and eggs (if you’re a flexi-vegetarian), as they are high in protein and will keep you satisfied.
- Make wiser meat selections. Red meat, such as lamb and beef, as well as fish and shellfish, can help you get your B12 and iron levels up. When you do eat meat or an animal, make it as nutritious as possible.
- Choose fortified products like breakfast cereals that are enriched with B group vitamins and iron.
Remember that following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and that many diets, especially long-term diets, simply do not work. The best diet is one that is well-balanced and appropriate for your lifestyle.
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