Flexitarian Diet Plan For Weight Loss

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Flexitarian Diet Plan For Weight Loss Introduction The flexitarian diet plan is a popular way to lose weight and improve your overall health, partly because the vegetarian diet promotes healthier eating while the rest of the time you can still eat meat. We will look at what a flexitarian diet is and how it can help you achieve both weight loss and improved health.

What Exactly Is A Flexitarian Diet—And How Do You Do It?

Going vegetarian or vegan seems like a wonderful idea in theory: You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, eat more fruits and vegetables, and safeguard the lives of animals. However, entirely giving up meat and cheese can be a difficult idea to accept, especially if you enjoy the foods.

The flexitarian diet fills this need. The diet, which has also been referred to as “semi-vegetarianism,” is centered around eating in a vegetarian-like manner. But it’s also entirely fine if some bacon, poultry, fish, or beef shows up on your plate.

The Flexitarian Diet, published in 2010, is where the diet’s concept came from. It makes the case, according to registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, that being open-minded about what you will and won’t eat—leaving some area open for having meat if you want it—dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll actually stick to an eating plan. As a means of introducing vegetarianism to your family, she also suggests flexitarianism. You can take things a step further and become a strict vegetarian if you like it. In that case, it’s also cool.

A flexitarian diet concentrates on following the advice of nutritionists who have long advocated eating a diet that is (mainly) plant-based. For general health, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also advise emphasizing plant-based nutrition.

Do these sound like activities you would enjoy? What you should know is as follows.

How does the flexitarian diet work?

An easy concept underlies a flexitarian diet: You want to eat mostly plants but still have some meat sometimes. You can have a burger, for instance, if you go to a BBQ where they are providing them, advises nutritionist Keri Gans, RD, and author of The Small Change Diet. But you return to your non-animal diet the next day at home, she says.

The diet focuses on eating mostly from five major “flex food” groups:

  • Flex Food Group One: Beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, eggs, and vegetarian/vegan versions of meats
  • Flex Food Group Two: Vegetables and fruits
  • Flex Food Group Three: Grains like barley corn, millet, oat, quinoa, rice, wheat, and pasta
  • Flex Food Group Four: Dairy
  • Flex Food Group Five: Natural flavor-enhancers like spices, buttermilk ranch, chili powder, cinnamon, Italian seasoning, herbs, fats, oils, butter spreads, sweeteners, granulated sugars, honey, chocolate, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, vinegars, and low-fat sour cream

The plan suggests that you approach calories in increments of three, four, and five. Breakfast so has around 300 calories, lunch has about 400, dinner has about 500, and snacks have about 150. Your daily consumption now totals 1,500 calories.

The frequency of your meat consumption is entirely up to you. However, Blatner suggests approaching your meat consumption in her book in the following manner:

  • If you’re a beginner flexitarian, do without meat two days a week and have no more than 26 ounces of meat over five days.
  • If you’re an advanced flexitarian, follow a vegetarian diet three to four days a week and have no more than 18 ounces of meat during the rest of the week.
  • If you’re an expert flexitarian, follow a vegetarian diet for five days, allowing yourself to eat up to nine ounces of meat on the other two days.

“It’s very individual and really depends on the person and their health goals,” Cording says.

What can and can’t I eat on this diet?

According to Gans, “all plant-based diets are strongly suggested.” Fruits, vegetables, whole grains that are 100% whole, nuts, seeds, and legumes are all therefore acceptable.

Additionally, according to Cording, the emphasis is “not so much on plant-based junk food” and more on “nutrient-dense plant-based foods.”

In theory, nothing is forbidden. Instead, Gans argues, “it’s about what you should be consuming more of.”

What does a sample meal plan look like?

There’s a lot you can do with meals on the flexitarian diet. Here are just a few examples:

Breakfast

This could be a bowl of oatmeal made with a non-dairy milk alternative, or cow’s milk, topped with peanut butter, chia seeds, and sliced banana, or an omelette loaded with lots of vegetables and side of roasted potatoes.

Lunch

This could include a salad with beans, lots of vegetables, an olive oil and vinegar dressing, and seeds as a garnish.

Dinner

This meal might be a chickpea pasta loaded with vegetables, or wild salmon with
sautéed leafy greens and a baked sweet potato.

“The idea is having lots of plants on the plate, and keeping portion sizes realistic to support your goals,” Cording says.

What are the health benefits of the flexitarian diet?

Going flexitarian has numerous health advantages, and there is a ton of evidence to support this from studies on plant-based diets.

For instance, adopting a diet higher in plants may help reduce your risk of illness. According to a 2009 research of more than 500,000 people published in Archives of Internal Medicine, those who regularly consume red and processed meats had a higher risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and any other cause.

The flexitarian diet may also help you manage type 2 diabetes or reduce your risk of developing it. A 2017 study that was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that when 74 people with type 2 diabetes ate the same number of calories for six months, some of them followed a vegetarian diet, while others adopted a diet that reduced sugars, carbs, cholesterol, and saturated fat, the vegetarian group had fewer diabetes risk factors than the other group.

Your heart may benefit from a flexitarian or other plant-based diet. Those who consumed plants at least 70% of the time had a 20% lower chance of dying from heart disease than those who did not, according to a 2015 study that examined data from more than 450,000 people over the course of 10 years and was published in the journal Circulation.

According to Cording, “a flexitarian diet is a smart strategy to use nutrition to lower illness risk.”

Can this diet help me lose weight?

It could. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Nutrients, people who consume a plant-based diet tend to weigh roughly 15% less than those who consume meat.

A 2018 study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes indicated that overweight study participants who followed a plant-based diet for 16 weeks had less body fat at the end than those who continued on their regular diet.

However, switching to a plant-based diet is not a surefire way to lose weight. According to Cording, “It depends on what you were eating previously.” But when it comes to weight loss, she continues, she has “seen folks do pretty well on this strategy.”

Gans concurs. Although it might result in weight loss, she adds, “a person still needs to control their portion amounts, as with most eating patterns.”

Is the flexitarian diet right for me?

It’s all the rage with experts. Cording advises being “thoughtful and self aware” about how you approach any diet in order to avoid overanalyzing or obsessing over it. I’ve really experienced terrific results with this eating regimen, she claims, though.

There are actually no potential drawbacks to this diet, claims Gans. It is simple to follow, nutritionally balanced, and even beneficial to the environment. Given how expensive meat may be, you can even end up making money on the diet, according to Cording.

The fact that the flexitarian diet “is not condemning any one food group or asking you to exclude everything” is another aspect Cording appreciates. As a result, patients, according to her, “feel more in touch with their bodies, inner hunger, and fullness cues.”

What Is a Flexitarian Diet? A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Flexitarian Diet components
Flexitarians eat a mostly plant-based diet with animal products occasionally thrown in.Igor Madjinca/Stocksy

A diet is merely a way of life, while the phrase “flexitarian” is simply a combination of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.” The flexitarian diet is intended to be a more flexible approach to vegetarianism, allowing you to enjoy the health benefits of eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains without completely giving up animal items like steak and hamburgers.

The flexitarian diet was placed No. 2 in the Best Diets for Diabetes category and No. 2 in the Best Diets Overall category in the 2022 Best Diet Rankings by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, it came in second place (after the Mediterranean diet) on the list of the best plant-based diets. Unsurprisingly, the diet also finished second in the category of the easiest diets to follow in 2022, indicating that its lack of rigidity aids in its upkeep.

More people are claiming to identify as flexitarians as a result of the diet’s reputation as one of the healthiest eating regimens you can adhere to. In fact, according to a recent national study, 3 percent identify as vegan and 5 percent as vegetarian, while 36 percent identify as flexitarian.

Find out how the flexitarian diet functions here and assess whether the eating style is suitable for your particular health and wellbeing objectives.

Grilled Zucchini Parm

A quick dinner is only topped by getting to cook it outside! This healthy meal showcases three common summer ingredients: zucchini, tomatoes, and basil. These three flavors combine to create a new spin on the classic zucchini Parmesan. The zucchini is grilled with a rich cherry tomato sauce that is flavored with chopped basil, garlic, and sweet red onion. The zucchini is then tucked into the sauce, along with some of the tomatoes that have burst, and fresh mozzarella is sprinkled on top. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread for dipping or over your preferred pasta (or gluten-free pasta).

Note: You can make this recipe indoors if you don’t have access to a grill by using a grill pan, a sizable skillet, and the broiler to help melt the cheese.

SERVES

4

CALORIES PER SERVING

PREP TIME

15 min

COOK TIME

35 min

TOTAL TIME

50 min

Ingredients

2 lbs (about 3–4 medium) zucchini, halved lengthwise

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Black pepper

20 oz (about 4 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved

½ medium red onion, diced

½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Toasted bread or pasta (gluten-free, if necessary), for serving (optional)

Directions

1

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium heat.

2

Pierce each zucchini half all over with a fork. Brush zucchini halves with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper on both sides.

3

Place a large cast-iron skillet (at least 11 inch) on grill and preheat for 5 minutes. Add olive oil, red onion, cherry tomatoes, garlic, 3 tbsp water, and half the torn basil and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst and mixture becomes saucy, about 25 minutes. Be sure to crush tomatoes with the back of a spoon as they cook to help them break down.

4

Meanwhile, place zucchini cut side–down on grill and cook for about 12 minutes on each side, until fork-tender. Once cooked through, set aside on a paper towel–lined plate to absorb excess liquid and turn off the grill. Nestle grilled zucchini into the tomato sauce and spoon some sauce over zucchini. Arrange fresh mozzarella evenly over top and close grill to melt cheese, about 5 minutes.

5

Serve grilled zucchini Parm onto plates and sprinkle with remaining torn basil. Serve with a side of bread, if desired, and eat immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving

CALORIES

262

TOTAL FAT

20g

SATURATED FAT

5.1g

PROTEIN

9g

CARBOHYDRATES

16g

FIBER

4.1g

SUGAR

9.4g

ADDED SUGAR

0g

SODIUM

251mg

Sweet Potatoes vs. White Potatoes: How Do They Compare?

How Does the Flexitarian Diet Work Exactly?

The Flexitarian Diet by Chicago-based author Dawn Jackson (DJ) Blatner, RDN, is credited with sparking the current diet craze. “You can think of this diet as a’vegetarian-ish’ way of eating, since the plan touts the basic principles and benefits of a plant-based diet, along with the inclusion of some animal proteins to a lesser extent,” she says. This implies that no foods are explicitly prohibited or removed from your diet, even though vegetarian staples like tofu, quinoa, loads of produce, and other veggie-focused faves may be the stars of your diet. The term “flexitarian” does not mean “lazy vegetarian”; rather, it refers to a philosophy that encourages much less animal intake.

The diet is flexible, as the name implies, but it has recommendations for how much meat you should consume. Blatner advises readers who are new to the flexitarian diet to start with “Beginner Flexitarian,” which involves skipping meat two days a week and eating no more than 26 ounces of meat in total on the other five. For comparison, a serving of chicken or steak the size of a card deck weighs about 3 oz, whereas one the thickness of your palm (fingers included) weighs between 4 and 6 oz.

The next tier, Advanced Flexitarian, significantly restricts meat consumption by advising eating vegetarian three to four days per week and consuming no more than 18 ounces of meat overall the other three days. The last level, Expert Flexitarian, calls for five days without meat but permits 9 oz. of meat on the other two days. You don’t have to eat meat on consecutive days at any level of this diet, it’s important to note. These layers are intriguing because, according to studies, this is how flexitarianism is practiced in the actual world.

They don’t all adhere to the same “rules,” and their dietary allowances for meat vary. That’s fantastic since it gives you the freedom to decide what suits your objectives and eating preferences the most.

Guidelines for a Flexitarian Diet

If thinking about ounces of meat per week confuses you, use the following guidelines instead.

  • Beginner 6–8 meatless meals of 21 total meals each week 
  • Advanced 9–14 meatless meals of 21 total meals each week
  • Expert 15+ meatless meals of 21 total meals each week

The flexitarian diet differs from other meat-inclusive diets like the omnivorous diet due to these Blatner-established rules. Omnivores consume as much meat as they like and have little interest in making the majority of their meals vegetable-forward, in contrast to flexitarians who prefer vegetables.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you can follow Blatner’s diet at your own pace by gradually incorporating meatless meals or even whole days, like Meatless Monday or Tofu Tuesday.

The Flexitarian Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

The Flexitarian Diet is a way of eating that promotes consuming a lot of plant-based meals and sparingly consuming meat and other animal products.

Compared to strict vegetarian or vegan diets, it is more flexible.

Going flexitarian can be for you if you want to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet but don’t want to fully give up meat.

This page gives a general introduction of the Flexitarian Diet, including its advantages, recommended foods, and a one-week meal plan.

What is the Flexitarian Diet?

Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner developed the Flexitarian Diet so that people could benefit from vegetarianism while yet occasionally indulging in animal products.

This is why the words “flexible” and “vegetarian” are combined to form the name of the diet.

Vegans abstain from all animal-derived foods, while vegetarians occasionally forgo meat in favor of other animal-based meals.

Flexitarians are not regarded as vegetarians or vegans because they consume animal products.

There are no set guidelines or advised calorie or macronutrient intakes for the Flexitarian Diet. In actuality, it’s a way of life rather than a diet.

It’s based on the following principles:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Focus on protein from plants instead of animals.
  • Be flexible and incorporate meat and animal products from time to time.
  • Eat the least processed, most natural forms of foods.
  • Limit added sugar and sweets.

The Flexitarian Diet is a well-liked option for people trying to eat healthy due to its adaptability and emphasis on what to include rather than what to prohibit.

Jackson Blatner describes how to begin eating flexitarian by include specific amounts of meat each week in her book.

To begin eating flexitarian, one need not adhere to her detailed guidelines, though. Some dieters could consume more animal products than others.

The overall objective is to consume less meat and more nutrient-dense plant foods.

SUMMARY

The Flexitarian Diet is a semi-vegetarian style of eating that encourages eating less meat and more plant-based foods. Because there are no specific rules or suggestions, it is an appealing option for people who are looking to cut back on animal products.

Possible health benefits

Flexitarian diets may provide a number of health advantages.

It is challenging to determine whether and how the benefits of other plant-based diets that have been examined apply to the Flexitarian Diet because there is no precise definition of this diet.

However, studies on vegetarian and vegan diets are still useful for illustrating how semi-vegetarian diets might improve health.

To benefit from the health advantages of a plant-based diet, it appears to be critical to consume primarily fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and other minimally processed whole foods.

The same advantages won’t result from cutting less on meat but continuing to consume loads of processed meals with lots of added sugar and salt.

Heart disease

Diets high in fiber and heart-healthy fats are beneficial.

Fish eaters and vegetarians had lower rates of ischemic heart disease than meat eaters, according to a study with more than 48,188 participants, while vegetarians had greater risks of hemorrhagic and total stroke.

Vegetarians and fish eaters, respectively, had 13% and 22% lower risks of ischemic heart disease than meat eaters.

This is probably due to the high fiber and antioxidant content of vegetarian diets, which may lower blood pressure and raise good cholesterol.

Compared to an omnivore diet, a vegetarian diet significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, according to a 2020 analysis of 15 studies.

Furthermore, a study conducted in 2020 on vegetarian, pescatarian, and flexitarian diets with 10,797 participants discovered that those who followed any diet excluding/reducing meat intake had lower body mass index, total cholesterol, and blood pressure than those who consumed meat.

However, flexitarian diets are intended to be mostly plant-based and are anticipated to yield advantages comparable to those of strictly vegetarian eating patterns.

Weight management

Flexitarian diets may also aid with weight management.

This is partially due to the fact that flexitarians tend to consume fewer high-calorie, highly processed foods and more plant-based foods, which have lower caloric values by nature.

According to several studies, persons who consume a plant-based diet may experience greater weight loss than those who do not.

According to a study of research involving over 1,100 individuals, those who followed a vegetarian diet for 18 weeks shed 4.5 pounds (2 kg) more weight than those who did not.

Additionally, this study and others demonstrate that vegans typically have greater weight loss than vegetarians and carnivores.

The Flexitarian Diet may aid in weight loss, though perhaps not to the same extent as a vegan diet would. It is more akin to a vegetarian diet than a vegan one.

However, the Flexitarian Diet’s main objective is not weight loss. It focuses primarily on increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, like fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Diabetes

An international health epidemic is type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet, especially one that is based primarily on plants, may aid in preventing and controlling this condition.

This is probably due to the fact that plant-based diets promote weight loss and contain a variety of foods that are high in fiber and low in bad fats and added sugar.

A diet high in plant foods and low in animal foods was linked to a 20% lower risk of diabetes, according to a study included more than 200,000 participants.

A plant-based diet that prioritizes healthy plant foods was also linked to a bigger reduction (34%) in the risk of diabetes, but a diet heavy in less healthy plant foods was linked to a 16% higher risk.

Fruit juices, sweetened beverages, refined grains, and sweets were included in the less healthy plant food diet, while whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and vegetable oils were present in the healthier plant food diet.

According to another studies, those who follow plant-based diets see larger HbA1c (the three-month average of blood sugar readings) reductions than those who follow conventional diets in people with type 2 diabetes.

Cancer

A lower risk of developing several malignancies is linked to dietary patterns that are high in nutrient-dense plant foods including fruits, vegetables, and legumes and low in ultra-processed foods.

According to research, vegetarian diets are linked to lower overall cancer incidences, particularly colorectal cancers.

Semi-vegetarians had an 8% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than non-vegetarians did, according to a 7-year study of colorectal cancer cases in 78,000 persons.

As a result, adopting a flexitarian diet and consuming more vegetarian foods may lower your chance of developing cancer.

SUMMARY

The Flexitarian Diet may help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. However, because most research analyzes vegetarian and vegan diets, it’s difficult to know whether flexitarian eating has similar benefits.

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