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Flexitarian Diet

Written by Rakhee Maloo, BA  | Article Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team on Jun 14, 2019
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What is Flexitarian Diet?

This is a vegetarian diet plan to lose weight but with a twist. Flexitarian diet is essentially a plant-based food plan but with an occasional serving of meat. This is perfect for those who want to lose weight through eating a vegetarian diet but can’t or don’t want to completely give up eating meat.

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But this in no way means just eating a plant-based diet will help you lose weight. Portion control and total calorie consumption matter here as well, like they do with all diets. The total calorie consumption in a flexitarian diet should be about 1500 and at least 60% of it should be consumed before dinner.

Flexitarian Diet

Dawn Jackson Blatner coined the term ‘flexitarian’ and in 2009 she published a book on the subject. Flexitarian diet is considered to be one of the best diets for weight loss. It is based on five core flexible components such as:

  • Food groups
  • Meal plans
  • Recipes
  • Fitness and
  • Troubleshooter
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The food groups consist of ‘new meat’ (peas, nuts, tofu, and lentils), fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, millets, quinoa, buckwheat, among others), dairy (low-fat yogurt, milk or cheese), sugar and spices (herbs, natural sweeteners, healthy salad dressings).

The flex recipes that go into a flexitarian diet are easy to prepare and can be made within 20 minutes of cooking time.

For fitness, at least 30 minutes of exercise for five days a week is recommended when on the flexitarian diet.

The book also lists more than 50 troubleshooters that help dieters save time, deal with cravings and other obstacles.

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Health Benefits of Flexitarian Diet

Weight loss: Flexitarian diet is one of the best diets for weight loss. as it is largely plant-based. Due to its flexibility, the flexitarian diet ensures that there is no monotony set in the meal plans and people can indulge in meat every now and then so it helps them adhere to their weight loss diet. Plant-based protein sources have higher fiber content compared to animal protein sources. This fiber helps you feel full for longer and reduce cravings.

Improved digestion: The higher fiber content of the flexitarian diet helps clear toxins from the body and also ensures a healthy digestive tract.

Flexitarian Diet Helps in Digestion

Good cardiovascular health: Eating vegetarian meals reduce the intake of meat and saturated fats. This ensures low cholesterol levels and regulated blood pressure.

Others: Flexitarian diet is largely plant-based so it lowers risk of cancers and type II diabetes. This diet also offers the benefits of long-term sustainability due to its flexible nature. This makes it easier for people to follow it for life or at least for longer periods and hence reap its benefits. People who eat more vegetables or follow a plant-based diet also tend to live longer.

Flexitarian Diet Recipes

Tofu and bean salad: Soak and boil red kidney beans, cube tofu, add thinly sliced red, yellow and green capsicum, chopped kale or spinach, boiled peas. Toss with salt, lime juice and dried mint. This salad is so filling that you can substitute it for a meal once in a while.

Herbed cheese sandwich: Melt low-fat cheese. Add to it fresh mint, parsley and cilantro. Then add one or two vegetables of your choice such as chopped spinach, grated broccoli. Add salt and black pepper powder. Spread this on wholegrain toasted bread and relish.

Health Tips

Some health tips for people inclined to follow the flexitarian diet:

  • Ensure your optimum iron intake from plant-based meals through foods such as beans, tofu, broccoli, lentils and wheat.
  • Eat enough food enriched with vitamin C such as citrus fruits, strawberries and guava for proper absorption of iron.
  • Eat enough low-fat dairy to get your body’s requirement of vitamin B12. This is one nutrient that plant-based diets lack and is found plenty in meat. Vegetarians can get it through dairy consumption. Also look for milk, soy milk and cereals with added vitamin B 12.
Drink Low-Fat Milk to Get Vitamin B12
  • Get your zinc from cheese, soy products and beans.
  • Remember to include eggs in your meals whenever you opt for animal-protein based foods in this diet plan for vitamin D, amino acids and a whole lot of goodness.

References:

  1. Vegetarian Diet: How to Get the Nutrients You Need - (http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/weight-loss/vegetarian-diet-how-to-get-the-nutrients-you-need.html)
  2. Does a flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet make sense for you? - (https://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/2012/09/07/does-a-flexitarian-or-semi-vegetarian-diet-make-sense-for-you/)

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