There are several studies that show people who practice a vegetarian diet typically consume fewer total calories, have lower body weight, and have lower cholesterol levels than those who follow traditional diets. While this makes sense due to the fact that vegetarians consume mostly fruits and vegetables, you may still find yourself wondering: will a vegetarian diet help me lose weight?

While any vegetarians are extremely health conscious and may weigh less than their carnivore counterparts, switching to a vegetarian diet will not guarantee weight loss. Just as with every other type of diet, in order to lose or maintain weight a proper balance of a healthy diet combined with adequate physical activity is key to losing weight. Vegetarians can make poor dietary choices just like everyone else, and sabotage their diets. Consuming high fat, high calorie foods does not have to include meat, and can really pack on the pounds.

In addition to making proper choices and getting plenty of exercise, vegetarians also have to be exceptionally careful to insure they are getting a well balanced diet. Two common problems with vegetarian cuisine are: too little protein, and too much fat. In order to get enough protein, many vegetarians consume extra cheese, eggs, and other fatty dairy products. This leads to the second issue of too much fat. In order to consume a well balanced diet, with out too much excess fat, low fat options should be chosen over full fat versions, and plenty of fiber should be eaten each day. Beans, nuts, soy products, and fish are excellent low fat, high fiber protein selections. Do not skimp on the veggies either. Vegetables provide tons of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, which will help to keep you feeling full longer.

Whether choosing a traditional or vegetarian diet, cooking methods also play a large role in weight loss. Try steaming, grilling, roasting, and boiling foods rather than frying. Substitute lean healthy oils, such as olive oil or canola oil, in place of higher fat versions. Finally, keep condiment use under control. Do not drown salads in fattening dressings, and consider switching to low fat or fat free versions of mayonnaise, cheese, and sour cream. If you are a bit leery of jumping in to a vegetarian diet, try making one or two vegetarian meals a week. Making a just few simple changes to your diet can make a world of difference.