If I switch to a vegetarian diet, will I lose weight?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Not necessarily. A vegetarian diet is not inherently a weight-loss diet, but rather a lifestyle choice.

It is true, however, that adults and children who follow a vegetarian diet are generally leaner than those who follow a nonvegetarian diet. This may be because a vegetarian diet typically emphasizes more fruits and vegetables and includes whole grains and plant-based proteins — foods that are more filling, less calorie dense and lower in fat.

But a vegetarian diet isn't automatically low calorie. You can gain weight on a vegetarian diet if your portion sizes are too big or if you eat too many high-calorie foods, such as sweetened beverages, fried items, snack foods and desserts.

Even some foods marketed as vegetarian can be high in calories and fat, such as soy hot dogs, soy cheese, refried beans and snack bars.

Whether you avoid or eat meat or animal products, the basics of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are the same for all people. Eat a healthy diet and balance calories eaten with calories burned.

June 05, 2015 See more Expert Answers