It’s time to discover the Flexitarian Food regimen.
You will have questions like:
Why’s it so well-liked?
Will it make me extra versatile?
The reply to that final one is “nope,” however the others we’ll discover as we speak!
Haven’t any concern, you’re in good arms.
We analyze totally different diets in our 1-on-1 On-line Teaching Program, so that you’ve come to the correct place to be taught all about semi-vegetarianism.
Right here’s what we’ll cowl in our Newbie’s Information to the Flexitarian Food regimen:
Let’s get proper to it!
What Is the Flexitarian Food regimen? (Exploring “Semi-Vegetarians”)
The Flexitarian Food regimen is a plant-based or vegetarian style of eating that allows for some animal products in moderation.
“Flex” comes from “flexible” and “tarian” comes from “vegetarian,” so a flexitarian is more or less a “flexible vegetarian.”
In 2012, the term “flexitarian” actually entered the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:
One whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish.
Another way to think of flexitarians would be as “semi-vegetarians.”
This version of semi-vegetarianism was first formulated by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, in her book The Flexitarian Diet.
In Blanter’s phrase:
“You possibly can consider this weight loss program as a ‘vegetarian-ish’ means of consuming since this plan touts the fundamental rules and advantages of a plant-based weight loss program, together with the inclusion of some animal proteins to a lesser extent.”
The purpose of the Flexitarian Food regimen could be to reduce or cut back the frequency of consuming meat, with out eradicating it utterly.
That is what separates flexitarians from regular omnivores: the previous are actively attempting to restrict meat consumption.
Flexitarians simply don’t wish to eradicate meat 100% (for well being or private causes), so they permit some into their weight loss program.
What Do Flexitarians Eat? (The Flexitarian Food regimen Plan)
Because the Flexitarian Food regimen actively tries to scale back the consumption of meat, the meal plan can be predominantly plant-based.
Plant-based meals selections on the Flexitarian Food regimen plan embody:
- Entire grains. Rice, oats, barley, and buckwheat would all be examples of complete grains. Most plant-based diets embody a large quantity of complete grains as their base.
- Greens. In fact, even semi-vegetarian diets are going to incorporate a lot of greens! And they need to as a result of greens are nice for you! They’re packed stuffed with vitamins, fiber, and customarily low in energy. Most individuals might stand to eat extra veggies. If you end up not having the ability to abdomen greens, I bought you. Try this submit for tips on how to turn around any vegetable hater.
- Legumes. Beans, lentils, and soy make up the legume family. When cutting out meat, legumes would be a great way to get protein (more on this to follow).
- Fruit. Bananas, apples, and oranges all come from plants, so all are vegetarian-friendly. While high in fructose (sugar), they are also nutrient-dense. Our general stance on fruit around these parts is to eat “stick to whole fruit, avoid fruit juices.”
- Nuts and seeds. Again, they come from plants, so almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds are good to go on any vegetarian plan you pick. So is quinoa, which although is often thought of as a grain, is actually a seed. Mind=blown. Nuts and seeds, although high in fat and calories, are another great way to get protein on a semi-vegetarian diet.
Have as much of the above as you like (assuming it meets your calorie goals).
I know you’re curious about meat consumption and the Flexitarian Diet
We’ll devote our entire next section to it.
Before we get there, let’s talk about foods that you might NOT want to build your flexitarian meal plan around.
Since the Flexitarian Diet is an attempt to eat nutritiously, it not only encourages the consumption of whole plants but also discourages the consumption of certain foods too.
When following a Flexitarian Diet, try to minimize:
- Processed meat: bacon, sausage, and bologna. Proponents of flexitarianism advocate for unprocessed meat like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, fresh fish, etc. More on this next section.
- Refined carbs: white bread, bagels, pasta, etc. These foods have much of their fiber destroyed during the refinement process, making them more like sugar during digestion.
- Added sugar: soda, donuts, cookies, etc. Also known as “junk food.” Delicious, of course. But these foods are high in calories and low on nutrients, so they belong in the “rare treat” category.
The above list likely isn’t too shocking. Most health sites (and us in our healthy eating guide) recommend these foods be eaten sparingly.
How Often Do Flexitarians Eat Meat? (The “Flex” in “Flexitarian”)
The answer to “How much meat can you eat on a flexitarian diet?” depends on who you ask.
There are lots of variations of semi-vegetarianism, meaning there are a lot of different answers to this question.
Dawn Blatner discusses different levels of meat restriction in her book The Flexitarian Diet, which we’ll review below.
Here’s the progression plan for The Flexitarian Diet:
- Beginner Flexitarian:
- Two meat-free days a week
- No more than 26 ounces of meat the remainder of the week
- Advanced Flexitarian:
- Three to four meat-free days a week
- No more than 18 ounces of meat the remainder of the week
- Expert Flexitarian:
- Meat-free five days a week
- 9 ounces of meat allowed the remaining two days
For reference, a three-ounce piece of chicken breast is about the size of your palm:
Another popular form of flexitarianism comes from VB6 (Vegan Before 6:00) which is exactly what it sounds like: follow a vegan meal plan until dinnertime.
Naturally, there’s a book about this one too, this time from Mark Bittman.
Like Blatner, Bittman encourages the consumption of complete vegetation and discourages the consumption of junk meals.
That’s not too shocking, as a result of each weight loss program encourages the consumption of complete vegetation and discourages junk meals (effectively, not the Carnivore Food regimen or the Navy Food regimen).
Apart from following a 100% plant-based weight loss program till 6pm, Bittman gives no particular guidelines for VB6.
You do you.
That is going to steer us to a bigger level: “flexitarian” is as much as interpretation.
Does Reducing out Meat Assist You Lose Weight?
Many proponents of flexitarianism will declare it may assist with weight reduction:
- Mark Bittman created VB6 (Vegan earlier than 6) after his physician informed him to lose some weight.
- Daybreak Jackson claims her Flexitarian Food regimen might help these combating weight problems.
Nonetheless, anybody promoting a weight loss program ebook is gonna inform you it may assist with weight reduction.
What does the science say?
Since there’s no set-in-stone interpretation of what makes a “flexitarian” a flexitarian, it may be laborious to prescribe any particular advantages to the weight loss program.
It is a concern Emma J. Derbyshire introduced up in a overview of semi-vegetarian diets in Frontiers of Vitamin. Derbyshire states that earlier than any formal suggestions may be performed on flexitarians, “official definitions of those diets are wanted.”
You could know precisely what you’re researching earlier than you can also make heads or tails of what’s occurring.
Nonetheless, weight reduction itself has been studied loads, so we aren’t utterly stumbling at midnight right here.
As we tackle in our information How you can Lose Weight (The 5 Guidelines of Weight Loss), our our bodies obey the Legal guidelines of Conservation of Power and Thermodynamics:
To shed weight, we have to burn extra energy than we eat repeatedly.
It’s about as near truth as we will get in diet science.
Right here’s the factor about meat: it’s truly fairly calorically dense, particularly if you evaluate it to fruit and veggies.
That is 200 energy value of sliced turkey (because of wiseGEEK):
Right here is 200 energy value of Saltine crackers (that are vegan):
When evaluating a plate of meat to a handful of crackers, you may assume: “Steve, there’s no means these crackers will fulfill me, I’ll must eat extra meals,” then you definitely’d be proper.
It’s why specializing in meals that fill you up with out being overloaded with energy might help with weight reduction.
Let me share another instance:
That is what 200 energy value of broccoli appears like:
So, YES, should you substitute your meat lovers pizza, rooster parm with pasta, and bacon cheeseburgers with principally fruits, greens, and different complete vegetation, you’ll most definitely shed weight.
It comes right down to whole vitality (energy) consumed!
That is one thing we deliver up all through our Information for Plant-Primarily based Diets: watch out about changing calorie bomb meat merchandise with closely processed junk meals.
You may find yourself with the identical quantity of energy (if no more), which implies you’ll haven’t any weight reduction.
As a result of from a protein perspective, meat could be a nice supply of vitamins.
Let’s evaluate rooster towards black beans, since legumes (beans) are a few of the most protein-dense vegetation you possibly can eat:
- 100 grams of black beans: 22 grams of protein, 339 energy, 63 grams of carbohydrates (16 grams of that are fiber).
- 100 grams of rooster breast: 30 grams of protein, 165 energy, 0 grams of carbohydrates.
The identical dimension serving of black beans has much less protein, twice as many energy, and extra carbs in comparison with rooster.
This isn’t to say you possibly can’t get sufficient protein from vegetation (we inform you precisely learn how to do it in our information to vegetarianism), it’s simply one thing you must appropriately plan for!
All this to say: you possibly can shed weight on a flexitarian weight loss program so long as you burn extra energy than you eat persistently.
If semi-vegetarianism truly helps with that, nice!
If not, no biggie, simply strive one other path (right here’s what I personally do).
Let me say that should you’re attempting to shed weight and questioning if a flexitarian weight loss program is the answer, I’m pleased with you for at the very least THINKING about totally different dietary methods which may align together with your life-style and objectives.
A number of our teaching shoppers come to us with all kinds of various health questions, like what to eat and learn how to train, proving all of us begin from distinctive conditions. The vital factor is that you simply’re starting to ask questions and on the lookout for solutions.
If you’d like assist in your journey, we’re right here for you. Our 1-on-1 On-line Teaching Program companions busy folks identical to you with a coach who will get to know you higher than you recognize your self.
What Are the Advantages of Being a Flexitarian?
There are all kinds of advantages from consuming a lot of vegetation.
Now granted, I’m on the file for stating I don’t purchase into the declare that meat is inherently dangerous for you (we dig into it on this article).
Nonetheless, I’m additionally on the file for stating you need to eat your fruits and veggies (scope out our Information to Wholesome Consuming).
Let’s rap in regards to the good issues discovered within the plant kingdom:
- Fiber: research have proven that consuming dietary fiber (present in vegetation) can have a great deal of well being advantages. Fiber from vegetation might help decrease raised blood strain, enhance insulin sensitivity, and assist with digestive points.
- Nutritional vitamins and minerals: vegetation comprise nutritional vitamins E, C, K2, and calcium, to call only a few. You want this stuff to outlive.
- Antioxidants: there are all kinds of poisons within the trendy world (air air pollution, BPA in plastic, and so on). Crops, and the antioxidants in them, might help defend towards a few of these pollution.
While you begin to issue this collectively, it is smart to eat plenty of vegetation.
It additionally is smart that individuals who eat plenty of vegetation, like flexitarians, are typically in good condition.
Entire vegetation are excessive in vitamins and low in energy, making them splendid for creating an vitality deficiency. Once more, that is wanted for weight reduction.
Right here’s the place the controversy rages on the web: are individuals who observe a plant-based weight loss program typically more healthy than omnivores as a result of meat is dangerous for you, or as a result of vegetarians are inclined to eat extra fruit and veggies and fewer processed meals?
It’s laborious to say.
Extra research are rolling in day-after-day, so I’m not going to declare a winner over the opposite.
I’ll say that I truly resonate with a “flexitarian” life-style, although I simply name it “principally wholesome consuming” = eat principally vegetation, wholesome sources of protein, and conserving whole calorie consumption below management.
The ethical of the story: eat a lot of vegetation…and possibly a little bit meat.
Ought to I Attempt the Flexitarian Food regimen? (Subsequent Steps)
There are worse methods to eat than tons of vegetation with a little bit little bit of meat.
Being a flexitarian is definitely not too totally different than following the Mediterranean Diet.
It’s the same way of eating, just with a new name.
Author Michael Pollan summed it up years ago with “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Truth be told, healthy eating is more or less the same no matter what you call it.
They just label it with different names to sell books.
Here’s what every nutrition expert agrees on:
We lay all this out in our Guide to Healthy Eating, which I would encourage you to check out.
If this is the first time you’ve tried to “eat right,” or the 17th, it’ll help you make small lifestyle changes towards a healthy diet.
This is our preferred approach here at Nerd Fitness.
That will bring me to my one concern on adopting The Flexitarian Diet or any other strict form of semi-vegetarianism: if you change too much at once, it might be overly difficult and you’ll grow frustrated.
Frustration can lead to abandoning a new way of eating.
We see it all the time here: people go Paleo or Keto for 21 days, hate it, then go right back to where they started.
Since they’re now demoralized from the experience, they don’t even try anymore, which is where the real harm comes in.
So try a small step today:
- Make dinner this week.
- Try eating one new vegetable.
- Hell, make it exercise-related and just go for a walk.
This might be better than changing everything at once giving up meat for most of the week.
No matter what you do now, start!
You can’t create new habits if you never get going, so pick something you’re going to work on and try it for a week. Then look back and review your progress:
- If you did the thing, keep going!
- If you didn’t do the thing, no problem!
Make a smaller change this time and try again.
Want some help along the way? The perfect path on where to go from here and what to change?
You got it!
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Alright, I think that about does it for this article.
Now, your turn:
What are your thoughts on the Flexitarian Diet?
If you follow it, when do you eat meat?
Any tips or tricks to make it sustainable?
Let me know in the comments!
PS: If you’re just starting to explore vegetarianism, make sure you read our Beginner’s Guide to Plant-Based Diets so you do it safely and effectively!
GIF supply: Book