Myth: A vegetarian diet equals weight loss

By Kayleen St. John March 7, 2016

We asked our friends at the Natural Gourmet Institute to help debunk vegetarian diet myths – and a common one is following a vegetarian diet automatically means weight loss. Vegetarian Times has partnered with the renowned New York-based culinary school to create a comprehensive new online course, Foundations of Plant-Based Nutrition. Whether you’re a new vegetarian, an avid cook wanting to expand your skills, or contemplating a career in the food industry, you will find this course helpful. Sign up to receive discounts and information about this awesome course.

Roasted Vegetables with Green Olive Vinaigrette and Pistachio Couscous

Myth: A vegetarian diet equals weight loss

Truth: Following a vegetarian diet does not guarantee that you will lose weight. Although research shows that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower BMI and leaner body mass, if you don’t pay attention to food choices, portion sizes or calories, weight gain is just as possible.

A plant-based diet can be low in calories, and high in nutrients and fiber–but only if the right foods are consumed in moderate quantities. Consuming breads, cereals and grains without vegetables, fruits or legumes does not make for a balanced vegetarian diet. Furthermore, if you replace animal products with highly processed meat-imitation products, refined carbohydrates or “junk” foods, you very likely will gain weight.

Some people think that eating a plant-based diet allows us to eat as much as we want. But at the end of the day, a calorie is a calorie–even if it comes from a plant, and weight gain usually occurs if a person consumes more calories than he or she requires. In fact, the calories in grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and dried fruit in particular can add up very quickly. This is where paying attention to the serving sizes is key.

Kayleen St. John is the resident nutritionist at NYC’s Natural Gourmet Institute. She has a Master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU and is a registered dietitian. Her research examines the relationship between diet and inflammatory conditions. Kayleen is an avid runner and believes smart nutrition contributes to optimal athletic performance. Our new course, Foundations of Plant Based Nutrition, led by Kayleen, covers essential plant-centric professional cooking techniques, health-focused topics including allergens and inflammation, and how to separate nutrition fact and fiction in a vegan and veg diet.

Next Previous | Next Previous


I was able to lose 40 lbs on a plant based diet and have kept it off for 11 years

Jennifer Sigman - 2016-04-03 17:07:02

When compared to Europe, it is easy to be a vegetarian in the USA. My family has been vegetarian since so many generations. So it was easy to maintain my vegetarian diet in this country. There is a varied choice for us. Though it is limited when we visit eating places in the country. There is no pure vegetarian establishments here, not that I know of.

Shrikant G. Thattey - 2016-04-02 03:22:16

Can you tell me what the above dish is please? It looks delicious!

diane - 2016-03-09 02:52:47