The Flexitarian Diet is actually an easy-to-follow lifestyle that promotes plant-based meals while also allowing moderate meat consumption.
This diet is for those who want to add more plant foods to their diet but don’t want to fully eliminate meat.
Now let’s better understand what the Flexitarian Diet is and how it can help you lose weight.
The Flexitarian Diet – An Overview
Dawn Jackson Blatner, a Chicago registered dietitian nutritionist, developed the Flexitarian Diet to help people discover the advantages of eating plant-based foods while still enjoying meat in moderation.
As a result, the name of this diet combines the terms “flexible” and “vegetarian“.
Both vegans and vegetarians avoid meat, but the latter still consume eggs, dairy, and other animal-derived products except meat.
Since flexitarians still consume animal products in moderation, they are not vegans, nor vegetarians.
The Flexitarian Diet has no strict rules or suggested calorie and macronutrient ratios. In fact, we can call it a flexitarian lifestyle instead of a diet.
Here is what living a flexitarian lifestyle looks like:
- Consume plenty of fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains.
- Instead of animal protein, prioritize plant protein.
- Include meat and animal products only on occasions and in small quantities.
- Consume meals that are as natural as possible and avoid highly-processed foods.
- Reduce your intake of added sugars and sweets.
As you can see, it’s an easy-to-follow healthy lifestyle with minimum animal-based products. No strict rules, calorie counting, or portion sizes – no wonder this diet is so popular.
The overall objective of the Flexitarian Diet is to help you consume more healthy plant-based foods and less meat.
Besides helping you reduce your calorie intake, lose weight, and eat healthier, a plant-based diet such as the Flexitarian Diet also protects you from health-threatening illnesses.
What To Eat And What To Avoid On The Flexitarian Diet?
Plant proteins and other whole, less processed plant foods are prioritized by the Flexitarian Diet, while animal products are limited. Regularly consumed foods include:
- Protein-packed veggies such as lentils, legumes, tofu, soybeans, and tempeh.
- The best fruits to snack on are apples, berries, cherries, oranges, and grapes.
- Nuts and seeds include almonds, peanuts (peanut butter too), walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, flaxseed, pistachios, and others.
- Healthy fats: avocados, olives (olive oil too), coconut.
- Quinoa, buckwheat, teff, and farro are great whole grains options.
- All kinds of vegetables, herbs, spices, and condiments are allowed and encouraged.
- For hydration, choose water. Tea and coffee are also accepted without added sugar.
- Instead of animal milk, opt for plant-based alternatives such as almond, soy, hemp, and coconut milk.
- Unsweetened tomato sauce can be used as an alternative to ketchup.
- Moderate amounts of animal products are fine, as long as you opt for organic, pasture-raised, or grass-fed animals.
Even though the Flexitarian Diet doesn’t have strict rules, it’s better to avoid the following foods:
- Any type of fast food;
- Processed meats such as sausages, bacon, cold cuts and deli meats, etc;
- Sugary drinks and sweets;
- Refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, bagels, croissants, etc.
Flexitarian and other plant-based diets may be quite nutritious when properly planned. However, some people may experience nutrient deficiencies if they reduce their consumption of meat and other animal products.
Here are some possible nutrient deficiencies you can experience while on a plant-based diet:
- Omega-3 fatty acids;
- Vitamin B12.
However, keep in mind that you can have nutritious meals even though you’re limiting your meat intake. It all depends on your food choices.
So make sure to include a variety of plant-based foods into your meals so you don’t end up with a nutrient deficiency.
The Flexitarian Diet promotes the consumption of whole, unprocessed plant-based foods while encouraging moderate consumption of meat and other animal-based products.
Flexitarians might experience weight loss and a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Reducing meat consumption might even be beneficial to the environment.
However, careful planning of your flexitarian meal selections is necessary to avoid nutritional deficits and get all the above-mentioned health benefits.