If you've been cutting carbs, sugar and fat in order to slim down for the summer, you might be doing it all wrong.
New research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that not only do dieters who eat a meatless diet lose weight more effectively, they also boost their metabolism. A group of 74 people, all with type 2 diabetes, followed a vegetarian diet full of grains, veggies, fruits and nuts for six months — and researchers discovered the diet was twice as effective.
In fact, participants in the group lost and average of 14 pounds as compared to seven. Plus, participants also lost muscle fat — which leads to a higher metabolism.
Dr. Hana Kahleová, one of the lead researchers on the study, told Delish that while the study focused on diabetic patients, a vegetarian diet like this — supplemented with an exercise routine — could be beneficial for anyone, even if you're not diabetic.
"This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes," Kahleová said. "But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy."
Looking to amp up your vegetarian protein sources? Check out these protein-packed superfoods!
Quinoa is higher in protein than most other grains — plus, lower in calories! It helps you feel fuller for longer with its hefty dosage of fiber, and it's also full of healthy unsaturated fats. Try it in this Garden Fresh Quinoa Salad or this Clean Eating Quinoa Salad.
This magical fruit is a vegetarian's BFF. All beans have a high protein content and digest super slowly, helping you feel full and satisfied throughout the day. Get this: two cups of kidney beans contains 26 grams of protein! Go for this healthy bean and bulgur salad next time you need a pick-me-up.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Also an excellent source of healthy fats, a cup of pistachios contributes for 25 grams of protein, and a cup of peanuts contributes to 38 grams of protein! Add natural, organic nut butters to your grocery list like peanut butter and almond butter. Mix them in your morning oatmeal or get creative here.
A single serving of plain Greek yogurt clocks in around 17 grams of protein. Toss in some berries and chia seeds for a healthy breakfast, throw it in your favorite protein smoothie, or start swapping it for sour cream to lighten up your grandmother's recipes (learn more here).
For a quick and easy afternoon snack, break out the cottage cheese! One cup packs 25 grams of protein and only 200 calories, so you'll make it all the way to dinner without any cravings.
Just a cup of these will get you a third of the protein you need for the entire day — so grab the hummus and carrot sticks when you're ready for your 3 p.m. pick-me-up!