“How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight?”

In order to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns each day. A calorie is a unit that measures energy. Calories are usually used to measure the energy content of foods and beverages. The amount of calories your body requires each day is based on your basal metabolic rate, along with your level of physical activity. And what is basal metabolic rate, or resting metabolism? Essentially, it’s the energy your body requires to perform all the activities vital for life, like respiration and digestion.

How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight; cartoon image of woman running on treadmill on one side of balance and food on the other

This rate accounts for about 70% of your total calorie needs. So it’s pretty important to make sure you’re fueling your body properly. The younger and taller you are, the higher your basal metabolic rate. Men also tend to have a higher resting metabolism than women.

When it comes to the remaining 30% of your daily caloric expenditure, it’s mostly made up of your level of physical activity, which can vary from day to day. Basically, the more active you are, the higher your energy needs.

How Many Calories You Should Be Consuming

America’s top nutrition experts weighed in to cut through the most common calorie misconceptions and help you identify what you really need each day.

“Many people think eating fewer calories is better when trying to lose weight,” says Felicia Stoler, author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes. “However, unless you’re a woman under 5’3″, I wouldn’t recommend eating less than 1,600 calories per day.”

As Stoler points out, consuming too few calories can lead to a deficiency of essential nutrients and may even suppress the immune system.

“Eating less than your body needs can slow metabolism as the body begins to break down muscle for fuel,” says Keri Gans, RDN, author of The Small Change Diet. “Without adequate calories, you may experience low energy levels, excess hunger or changes in mood,” adds Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, author of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure.

On the other hand, too many calories aren’t ideal, either. In addition to weight gain and an increase in fat storage, consuming more calories than your body needs can result in a variety of less than pleasant ailments.

“Eating too many calories, especially from fried or spicy foods, can lead to gastric reflux,” says Gans. “Those excess calories can result in feeling lethargic, weighed down, and sluggish,” adds Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT.

Caloric Intake Based on Your Activity Level

The perfect balance of calories will complement both your metabolic rate as well as your physical activity level.

  • Very Active: For those who are very active, a.k.a exercising vigorously for an hour or more per day, or who work in a highly physical job, the calorie needs for women range from 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day, whereas a very active man would need closer to 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day.
  • Moderately Active: For a moderately active individual who exercises for about 30 to 60 minutes a day, a woman, on average, would need 1,900 calories per day, while a male would require 2,500 calories.
  • Slightly Active: An individual who is slightly active, averaging between 5,000 to 8,000 steps per day, would require 1,800 calories for women and 2,200 calories for men.
  • Sedentary: For someone who is mostly sedentary, taking less than 5,000 steps per day, calorie needs fall as low as 1,600 for a woman and 1,800 for a man.

What to Eat to Reach Your Recommended Daily Calorie Count

What does a typical daily meal plan look like within these calorie ranges? Let’s take a look.

2,500 Calories Per Day

  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices of 100% whole-grain toast, 2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter, 16-ounce latte with non-fat milk, 1 cup berries
  • Snack: 1 ounce of nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds, walnuts etc.)
  • Lunch: 2 slices 100% whole-grain bread, 3 ounces of chicken breast, 1 ounce cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 cups tossed salad topped with ¼ avocado and 3 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing
  • Snack: Apple, 1 ounce part-skim cheese, 1 tablespoon nut butter, ½ cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • Dinner: 6 ounce salmon filet, 2 cups broccoli sautéed in one tablespoon oil and garlic, ½ baked (sweet or regular) potato, 5 ounce glass of wine

2,200 Calories Per Day

  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices of 100% whole-grain toast, 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter, 12-ounce latte with non-fat milk, 1 cup berries
  • Snack: 1 ounce of nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
  • Lunch: 2 slices of 100% whole-grain toast, 3 ounces of chicken or turkey breast, 1 ounce cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 cups tossed salad topped with ¼ avocado and 2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing
  • Snack: Apple, 1 ounce part-skim cheese
  • Dinner: 5 ounce salmon filet, 2 cups broccoli sautéed in ½ tablespoon oil, ½ baked (sweet or regular) potato

1,800 Calories Per Day

  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 1 slice of 100% whole-grain toast, 1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter, latte or café au lait with 8 ounces of non-fat milk, 1 cup berries
  • Snack: 1 ounce of nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
  • Lunch: 2 slices of 100% whole-grain toast, 3 ounces of turkey breast, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 cups tossed salad topped with ¼ avocado, chopped walnuts and 1 ½ tablespoons vinaigrette dressing
  • Snack: 1 medium apple
  • Dinner: 4 ounce salmon filet, 2 cups steamed broccoli, ½ baked sweet potato

1,600 Calories Per Day

  • Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 1 slice of 100% whole-grain toast, 1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter, latte or café au lait with 8 ounces non-fat milk
  • Snack: 1 ounce of nuts (pistachios, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.)
  • Lunch: 2 slices of 100% whole-grain toast, 3 ounces of turkey breast, ¼ avocado, 2 cups tossed salad topped with 1 tablespoon vinaigrette dressing
  • Snack: 1 medium apple
  • Dinner: 4 ounce salmon filet, 2 cups steamed broccoli, ½ baked sweet potato

Drinking More Water Can Help To Lose Weight

One very simple trick to increase weight loss is to drink more water. This can increase the number of calories you burn for up to 90 minutes. Drinking about 2 liters of water per day can make you burn about 96 more calories per day. But when you drink water may be even more important. Because having it before meals can help reduce hunger and make you automatically eat fewer calories.

Drinking a half liter  of water a half hour before meals made people lose 44% more weight over a period of 12 weeks.

When combined with a healthy diet, drinking more water (especially before meals) does appear to be helpful if you need to lose weight. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and green tea are also excellent. The caffeine in them can help boost metabolism somewhat, at least in the short term .

Do Some Exercise and lose Weight

Exercise is very helpful to lose weight. When we eat fewer calories, our bodies compensate by making us burn less. This is why long-term calorie restriction can significantly reduce metabolism. Not only that, but it can also lead to loss of muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active, so this can reduce metabolism even further. Pretty much the only proven strategy to prevent this from happening is to exert your muscles by lifting weights.

This has been repeatedly shown to prevent muscle loss and prevent your metabolism from slowing down during long-term calorie restriction. Of course, we don’t want to just lose fat. We want to make sure that what is beneath also looks good. If you can’t get to a gym, then consider doing some body lose weight exercises. Doing some cardio like walking, swimming or jogging can also be important. Not so much for weight loss, but for optimal health and general wellbeing. Exercise also has a plethora of other benefits that go way beyond just weight loss. Such as a longer life, lower risk of disease, more energy and feeling better every day.





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Kids Health – Nutrition Tips for Healthy Living

All kids need a healthy and balanced diet, but for active kids, it’s especially important to ensure they’re getting the right fuel their body needs to be on top of their game. Whether playing soccer or football, dancing or karate, swimming or track and field, the right kind of food and beverages can help your child become a better athlete.

Offering the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are essential. If you’re trying to nurture an active kid, here are some tips to help them train like a pro…

Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Kids

Two important nutrients for kids—especially athletes are calcium and iron. Calcium helps to build strong bones, which can help prevent breaks during heavy strain of physical activity. Dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt are an excellent source of calcium, but another good source is dark, green leafy vegetables.

Kids Health; different vitamins

Iron can be found in meat, fortified cereals and beans. Without iron, kids get tired more easily. Iron is especially important of young adolescent girls who have gotten their periods because they lose iron every month through their menstrual cycle.

Provide a balanced but tasty breakfast:

Kids Health; different breakfast options

It’s true what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of day, and in the case of active children it will help kick-start their metabolism and sustain them for the first part of the day.
Try to ensure the breakfast includes a mix of quality low-GI carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats, including omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Omega-3 has been linked to improved concentration, thinking and learning, and boosts eye and heart health, all of which are vital for a growing child.

Quick and easy ideas:

  • Steel cut oats with cinnamon, flaked almonds and berries, banana or apple
  • An omelette with spinach, cheese and tomato on low-GI toast
  • A fruit smoothie blended with plain yoghurt and raw almonds or whey protein
  • Salmon, a poached egg and avocado on low-GI toast

Pack healthy lunchbox snacks to sustain energy

A busy morning of playing and learning can burn off one’s breakfast pretty quickly. Avoid convenient but unhealthy lunchbox snacks like chips, chocolates and sweets, and instead pack these easy but healthy alternatives:

  • Boiled eggs
  • Chopped carrots and cucumber, rosa tomatoes with hummus or homemade guacamole
  • Fresh fruit
  • Ostrich biltong
  • Nuts and seed mixes (or bars)
  • Wholewheat wraps with lean meat cuts like chicken or turkey

Portable Nutritious Snack

A busy schedule of games, practices and lessons can often mean missing sit down meals at home. Avoid the fast food trap by preparing portable and healthy snacks to fuel your pint-sized athlete. Because kids are still growing, a balanced diet is essential. Do not replace healthy meals and snacks with protein bars and shakes.

Hard boiled eggs, veggies and hummus, nuts, fresh fruit, and lean meats like chicken or whole grain breads are all great options. You can pack an insulated lunch bag to keep sandwiches fresh for a pre-game snack. If you’re going to offer your kids a snack before a game or practice, make sure it’s 2-hours prior. If you child eats right before exercising, their bodies will burn energy digesting food instead of fueling the activity.

Encourage your child to drink more water

Kids Health; kid drinking water

Despite what many of us think, active children do not actually need sugar-filled energy drinks. Instead ensure your child stays hydrated with sufficient water throughout the day.

Try to get them into the habit of drinking water by getting them a water bottle they like and limit sugary and fizzy drinks to an absolute minimum.

Health Hack: If your child doesn’t enjoy drinking plain water, try infusing water with fresh strawberries, lemon or kiwi for added flavour. Iced rooibos tea is another great option.

Don’t ditch the dairy

Calcium helps growing bones become stronger and develop properly. Ensure your child gets a daily dose of dairy through yoghurt, milk or cheese.

You can add fruit smoothies, cheese sandwiches, cereals with low-fat milk and a glass of milk before bed.

Encourage snacking before that big match

If your child has a long afternoon of sports ahead, ensure they have enough energy to sustain them with healthy pre- and post-exercise snacks.

A healthy snack an hour or two before exercise comprised of low-GI carbohydrates such as low-GI cereal with milk and fruit; yogurt and a banana; or a whole-wheat bread sandwich, can help give them the energy they need to get through the afternoon.

If they finish their sports a few hours before supper, give them another healthy snack to sustain them till suppertime with lean quality protein such as egg, dairy or chicken to help their bodies recover.

Include a daily multivitamin

Even if your child eats a healthy, balanced diet, soil quality and farming methods can affect the amount of vitamins our food actually contains.

Vitamin deficiencies can affect all aspects of your child’s health. Find a quality multivitamin which contains sufficient quantities of the essential vitamins and minerals that fit your particular child’s needs.




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Glycemic Index diet

Low Glycemic Diet Plan- How Does It Work?

A glycemic index diet is an eating plan based on how foods affect your blood sugar level.

The glycemic index is a system of assigning a number to carbohydrate-containing foods according to how much each food increases blood sugar. The glycemic index itself is not a diet plan but one of various tools — such as calorie counting or carbohydrate counting — for guiding food choices.

The term “glycemic index diet” usually refers to a specific diet plan that uses the index as the primary or only guide for meal planning. Unlike some other plans, a glycemic index diet doesn’t necessarily specify portion sizes or the optimal number of calories, carbohydrates, or fats for weight loss or weight maintenance.

Low Glycemic Diet Plan; food pyramid of healthy foods

Many popular commercial diets, diet books and diet websites are based on the glycemic index, including the Zone Diet, Sugar Busters and the Slow-Carb Diet.

What Is Glycemic Index?

Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in the body. The consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods increases the postprandial blood sugar levels. Direct consumption of sugar can also have the same effect. Glycemic Index is a method of classification of foods based on their influence on the postprandial blood glucose levels. Starchy foods have higher glycemic indexes as compared to foods rich in fiber or protein. And the more the GI of a food, the more the chances that you will develop obesity and other related diseases. Here’s what you should look for on the labels of foods that you buy.

  • < 55 – Low GI = Good
  • 56-69 – Medium GI = OK
  • 70 or >70 – High GI = Bad

Comparing these values, therefore, can help guide healthier food choices. For example, an English muffin made with white wheat flour has a GI value of 77. A whole-wheat English muffin has a GI value of 45.


The purpose of a glycemic index (GI) diet is to eat carbohydrate-containing foods that are less likely to cause large increases in blood sugar levels. The diet could be a means to lose weight and prevent chronic diseases related to obesity such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Why you might follow the GI diet

You might choose to follow the GI diet because you:

Want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
Need help planning and eating healthier meals
Need help maintaining blood sugar levels as part of a diabetes treatment plan
Studies suggest that a GI diet can help achieve these goals. However, you might be able to achieve the same health benefits by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise.

Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions, including diabetes.

Limitations of GI values

One limitation of GI values is that they don’t reflect the likely quantity you would eat of a particular food.

For example, watermelon has a GI value of 80, which would put it in the category of food to avoid. But watermelon has relatively few digestible carbohydrates in a typical serving. In other words, you have to eat a lot of watermelon to significantly raise your blood glucose level.

To address this problem, researchers have developed the idea of glycemic load (GL), a numerical value that indicates the change in blood glucose levels when you eat a typical serving of the food. For example, a 4.2-ounce (120-gram, or 3/4-cup) serving of watermelon has a GL value of 5, which would identify it as a healthy food choice. For comparison, a 2.8-ounce (80-gram, or 2/3-cup) serving of raw carrots has a GL value of 2.

Sydney University’s table of GI values also includes GL values. The values are generally grouped in the following manner:

Low GL: 1 to 10
Medium GL: 11 to 19
High GL: 20 or more

Glycemic Index Of Foods

Low GI Foods

  • Cereals – Oat bran, rolled oats, natural muesli, and porridge.
  • Bread – Whole wheat bread, multigrain bread, soy bread, sourdough rye bread, sourdough wheat bread, and dark rye bread.
  • Carbs – Steamed brown rice, buckwheat, rice noodles, wheat pasta, and pearled barley.
  • Snacks – Corn chips, walnuts, yogurt, pistachios, almonds, coconut, peanut, and hummus.
  • Fruits – Grapefruit, peach, grape, plum, apple, orange, strawberry, kiwi, prune, cherry, mango, and dried and fresh apricots.
  • Veggies – Broccoli, carrot, lettuce, tomato, cauliflower, spinach, onion, bell pepper, cabbage, sweet potato, green peas, new potato, green beans, spinach, kale, and cucumber.
  • Legumes – Brown lentils, red lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, Navy beans, yellow split peas, butter beans, and baked beans.
  • Beverages – Full-fat milk, soy milk, freshly pressed low GI fruit and vegetable juice, coconut water, buttermilk, and water.
  • Desserts – Dark chocolate, homemade custard, milk chocolate, and Nutella.

Medium GI Foods

  • Cereals – Special K, Mini-Wheats, shredded wheat, Nutri-Grain, Weet-Bix, and all-bran wheat flakes.
  • Bread – Pita bread, wholemeal rye bread, croissant, hamburger bun, and bran muffin.
  • Carbs – White rice, basmati rice, wild rice, Arborio rice, cornmeal, couscous, gnocchi, and taco shells.
  • Snacks – Oatmeal cracker, plain popcorn, homemade pancakes, plain potato wafers, Ryvita cracker, digestive biscuits, and blueberry muffins.
  • Fruits – Mango, banana, papaya, pineapple, fig, raisin, and plum.
  • Veggies – Beetroot, potato, and canned potato.
  • Beverages – Packaged fruit and vegetable juices, energy drinks, sweetened drinks, cocktails, mocktails, and alcohol.
  • Desserts – Sultanas.

High GI Foods List

  • Cereals – Puffed wheat, rice bubbles, mini wheats, Kellogg’s Bran Flakes, Kellogg’s Chocos, Kellogg’s Coco Pops, instant porridge, and Kellogg’s Crispix.
  • Bread – Bagel, baguette, white bread, and wholemeal bread.
  • Carbs – Sticky rice, jasmine rice, instant white rice, short grain white rice, tapioca, boiled brown rice, and glutinous rice.
  • Snacks – Puffed crispbread, scones, pretzels, pikelets, water crackers, rice cakes, and sao crackers.
  • Fruits – Watermelon and dates.
  • Veggies – Pumpkin, parsnips, boiled and skinned potato, and skinned and baked potato.
  • Beverages – Sports or energy drinks.
  • Desserts – Jelly beans, candies, waffles, Fruit Roll-Ups, and doughnuts.

Other Factors That Determine The GI Of Foods

  • Processing – The more processed a food, the higher the GI. For example, fruit juice has a higher GI than whole fruit, and white rice has a higher GI than brown rice.
  • Storage And Ripening – The riper the food, the higher the GI. Do not store fruits or veggies for too long and avoid consuming fruits that are too ripe.
  • Variety – Different varieties of the same food may have different GIs. For example, short grain white rice has a higher GI than brown rice, but long grain white rice has a lower GI compared to brown rice.
  • Cooking Time – The longer you cook a food, the higher the GI.
  • Nutritional Value – There are foods that have higher GI but are also nutritious, and there are foods with lower GI and lower nutritional value. For example, chocolate has a lower GI as compared to oatmeal, but oatmeal is more nutritious.

How Can Low-GI Foods Help?

Low-GI foods do not drastically raise the postprandial blood sugar levels. They are digested and absorbed slower than high GI foods, thereby maintaining a controlled release of sugar into the blood. These foods also increase colonic fermentation. This, in turn, increases the function of the good gut bacteria and improves amino acid metabolism and the production and absorption of short-chain fatty acids in the large intestine (5). Low-GI foods also prevent insulin resistance, improve lipid profile, and reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (6) (7). I have a table for you at the end of this article that contains a list of high, medium, and low-GI foods. For now, let me give you a meal plan so that you have a better understanding of what, when, and how much you should eat. Take a look.

Low GI Diet Plan 

Early Morning (7:00 – 7:30 am) 2 cups of water that is at room temperature water (Click here to know if drinking cold water aids weight loss.)
Breakfast (7:45 – 8:15 am) Options:l 1 medium bowl porridge + 2 egg whites + 1 cup freshly pressed grapefruit juicel 1 medium bowl oats bran + 4 almonds + 1 cup freshly pressed apple juice
Mid Morning (10:30 – 10:45 am) Options:l 1 tuna sandwich made with multigrain bread + 1 small bowl of saladl 1 kiwi + 2 walnuts
Lunch (1:00 – 1:30 pm) Options:l 1 cup full-fat milkl 1 bowl of sauteed carrots, broccoli, and mushroom with boiled lima beans
Evening Snack (4:00 pm) 1 cup green tea + 1 oatmeal cracker
Dinner (6:45 – 7:00 pm) l 3 oz grilled chicken breast + 1 medium bowl of grilled sweet potato and veggies + 1 small bowl of muskmelon and berriesl Brown lentil stew with veggies + 1 whole wheat bread + 1 piece of dark chocolate

This is an ideal low-GI diet chart. If you can follow this diet chart or a similar diet, you will definitely lose weight and also prevent your body from falling prey to obesity and lifestyle-related diseases. You can also take help from the following table that classifies high GI, medium GI, and low GI foods.

Low GI Diet Benefits

  • According to a paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a low GI diet promotes weight loss as compared to a high GI and low-fat diet (8).
  • A low GI diet can help control diabetic condition in patients. A study conducted on diabetics showed that those on a low GI diet experienced improved glycemic control as compared to those who were not (9).
  • A low GI diet can reduce the serum triglycerides by 15-25% (10).
  • Low GI diets can reduce insulin resistance (11).
  • Vegans, vegetarians, and people with dietary restrictions can follow this diet.

There are a few disadvantages to this diet. Let’s find out what they are.

Low-GI Diet Disadvantages

  • Not all low GI foods are high in nutrition, and not all high GI foods are low in nutrition. So, this may confuse the dieters.
  • It can be difficult for those who have the habit of binging on carbs.
  • Some low GI foods can be high in salt and saturated fat, which can prevent weight loss.

To conclude, a low GI diet is definitely the go-to diet if you are suffering from metabolic disorders. You can also follow this diet if you want to eat healthy without the fear of piling on those pounds. As this diet becomes a part your lifestyle, you will have a better understanding of the GI of your meals, and you will become adept in planning accordingly. So, go ahead and give this diet a try. I am sure you will see results in a few week’s time. Good luck!




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Healthy Vegetarian

How to Be a Healthy Vegetarian

While there are many reasons people choose a vegetarian eating style, a well-planned vegetarian diet can be healthy, taste great and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Healthy Vegetarian

There are different types of vegetarians:

  • Flexitarian: Flexitarians are also known as semi–vegetarians. They avoid animal products most of the time, but will occasionally eat fish or meat.
  • Pesci–vegetarian: Pesci–vegetarians eat fish, dairy, and eggs but don’t eat meat or poultry.
  • Lacto–ovo vegetarian: Lacto–ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but do eat eggs and dairy products (ovo means eggs and lacto means dairy). This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
  • Lacto vegetarian: Lacto vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs, but do eat dairy products.
  • Ovo vegetarian: Ovo vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, poultry or dairy, but do eat eggs.
  • Vegan: Vegans avoid eating any animal products. They don’t eat any meat products, dairy, eggs, honey, or gelatin. Some vegans (and some other types of vegetarians) choose not to wear clothes containing animal products, such as leather, wool, or silk, or use products such as lotion or makeup that may have been tested on animals.

What is a vegetarian diet?

There are many types of vegetarians, but most follow a vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry and seafood. Some may choose a plant-based diet that excludes eggs and dairy, like milk, yogurt and cheese. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals of all ages including infants, children, teens and pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as adults.

Are there health benefits?

Vegetarian diets can be healthy and may even lower the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. However, eating a balanced diet when you are vegetarian requires some extra attention. Because vegetarians take out certain foods from their diets, they often need to work to add in foods that will provide the nutrients found in animal products. By eating a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products, and whole grains, vegetarians can get adequate nutrients from non–meat sources. Vegetarians, especially vegans, need to pay attention getting enough protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and omega–3 fatty acids.


Food Groups for Vegetarians

These food groups may look familiar. They are the same food groups featured in USDA’s MyPlate.

  • Fruits: Eat a wide variety of colorful fruits, including fresh, frozen and canned with no added sugar. Fruit supplies fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Vegetables: Choose vegetables in a varietyof colors, especially orange, red and dark-green for their vitamins, minerals and fiber.Vegetables like broccoli, bok choy andcollard greens provide calcium. Vegetablescan be fresh, frozen or canned without salt.
  • Grains: Eat more whole grains in place ofrefined ones. Some grains, like quinoa andmillet are higher in protein. Many ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with iron and evenvitamin B12. Replace white rice, pasta andbreads with whole-grain options.
  • Proteins: Variety, again, is important in thisfood group. Beans, peas and lentils arepacked with iron, zinc, fiber and protein.Nuts, seeds and soy products are also greatchoices.
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt and cheese are rich incalcium and most are fortified with vitaminD.Choose low-fat or fat-free options. Non-dairy alternatives are also available such ascalcium-fortified soymilk and almond milk.

Healthful Vegetarian Meal and Snack Ideas

As you can see, a healthy vegetarian eating style depends on variety and thoughtful planning. Here are some ideas to get you started.


  • Spread almond butter on a whole-grain toasted bagel and top with apple slices.
  • Instant oatmeal made with low-fat or fat-free milk with nuts and dried cranberries
  • Whole-grain toaster waffle topped with blueberries and yogurt


  • Vegetable burger or falafel with cheese,mushrooms and tomato on a whole-grain bun
  • Main dish salad with your choice of leafy greens, cut-up vegetables, beans or tofu,fruit and nuts
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread with carrot and celery sticks
  • Chili made with beans and textured vegetable protein plus shredded cheese and cornbread


  • Whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce plus vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes,eggplant, peppers and onions)
  • Pizza with or without cheese and topped with vegetables and tofu or meat substitute.
  • Tacos or burritos filled with beans,textured vegetable protein, tofu or tempeh
  • Tofu and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice
  • Baked potato topped with broccoli and cheese


  • Hummus and pita wedges
  • Bagel with nut butter
  • Yogurt layered with crunchy whole-grain-cereal and sliced fruit
  • And a cup of vegetable soup and wholegrain crackers



Zinc is important for growth and your immune system. It is found in whole grains (refined grains such as bread or pasta made from white flour or white rice are not sources of zinc), fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, soy foods, nuts, and legumes.


Iron is important for your blood and is found in beans, seeds, soybeans, tofu, fortified breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, and dried fruit such as apricots, figs, or prunes. Plant–based iron is essentially different from the iron found in meat and it’s not absorbed as well by your body. Adding vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron, so it’s important to eat foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits and certain vegetables such as tomatoes) when you are eating plant-based iron foods to maximize the amount of iron you can absorb.


Calcium is needed to build strong bones. It is found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt (there is more calcium found in traditional yogurt compared to greek yogurt), and cheese. You can also find plant sources of calcium such as broccoli, butternut squash, collard greens, black beans, white beans, soybeans, and tofu. Plant sources of calcium have less calcium per serving, and are ultimately more difficult for our bodies to absort compared to dairy products. Some foods aren’t naturally high in calcium but have calcium added to them; these foods are called calcium–fortified. Some products such as soy milk, enriched rice milk, orange juice, cereal, and cereal bars are calcium fortified. Therefore, if you choose to not eat dairy, eating calcium fortified foods is a great way to ensure you are eating enough calcium. Look at the Nutrition Facts Label to find out which brands are highest in calcium.

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The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Center for young women health