Flexitarian Diet: The Semi-Vegetarian Weight Loss Plan With Zero Food Restrictions
The keto diet and Whole30 may be the most talked about diets of the last few years, but according to U.S. News and World Report’s best diets for 2019, they are among the worst for your health goals. Why? They're so restrictive, forcing you to cut out entire food groups in the name of a slimmer waistline.
If you want to lose weight or simply eat healthier without giving up the foods you love, consider the Flexitarian Diet. Ranked as the third best overall diet in America—right after the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet—the Flexitarian Diet is a mostly vegetarian meal plan, except you don't have to eliminate meat or dairy.
What is the Flexitarian Diet?
The Flexitarian Diet combines the words flexible and vegetarian to define a way of semi-vegetarian eating that emphasizes plant-based foods, with the flexibility of enjoying animal products in moderate amounts. The diet became popular in 2009 when registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner wrote The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life, which includes a 5-week meal plan focused on adding food groups to your diet—unlike other diets that restrict foods. The plan includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes.
As the name suggests, the Flexitarian Diet is flexible, so there are no hard calorie restrictions or macronutrient guidelines, or ratios for plant- to animal-based foods. However, the book provides a ballpark number of calories to aim for at each meal to ensure you're eating enough and feel satisfied. For example, breakfast is around 300 calories, lunch is 400, dinner is 500, and snacks 150. This daily total is 1,500 calories—an ideal total for those who are trying to shed pounds. But aside from weight loss, the goal of the Flexitarian Diet is to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and meat alternatives, like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds, and fewer processed foods and added sugars.