Is There a Vegetarian Atkins Diet?
My friend Susan asked me recently, “Is there a vegetarian Atkins Diet?” She’d seen that I had been successful on Atkins, but she doesn’t eat meat. I was stumped – I didn’t know the answer, so I decided to do some research to see if Susan could be an Atkins dieter and still avoid meat.
You’re probably pretty skeptical right now about a vegetarian Atkins Diet. A lot of people like you think that the Atkins diet is all about eating a lot of meat. The Atkins diet foods include a lot of meat, especially in the Induction Phase, but this is in order to get the protein needed to help you burn off calories and fat effectively. If you are creative and willing to educate yourself, you can find alternatives to meat that will work when implementing a vegetarian Atkins Diet.
Modifying the Atkins Diet Plan
If you are a complete Vegetarian (eating only fruits, vegetables and grains and nothing else) you probably won’t be successful on the Atkins diet. It’s simply too difficult to find low carb fruits, vegetables and grains that can provide enough protein without to many carbohydrates. Vegetarians, however, can find ways to modify the Atkins Diet to suit their own diet restrictions.
Finding Substitutes for Meat
The most important thing to do is find suitable substitutes for meat that will provide plenty of protein for a vegetarian Atkins dieter. My friend Susan and I started looking into options that would be both tasty and nutritious. We discovered that there are plenty of foods that fit the bill that also happen to be high in minerals, Omega-3 and anti-oxidants. Some of the substitutions for meat that she really enjoyed were:
- Tofu - You can cook this in lots of ways, including as a substitute for meat in casseroles and stir-fry dishes.
- Beans - There are so many of these that are high protein and low carb, including Great Northern, Lima, Favas and Mung Beans. Fajitas, salads, soups and loads of other tasty dishes can be made from these.
- Eggs - If you aren’t opposed to them, are one of the most perfect sources of protein there is.
- Nuts and Seeds - Try pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
- Brown Rice - After the Atkins Diet Induction phase, try adding long-grain brown rice, which is low carb and packs a great nutritional punch.
- Gluten Meat Substitutes - Gluten comes from grains such as wheat and rye, but has been processed so that the starches are washed away. Cooked properly (try seasoning with broths and vegetable stocks), it can be delicious. Seitan is one name for this, and you can use it in sandwiches or cook it any lots of ways. Look for an Asian or vegetarian cookbook for ideas.
- Cottage Cheese - If you are a vegetarian who will eat dairy products, low fat cottage cheese has lots of protein and very little fat.
- Fish - Susan, like some vegetarians, will eat fish but not meat. If you can do this, fish is an excellent source of protein and will really add flavor and variety to the Atkins diet for you.
- Meat Substitutes Made from Vegetables - Look for brands like Boca, which makes vegetarian burgers and other dishes. Check the carb count and make sure it’s within the range for the phase you are at in the Atkins Diet.
There are plenty of vegetables on the Atkins diet that will suit all vegetarians, but do try to stick to the ones that are lower in carbohydrates since you’ll be eating more of these than the typical Atkins dieter. Fruits will need to be watched, too. Susan learned that berries are a great choice instead of apples, pears or other starchy fruits.
If you are a vegetarian, you can certainly modify the Atkins Diet menu plan to suit your own needs. It may take a little extra work, but if you are committed to a vegetarian lifestyle and still want to lose weight on a low carb plan, you can do it by substituting for a vegetarian Atkins Diet. One final suggestion – take a vitamin and mineral supplement to make sure you are getting the proper nutrients, especially during the Induction Phase. Your local health food store can help you find one that doesn’t have starches or sugars as additives.
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