Vegetarian Diets for Women
When a vegetarian diet is well planned, it can meet your nutrient needs for training and fitness. The key to this is to get enough energy from other sources then meat and to replace key nutrients found in animal products. If planned and executed properly a vegetarian diet has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems.
Vegetarians need to make sure that they are getting an adequate supply of zinc, B12, calcium, iron and Vitamin D. These are all things that meat eaters get from animal sources. Always check with a doctor regarding your diet and how to supplement with vitamins.
Zinc is an essential mineral in the diet. Generally ample amounts of zinc are found in meat. To replace zinc, vegetarians can choose these foods: beans and chickpeas, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds and yogurt.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally only in animal products. If you don’t eat eggs or dairy products, include foods fortified with vitamin B12 like meat substitutes (veggie dogs, veggie burgers) or even better, take a B12 supplement .
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are important for healthy bones, muscles and nerves. Dairy products, and some fortified orange juices provide both. Almonds, figs, beans, tahini, turnip or collard greens, broccoli and kale also provide calcium. Vitamin D is also made when the sun hits the bare skin. In the late fall or winter in Canada, our bodies can’t make enough vitamin D from the sun. If you train indoors most of the time, you may be at risk for low vitamin D. A supplement with 200 IU of vitamin D daily would be a good solution.
Vegetarians need almost twice as much iron of non-vegetarians because iron from plant foods is poorly absorbed. Training can increase your need for iron too. Iron deficiency leads to fatigue and can impair your performance. Make sure you eat enough iron rich foods every day. Choose from beans, lentils, seeds, soy, and whole grain or fortified cereals, breads and pastas. Include a source of vitamin C like citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli to help your body absorb the iron from plant foods.
Food – Portion Size – Calories (cal) – Protein (in grams – gm)
Nuts and Seeds
Pumpkin/squash seeds 1 oz, 126 cal 5 gm
Black walnuts 1 oz, 173 cal 7 gm
Pine nuts 1 oz, 190 cal 4 gm
Roasted almonds 1 oz, 22 count 171 cal 6gm
Pistachios 1 oz 49 count 161 cal 6gm
Sunflower seeds 1 oz 166 cal 5 gm
Cashews 1 oz 18 kernels 164 cal 4 gm
Hemp seeds 2 T 160 cal 11gm
Flax seeds 1 T 100 cal 4 gm
Ricotta cheese lowfat ½ c 171 cal 14 gm
Romano cheese 1 oz 108 cal 9 gm
Cheddar cheese 1 oz 113 cal 7 gm
Provolone cheese 1 oz 98 cal
Mozzarella 1 oz 71 cal 7 gm
Parmesan 1 oz 116 cal 7 gm
Gouda cheese 1 oz 100 cal 8 gm
Swiss cheese 1 oz 100 cal 8gm
Feta cheese ½ c crumbled 200 cal 21 gm
Cottage cheese 2% low fat 1 cup 163 cal 28 gm
Egg 1 whole 77 cal 6 gm
Egg whites 1 whole 16 cal 4 gm
Milk 1 cup 137 cal 10 gm
Yogurt low fat 1 cup 137 cal 14 gm
Sun-dried tomatoes ½ cup (1 oz) 72 cal 4gm
Soy beans 1 oz 35 cal 4 gm
Tofu ½ cup 95 cal 10gm
Navy beans 4 oz 88 cal 8 gm
Peas 4 oz 108 cal 8 gm
Lima beans 4 oz cal 88 cal 5 gm all
Brussel sprouts 1 cup 65 cal 6 gm
Spinach 1 cup chopped 65 cal 6 gm
Broccoli 1 cup spears 52 cal 6 gm
Asparagus ½ cup 20 cal 2 gm
Apricots dried ½ cup 190 cal 3 gm
Peaches dried ½ cup 185 cal 3 gm
Cereal, bread, grains and pasta
Oat bran 1 oz 59 cal 5 gm
Oats 1 oz 109 cal 5 gm
Spaghetti, sprouted wheat dry 2 oz 198 cal 8 gm
Buckwheat 1 oz 96 cal 4 gm
Couscous dry 1 oz 105 cal 4 gm
Bulgur dry 1 oz 96 cal 3 gm
Millet raw 1 oz 106 cal 3 gm
Rice, brown long grain cooked 1 cup 216 cal 5 gm
Sprouted wheat bread 1 slice 69 cal 4 gm
Oatmeal bread 1 slice 73 cal 2 gm
Rye bread 1 slice 83 cal 2 gm
Sprouted wheat pita bread 4” diameter 74 cal 3 gm
Quinoa – 1 cup cooked – 170 cal – 7gm
Here is a vegetarian recipe to get you started:
This one too:
Check out this video for tips on how to incorporate fitness into your routine as well!
This article also has great information for vegetarian diets to source fats, proteins and carbs:
Vegetarians tend to consume less cholesterol and saturated fat then meat-eaters. They are also known to consume more beneficial fibre, vitamins and antioxidants than meat-eaters. There is also the cost savings of buying meat alternatives versus purchasing meat. The savings can be significant.
Vegetarian diets for women can be very successful and provide many benefits if it is planned out right. Starting with figuring out your protein needs and finding substitutes will ensure that you are not filling up on empty calories that will just add weight on! Protein is the best way to feel fuller longer. Like anything in life, smart choices will work to your advantage.