Myth: Eating meat is bad for my health and makes it harder to lose weight.
Fact: Eating lean meat in small amounts can be part of a healthy plan to lose weight. Chicken, fish, pork, and red meat contain some cholesterol and saturated fat. But they also contain healthy nutrients like iron, protein, and zinc.
TIP: Choose cuts of meat that are lower in fat, and trim off all the fat you can see. Meats that are lower in fat include chicken breast, pork loin and beef round steak, flank steak, and extra lean ground beef. Also, watch portion size. Try to eat meat or poultry in portions of 3 ounces or less. Three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.
Myth: Dairy products are fattening and unhealthy.
Fact: Fat-free and low-fat cheese, milk, and yogurt are just as healthy as whole-milk dairy products, and they are lower in fat and calories. Dairy products offer protein to build muscles and help organs work well, and calcium to strengthen bones. Most milk and some yogurts have extra vitamin D added to help your body use calcium. Most people don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D. Dairy is an easy way to get more of these nutrients.
TIP: Based on Government guidelines, you should try to have 3 cups a day of fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. This can include soy beverages fortified with vitamins. If you can’t digest lactose (the sugar found in dairy products), choose lactose-free or low-lactose dairy products or other foods and beverages that have calcium and vitamin D:
- calcium: soy-based beverages or tofu made with calcium sulfate; canned salmon; dark leafy greens like collards or kale
- vitamin D: cereals or soy-based beverages
Myth: “Going vegetarian” will help me lose weight and be healthier.
If you do not know whether or not to believe a weight-loss or nutrition claim, check it out! The Federal Trade Commission has information on false weight-loss claims in ads.
You can also find out more about nutrition and weight loss by talking with a registered dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Fact: Research shows that people who follow a vegetarian eating plan, on average, eat fewer calories and less fat than non-vegetarians. Some research has found that vegetarian-style eating patterns are associated with lower levels of obesity, lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Vegetarians also tend to have lower body mass index (BMI) scores than people with other eating plans. (The BMI measures body fat based on a person’s height in relation to weight). But vegetarians—like others—can make food choices that impact weight gain, like eating large amounts of foods that are high in fat or calories or low in nutrients.
The types of vegetarian diets eaten in the world can vary widely. Vegans do not consume any animal products, while lacto-ovo vegetarians eat milk and eggs along with plant foods. Some people have eating patterns that are mainly vegetarian but may include small amounts of meat, poultry, or seafood.
TIP: If you choose to follow a vegetarian eating plan, be sure you get enough of the nutrients that others usually take in from animal products such as cheese, eggs, meat, and milk. Nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet are listed in the sidebar, along with foods and beverages that may help you meet your body’s needs for these nutrients.
|Calcium||dairy products, soy beverages with added calcium, tofu made with calcium sulfate, collard greens, kale, broccoli|
|Iron||cashews, spinach, lentils, chickpeas, bread or cereal with added iron|
|Protein||eggs, dairy products, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, soy-based burgers|
|Vitamin B12||eggs, dairy products, fortified cereal or soy beverages, tempeh, miso (tempeh and miso are foods made from soybeans)|
|Vitamin D||foods and beverages with added vitamin D, including milk, soy beverages, or cereal|
|Zinc||whole grains (check the ingredients list on product labels for the words “whole” or “whole grain” before the grain ingredient’s name), nuts, tofu, leafy greens (spinach, cabbage, lettuce)|