What Happens To My Body When… I Give Up Meat
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Giving up meat is sometimes considered an easy way to cut calories so that we lose weight.
But going for a meat free diet doesn’t guarantee we’ll shift those pounds and could actually mean we gain a few extra if we mistakenly replace it with higher calorie ‘veggie’ foods. For example, a small grilled lean rump steak contains just 220 calories – much lower than a 600-calorie vegetarian ready meal that’s packed with cheese and pastry!
Lean meat is packed with protein, which helps to improve satiety or that feeling of fullness at the end of a meal. This means eating protein-rich foods like meat at mealtimes may help to stop us from feeling hungry between meals so that we’re less likely to snack.
Giving up meat without making any other changes to our diet can also leave us lacking essential nutrients. Lean meat is an important source of nutrients including zinc, which is needed for a healthy immune system, and vitamin B12, essential for a healthy nervous system and making red blood cells.
One of the biggest health concerns is the impact meat free diets can have on our intake of iron. Meat is one of the most important providers of this nutrient, which is needed to keep the blood healthy and prevent anaemia. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, a staggering 40% of women aged 19-34 years have intakes of iron below the minimum amount required for good health. This means they are at risk of anaemia, a condition that results in extreme tiredness, breathlessness on exertion, a pale complexion, lack of concentration and unhealthy skin, hair and nails.
Of course, it’s possible to lose weight whilst eating a vegetarian diet but you’ll need to plan meals properly, making sure they include plenty of other iron-rich foods such as beans, eggs, nuts, seeds, green leafy veg and fortified breakfast cereals. And you’ll still need to stick to your daily calorie allowance
If you want to try giving up meat, use WLR’s Food Diary and Database to make sure your new, meat free diet is well balanced and calorie controlled. Try it free for 24 hours.
Find out more about events, new recipes and veggie starter packs at: http://www.nationalvegetarianweek.org/