Does a vegetarian diet automatically help you lose weight?

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Q. My sister insists that I will automatically lose weight if I become a vegetarian. Is this true?

A. While switching to a vegetarian diet can bring health benefits, including weight loss, it doesn't always. After all, cupcakes, cookies, and candy are technically vegetarian foods — but not necessarily ones that will improve your health or help you shed pounds. That said, a well-constructed and healthy plant-based vegetarian diet can help you lose weight over time, provided you make good food choices and reduce the number of calories you normally eat. The USDA notes that a healthy vegetarian eating plan includes a variety of nutrients, including protein sources to make up for meat options you are cutting out. Some good substitutions are beans, nuts, and soy products. Beyond making sure you get the right combination of nutrients, also focus on portion size and calories if you are looking to lose weight. Ultimately, keep in mind that a vegetarian diet, like any other, may help you lose weight, but it can also result in weight gain if you take in more calories than you burn off on a regular basis.

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