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The Flexitarian Diet: An In-depth Guide for Beginners

Flexitarian eating is a way to eat mainly plant-based foods, while still allowing for some meat products.

It is more flexible than a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Flexitarians are a good option if you want to eat more plant-based foods but not completely eliminate meat.

This article will give you an overview of the Flexitarian Diet and its benefits. It also includes a 1-week meal plan.

What’s the Flexitarian Diet?

Dawn Jackson Blatner, a dietitian, created the Flexitarian Diet to allow people to reap the benefits and enjoy vegetarianism while still enjoying moderate amounts of animal products.

This is why the name of the diet is a mixture of “flexible” & “vegetarian”.

Vegans are vegetarians who eat no meat or other animal products. Vegetarians omit meat, fish, eggs, and dairy from their diets.

Flexitarians don’t eat animal products so they aren’t vegetarians.

There are no recommended macronutrients or clear rules for the Flexitarian Diet. It’s more of a lifestyle than a diet.

These are the principles that underpin it:

  • Consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Instead of focusing on animals, focus on protein.
  • Flexibility is key. You can include meat and other animal products as needed.
  • Consume the most natural, unprocessed foods possible.
  • Limit added sugar sweets.

The Flexitarian Diet is popular because of its flexibility and emphasis on what you can include, rather than what you should restrict.

Jackson Blatner explains how to eat flexitarian and includes specific amounts of meat per week in her book.

It is not necessary to follow her recommendations in order to eat flexitarian. People following this diet might eat more animal products than others.

The goal is to eat less meat and more plant-based foods.

Possible health benefits

Eating flexitarian may provide several health benefits.

The Flexitarian Diet is not defined clearly. It’s therefore difficult to determine if and how the researched health benefits of other plant-based diets can be applied to this diet.

Research on vegetarian diets and vegan diets can still be helpful in highlighting the benefits of semi-vegetarian diets for health.

To reap the health benefits from plant-based eating, it seems important to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

It won’t bring the same benefits to reduce meat consumption, but it will make it more difficult to eat refined foods high in sugar and salt.

Heart disease

Healthy diets high in fiber and healthy oils are good for your heart.

More than 48,188 participants participated in a study that found fish-eaters and vegetarians had lower ischemic hearts disease rates than meat-eaters. However, vegetarians had higher hemorrhagic rates and total stroke.

The ischemic heart disease rates for vegetarians and fish eaters were 13% and 22% lower than for those who ate meat).

This could be because vegetarian diets are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can lower blood pressure and improve good cholesterol.

In a 2020 review, 15 studies showed that a vegetarian diet had a significantly lower systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure than an omnivorous one.

A 2020 study that examined vegetarian, pescatarian, and flexitarian diets, which included 10,797 participants, found that people who followed any diet that excluded/reduced meat consumption had lower body mass, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and overall body mass than those who ate meat.

Flexitarian diets are primarily plant-based and have many benefits that can be compared to full vegetarian diets.

Weight Management

Flexitarian eating can also help you to manage your weight.

This is partly because Flexitarians tend to limit high-calorie, processed foods and eat more natural foods that are lower in calories.

Numerous studies have shown that those who eat a plant-based diet can lose more weight than those who don’t.

An analysis of more than 1,100 studies found that vegetarians lost 4.5 pounds (or 2 kg) more than those who didn’t.

These and other studies show that vegans lose more weight than vegetarians or omnivores.

The Flexitarian Diet is more like a vegetarian diet than one that’s vegan. It may be able to help you lose weight, but not as much as a vegan.

The Flexitarian Diet is not focused on weight loss. The Flexitarian Diet is more about incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into your diets, such as fruits, legumes, and vegetables.

Diabetes

Globally, type 2 diabetes is a major health problem. This disease can be prevented and managed by eating a healthy diet, particularly one that is primarily plant-based.

This is likely to be because plant-based diets help weight loss and include many foods high in fiber and low levels of unhealthy fats and added sugars.

An experiment involving more than 200,000 people found that a diet high in plant foods was associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes by 20%.

A plant-based diet that emphasizes healthy plant foods was associated with a greater decrease in diabetes risk (34%), while a diet high in unhealthy plant foods was associated with a 16% increase in diabetes risk.

A healthy diet consisted of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The less healthy diet contained sweetened beverages, fruit juices, refined grains, and sweets.

Further research revealed that type 2 diabetics had a lower HbA1c (the 3-month average blood sugar reading) when they ate a plant-based diet than those who ate conventional diets ( 9Trusted source ).

Cancer

A lower chance of developing certain cancers is associated with eating a diet high in healthy plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low in processed foods.

Research shows that vegetarian diets have a lower incidence of all types of cancers, especially colorectal ( 10Trusted source, 11Trusted source).

A 7-year study of colorectal cancer cases in 78,000 people showed that semi-vegetarians were 8 times more likely to develop this type of cancer than non-vegetarians ( 11Trusted source).

You can reduce your risk of developing cancer by eating more vegetarian food and flexitarian foods.

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