To make sure you're getting enough, try tracking your intake (even briefly) with an app like My Fitness Pal. Another strategy is to include more pulses (the umbrella term for beans, lentils, and peas) in your meals, since they are one of the best sources of plant protein. One cup of cooked lentils contains 17 grams of protein, compared to about 8 grams in a cup of cooked quinoa or a quarter cup of almonds. Whipping a plant-based powder (such as pea protein, made from yellow split peas) into a smoothie can also boost your intake, by as much as 25 grams per serving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 65 percent of American adults age 20 and up are overweight or obese, but the prevalence of obesity among vegetarians and vegans is below 10 percent. On average, the body weights of both male and female vegetarians are three percent to 20 percent lower than omnivores. Research has also found that switching to a healthy vegan diet leads to weight loss, even without changes to exercise or limits on portion size, calories, or carbohydrates. And, studies have found an increase in calorie burn after vegan meals, meaning plant-based foods may be used more efficiently as fuel for the body, as opposed to being stored as fat—pretty powerful support for a plant-based diet. But in my years of private practice I’ve also seen people gain weight by going vegetarian, when they don’t get the right balance. Here are some veggie dos and don’t’s: