Low calorie vegetarian diet for weight loss: Benefits and Best Foods

  • By: srtmorar
  • Date: January 9, 2024
  • Time to read: 3 min.


Low calorie vegetarian diet should be made keeping protein consumption as well as portion size in check. Here is everything else that one must remember.

When it comes to losing weight, many people find it tough to achieve it even on a vegetarian diet. This happens if they find themselves eating too many carbohydrates or processed foods. However, with the rising interest in vegetarianism, settling for a low calorie vegetarian diet can lead you closer to your weight-loss dreams.

Be it protein sources or healthy fat foods, a vegetarian diet can have it all! So if you are vegetarian, and are looking for a low calorie vegetarian diet to meet your weight goals, we got you! Health Shots got in touch with dietician Garima Goyal, who tells us what to keep in mind for an effective low calorie vegetarian diet.

What is a vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian diet excludes meat and fish, focusing on plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes for nutritional needs. “A vegetarian diet emphasises plant-derived foods and excludes animal flesh. There are different types – lacto-vegetarian, includes dairy but excludes eggs, ovo-vegetarian, includes eggs but excludes dairy, lacto-ovo vegetarian, Includes both dairy and eggs; and Vegan, excludes all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and often honey, says Goyal.

A woman eating a bowl of salad
Make sure to eat healthy proteins while following a low calorie vegetarian diet. Image courtesy: Freepik

How many calories can one take on a low calorie vegetarian diet?

A common guideline for a low-calorie diet is around 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day for men. “The appropriate calorie intake varies based on factors like age, gender, weight, activity level, and overall health. It is crucial to maintain a balance of nutrients even on a low-calorie diet to ensure you get essential vitamins and minerals,” says Goyal.

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Foods to include in a low calorie vegetarian diet

1. Leafy greens

Low in calories and high in nutrients, greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are excellent choices.

2. Whole grains

Choose whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats for sustained energy and fiber that keeps you feeling full.

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3. Legumes

Beans, lentils and chickpeas provide plant-based protein and fiber, promoting satiety.

4. Vegetables

Include a variety of colourful vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals with minimal calories.

5. Fruits

Choose fresh and whole fruits as snacks. They offer natural sweetness and important nutrients.

6. Nuts and seeds

While calorie-dense, nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats and protein. Enjoy them in moderation for added satiety.

7. Tofu and tempeh

These plant-based protein sources can be versatile additions to meals, helping maintain muscle mass during weight loss.

8. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt has a lot of protein and can be a satisfying and nutritious snack.

Foods to avoid on a low calorie vegetarian diet

1. Processed vegetarian foods

Many vegetarian convenience foods can be high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Limit their intake.

2. Sugary drinks

Sweetened beverages contribute unnecessary calories. Instead of these you can have herbal tea, or infused water.

3. Refined grains

Choose whole grains over refined options like white bread or white rice, which lack fiber.

4. Fried foods

While plant-based, fried foods can be high in unhealthy fats and calories. Opt for baked or grilled alternatives.

Also Read: How to become vegan slowly: 8 tips for beginners adopting a plant-based diet

5. High-calorie condiments

Watch for excessive use of high-calorie dressings, sauces, or toppings. Opt for lighter alternatives.

6. Excessive dairy

While dairy can be part of a healthy diet, consume it in moderation, choosing low-fat options.

A woman measuring her waist.
A low calorie vegetarian diet is sure to make you lose weight. Image courtesy: Freepik

Sample low calorie vegetarian diet meal plan


Overnight oats made with rolled oats, almond milk, chia seeds, and topped with fresh berries.

Mid-Morning Snack

A small handful of almonds or a piece of fruit like an apple.


Quinoa salad with mixed vegetables (bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes), chickpeas, and a light lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Afternoon Snack

Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of chia seeds.

Evening Snack (optional)

Carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus.


Grilled tofu or tempeh with a side of steamed broccoli, quinoa, and a colourful mixed salad.


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