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The main goal of any diet is to get or stay healthy, and of course enjoy the food.
We view the Vegetable Diet as being a general and flexible structure to gradually achieve optimal body shape. Our experience is that gradual variation of diet composition within the framework leads to incremental discovery of an effective diet for each individual. Some of the technical resources below can act as occasional support for forming of general goals and guidelines.
The easiest goal to understand is shape, in the form of waist to hip ratio:
If you look down and can't see your belt buckle, never mind the tape measure - you have some work to do before you start taking measurements. But by measuring your hips, you can develop an approximation of your waist measure goal. The waist to hip ratio has been found to have a strong correlation with the presence (or absence) of many serious chronic diseases.
Another common goal is ideal body mass index (BMI). There are many free BMI calculators on the internet (such as this HealthLink calculator). Related measures are lean body mass and waist measure. These measures can help you set an approximate weight goal for yourself.
Finally body fat ratio provides a measure of fat proportion. (See the Wikipedia explanation of body composition.) You can use a body fat calculator (such as at Livestrong) to determine your current body fat proportion. The ideal is said to be around 15% for men, and 20-25% for women.
The Vegetable Diet prescribes relatively low calorie intake, in the 1500 calorie per day range - depending on personal lifestyle and results. There are many free calories-per-day calculators on the internet, like the about.com calories per day calculator. Our general experience is that these calculators generate per day calorie requirements that are too high (by about a quarter).
In general, adjust your caloric intake to maintain an ideal weight, or lower excessive weight by one or two pounds per week.
By using a calorie counter website like caloriecount.about.com periodically, you can get a pretty good idea of what your daily calorie count is. It's a bit tedious to make detailed lists of your food intake, but you'll find that you only have to use it once in a while in earnest.
The Vegetable Diet prescribes about three quarters of the diet to be vegetable and fruit, and the rest to favour protein.
Many diets prescribe ratios of macro-nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fat).Most notably, some diets prescribe low fat, or low carbohydrate (usually high protein). Again some calorie counter services on the internet provide analysis of daily food logs, including proportions of macro-nutrients. The vegetable diet promotes relatively low carbohydrates, largely by virtue of combination of low caloric density foods, and diminishing emphasis on dense carbohydrates like grains.
Extreme low fat regimens prescribe 10% of the diet be fat, something extremely hard to reach. We have found that the vegetable diet can reach 20% to 30% fat, which is considerably lower than the North American standard of 34% - 40%, and considered by most sources to be quite healthy.
We think that protein is often 15% to 20% in the vegetable diet. If you want to get technical, lean body mass (in relation to activity level) can also lead to estimation of required protein intake.
The vegetable diet is still rather new, so the relationship between macro nutrient proportions and successful weight maintenance or loss had not yet been firmly established. Research into this area would be interesting, but in the meantime there are plenty of low carbohydrate diets that provide credibility to the notion of favouring protein over carbohydrate.
In general we have found that adjusting the vegetable diet toward more low caloric density foods, and refining the protein/dense carbohydrate ratio toward a comfortable balance, promotes desired weight maintenance or loss. It can take a matter of days to a couple of weeks to make a determination of a trend that is established with a modified composition of food.
The Vegetable Diet does not prescribe specific micro-nutrients. These can be added to the diet according to personal requirements and medical advice.
Micro-nutrients are trace elements of minerals and vitamins in diet that are required for life and health. It is commonly thought that a varied diet normally provides sufficient quantities of micro-nutrients. However, some micro-nutrients are recommended by some for preventive reasons - for example vitamin D for general health, and protection against development of certain cancers (see the Vitamin D Society website), and selenium as protection against prostate cancer.
The Vegetable Diet does not prescribe a specific set of supplements. These can be added at will according to personal requirements and medical advice.
Many naturopaths recommend that people measure the pH level of their saliva and urine, and adjust their diets to achieve an optimum acid-alkaline balance. Allopathy does not support this health measure.
The Vegetable Diet does not prescribe this, but of course tends to favour a slightly alkaline intake owing to the weight given to vegetables and other foods considered alkaline in the diet.
The Vegetable Diet prescribes a minimum amount of exercise (as tolerated). The exercise most commonly recommended for good health is (more or less) daily aerobic exercise for half an hour to an hour. Aerobic exercise is thought to be achieved when a person achieves a heart rate that is a proportion of the maximum heart rate.
There are a number of heart rate calculators on the internet, most indicating that average training heart rate is 60% to 70% of maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is estimated by subtracting your age from 220.
So the Editor's maximum heart rate would be 220-58 (2008) = 162, and an aerobic heart rate (low side) would be 97 - 113. In practice the Editor's heart rate is a little higher with vigorous walking. There is also a Karvonen Formula which yields higher rates for more vigorous training.
Typically, an aerobic heart rate for average people can be easily achieved with brisk walking.
As time goes on, each individual can develop their own metrics to determine the effectiveness of their diet and exercise program. This could be done in consultation with a doctor or naturopath, and might include observations of markers associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as obvious items such as weight, girth, and resting heart rate.
The Vegetable Diet prescribes a goal of waist to hip ratio as specified in the Body Measures section above.
There is general agreement on the internet that a safe and healthy weight loss program (if that is what you're into), involves loss of an average of one to two pounds per week.
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