Vegetarian Zone Diet

Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.
Raw salad

This weight loss plan claims to help you safely lose weight and burn fat by eating a specific proportion of protein, carbs, and fat. If you're a vegetarian, you can follow the Zone Diet by substituting high-protein vegetarian foods in place of meat, poultry, and seafood.

Zone Diet Specifics

The Zone Diet is designed to help you shed pounds at a safe rate of one to two pounds per week by eating a well-balanced menu consisting of three meals and two snacks daily. You also need to consume the following proportions of macronutrients:

  • 30 percent protein
  • 40 percent carbs
  • 30 percent fat

Calorie allotments in the Zone Diet range from 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily, depending on gender and activity level. While the diet isn't as restrictive as other types of fad diets, it is considered a high-protein, low-carb plan because the Institute of Medicine suggests getting at least 45 percent of your calories from carbs.

Vegetarian Zone Challenges

It's perfectly acceptable to substitute meatless protein foods in Zone Diet meal plans. However, keep in mind that plant-based protein foods, like legumes and nuts, are generally higher in carbs than animal protein foods. This makes following the diet a bit tricky. Focus on lower-carb vegetarian protein foods such as eggs, cottage cheese, nonfat Greek yogurt, tofu, tempeh, and seitan. In addition to protein foods, choose healthy fats like oils and nut butters, and lower-carb veggies. To keep your carbs at 40 percent of your daily intake, steer clear of high-carb veggies like peas, other legumes, corn, and potatoes.

Sample Menu #1 (1,400 calories)

This vegetarian menu meets the Zone diet specifications because it's a reduced-calorie weight loss plan containing about 1,400 calories, and the macronutrient composition is about 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbs, and 30 percent fat.

Breakfast

  • 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of strawberries

Snack

1/2 ounce of almonds with 1 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt

Lunch

  • 2 ounces of grilled tofu
  • 2 cups of leafy greens
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing
  • 1/8 cup of reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup of brown rice

Snack

2 cups of cottage cheese with ½ cup of blueberries

Dinner

  • 2 ounces of seitan strips
  • ½ cup of asparagus
  • ½ cup of quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon of oil

Sample Menu #2 (1,300 calories)

This menu contains about 1,300 calories, and provides the macronutrient composition of the Zone Diet but without the meat, poultry, or seafood.

Breakfast

  • ½ cup of breakfast cereal
  • ½ cup of low-fat milk
  • ½ cup of grapes

Snack

2 hard boiled eggs with ½ ounce of pistachios

Lunch

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread with 1½ tablespoons of almond butter
  • 2 ounces of tempeh strips
  • 1 cup of carrots

Snack

½ banana with 2 cups of nonfat Greek yogurt

Dinner

  • 2 ounces of tofu
  • ½ cup of steamed broccoli
  • ½ cup of whole-grain pasta
  • 1 teaspoon of oil

Sample Menu #3 (1,400 calories)

This 1,400-calorie menu also meets Zone Diet specifications.

Breakfast

  • ½ bagel with 1 teaspoon of margarine
  • 2-egg omelet with ½ cup of spinach

Snack

1½ cups of cottage cheese with half an apple

Lunch

  • 2 ounces of seitan strips
  • ½ cup of sautéed mushrooms
  • ½ cup of wild rice
  • 1 teaspoon of oil

Snack

1½ cups of soy milk or protein-fortified almond milk with ½ cup of honeydew melon

Dinner

  • 2 ounces of meatless hotdog with 1 whole-wheat hotdog bun
  • 1 cup of sautéed zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon of oil

Sample Menu #4 (1,300 calories)

This vegetarian Zone Diet menu contains about 1,300 calories to aid in weight loss.

Breakfast

  • 1 small whole grain mini waffle with ½ tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of apple juice

Snack

1½ cup Greek yogurt with ½ cup of fresh pineapple

Lunch

  • 1 soy-based veggie burger on ½ whole-wheat hamburger bun
  • 1 cup of raw peppers
  • 1 tablespoon of ranch salad dressing

Snack

1 reduced-fat cheese stick

Dinner

  • 1 slice of whole-grain bread topped with 2 ounces tofu mixed with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise
  • ½ cup of sliced tomatoes

Additional Menu Planning

To help plan additional vegetarian Zone Diet menus, use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Super Tracker tool. Input the foods you'd like to eat in the tracking system -- focusing on lean vegetarian protein foods. Then, click on the Nutrient Reports tab to calculate your calorie intake (aim for 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily) and make sure your protein, carb, and fat intake makes up 30 percent, 40 percent, and 30 percent of your calories, respectively.

Vegetarian Zone Diet

The Zone Diet isn't a vegetarian weight loss plan, but you can easily create vegetarian menus by subbing high-protein vegetarian foods for meat, poultry, and seafood. Just keep an eye on nutrient proportions and calories to ensure you're sticking with the overall plan.

Vegetarian Zone Diet