Could Vegetarian Diets Have Weight Loss Benefits?

A new study has suggested that vegetarians lose nearly twice as much weight as those following a standard diet.

Researchers worked with subjects suffering from type II diabetes, and randomly assigned them to two groups.

All the participants had a body mass index (BMI) over 25, meaning they were overweight.

The first of the groups was then offered a vegetarian diet, with the other being provided with a standard weight loss diet.

And those on the vegetarian diet lost more weight and body fat over the course of the study.

In order to ensure that results were consistent, calorie consumption was reduced for all subjects by 500 on a daily basis.

The vegetarian diet consisted of leafy vegetables, nuts, fruit, and grains, while the weight loss diet was a standard nutritional approach for those suffering from diabetes.

After six months, researchers found those in the vegetarian group had lost about twice as much weight.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Institute for Clinical and Experimental medicine, Charles University, and the Institute of Endocrinology, all in the Czech Republic, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the US.

It was funded by a project grant from the Ministry of Health in Prague, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Nutrition on an open access basis.

Media coverage of the study has generally been pretty good, although a little note was made of the fact that relatively small numbers were involved in the study.

Researchers also found that those participating in the study found it easier to stick to the vegetarian diet, although it is impossible to draw broad conclusions from this anomaly.

Overall, participants lost 6.2kg (95% confidence interval [CI] -6.6 to -5.3) on the vegetarian diet, versus 3.2kg (95% CI -3.7 to -2.5) on the standard weight loss diet.

The authors concluded that their data “indicates that a vegetarian diet is more effective in reducing subfascial fat and tends to also reduce intramuscular fat more than a conventional hypocaloric diabetic diet.”

But the researchers also acknowledged that there were limitations in both the data and conclusions.

“Our data suggest the importance of both subcutaneous and subfascial fat in relationship to glucose and lipid metabolism. Further research is needed to determine how dietary interventions with different diet composition can influence thigh fat distribution in relationship to glucose and lipid metabolism.”

While vegetarian diets can certainly be useful for losing weight, a tailored approach provided by a professional dietician should still be considered advisable.


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