Vegetarian diets cause major weight loss

A scientific review in April’s Nutrition Reviews shows that a vegetarian diet is highly effective for weight loss.

Vegetarian populations tend to be slimmer than meat-eaters, and they experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening conditions linked to overweight and obesity. The new review, compiling data from 87 previous studies, shows the weight-loss effect does not depend on exercise or calorie-counting, and it occurs at a rate of approximately 1 pound per week.

Rates of obesity in the general population are skyrocketing, while in vegetarians, obesity prevalence ranges from 0 percent to 6 percent, note study authors Susan E. Berkow, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Neal D. Barnard, M.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

The authors found that the body weight of both male and female vegetarians is, on average, 3 percent to 20 percent lower than that of meat-eaters. Vegetarian and vegan diets have also been put to the test in clinical studies, as the review notes. The best of these clinical studies isolated the effects of diet by keeping exercise constant. The researchers found that a low-fat vegan diet leads to weight loss of about 1 pound per week, even without additional exercise or limits on portion sizes, calories, or carbohydrates.

“Our research reveals that people can enjoy unlimited portions of high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight without feeling hungry,” says Dr. Berkow, the lead author.

“There is evidence that a vegan diet causes an increased calorie burn after meals, meaning plant-based foods are being used more efficiently as fuel for the body, as opposed to being stored as fat,” says Dr. Barnard. Insulin sensitivity is increased by a vegan diet, allowing nutrients to more rapidly enter the cells of the body to be converted to heat rather than to fat.

Earlier this month, a team of researchers led by Tim Key of Oxford University found that meat-eaters who switched to a plant-based diet gained less weight over a period of five years. Papers reviewed by Drs. Berkow and Barnard include several published by Dr. Key and his colleagues, as well as a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women showing that meat-eaters are more likely to be overweight than vegetarians and vegans.

From PCRM, filed under vegan weight loss diet

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.

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  10. I totally agree with post about leading a weight loss usually the vegetarian diet. I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 6-12 months so i am becoming a vegetarian.I heard about a new vegetarian course called Vegetarian’s Beginner’s Guide 30 Day Course on twitter which just for us newbies. I so happy that finally that is a course that can help new vegetarians make the process easier. I think it is coming out in a few weeks. Just so excited, can’t wait to get a copy!

    • I have been on a vegan diet since Jan 16, 2012 and have lost 28 lbs. I was 207lbs and now weigh 179 lbs, I am starting to get concerned about weight loss. However my total choleserol has dropped from 211 to 110. The doctor has lowered my lipitor from 20mg to 5mg and there is a possibility that I will not need to take Lipitor in the future. The diet has caused some acid reflux. Any suggestions?

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