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

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118 thoughts on “Vegetarian diets cause major weight loss”

  1. For those of you concerned about your or tothers personal training and getting enough protein in your diet through a plant based diet check out this Vegan bodybuilding and fitness site.

    There is a large community of people eating this way and working out with no major problems- very interesting I think.

  2. Really great article. As a Wirral Personal Trainer I spend a great deal of my time advocating healthy eating principles to my clients.The great thing about a vegetarian diet is it often complements a low saturated fat and high fibre diet so often recommended by nutritionists. It also constitutes a ‘greener’ or ‘lower carbon footprint’ approach to eating, which is so critical in today’s world.The challenge for many vegetarians, however, is finding a lean protein substitute to meat as many end up eating lots of cheese which is high in saturated fats.if this balance is managed though, it definitely results in decreasing the risk of cancers, heart disease, and high cholesterol, as well as controllling weight.

    • A vegan diet is very easy with regards to ensuring protein levels as fruit and vegetables and pulses/beans have varying amounts of protein. It is a well known myth bornr out of nutrional ignorance that only animal products have protein – this is completely untrue The protein from plant and fruit sources are wonderful and have the added advantage of being naturally low in fat, as well as being far more nutritionally dense.
      You may want to check out vegan society websites for education on protein and vegetarianism/veganism.

  3. **also very important…people who say all or most vegetarians are anemic,are wrong,you do not necessarily have to take iron supplements if you are eating enough greens…isn’t that the idea behind vegetarianism anyway? if you are going to claim being a vegetarian you have to eat vegetables! not just eliminate meat and eat a bunch of garbage instead, that is not vegetarianism…besides, you cannot just take iron supplements without knowing what your iron levels are,it could cause serious health problems if you overdose on iron! please get your facts right before you take supplements!
    Here are symptoms of iron overdosing:
    Serious iron poisoning usually causes symptoms within 6 hours of the overdose. The symptoms of iron poisoning typically occur in 5 stages. In stage 1 (within 6 hours after the overdose), symptoms include vomiting, vomiting blood, diarrhea, abdominal pain, irritability, drowsiness, unconsciousness, and seizures. If poisoning is very serious, rapid breathing, a rapid heart rate, coma, and low blood pressure may develop. In stage 2 (6 to 48 hours after the overdose), the person’s condition can appear to improve. In stage 3 (12 to 48 hours after the overdose), very low blood pressure (shock), fever, bleeding, jaundice, liver failure, and seizures can develop. Sugar levels in the blood can decrease. In stage 4 (2 to 5 days after the overdose), the liver fails, and people may die from shock, bleeding, and blood-clotting abnormalities. Confusion and sluggishness (lethargy) or coma may develop. In stage 5 (2 to 5 weeks after the overdose), the stomach or intestines can become blocked by constricting scars. Scarring in either organ can cause crampy abdominal pain and vomiting. Severe scarring of the liver (cirrhosis—see Fatty Liver, Cirrhosis, and Related Disorders: Cirrhosis) can develop later.

    • @Trainer

      I have to say, I’ve been lifting weights to stay in shape for 10 years off and on and learned according to the traditional wisdom; chicken breasts are the best way to repair your muscle tissue after working out.

      I’m in my 30s and CANNOT seem to cut my belly fat. I have a sedentary job. I’ve been watching my diet closely for a year; lots of veggies and chicken, chicken, chicken or sometimes tuna.

      The last 4 weeks I’ve gone primarily vegitarian. After my weight-lifting workout in the evenings, I go home and eat a cup of lentils and veggies instead of chicken and small amounts of protein all day long from peanut butter, almonds, chick peas, lima beans, etc. I have to say, I feel great, I’m not hungry in the morning and I’ve found my muscles repair themselves just fine. I really do think my body is using the veggie protein more efficiently.

      I still eat chicken perhaps once a week and fish 2-3 times per week, but this is down from 14 chicken or fish based meals. I’ve only lost 2 lbs, but my tummy is much flatter and I can wear an empire waist dress without looking pregnant :)

      • @Heather

        Regardless of what some vegetarians and vegans may tell you, vegetable protein is not more efficiently used by the human body. The reason you’ve lost additional weight? Its about calories. You are now eating more lower-fat, higher fibre foods so less calories. Nothing magic going on here.

        • It’s not quite as simple as that. Check out wider research about nutrition and how our bodies respond to different foods and you’ll learn how and why.

  4. Although vegitarian food needs less calories to be digested and therefore less food is consumed, but are you sure that the weight loss came from not eating animal protein?

    • @H pylori

      I left a lengthy post above, but I’ll add to that, that I think the main benefit I feel after switching many (not all) of my meals to veggies and bean-based protein instead of chicken or fish is that beans not only have a different type of protein, they also have a different type of carb. which is mostly insoluble fiber. Even better for regulating bloodsugar than “grains,” I find I’m rarely hungry and, more importantly, not as tired as I was when I tried restricted carb diets.

  5. A vegetarian diet generally contains less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and includes more dietary fiber. Those following the vegan diet enjoy unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods which enable them to lose weight without feeling hungry.

  6. @BillinDetroit

    Wow maybe you shouldn’t blame your wife for your weight coming back on and take some personal responsibility for your own health. Can you not cook your own food? Seriously, grow up.

  7. Nice blog. Good tips. I do agree with the statement that vegetarian diet causes major weight loss. Some of my friend are personal trainers and one of them always suggest me to eat vegetarian food as I used to take non-veg foods more. He told me the harmful impacts of eating non-vegetarian diets i.e. they contain a lot of fats and calorie and that’s very bad for the body. From that day I started taking vegetarian and green diet and you won’t believe my weight has been reduced to the minimum within a month. That was a great surprise for me. He also told me to do some workouts and exercise that is beneficial for my health and keeps me fit and strong. So, I can say that vegetarian foods are good for our health.

  8. I am a little bit weighty and have been searching for some good weight loss tips. For this I have consulted many personal trainers and they told me to follow some workouts and exercises using exercise bikes and treadmill. Bnut it didn’t work. Now I thin this vegetarian diet will help me in weight loss. I heard that vegetarians people are more healthier than non-vegetarian. Now I am going to eat only vegetarian diet. Hope it will work.

  9. read the book it has good tips on what u should n should not b eating, as far as exercising goes, do circuit training so u dont get bored, do 15 on treadmill walking, 15 on elipitical, 5 on stair master it l help pass time.

  10. Dear 23 Year old,

    Try taking wheatgrass. I’ve been using wheatgrass since January 1st 2009 and had lost 40 lbs. In addition, make sure you use the product with a multivitamin as well. Your weight will melt away. Overall, wheat grass can be purchase at any whole foods store. Amazing Grass Wheat Grass is one of the best brands. Good Luck!

  11. RUDE much? This person is obviously here for help with weight loss. Your hang-up about the ‘etiquette’ of a post is rude and destructive. That is all…

  12. Please don’t ever, ever type a message in all caps again. On this site or any other.

    That is all.


  14. your friend has real courage to give up meat completely, I tried put couldn’t keep it up for 2 weeks. but i’ve found other ways of loosing weight. I’d recommend, they have plenty of usefull advice.

  15. I find that vegetarian diet’s do work for some, but it does require a strong commitment. I have a friend who was always trying to lose weight, he tried everthing, but was unable to reach his goal. He then told me that he was going to become a vegetarian. Now mind you, this guy loved eating all type of food. In any event, he became a truw vege., took him about 6-12 to get it right. He now looks wonderful, he was went from 312lbs., to 200lbs. I’m very proud of him.

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