Eating your leafy greens—and consuming little to no animal products—may be better for weight loss than you’d think. According to a new study, dieters who go vegetarian lose weight more effectively than those on conventional low-calorie diets.
Published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the study shows that not only does vegetarianism help with weight loss: it actually boosts your metabolism. The plant-based diet helps to lose muscle fat, improving glucose and lipid metabolism.
The study looked at 74 subjects with type 2 diabetes, each of whom were randomly assigned to follow either a vegetarian diet or a conventional anti-diabetic diet. The vegetarian diet consisted of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts, with animal products limited to a maximum of one portion of low-fat yogurt per day. Meanwhile, the conventional diabetic diet followed the official recommendations of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). Both diets were restricted by 500 calories per day, compared to an isocaloric intake for each individual.
Overall, the vegetarian diet was found to be almost twice as effective in reducing body weight. Average weight loss levels included 6.2kg in the vegetarian population, compared to 3.2kg for the conventional diet.
Using magnetic resonance imaging, researchers also looked at fat storage tissue in the subjects’ thighs to determine whether the diets had affected subcutaneous, subfascial, and intramuscular fat. They found that while both diets reduced subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), the vegetarian diet decreased subfascial fat (fat on the surface of the muscles) as well as intramuscular fat (fat inside the muscles).
While these findings have universal applications, they are especially important for patients with type 2 diabetes. Increased subfascial fat has been associated with insulin resistance, so reducing it could have a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism.
If you’re looking to lose some weight, give vegetarianism a fair go. Ensure that you are consuming proper nutrient levels and adequate protein to keep your health in peak condition.
Need some vegetarian inspiration? Check out these meatless recipes: