Losing Weight on a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet

There’s a lot of research to back the idea that vegetarians generally have a lower body weight compared to those who eat meat. However, weight changes that occur when a meat eater is prescribed a vegetarian diet has not been looked at thoroughly.

Vegetarian Diet and Weight Loss

A team of researchers from the Physicians Committee reviewed 15 studies from 6 countries—the United States, Spain, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and Norway. These studies had a total of 755 participants, and the length of each study varied between 1 month and 2 years. Though the quality of the studies varied, the overall message was clear. Vegetarian diets can improve weight loss efforts, even in the absence of exercise or calorie counting.

In fact, people lost an average of 7½ to 10 pounds when they stuck to a vegetarian or vegan diet for at least a month.

The review found people who were heavier to start with lost more weight when they chose a vegetarian diet, and great weight loss is reported among men and older participants.

Why Is This Important?

These findings are important because if you’re overweight, losing just 5 to 10% of your body weight can slash the risk of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As the weight comes off, you’ll start to see blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol fall right along with the weight.

Switching to a vegetarian diet can make it easier to lose weight, which in turn can help people reduce their risk of chronic disease.

Cheers to good health!

Reference: Barnard ND et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Changes in Body Weight in Clinical Trials of Vegetarian Diets. J Acad Nutr Diet. Published online on 2015 Jan 17.  

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