Ought to You Go Vegan or Mediterranean for Weight Loss?

Weight Watchers, read this.

As you know, the Mediterranean diet, which took over the world with its flavors and health benefits, may now be dethroned by the vegan diet, which may be more effective for weight loss and cholesterol control, new research shows.

Forget about olive oil, fragrant herbs and stuffed vegetables, the Mediterranean diet could soon be overtaken by the vegan diet. While the diets aren’t that far apart, the vegan regime could be a better weight loss option to help manage cholesterol and insulin sensitivity, according to a new study by the Medical Committee for Responsible Medicine.

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To reach these conclusions, the scientists selected participants who were overweight and had no history of diabetes and randomly assigned them a vegan or Mediterranean diet. Half of the volunteers started on a low-fat vegan diet with no animal products and focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The second group started on a Mediterranean diet that focused on fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy products, and extra virgin olive oil while limiting or avoiding red meat and saturated fats.

Participants’ caloric intake was not limited and they did not change their exercise or medication plans unless directed otherwise by their personal doctors. Participants followed each diet for 16 weeks and then returned to their normal diets for a four-week “reset” before switching to the other group for an additional 16 weeks on the other diet.

It’s a knockout for the vegan diet

The results, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, seem to speak clearly in favor of the vegan diet. The researchers found that within 16 weeks of each diet, participants lost an average of 6 kg on the vegan diet, compared to no significant change on the Mediterranean diet. Participants also lost 3.4 kg more fat mass on the vegan diet and saw greater reductions in visceral fat.

The vegan diet also lowered cholesterol, while the Mediterranean diet did not see any significant changes in cholesterol. While blood pressure dropped on both diets, it actually dropped more on the Mediterranean diet.

“Previous studies have shown that both Mediterranean and vegan diets improve body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors. However, their relative effectiveness has not yet been compared in a randomized trial,” says study author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research for the medical commission. “We decided to put the diets head-to-head and found that a vegan diet is more effective at both improving health traits and increasing weight loss.”

In light of the results, the researchers point out that the vegan diet is often associated with decreased caloric intake, increased fiber intake, and decreased fat and saturated fat consumption, which may help explain the conclusions.

“While many people consider the Mediterranean Diet to be one of the best ways to lose weight, the diet actually crashed and burned when we put it to the test,” said study author Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Medical Committee. “In a randomized controlled study, the Mediterranean diet caused no weight loss at all. The problem seems to be the inclusion of oily fish, dairy products and oils. In contrast, a low-fat vegan diet caused significant and consistent weight loss. “

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.

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