Research shows that a low-fat plant-based diet is a better tool for weight loss than the Mediterranean diet.
A study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded that a low-fat, plant-based diet provides better weight loss results than a standard Mediterranean diet. Approximately 12,000 doctors from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) conducted a randomized crossover trial. The study included overweight participants without a history of diabetes who ate a low-fat plant-based diet, and those who followed the Mediterranean diet (which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy, and extra virgin olive oil, but limit or avoid red meat). There were no changes to exercise routines or medications in either group during the 16-week study. Diets were not calorie restricted or modified. Following the four-week “washout” period, participants then switched to the opposite group for an additional 16 weeks.
“The Mediterranean diet is often considered one of the best ways to lose weight, but when tested, it failed miserably,” study author Neal Barnard, MD, president of PCRM, said. The Mediterranean diet did not result in weight loss in a randomized, controlled trial. Dairy products, oils, and fatty fish appear to be the problem. Conversely, a plant-based diet causes weight loss that is consistent and significant.”
Slimming down with plants
A vegan diet resulted in an average weight loss of 13 pounds, while the Mediterranean diet had no significant change in weight. Plant-based diets caused participants to lose an average of 7.5 pounds of fat mass and reduce their visceral fat by roughly 315 cm3. Moreover, plant-based diets reduced total cholesterol levels by 18.7 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol levels by 15.3 mg/dL. Participants on both diets experienced decreased blood pressure.
The Mediterranean diet and vegan diet have both been shown to lower body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors in previous studies, Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., director of clinical research for PCRM, said in a press release. “We tested the two diets side by side and found that, when it came to both weight loss and health markers, the plant based diet was superior.”
Researchers believe that a plant-based diet leads to weight loss because it lowers calorie intake, increases fiber intake, reduces fat intake, and reduces saturated fat intake. Kahleova said choosing a plant-based diet can help you achieve your resolution of achieving weight loss or achieving good health in 2021.