Plant-based diets are more effective for losing weight than Mediterranean diets, study finds

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.