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Vegetarian diets found to be the most effective way to lose weight, reveals new study

The answer to a trimmed waistline and leaner body isn’t that complicated at all. There’s no need for fancy fad diets or expensive supplements to shed off those unwanted pounds and stay in shape. All you need to do is stuff your plate with more greens because, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, vegetarian diets are twice as effective in losing weight.

Moreover, findings showed that compared to those who are on conventional low-calorie diets, individuals who stuck to a plant-based diet were more likely to have reduced muscle fat, which improved metabolism. Losing muscle fat is helpful for those who have metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes because it helps improve glucose and lipid metabolism, which is the process where stored fats are broken down for energy.

Stored fat can result to negative metabolic effects. They can make you susceptible to conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high levels of bad cholesterol.

Dr. Hana Kahleova, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC said: “Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss. However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism. This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type-2 diabetes. But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”

The researchers studied 74 subjects with type-2 diabetes and were randomly given either a vegetarian diet or the usual anti-diabetic diet that were both restricted by 500 kilocalories per day. The vegetarian diet had vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains and nuts, and a limited amount of animal product which had one portion of low-fat yoghurt, while the anti-diabetic diet followed the official recommendations of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

Those who were given the vegetarian diet lost an average of 6.2 kg while the other group lost only 3.2 kg. The findings revealed that plant-based diets were twice as effective in reducing weight. Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers were able to confirm the effects of the vegetarian diet. By studying the fat tissues from the participants’ thighs, they found out that there were significant reductions in the subcutaneous (under the skin), subfascial (on the surface of the muscles), and intramuscular (inside the muscles) fat.

The results were interesting: Both groups experienced fat loss under the skin but only those who were on the vegetarian diet experienced subfascial and intramuscular fat loss. These findings can have a huge impact on people with diabetes because increased subfascial fat has been linked to insulin resistance — a condition where the body fails to respond normally to insulin.

By reducing fat on the surface of the muscles, your body will be able to convert glucose into energy. Additionally, lower intramuscular fat will help improve mobility and increase muscle strength, which are very ideal for older people with diabetes.

Clearly, making the switch is the best path to a slimmer and healthier body but what if you’re one of those who can’t live without meat? Don’t fret because you can try being a ‘flexitarian’ — someone who is primarily a vegetarian but eats meat or fish occasionally. One study showed that this part-time vegetarian diet is effective as well and can cut your risk of obesity by 43 percent.

Sources include:

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