Dieters who go vegetarian not only lose weight more effectively than those on conventional low-calorie diets but also improve their metabolism by reducing muscle fat, a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition has found.
Since losing muscle fat improves glucose and lipid metabolism, this finding is particularly important for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, says lead author, Dr. Hana Kahleová, Director of Clinical Research of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC.
Seventy-four subjects with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to follow either a vegetarian diet or a conventional anti-diabetic diet. The vegetarian diet consisted of vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits and nuts, with animal products limited to a maximum of one portion of low-fat yoghurt per day. The conventional diabetic diet followed the official recommendations of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). Both diets were restricted by 500 kilocalories per day compared to individual normal calorie intake.
The vegetarian diet was found to be almost twice as effective in reducing body weight, resulting in an average loss of 6.2kg compared to 3.2kg with the conventional diet.