Everyone knows that dieting is about watching what you eat. But new research suggests going vegetarian is twice as effective when it comes to slimming down as calorie counting. So yes, throw out that scale! (Or maybe don’t, up to you.) According to a recent study, ramping up on plant-based protein will help you drop pounds much faster than conventional methods and might increase your metabolism to boot.
The research, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that among a test group of 74 subjects with type 2 diabetes, a vegetarian diet was “found to be almost twice as effective in reducing body weight.” The study participants who went veg lost an average of 6.2 kg (13.67 pounds) in six months, whereas participants on the conventional diet only lost 3.2 kg (7 pounds) in the same timespan.
Additionally, the researchers looked at fat storage tissue, also known as adipose tissue, in the participants’ thighs. This helped them understand how the two different diets affected the stores of fat both on the surface of and inside the muscles. While both diets offered similar results in reducing subcutaneous fat, (the kind that lies on top of the muscle) more fat from within the muscle was lost by participants on the vegetarian diet.
“Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss,” said lead study author, Dr. Hana Kahleová, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC. “However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism.”
This revelation is crucial for a number of reasons. One big reason is that a higher proportion of intramuscular fat, also known as subfascial fat, in patients with type 2 diabetes “has been associated with insulin resistance,” the research says. Translation: Less of this kind of fat can help diabetes sufferers manage their glucose levels better. Additionally, reducing this type of fat can help improve the strength of muscles and general mobility, especially in older people who have diabetes.
“This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Kahleová said. “But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.”
Now before you run out to fill your fridge with tofu, keep in mind that this was an incredibly small study. That being said, there has been other similar research that also supports the idea that a vegetarian or plant-based diet can be a crucial part of a weight-loss program. So maybe you should go get that tofu after all.