‘Going veggo’ could be the key to losing weight faster.
Meat-free diets came out on top in a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
This was the world’s first attempt to compare multiple diet studies to work out if there is any benefit to becoming a vegetarian.
On average, vegetarian dieters lost an extra two kilos (and vegans an extra 2.5 kilos) than those who ate animal products, it found.
“Vegetarian diets are more effective than non-vegetarian diets for weight loss,” confirmed lead author Dr Ru-Yi Huang in a statement.
The results suggest that ditching meat even for a little while – and without starving yourself – can make a noticeable difference, a nutrition expert told The New Daily.
The average diet examined by the study lasted for 18 weeks, and veggie eaters were allowed to eat as much food as they liked.
“Even if you do it for a short term, [going vegetarian] can be an effective way to lose a small amount of weight,” said Deakin University Associate Professor Tim Crowe, who has written a review of the study.
So can I still eat meat?
Not only are animal products inferior for weight loss, they can kill you as well. Or at least, one type of them can.
The World Cancer Research Fund recommends no more than 500 grams of red meat per week because of its links to colon cancer.
Chicken, fish and pork seem to have far fewer adverse effects.
“Red meat can be included in the diet, but you wouldn’t want to be having it every day,” Associate Professor Crowe said.
“You don’t have to be a vegetarian. You can just eat other types of animal proteins.”
Eat for the long term
The best kind of diet is plant heavy, light on sugar and something you can stick with, the nutrition expert said.
“With any diet, if you are made to go on it, over time you would probably revert slowly back to your normal eating habits,” Associate Professor Crowe said.
“Go with what’s best for you, but take the best bits of all the diets.”
Exercise, something the vegetarian study ignored, is also crucial.
“Mostly plant-based, low in sugar and get moving. Those are the keys to long-term health.”
Vegetables better for the planet
Not only is red meat bad for your body, it hurts the environment as well.
That was the finding of the US dietary guidelines advisory committee, which calculated this year that cow meat is the most destructive.
“Beef was the single food with the greatest projected impact on the environment,” the report compiled by leading nutritionists found.
On the other hand, completely cutting out all animal products, including eggs and dairy, had the “lowest estimated impact”, it found.
The committee also confirmed the results of the vegetarian study.
Everyone should eat less red and processed meat and more vegetables and nuts, its report advised.