One study found a low-fat vegan diet leads to greater weight loss, healthier cholesterol levels, and increased insulin sensitivity
Q: I hear it's easier to lose weight on a vegan diet. Is that true?
A: Everyone is different. For some folks, a low-fat diet is the most effective way to lose weight. For others, it's low-carb. And for some, the Mediterranean diet is easier to stick with and, therefore, a more effective way to shed pounds.
That being said, there is an interesting randomized, cross-over study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition that found a low-fat vegan diet leads to greater weight loss, healthier cholesterol levels, and increased insulin sensitivity compared to the Mediterranean diet.
For 16 weeks researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine had one-half of study participants go on a low-fat vegan diet, focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The other half went on the Med Diet, focusing on fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy and extra virgin olive oil— while limiting red meat and saturated fats. Both groups then went back to their ordinary way of eating for four weeks before switching to the opposite diet for another 16 weeks.
The results: Participants lost about 13 pounds on the vegan diet (improving insulin resistance), and they lost nothing on the Mediterranean diet. Those eating a vegan diet also lost about 7.5 pounds more of fat mass than Med diet folks. Lousy LDL cholesterol went down 15.3mg/dL for the vegans; no change from the Med diet. The only benefit from the Med diet was to systolic blood pressure — it declined by 9.3mmHg, when it only declined 3.4 on the vegan diet.
Overall, the vegan diet came out ahead, according to the researchers, because of lower calorie intake, increased fiber intake, and decreased fat and saturated fat consumption. So you can give vegan a try, just remember your goal is to adopt a healthy eating style you can stick with indefinitely, so you can sustain better health.