The media has recently awash with news about the merits of a vegetarian diet for weight loss. This is following a recent study that suggests dieters on a vegetarian diet may lose “nearly twice as much weight” compared to a standard weight loss diet.
However, there is a certain qualification that the media is seems to be omitting, or just not making clear, regarding that study. Therefore, don’t jump on the vegetarian wagon just yet if you love eating meat. At least not before finding out the basic facts.
The study is, a randomized controlled trial (RCT) involving participants with type 2 diabetes who were either on a vegetarian or conventional diabetic diet. 74 adult participants were randomly assigned to one of the two groups (vegetarian or conventional).
The researchers were from the Institute for Clinical and Experimental medicine, Charles University, and the Institute of Endocrinology, all in the Czech Republic, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the US. The study has a heavy European denominator though they say it was done in the US.
The vegetarian diet consisted of leafy vegetables, nuts, grains, and fruit.
The conventional diabetic diet followed the official recommendations of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).
All participants were placed on 500 calories per day.
The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at adipose tissue (fat) deposits in the subjects’ thighs to see how the different diets affected subcutaneous fat (found under skin), subfascial fat (found on the surface of muscles), and intramuscular fat (found inside of the muscles).
After six months, the researchers found that those in the vegetarian group had lost about twice as much as those in the conventional diet group – 6.2kg (13.7 lbs.) to 3.2kg (7 lbs.).
The researchers also found that a vegetarian diet also reduces subfascial fat, which is linked to insulin resistance, which can cause weight gain as well as make it hard to lose fat.
Reading the news posts going around the web, one would be forgiven for thinking that all one needs to do to lose weight is become a vegetarian.
But the obvious thing that the media is not making clear is that the study was conducted on people with type 2 diabetes. The diet, therefore, may not work the same way for people who do not have the condition.