Experts have long agreed that switching to a plant-based diet usually leads to weight loss, but little had been done to determine exactly how much weight is lost, and how impactful could such a switch be for the average person. The latest issue of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, however, attempts to answer this with a mega-review of previous studies.
The review included 15 different studies, which were collected by scientists Barnard, Levin, and Yokoyama. All studies had to be listed in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the dietary interventions observed had to last at least 4 weeks. Four of these studies included control groups who did not receive any changes in diet. In total, these studies encompassed over 755 people: 197 people who were prescribed a vegetarian diet, in addition to 558 who switched to a completely vegan diet.
After crunching all the data, the researchers discovered that, on average, people lose 7.5 to 10 pounds after going vegetarian. People who were heavier or older at the beginning of the treatment had a higher chance of experiencing a larger shift in weight.
What Does This Mean?
Among the many plants that can help with weight management can be mentioned apples, asparagus, beans,
carrots, celery, garlic, melon, and pumpkin, as well as spices that can contribute to reduce significantly the use of sodium in foods, such as cayenne, chili pepper, ginger, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
It's important to remember that, as this is a systematic review study, it provides large-scale average values rather than specific diet strategies. If you're thinking on switching to a vegetarian diet, keep in mind that the exact amount of weight loss will be influenced by your total calorie count, your macronutrient ratio, and amount of physical activity.
Nevertheless, a 10-pound loss can, in many cases, have a tremendous impact on your overall health markers, and once healthier habits become a long-term commitment, you can sharply lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes or other chronic conditions.
- Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Changes in Body Weight in Clinical Trials of Vegetarian Diets, 2015