Holidays often bring about a sense of dread at the thought of food filled parties and gatherings, but those who eat a plant based diet have little need for concern.
A recent study by the University of South Carolina just confirmed one big draw of saying no to all animal products: the ability to lose weight faster than people who eat a diet with meat and dairy.
The study is published in The International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences.
Researchers compared the amount of weight lost by those on vegan diets to those on a mostly plant-based diet, and those eating an omnivorous diet with a mix of animal products and plant based foods.
At the end of six months, people on the vegan diet lost more weight than the other two groups by an average of 4.3%, or 16.5 pounds.
In the study, people were randomly assigned to one of five diets:
Vegan which excludes all animal products, semi-vegetarian with occasional meat intake; pesco-vegetarian which excludes all meat except seafood; vegetarian which excludes all meat and seafood but includes animal products, and omnivorous, which excludes no foods.
These people followed their diet for six months, with all groups except the omnivorous participating in weekly group meetings.
Those who stuck to the vegan diet showed the greatest weight loss at the two and six month marks.
The lead author on this study says that the vegan diet was high in carbohydrates that rate low on the glycemic index.
“We’ve gotten somewhat carb-phobic here in the U.S. when it comes to weight loss. This study might help reduce the fears of people who enjoy pasta, rice, and other grains but want to lose weight,” she said.
Weight loss was not the only positive result for people who enjoy vegan diet.
They also showed the greatest amount of decrease in their fat and saturated fat levels at the two and six month checks, had lower BMIs, and improved macro nutrients more than people having other diets.
Importantly, avoiding all animal products appears to be key for these positive results.
“I personally was surprised that the pesco-vegetarian group didn’t fare better with weight loss. In the end, their loss was no different than the semi-vegetarian or omnivorous groups,” the author said.