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To lose weight, add veggies instead of cutting calories

A new study suggests following a vegetarian diet may be more effective for weight loss.
vegetarian diet weight loss
Eat your veggies. Photo: ISTOCK

If you’d rather pile on the veggies than spend your days counting calories, here’s some good news for you: According to a new study, a vegetarian diet may be more effective for weight loss than cutting back on caloric intake. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, set out to compare the effects of a vegetarian diet (veggies, grains, legumes, fruit, nuts) and a “conventional” low-calorie diet on 74 patients with type 2 diabetes. The subjects were randomly divided into two groups and followed the respective diets over a six month period — and the results have implications for anyone hoping to find the best way to shed a few pounds. 

The group that adhered to the vegetarian diet lost an average of 6.2 kg (roughly 14 pounds) compared to an average of 3.2 kg (roughly seven pounds) in the other group — making it almost twice as effective. 

The study’s lead author, Dr. Hana Kahleova, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC, also examined the adipose tissue (meaning, fat storage) in the subjects’ thighs, and found that while both diets had the same effect on reducing subcutaneous (lying directly under the skin) fat, subfascial fat and intramuscular fat saw a greater loss among the group following the vegetarian diet. 

This is an important finding for diabetics, as an increase in subfascial fat has been linked to insulin resistance. The release notes that cutting intramuscular fat could “help improve muscular strength and mobility, particularly in older people with diabetes.” 

“This finding is important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes,” Kahleová said in the release. “But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy.” 

Bring on the hummus and carrots!