Obesity has emerged into a popular problem within our nation which majority of adults and children take part in. To avoid this issue, many people may try to find different ways to stay healthy and/or lose weight such as exercise or a low-fat dietary plan. Interestingly, it seems as if more and more of our population today is switching over to the vegan diet and not necessarily because of their attitude toward animal consumption, but because of its promise of weight loss. But is this actually a more efficient way of weight loss when both vegetarian and low-fat diets are proficient for weight loss also? This topic sparked my interest so I decided to do some more research. Here is what I found:
In 2007, Gabrielle M. Turner-McGrievy, Neal D. Barnard, and Anthony R. Scialli participated in a two year randomized control trial where researchers conducted an experimental trial by finding 62 overweight postmenopausal woman for the study. The subjects were split into two groups, one following the low-fat vegan diet and the other following the low-fat diet structured by the NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program). Some subjects in each group went to group support as others did not. Also, both diets were not restricted, the subjects were allowed to eat as they pleased. After 14 weeks into the study, the subjects were all encouraged to exercise, but were not forced. The diet was as follows:
In the end, the results showed that the vegan subjects lost more weight than the subjects following the NECP diet at both the one year and two year marking period, with p-values both < 0.05. The NCEP subjects lost a significant amount of weight in the first year, but not as much was weight was lost in the second year. The study also found that group support was correlated with continual weight loss. With this information, one could make the conclusion that a vegan diet is a more efficient way to lose weight compared to a NCEP diet. The mechanism behind these results is that vegan diets actually reduce dietary energy density because it is low in fat and high in fiber content. The vegan diet was therefore more low fat and higher in fiber intake than the NCEP diet. Meaning, these subjects could eat more food than the other group without taking in extra calories.
To make sure this one study wasn’t neither an anecdote nor an outlier or due to chance, I tried to search more studies. But I could not find another study alike this one with sufficient data so there is a possibility that this could be an anecdote.
However, I did find that Winston J Craig also confirms that Vegans tend to be skinner. He talks about health effects of a vegan diet including a contribution to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. He describes how their diet plan comprises of low fat and high fiber intake which would ultimately make their diet more efficient for weight loss compared to a regular low fat diet. But there was no data attached to these findings of his.
In another study where multiple weight loss diets were compared and scaled by numeral values set by the study, the chart of the study’s results show that the vegan diet did not score the highest, in fact, it had the second lowest total score of 32.
A vegan diet seemed like a productive and healthy way to lose weight in the first study but the second study shows otherwise. With this being said, I’m not sure if there are enough studies with a sufficient amount of data that would make me chose a vegan diet over a low fat diet. According to Authority Nutrition, there are concurring problems with vegan dietary studies. Because I could not find many other vegan diet studies to compare with, I came to the conclusion that there is possibility that studies like these may suffer from the file drawer problem.
If you are someone looking to lose some weight on a diet plan, I wouldn’t let this one study sway you because, although one study supported the vegan diet, the other did not, making it hard to come to a real conclusion. It is important to realize that the vegan diet is not for everyone and that different diets work better for different people, it’s all about finding what works best for you.