In a supporting study, researchers found that a low-fat vegan diet provided better results in terms of weight loss, lipid concentrations and insulin sensitivity compared to a Mediterranean diet. They therefore recommend this type of diet to people who wish to lose a few extra pounds.

Is, the, vegan, diet, better, for, weight, loss, than, Mediterranean, diet?
Mediterranean and vegan diets have long been studied for their effects on cardiometabolic health. While a vegan diet clearly means not consuming products of animal origin (no meat, fish, dairy products, eggs or milk...), the "Mediterranean diet" can refer to a variety of culinary traditions. The term has been codified for research purposes to refer to a diet that includes plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes) and cereals, that favours olive oil as the main source of fat and includes moderate amounts of meat, dairy products, eggs and wine.

The two diets therefore consist in favouring plant-based foods, but which one should be favoured if one wants to lose weight? Researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have asked themselves this question and their results published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reveal that a vegan diet would be more effective in this area because it is lower in fat. The results are therefore better in terms of weight loss, body composition, sensitivity to insulin (a hormone naturally secreted by the pancreas), and blood cholesterol levels, compared to a Mediterranean diet.

A significant reduction in fat mass

The study randomly assigned participants, who were overweight but had no history of diabetes, to a vegan or Mediterranean diet. For 16 weeks, half of them started on a vegan diet that eliminated animal products and focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The other half began with the Mediterranean diet which focused on fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, low-fat dairy products and extra virgin olive oil, while limiting or avoiding red meat and saturated fats. Neither group had a calorie limit or a specific sports program.

Participants were then asked to return to their basic diet for four weeks, after which they began the opposite diet for a further 16 weeks. The same measurements were taken before and after this second 16-week period, and the results showed that participants lost an average of 6 kg with the vegan diet, compared to no significant weight change with the Mediterranean-type diet. They also lost an additional 3.4 kg of body fat with the vegan diet and found a greater reduction in visceral (abdominal) fat of 315 cm3 with this type of diet.

A plant-based diet promotes fiber intake

Finally, the vegan diet decreased total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, referring to "bad cholesterol", by 18.7 mg/dl and 15.3 mg/dl respectively, whereas there were no changes with the Mediterranean diet. However, the latter proved more effective in terms of blood pressure: it decreased with both diets, but more so with the Mediterranean diet (6.0 mmHg compared with 3.2 mmHg with the vegan diet). "We decided to test the two diets face to face and found that a vegan diet is more effective in improving health markers and stimulating weight loss. "The researchers explained.

They add: "Previous studies have suggested that Mediterranean and vegan diets improve body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, but until now, their relative effectiveness has not been compared. "The scientific team notes that the vegan diet has probably led to a more significant weight loss as it is more associated with a reduction in calorie intake and a reduction in the consumption of saturated fats (found mainly in animal products, pastries and cakes, sweet cookies and aperitifs, fried or breaded products...), but also with an increase in fibre intake.

What about the Mediterranean diet ? "The problem seems to be the inclusion of fatty fish, dairy products and oils. ", add the researchers. "If your goal is to lose weight or be healthy by 2021, choosing a plant-based diet is an excellent way to achieve your resolution," they conclude. Still, people who follow a vegan diet should be careful to monitor their protein intake, as explained by Medicare. The body advises against it during pregnancy and breastfeeding to avoid the risk of deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, iodine and calcium in both mother and child.