Mediterranean and vegan diets have long been studied for their effects on cardiometabolic health. While a vegan diet clearly means not consuming animal products (no meat, no fish, no dairy products, no 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 grains, which favors 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 favoring foods of plant origin, but which should be favored?r if you want to lose weight? Researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 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, insulin sensitivity (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 started 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 fat. Neither group had a calorie limit or a specific sports program.
Subsequently, participants were 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 revealed 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 3.4 kg more fat on the vegan diet and found a greater reduction of their visceral fat (abdominal) of 315 cm3 with this type of feed.
A plant-based diet promotes fiber intake
Finally, the vegan diet lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, referring to “bad cholesterol”, respectively 18.7 mg / dL and 15.3 mg / dL, whereas there were no changes with the Mediterranean diet. But the latter was shown to be more effective with regard to blood pressure: it decreased with both diets, but more with the Mediterranean diet (6.0 mmHg against 3.2 mmHg with the vegan diet). “We decided to test the two regimes face to face and found than a vegan diet is more effective at improving health markers and boosting weight loss. “, Explain the researchers.
They add: “previous studies have suggested that diets mediterranean and vegan improve body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, but so far their relative effectiveness has not been compared. The scientific team notes that the vegan diet probably led to more weight loss because it would be more associated with a reduction in calorie intake and a decrease in fat. saturated fat intake (found mainly in products of animal origin, pastries and pastries, sweet biscuits and appetizers, fried or breaded products …), but also to an increase in fiber intake.
What about of 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 in 2021, choosing a plant-based diet is a great 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 Health Insurance. The organization advises against it during pregnancy and breastfeeding for avoid the risk of deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, iodine and calcium in mothers and children.