Study: Reduced Meat May Aid Weight Control

Research suggests a little less meat on the plate could mean less bulk on your frame. In a study, women who consumed few or no animal products were less likely to be overweight or obese than self-identified meat eaters.

In their American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article, researchers PK Newby, Katherine L Tucker and Alicja Wolk conclude:

Even if vegetarians consume some animal products, our results suggest that self-identified semivegetarian, lactovegetarian, and vegan women have a lower risk of overweight and obesity than do omnivorous women. The advice to consume more plant foods and less animal products may help individuals control their weight.

Make fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes your diet staples. For a protein fix, opt for low- or non-fat dairy, skinless chicken, nuts, or fish to control saturated fat.

Plant-based diets consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are high in fiber and nutrients and low in fat and calories, all of which may help you lose weight. This study suggests that people who classify themselves as vegetarian, semivegetarian, or vegan are much less likely to be overweight or obese than meat eaters.

However, you don't need to go completely meatless if that doesn't suit your lifestyle. Just choose appropriate portion sizes and low-fat cooking methods. A serving of meat is equal to three ounces, about the size of a deck of playing cards. If you eat red meat, limit consumption to no more than one serving per week. Also, limit intake of meats high in saturated fat, such as bacon, sausage, and fatty cuts of beef.

Low Cholesterol and Vegan Diets Go Head to Head

According to this Reuters story, researchers had two groups of women. One group was instructed to eat a low-carbohydrate diet. The other was intructed to eat a diet free of animal products including, meat, eggs, and milk. Even though the vegan group had no portion restrictions, they ended up losing significantly more weight.

Researchers found that of 64 postmenopausal, overweight women, those assigned to follow a low-fat vegan diet for 14 weeks lost an average of 13 pounds, compared with a weight loss of about 8 pounds among women who followed a standard low-cholesterol diet.

The weight loss came despite the fact that the women were given no limits on their portion sizes or daily calories -- and despite the fact that the vegan diet boosted their carbohydrate intake.

Please note, Dr. Fuhrman's diet, as described in his books, isn't vegan, and isn't even necessarily vegetarian. But his diet does involve a lot of the same healthy foods that the women in the vegan group of this study reported eating, including vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts.

CORRECTION: In the first paragraph, I should have said low-cholesterol. My mistake, and thanks for the comment catching it. (The confusion came from the the line saying the vegan diet "boosted their carbohydrate intake.")