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Thumbs up in weight loss for vegetarian diets: scientific review

April's Nutrition Reviews reveals that people on vegetarian diets have highly effective weight loss. Vegetarian populations tend to be slimmer// than meat-eaters, and they experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening conditions linked to overweight and obesity.

Data was complied from 87 previous studies and it shows the weight-loss effect does not depend on exercise or calorie-counting, and it occurs at a rate of approximately 1 pound per week.

Susan E. Berkow, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Neal D. Barnard, M.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) undertook the study.

The findings were that the body weight of both male and female vegetarians is, on average, 3 percent to 20 percent lower than that of meat-eaters. The researchers found that a low-fat vegan diet leads to weight loss of about 1 pound per week, even without additional exercise or limits on portion sizes, calories, or carbohydrates.

In the words of Dr. Berkow, the lead author, “Our research reveals that people can enjoy unlimited portions of high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to achieve or maintain a healthy body weight without feeling hungry."

Dr. Barnard puts it this way that, "There is evidence that a vegan diet causes an increased calorie burn after meals, meaning plant-based foods are being used more efficiently as fuel for the body, as opposed to being stored as fat."

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