The Mediterranean diet has been the subject of many studies that linked it with various health benefits. For this reason, many view the diet as one of the best options for losing weight and improving one’s health, but it may not be the ideal option. That’s according to a new study from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which found that a vegan diet offered more benefits.
The study was fairly simple, tasking two groups of people who were overweight (and with no history of diabetes) with eating either a low-fat vegan diet or a PREDIMED protocol Mediterranean diet for 16 weeks. The participants weren’t given a calorie limit and didn’t change their exercise habits.
Following the first 16 weeks on their assigned diet, the participants spent four weeks eating their usual diet, then switched to the opposite diet group — those eating vegan diets switched to the Mediterranean and vice versa. After analyzing the results, the researchers found that the vegan diet offered more benefits when it came to weight loss, cholesterol levels, and visceral fat levels.
The vegan diet group experienced an average weight loss of around 13lbs while the Mediterranean group didn’t experience any weight loss on average. Of the weight that was shed, the vegan diet group lost around 7.5lbs more fat mass compared to the other group. Likewise, the vegan group experienced more visceral fat loss.
The vegan diet was likewise linked to a notable decrease in cholesterol levels, while there’s wasn’t a ‘significant’ change in the Mediterranean group. The Mediterranean diet did offer one benefit above that of the vegan diet, however, with a greater blood pressure decrease at 6.0 mm Hg versus 3.2 mmHg. The study’s author Dr. Neal Barnard said:
While many people think of the Mediterranean diet as one of the best ways to lose weight, the diet actually crashed and burned when we put it to the test. In a randomized, controlled trial, the Mediterranean diet caused no weight loss at all. The problem seems to be the inclusion of fatty fish, dairy products, and oils. In contrast, a low-fat vegan diet caused significant and consistent weight loss.