Think participating in an all-you-can-eat diet and still losing weight is the stuff that infomercials are made of? Think again. Obese subjects placed on a vegan diet — excluding meat and animal products, but not limiting calories — lost more weight than a control group that followed a low-calorie, low-cholesterol diet, in a collaborative study by George Washington University and Georgetown University.

The veg edge: approximately 13 pounds lost over 14 weeks for the vegan dieters, versus 8 pounds for the control group.

More recently, the same researchers reviewed 87 studies on vegan/vegetarian diets, concluding that the high-fiber, high-water, low-fat content of vegan/vegetarian diets were responsible for weight loss — not calorie counting per se. Indeed, overweight individuals who “went vegan” lost about a pound per week, irrespective of other lifestyle changes made.

These findings confirm the principles behind the volumetrics approach to eating, previously explored in the DNN. Dieters who choose high “volume” foods (big foods, like fruits and vegetables, filled with fiber, water and nutrients — but few calories) tend to feel full faster, making weight loss easier.

No wonder far fewer vegetarians are overweight compared to carnivores (25% versus 40%). Kermit the Frog’s lament notwithstanding, when it comes to lasting weight loss, it is easy being green!

Published July 1, 2013