Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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Dietitian Consult

by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

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A new study from the University of South Carolina found that in a comparison of various vegetarian diets, the vegan diet produced more weight loss with participants in this arm of the study. Other diets tested were the omnivorous diet (control), vegetarian (no meat, but dairy and eggs allowed), semi-vegetarian (some meat) and pesco-vegetarian (fish only) diets.

The vegan group lost significantly more weight when compared to other diets. This is not the first study to have this finding. While there are many different ways to lose weight and the effectiveness varies from person to person, there are several reasons why vegans may lose more weight. This study also included weekly support groups and education and recipes via email.

A strict vegan diet allows no animal products or animal byproducts. This means your cholesterol intake is brought to nil since cholesterol is only found in animal products. It also means that your saturated fat intake is significantly reduced as well. Saturated fat is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

With a primary focus on plant-based foods, you're automatically consuming more fruits and vegetables, which are not only lower in calories, but loaded with fiber. Increased fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been associated with weight loss and health. Another reason could be serving sizes of meat. The recommended portion for meat is 3-4 ounces per meal, which is the same size as the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. Generally speaking, this portion is hard to adhere to unless you're making a conscious effort to watch how much you're consuming.

That being said, it's still very important to make sure you're getting enough protein in your diet, which can be achieved through nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes and soy products " just to name a few.

If you choose to pursue a vegan diet, it's very important that you consume a well-balanced diet so you don't become deficient in any vitamins or minerals. Generally speaking, a vegan diet is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants due to the high consumption of nutrient-rich foods. The one thing to be aware of is Vitamin B12. It is recommended that vegetarians and vegans take a daily supplement of B12 to prevent the potential for a deficiency.

A vegan diet is a very big lifestyle adjustment, however, it can be a very healthy and effective way to lose some unwanted pounds.

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