MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Ever wonder how big a difference changing up your diet could have on your weight? Researchers at the University of South Carolina wanted to find out how plant-based diets affect weight loss.
It turns out people lost the most weight by going vegan- cutting out all animal products, from meats to cheese and eggs.
Researchers in Columbia assigned overweight adults to different diets. Those varied from vegan, to vegetarian, where you cut out only animal meat, and two other forms of vegetarianism; one that eats no meat except seafood, and one that will occasionally eat meat. One last group was assigned to eat anything without restrictions, or omnivorous.
For six months, the adults got used to their dietary restrictions. In the end, vegan eaters lost an average of 16-and-a-half pounds more than everyone else.
People following a vegan diet eat things like nuts and beans for protein. The diet also includes a lot of carbohydrates, which have somewhat of a negative reputation for causing weight gain. USC hopes the study will ease the minds of people who love pasta, rice and other grains and also want to lose weight.
But if you're thinking about a vegan diet as a quick fix to drop a few pounds fast, especially with the holidays around the corner, think again.
"It's a lifestyle change and you have to stick to that for a long time," says registered dietician Kelly Snow. "You can't just do it for two weeks and expect results and go back to eating meats and anything you would like."
Snow says it takes a few weeks for your body to get used to a restrictive vegan diet and gorging on meat would be counterproductive. "You're definitely going to gain that weight back, and then more."
People who stuck to the vegan diet showed the greatest weight loss at the two and six month marks.