If you’re diabetic and carrying a little more weight than you’d like, then it may be time to cut out the meat. That’s the conclusion of a new study showing standard weight-loss regimes are half as effective for people with type 2 diabetes.
The condition occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin, meaning glucose stays in the blood and isn’t used as fuel for energy. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity and keeping to a healthy weight can help people control their symptoms and avoid complications.
Conducted in the Czech Republic and US, and funded by the Ministry of Health in Prague, the research involved 74 men and women with the condition and a body mass index (BMI) over 25, meaning they are classed as overweight. They were asked to tuck into different food designed to help them reduce their daily calories by 500, with half the cohort being put on a vegetarian diet – in fact, almost a vegan diet, since yoghurt was the only animal product allowed – and the other a standard diet recommended for diabetics.
Other than changing what they ate and carrying out an exercise routine three times a week, the participants had to stick to their usual routines and habits. Over six months, the study found that the meat free eaters lost more weight than the omnivore dieters – 6.2kg, compared to 3.2kg – as well as more body fat.
Lead author Dr Hana Kahleova said the findings were important for people who are trying to lose weight, including those with type 2 diabetes: “But it is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy. Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective diets for weight loss. However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism.”
The results were skewed slightly by the fact that more people stuck to the meat free diet than stuck to the omnivorous one – 55 per cent kept strictly to their veggie regimen, compared with only 32 per cent on the other diet – but that could just show that when it comes to keeping people interested in healthy eating, deliciousness is a factor too.