Fact: going flexitarian will slash your risk of obesity.
A flexitarian (part-time vegetarian) diet that’s heavy on fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and olive oil can cut your obesity risk by 43 per cent.
According to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal, Research Professor Maira Bes-Rastrollo has confirmed a pretty logical equation: the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to consume meat, making you less likely to gain weight.
“Our recommendation is to eat less meat,” said Prof Bes-Rastrollo. “Don’t increase the consumption of animal foods. Prefer plant-based foods to animal foods.”
The study researchers asked participants to keep track of the types of food they ate. Points were given for eating vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, olive oil, legumes, and potatoes.
Points were subtracted for animal fats, dairy, eggs, fish and other seafood, and meat.
The researchers put participants into five groups from the 20% with the least pro-vegetarian diet to the 20% with the most and followed their progress for an average of 10 years.
During the follow-up period, 584 participants became obese, and the researchers found that participants who had the most vegetarian diet had a 43% reduced risk of becoming obese compared with people who had the least vegetarian diet.
The results remained the same even when other influential factors like sex, age, alcohol intake, BMI, family history of obesity, snacking between meals, smoking, sleep duration, and physical activity were tallied up.
As the Guardian reports, the study is observational only and does not account for the higher obesity rates in the meat-eating group so take it with a grain of salt.
Still, it’s hard to deny that this seems like the best and most realistic way to avoid packing on the pounds: eat a few meat-free meals a week and indulge in more fruit, vegetables, nuts and olive oil.
The best part about being a flexitarian? It lets you have your steak and eat it too.