Type 2 Diabetes

Study: Vegetarian vs Hypocaloric Diets for Weight Loss in Type 2 Diabetes Patients

A vegetarian diet is almost twice as effective for weight loss than the conventional hypocaloric diet for patients with type 2 diabetes, a recent study showed.

For their study, the researchers analyzed 74 patients with type 2 diabetes at baseline and followed up at months 3 and 6. A total of 37 patients were randomly assigned to a vegetarian diet and the remaining 37 to an isocaloric conventional anti-diabetic diet. Both diets were calorie-restricted.

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The researchers used the hyperinsulinemic isoglycemic camp to measure insulin sensitivity, and a mathematical model was used to analyze β-cell function after a test meal. Additionally, the researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging of patients’ thighs and conducted statistical analyses using repeated measures analysis of variance and a multivariate regression model.

Results showed that patients following a vegetarian diet had greater fat reduction in the total leg area than patients following the conventional hypocaloric diet. Subcutaneous fat reduction was comparable in both groups. However, subfascial fat reduction was only observed in patients following a vegetarian diet, and intramuscular fat loss was observed more in patients on the vegetarian diet.

Changes in subcutaneous and subfascial fat correlated with changes in glycated hemoglobin A1c, fasting plasma glucose, and β-cell insulin sensitivity. These changes remained significant in fasting plasma glucose and β-cell insulin sensitivity and with changes in triglycerides, even after adjustment for changes in body mass index.

“In conclusion, our data indicate that a vegetarian diet is more effective in reducing subfascial fat and tends to also reduce intramuscular fat more than a conventional hypocaloric diabetic diet,” the researchers concluded.”

—Christina Vogt


Kahleova H, Klementova M, Herynek V, et al. The effect of a vegetarian vs conventional hypocaloric diabetic diet on thigh adipose tissue distribution in subjects with type 2 diabetes: a randomized study [Published online June 10, 2017]. J Am Coll Nutr. doi:10.1080/07315724.2017.1302367.