By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
The holiday season is when many people gain most of their unwanted pounds. They are followed by New Year's diets which usually work just in time for the next holiday feasting cycle.
This year, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is encouraging people to make a very big change to lose weight becoming a vegetarian.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher issued a report in mid-December that indicated a record 61 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, along with significant portion of American children.
People with weight problems run a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes, among other serious health problems.
Many nutrition studies show it is much better to focus on what you eat, rather than on how much. The PCRM recommends that people eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans and grains the healthiest diets are completely vegetarian.
Adults who are vegetarians are on average 10 percent slimmer than the general population.
"One of the problems with just reducing meat intake, eating meat in moderation, is that it hasn't worked," said PCRM dietician Brie Turner-McGrievy. "People are still overweight, and more are overweight every year. Studies have also found that having too much protein from meat leeches calcium into the bloodstream, which is connected to problems with osteoporosis.
"Many people think they can't become vegetarian or vegan, but anyone can. And you'll see the benefits and results immediately losing weight and feeling better and healthier, and ending some digestive problems."
In the preliminary results from a 2000-2001 study of 59 women with moderate weight problems, those who were put on a vegan diet free of meat, dairy and eggs lost an average of one pound per week and an average of two inches from their waists over a 14-week period, as compared to women eating a diet that included six ounces of meat a day. The women put on the vegan diets were randomly selected from the group.
A vegetarian diet is free of meat, but does include dairy and eggs.
"Only 10 percent of the calories needed have to be from protein, and you get that from the beans and grains [of a vegan or vegetarian diet]," Turner-McGrievy said. "We recommend that you try the new diet for January. Do it for a month and see how you feel. We've seen from our research that the vegan diets have the most success. And it takes about three weeks for the taste buds to change, so if you have even a little meat, your body will still call for it."