By choosing to eat more plant-based, you’re saving money and energy, according to research published in the British Medical Journal.
In the paper, researchers from Imperial College London looked at the costs and benefits of different forms of energy for people who were already in good health, but had difficulty living on a low-carb diet.
“When we looked at people who had been in good physical health, the average person on the low-carb diet would have lost about one kilogram (2.3 pounds) of body weight,” said lead author Prof. James O’Sullivan, from Imperial.
“In contrast, the vast majority of the population on a plant-free diet would be in very good physical and mental health.”
“However, it is difficult to get to this level of health when you are eating so little.”
The authors found that those who ate more protein, a source of protein in the diet, were actually eating less energy than people on a diet with a lower protein intake.
“This was even true for those who had taken a vegan diet, which was a huge surprise,” O’Connor told Business Insider.
“The vegan diet is a much healthier way of eating than the high-carb approach.”
The paper also showed that people who ate meat, fish, dairy and eggs were also eating less than those who were following a plant based diet.
When people ate more energy from plant-source foods, they were also able to exercise more, eat fewer calories and exercise longer, compared to people who avoided meat, dairy, and eggs.
“We found that people eating a plant free diet who followed a low carbohydrate, high protein diet were in better physical health,” Ollivier said.
“They were also more likely to be overweight and obese, as well as having a higher body mass index (BMI).”
The findings could be used to help people on diets that are low in plant-energy, such as those on the Atkins diet, or to help promote healthier eating patterns.
“Plant-based diets tend to have more protein than low carbohydrate diets, so if you’re looking for ways to increase your protein intake, we can help you to stay healthy,” Oli said.
He added that more research was needed to understand the health effects of a plant energy diet and how it compares to a low carb diet.
However, the authors believe this study has significant potential.
“It gives us a much clearer picture of the effect that plant-derived protein has on people, and gives us hope for more plant energy diets that could have health benefits,” Olli said.