It was an experiment that identical twins Jevon and John Whittington set out to pursue. Being identical in almost all areas including their height, weight, and dietary habits, they decided to put their nutritional interest to the test for the sake of science.
While one embraced a vegan lifestyle, the other indulged in a diet rich in meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy. The intriguing outcome? Only one emerged with a noticeably slimmer physique.
The 23-year-old twins, who are nursing school graduates from Buffalo, voluntarily participated in a Stanford University experiment highlighted in the Netflix show “You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment.”
The experiment sampled 22 respondents which included the twins and was conducted between May and July 2022. It was aimed to isolate the impact of diet on health by eliminating other genetic and environmental factors, according to the New York Post.
One of the twins, John Whittington, adhered strictly to a vegan diet, excluding not only meat but also all animal products, including milk and eggs.
Jevon Whittington and 22 other participants were assigned to follow an omnivore diet, which included chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, dairy, and various other animal products.
The diets for both groups were carefully crafted to promote health, featuring a mix of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole grains, while intentionally avoiding sugar, processed foods, and refined starches.
The Whittington twins, accustomed to a lifelong diet of rice, chicken, fish, and crab legs, underwent a significant dietary shift for the experiment. Despite their identical diets and physiques, they had been regularly engaged in intense workouts since the age of 12, influenced by their father, John Whittington Jr., a professional bodybuilder.
Their commitment to fitness had resulted in both twins maintaining a shredded physique, making it challenging for others to distinguish between them.
“My dad gave us the gift of fit – we liken our affinity for taking care of our bodies to him,” Jevon added.
At the outset of the experiment, John Whittington, who embraced the vegan diet, had an impressive body fat percentage of 11.1%. Weighing 137.2 pounds, he carried 0.37 pounds (almost precisely 6 ounces) of visceral fat, considered a potential health risk.
Jevon Whittington, following a meat-inclusive diet, started with a nearly identical body fat percentage of 11% and a slightly higher weight at 138.6 pounds, carrying 0.22 pounds of visceral fat.
Within just one week of adopting the vegan diet, John Whittington experienced cravings for his favorite foods, particularly lemon pepper chicken wings. However, he managed to satisfy these cravings by exploring alternatives, such as plant-based Cajun chicken and veggie burgers.
Throughout the experiment, both twins engaged in a fitness routine that included cardio sessions a few days a week, weight training, and high-intensity interval training.
At the conclusion of the study, John Whittington, who followed the vegan diet, successfully reduced his visceral fat by 0.19 pounds, leaving him with a mere 0.03 pounds (less than half an ounce) around his midsection.
On the omnivore diet, Jevon Whittington experienced a slight drop in visceral fat from 0.22 pounds to 0.21 pounds, representing a loss of less than half an ounce of fat.
The diet inclusive of meat resulted in more significant muscle gains, with Jevon Whittington adding 7.1 pounds of muscle compared to his brother, who gained 2.3 pounds over the eight weeks.
“We cut back on red meat and dairy,” Jevon Whittington said.
“But it proved to us that we can continue to eat way we’re eating.”