A study published in JAMA Network Open by researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claims that a plant-based diet can improve cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight people and speed up metabolism, leading to faster weight loss.
The researchers randomly assigned overweight participants who had no history of diabetes to an intervention at a ratio of 1: 1.
Participants in the intervention group were asked to follow a low-fat, plant-based diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes for 16 weeks.
Neither group was made to change diet, exercise, or medication routines unless directed by their personal doctors.
Researchers used indirect calorimetry to measure how many calories participants burned after a standardized meal at both the start and the end of the study.
The plant-based group increased post-meal calorie burn by an average of 18.7 percent after 16 weeks. The after-meal burn of the control group did not change significantly.
Study author Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee said:
“These findings are groundbreaking for the 160 million Americans who struggle with overweight and obesity. Over the years and decades, burning more calories after each meal can make a significant difference in weight management. “
Within just 16 weeks, participants in the vegetable group reduced their body weight by an average of 6.4 kg (about 14 pounds), compared to an insignificant change in the control group. The plant-based group also saw a significant drop in fat mass and visceral fat volume – the dangerous fat found around internal organs.
The researchers also teamed up with Yale University researchers Kitt Petersen, MD, and Gerald Shulman, MD, to track intramyocellular lipid and hepatocellular lipid – the accumulating fat in muscle and liver cells – in a subset of participants using magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Those in the vegetable group reduced fat in the liver and muscle cells by 34% and 10%, respectively, while the control group experienced no significant changes. Fat stored in these cells has been linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
“When fat builds up in liver and muscle cells, it interferes with insulin’s ability to move glucose from the bloodstream to the cells,” adds Dr. Kahleova.
“After only 16 weeks on a low-fat, plant-based diet, the study participants reduced the fat in their cells and reduced their chances of developing type 2 diabetes,” added Dr. Kahleova adds.
The study also provided new insight into the link between fat in the cells and insulin resistance. The plant-based group decreased their fasting plasma insulin concentration by 21.6 pmol / L, decreased insulin resistance and increased insulin sensitivity – all positive results – while the control group saw no significant changes.
The plant-based group also lowered total and LDL cholesterol by 19.3 mg / dL and 15.5 mg / dL, respectively, without significant changes in the control group.
“Not only did the plant-based group lose weight, but they also experienced cardiometabolic improvements that reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems,” said Dr. Kahleova.
‘I intend to stick with this diet forever. Not just for 16 weeks, but for life, ”reports study participant Sam T., who lost 34 pounds and improved his metabolism during the 16-week study.
Since the study was completed, Sam has continued on a plant-based diet, reached his goal weight, and started running half marathons and marathons.
(This story was published from a wire agent feed with no text changes. Only the headline has been changed.)
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