A study published in the JAMA Network Open by researchers from the Committee of Physicians of Responsible Medicine, claims that a plant-based diet can improve cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight individuals and boost the rate of metabolism leading to faster weight loss.
The researchers randomly assigned overweight participants who had no history of diabetes to intervention in a 1: 1 ratio.
Participants in the intervention group were asked to follow a low-fat, plant-based diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and pulses with no calorie limit for 16 weeks.
Neither group was made to change diet, exercise, or medication habits unless instructed by their personal physicians.
Researchers used indirect calorimetry to measure how many calories participants burned after a standard meal at the beginning and end of the study.
The plant-based group increased calorie burn after a meal by an average of 18.7 percent after 16 weeks. A burn after the control group meal did not change significantly.
The study’s author Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee, said,
“These findings are groundbreaking for the 160 million Americans struggling with overweight and obesity. Over the years and decades, burning more calories after each meal can make a significant difference in weight management. ”
At just 16 weeks, participants in the plant group reduced their body weight by 6.4 kg (about 14 lbs), on average, compared with insignificant change in the control group. The plant-based group also saw significant reductions in visceral fat mass and volume – the dangerous fat found around the internal organs.
The researchers also joined Yale University researchers Kitt Petersen, MD, and Gerald Shulman, MD, to track intramyocellular lipid and hepatocellular lipid – the fat that accumulates in muscle and liver cells – in a subset of participants using magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Those in the plant-based group reduced the fat inside the liver and muscle cells by 34% and 10%, respectively, while the control group did not experience 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 the ability of insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells,” adds Dr Kahleova.
“After just 16 weeks on a low-fat, plant-based diet, study participants reduced the fat in their cells and reduced their chances of developing type 2 diabetes,” added Dr Kahleova.
The study also offered new insights into the link between fat within the cells and resistance to insulin. The plant-based group lowered 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 reduced total and LDL cholesterol by 19.3 mg / dL and 15.5 mg / dL, respectively, with no significant changes in the control group.
“Not only did the plant-based group lose weight, but they also experienced cardiometabolic improvements that will reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems,” said Dr Kahleova.
“I intend to stay on 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 ended, Sam has continued a plant-based diet, reached his goal weight, and started running half marathons and marathons.
(This story was published from a wire agency feed without text modifications. Only the heading has been changed.)
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