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If you are looking to shed some kilos, the best diet to go for shouldn’t just be low in calories—but it also should have the potential to boost the metabolism. Finding such a diet is not that difficult as researchers suggest that plant-based diets can very well boost your metabolism!
A study published in the JAMA Network Open by researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that a plant-based diet boosts after-meal burn, leads to weight loss, and improves cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight individuals.
The participants had no history of diabetes––to an intervention or control group in a 1:1 ratio. The researchers studied them for 16 weeks where the participants in the intervention group followed a low-fat, plant-based diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes with no calorie limit. Whereas the control group made no diet changes.
Neither group changed their exercise or medication routines unless directed by their personal doctors. The researchers used indirect calorimetry to measure how many calories participants burned after a standardised meal at both the beginning and end of the study.
The plant-based group increased their after-meal calorie burn by up to 18.7% on average after 16 weeks! However, the control group’s after-meal burn did not change significantly.
“Over the course of years and decades, burning more calories after every meal can make a significant difference in weight management,” said Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee.
Within just 16 weeks, participants in the plant-based group lowered their body weight by 6.4 kg on average, compared to an insignificant change in the control group. The plant-based group also saw significant drops in fat mass and visceral fat volume–the dangerous fat found around the internal organs.
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 insulin’s ability to move glucose out from the bloodstream and into the cells. After just 16 weeks on a low-fat, plant-based diet, the participants reduced the fat in their cells and lowered their chances for developing type 2 diabetes,” added Dr. Kahleova.
The study also offered new insight into the link between fat within 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 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 experienced cardiometabolic improvements that will reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems,” said Dr Kahleova.