This diet could lead to weight loss, benefit heart health

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In a new study, researchers found that a plant-based diet boosts after-meal burn, leads to weight loss, and improves cardiometabolic health in overweight people.

Over the course of years and decades, burning more calories after every meal can make a big difference in weight management.

The research was conducted by a team at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and elsewhere.

In the study, the team assigned participants—who were overweight and had no history of diabetes—to an intervention or control group.

For 16 weeks, participants in the intervention group followed a low-fat, plant-based diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes with no calorie limit.

The control group made no diet changes. Neither group changed exercise or medication routines unless directed by their personal doctors.

Researchers found that the plant-based group increased after-meal calorie burn by 18.7%, on average, after 16 weeks. The control group’s after-meal burn did not change strongly.

Within just 16 weeks, participants in the plant-based group lowered their body weight by 6.4 kg (about 14 pounds), on average, compared to an insignificant change in the control group.

The plant-based group also saw big drops in fat mass and visceral fat volume—the dangerous fat found around the internal organs.

The researchers also people 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.

The team says 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, people reduced the fat in their cells and lowered their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

They also showed 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 changes.

The plant-based group also reduced total and LDL cholesterol by 19.3 mg/dL and 15.5 mg/dL, respectively, with no changes in the control group.

These findings are groundbreaking for the 160 million Americans struggling with overweight and obesity.

One author of the study is Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open.

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