In a study from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, scientists found a plant-based diet could help overweight people lose weight and reduce insulin resistance.
A plant-based diet is a diet consisting mostly or entirely of plant-based foods.
Plant-based diets encompass a wide range of dietary patterns that contain low amounts of animal products and high amounts of plant products such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Some plant foods, such as tofu, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, and quinoa are good sources of plant protein.
Previous research has found that a plant-based diet is an effective way the treatment of obesity.
In the study, the researchers tested the effect of a plant-based diet on body weight and insulin resistance. They also focused on the role of plant protein in these health outcomes.
The team tested 75 overweight people, who were asked to follow a plant-based or a control diet for 16 weeks.
The researchers found that the plant-based diet was superior to the control diet in improving body weight, fat mass, and insulin resistance markers.
Only the plant-based diet group showed strong reductions in body weight, fat mass, and insulin resistance.
In addition, the decrease in body fat mass was linked to an increased intake of plant protein and decreased intake of animal protein.
In particular, a decreased leucine intake was linked to a decrease in fat mass.
Leucine is an essential amino acid for protein synthesis. High-leucine animal foods include chicken, beef, pork, fish (tuna), milk, cheese, and eggs.
The team also found that decreased histidine intake was linked to a decrease in insulin resistance, also independent of changes in BMI and energy intake.
Histidine is an amino acid most people get from food. It’s used in the growth, and repair of damaged tissues, and in the making of blood cells.
Histidine is found in many animal protein sources, such as muscle meat, eggs, dairy protein, and (i.e. casein).
Based on these findings, the researchers suggest their study provides evidence that a plant-based diet may help overweight people lose weight and improve insulin resistance.
This is because the increased intake of plant protein and the decreased intake of leucine and histidine could provide health benefits.
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The research was published in Nutrition and Diabetes and was conducted by Hana Kahleova et al.
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