If you’re looking to shed pounds quickly, it might be time to start filling your plate with plants. Recent research suggests that going vegan for 16 weeks can help you lose weight and improve blood sugar.
The September 2019 study, presented at this year’s Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, found that a 16-week vegan diet can boost gut microbes that are related to improvements in body weight, body composition, and blood sugar control. Researchers analyzed 147 participants, who were randomly assigned to either follow a low-fat vegan diet or to make no changes to their current eating plan for a period of 16 weeks.
Results showed that body weight was reduced “significantly” in the vegan group, with an average weight loss of 12.7 pounds mostly due to a reduction of fat mass and bad visceral fat. On top of that, these participants also saw improvements in their insulin sensitivity. Researchers analyzed the gut microbes of the participants, which allowed them to link the microbiota changes for vegan dieters to the improvements in their health.
In a press release, the study authors concluded: “A 16-week low-fat vegan dietary intervention induced changes in gut microbiota that were related to changes in weight, body composition, and insulin sensitivity in overweight adults.”
However, the scientists also admitted that more research is needed in order to separate the effects of a vegan diet itself and the effects of reduced calories. Also, the research didn’t address what happens if you go back to a non-vegan diet after being vegan for 16 weeks. But it’s pretty impressive that people saw such great results in a relatively short time on the eating plan. Researchers think the addition of more dietary fiber in these particular vegan diets played a crucial role in the success.
As they explained: “The main shift in the gut microbiome composition was due to an increased relative content of short-chain fatty acid producing bacteria that feed on fiber. Therefore, high dietary fiber content seems to be essential for the changes observed in our study. We plan to compare the effects of a vegan and a standard portion-controlled diet on gut microbiome in people with type 2 diabetes, in order to separate out the positive effects of the reduced calories in the diet from those caused by the vegan composition of the diet.”
So if you’re considering a vegan diet for weight loss, it’s crucial that fiber is a main component of that eating plan. Luckily, plenty of fiber-rich foods are compatible with a plant-based diet, including avocados, lentils, and quinoa. Sounds like a delicious and nutritious start to us!
Remember: Talk to your doctor before trying any new diet, especially a restrictive one.