Going on a vegan diet accelerates weight loss and reduces harmful belly fat, new research suggests.
People following a plant-based, vegan diet for 16 weeks lost an average of over 12 pounds, including almost 9 pounds of fat mass and belly fat.
More fibre is the most critical element of the diet, researchers think.
Plant-based diets contain plenty of fibre which helps to boost healthy bacteria in the gut.
The study included 147 overweight people who were randomised to a vegan diet or no change for 16 weeks.
The results revealed that a vegan diet reduced weight significantly.
A vegan diet also helped people control their blood sugar more effectively.
The study’s authors write:
“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.”
The diet also increased the health of the gut.
People with a greater abundance of critical healthy bacteria in the gut lost more weight.
Bacteria that a vegan diet boosts include Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bacteroides fragilis.
The authors conclude:
“A plant-based diet has been shown to be effective in weight management, and in diabetes prevention and treatment.
We have demonstrated that a plant-based diet elicited changes in gut microbiome that were associated with weight loss, reduction in fat mass and visceral fat volume, and increase in insulin sensitivity.”
Fibre is the key to weight loss and a healthy gut, the authors write:
“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 fibre.
Therefore, high dietary fibre content seems to be essential for the changes observed in our study.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona, Spain (Kahleova et al., 2019).