Replacing animal foods in the diet with plant foods leads to significant weight loss in overweight people. It doesn’t really seem to matter whether the plant-based foods are particularly healthy or not.
A new study involving experts from the University of Utah examined the effect on weight of replacing animal foods with plant foods and whether it makes a difference which plant foods are consumed. The results are published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition”.
Participants consumed low-fat plant-based foods
The analysis included a total of 244 adult participants who suffered from obesity. For 16 weeks, they were either randomly assigned to a group with a vegan diet that consumed low-fat foods or they were part of a control group that did not change their diet.
In general, calorie intake was not restricted in either group, and none of the participants received instructions about diet quality, the researchers explain.
How was the diet rated?
For their analysis, the experts used the so-called plant-based diet index (PDI), the healthy plant-based diet index (hPDI) and the unhealthy plant-based diet index (uPDI).
The Plant-Based Diet Index measures adherence to a plant-based diet in general. According to experts, the healthy plant-based diet index includes more fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, whereas the unhealthy plant-based diet index includes more refined grains and fruit juices.
The team reports that the values of all three indices were higher the more plant-based foods and the fewer animal products were consumed.
Significant weight loss noticeable
The vegan diet was also associated with a significant average weight loss of almost six kilograms, which was primarily due to a reduction in fat mass and visceral fat, the researchers explain.
Replacing animal products with plant-based foods, regardless of whether they are healthy or unhealthy plant-based foods according to the plant-based diet index, is associated with weight loss in overweight adults.
Reduced absorption of cholesterol and fat
In addition, such a change in diet also led to a reduced intake of cholesterol and fat and an increased intake of fiber among the overweight participants.
“While a low-fat vegan diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and beans is the gold standard for weight loss and improved health, the good news is that a plant-based diet that avoids animal products and minimizes oil consumption, can also contribute to weight loss in overweight people,” adds study author Dr. Hana Kahleov added in a press release. (as)