Vegan Diet Causes Weight Loss, Without Exercise, Calorie-Counting, or Portion Limits

The Physicians Committee

Vegan Diet Causes Weight Loss, Without Exercise, Calorie-Counting, or Portion Limits

September 8, 2005

A low-fat vegan diet causes significant weight loss, even without exercise, calorie-counting, or portion limits, according to a study conducted by PCRM researchers and published in the September 2005 American Journal of Medicine. Sixty-four overweight women were randomly assigned to either a low-fat, vegan diet or a more moderate low-fat (control) diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines. The vegan group lost an average of 13 pounds in 14 weeks, compared with 8 pounds for the control group. The weight loss of the vegan group was partly attributable to the low calorie content of plant-derived foods. In addition, the vegan group showed a 16 percent increase in its after-meal calorie-burning speed, referred to as the thermic effect of food. This, in turn, appears to be due to the fact that the vegan diet improved insulin sensitivity by 24 percent. Improved insulin sensitivity allows nutrients to more rapidly enter the cells of the body to be converted to heat, rather than to fat.

Related reports have described the acceptability of the diet and its effects on nutrient intake.

Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Turner-McGrievy G, Lanou AJ, Glass J. The effects of a low-fat, plant-based dietary intervention on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Am J Med 2005;118:991-997.

Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Turner-McGrievy GM, Lanou AJ. Acceptability of a very-low-fat, vegan diet compares favorably to a more moderate low-fat diet in a randomized, controlled trial. J Cardiopulm Rehab 2004;24:229-235.

Turner-McGrievy GM, Barnard ND, Scialli AR, Lanou AJ. Effects of a low-fat, vegan diet and a Step II diet on macro- and micronutrient intakes in overweight, postmenopausal women. Nutrition 2004;20:738-746.

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