Vegan Diet Associated With Weight Loss and Reduced Insulin Resistance

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Investigators examine the effect of a low-fat, plant-based diet on insulin resistance and body composition.

A higher intake of carbohydrates and dietary fiber, as part of a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, was associated with weight loss and a reduction in fat mass and insulin resistance in overweight individuals, according to a study published in Nutrients.

Observational studies have suggested an association between healthy weight body management and high-carbohydrate diets, but the role that carbohydrates play in weight management is unclear. In this study, the effects of a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet (vegan diet) on weight control, body composition, and insulin resistance was assessed in 75 individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of between 28 and 40 kg/m2. Participants were randomly assigned to follow a vegan diet (n = 38) or to maintain their current diet (n = 37).

Total carbohydrate intake remained the same among control patients but significantly increased in the vegan group (treatment effect, +70.6; 95% CI, 28.8-115 g/day; P =.001), as did total and insoluble fiber (treatment effect, +15.3 [95% CI, 8.0-22.6 g/day; P <.001] and +12.5 [95% CI, 7.2-17.7 g/day; P <.001], respectively). The vegan group also experienced significant weight loss (treatment effect, −6.5 [95% CI, −8.9 to −4.1] kg; interaction between group and time or Gxt, P <.001) and reduction of fat mass (treatment effect, −4.3 [95% CI, −5.4 to −3.2] kg; Gxt, P <.001). Insulin resistance was also significantly decreased in the vegan group (treatment effect, −1.0 [95% CI, −1.2 to −0.8]; Gxt, P =.004).

“This study demonstrates the effectiveness of a plant-based high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet overall, and is not able to prove causal relationship between carbohydrate intake and metabolic outcomes,” the investigators concluded.

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Kahleova, H, Dort S, Holubkov R, Barnard ND. A plant-based high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in overweight individuals in a 16-week randomized clinical trial: The role of carbohydrates. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1302.