Several studies show that a vegan diet can help you lose weight and regulate your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
For example, a series of trials shows that a vegan diet helped participants in diet trials to lose significant weight in 12 weeks.
The benefits may be related to the high fiber content found in vegan diets, the researchers said.
Switching to a vegan diet could bring several benefits within a few months. These include improved blood sugar levels and more control over your own weight. This is shown by a recent study by European Congress on Obesitywhich took place from 4 to 7 May 2022.
Researchers at the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen analyzed the data from eleven randomized trials on vegan diets, in which a total of 796 participants with obesity or type 2 diabetes took part. The researchers compared participants who followed a vegan diet with both a control group (who maintained their usual eating habits) and participants who had committed to the Mediterranean diet. All had followed their diet for between three and four months.
The participants who switched to a vegan diet lost an average of around four kilos in all studies. Compared to the control group, the vegans lost an average of seven kilos more, and on average almost three kilos more than the participants of other diets. The vegan diet also led to slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
The results suggest that a vegan diet could be a useful tool for weight and diabetes management, according to Anne-Ditte Termannsen, lead author of the study and PhD student at the Steno Diabetes Center.
“This review of the best studies available to date helps suggest that following a vegan diet for at least 12 weeks can result in clinically meaningful weight loss and improvement in blood glucose levels,” Termannsen said in a press release.
The vegan diet helps you feel full longer – even though you ate less
Termannsen believes that many participants who ate a vegan diet simply ate fewer calories, on average, and therefore lost more weight. “A vegan diet is likely to lead to weight loss because it’s associated with lower calorie intake due to lower fat and higher fiber,” says Termannsen.
Plant foods tend to be lower in fat, which is the most energy-dense macronutrient at nine calories per gram (compared to four calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates). Therefore, vegan meals can be portioned much larger and still have significantly fewer calories. As a result, you feel full longer despite consuming fewer calories.
Vegan staples like whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are also high in fiber, which the digestive system can’t process very quickly. Adequate fiber can therefore slow down digestion and curb appetite.
A high fiber content has benefits for blood sugar and digestion
By slowing digestion, fiber not only curbs hunger but also regulates how quickly the body absorbs other nutrients, including glucose from the breakdown of other carbohydrates. In turn, controlling glucose uptake is key to stable blood sugar levels. That’s why fiber should play an important role in preventing blood sugar spikes and crashes.
There is also evidence that eating plenty of fiber promotes a healthy gut microbiome, which are the beneficial bacteria that live in our digestive system. Previous studies had already shown that a vegan diet can also prevent diabetes and heart disease.