Going plant-based won’t cause you to miraculously lose weight overnight.
But while plant-based diets have gained popularity in recent years as a healthy and sustainable way to lose weight and improve overall health, what does the science say about plant-based diets and weight loss?
Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is a way of eating that focuses on whole, minimally processed foods that come from plants. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
A plant-based diet can be vegetarian or vegan, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, some people follow a mostly plant-based diet while still including small amounts of animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs.
Plant-Based Diets and Weight Loss
One of the main reasons people turn to plant-based diets is for weight loss.
And the science supports this. Several studies have found that people who follow plant-based diets tend to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and are less likely to be obese than those who follow a standard Western diet that includes more meat, dairy, and processed foods.
One study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine followed over 1,100 participants who switched to a plant-based diet for 18 weeks. The researchers found that the participants lost an average of 4.4 pounds and saw improvements in their cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Another study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics compared the weight loss results of four different diets: a vegan diet, a vegetarian diet, a pesco-vegetarian diet (which includes fish), and a semi-vegetarian diet (which includes occasional meat). The researchers found that all four diets resulted in significant weight loss, but the vegan diet had the greatest weight loss of all.
Plant-Based Diets and Metabolism
But it’s not just about weight loss. Plant-based diets can also have a positive effect on your metabolism.