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Weight Loss on a Vegan Diet

A recent study compared weight loss results between two groups – one group consuming a vegan diet and the other consuming a more conventional low-fat diet based on guidelines provided by the National Cholesterol Education Program.

The vegan group lost twice as much weight as the comparison group during the study period. There were several reasons, one of which is the low fat nature of a healthy vegan diet. When animal foods and oils are removed from the diet, calorie consumption is reduced sharply. Fat has twice the calories of carbohydrate – 9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories.

And, of course, vegetarian foods contain fiber, which animal foods and oil do not. According to a 2001 meta analysis, every 14 grams of fiber in the diet lowers calorie consumption by 10%. A significant part of the success, however, lies in the fact that the participant were able to lower their calorie consumption without feeling hungry, since high-fiber foods tend to be lower in calories, but are quite filling.

The most interesting thing about the study was the fact that the vegans experienced an increased after-meal calorie burn as compared to the controls. Researchers tracked the calorie burning speed by measuring how much oxygen they consumed and how much carbon dioxide they exhaled during rest. Them each person consumed a liquid meal, after which calorie burning was measured for 3 hours. After 14 weeks on the vegan diet, there was a noticeable increase in after-meal calorie burn, but there was no difference noted in the comparison group.

Additionally here was a measurable increase in glucose sensitivity. Every participant was given a glucose tolerance test, drinking syrup that contained 75 grams of glucose followed by blood tests every 30 minutes. Prior to the start of the study, participants showed predictable rise in blood sugar during the three-hour measurement period. However, after 14 weeks on the diet, the vegans showed a measurable smaller rise in average blood glucose rise.

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