Study: Eat Legumes to Promote Weight Loss and Reduction in Body Fat

Losing weight naturally could be as simple as adding legumes to your plate while replacing meat and animal products with a low-fat vegan diet. A new study suggests that increasing consumption of plant-based whole foods, especially legumes, while decreasing consumption of meat, fish, poultry and oil can lead to significant impacts Weight loss and a decrease in body fat.

The study, published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that a plant-based diet high in legumes not only aids in weight loss but can also alter body composition to reduce body fat and also lower insulin sensitivity in obese adults.

This research, conducted by MDs, RDs and other accredited plant-based nutrition experts, adds to a growing body of research linking plant-based foods to natural weight loss.

Performed by the Medical Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), this 16-week study observed 244 overweight adults who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Half of the participants either followed a low-fat vegan diet or were asked not to make any dietary changes at all. To properly analyze the link between diet and weight loss, the researchers recorded body weight, fat mass, diet quality, and insulin sensitivity of both groups over the study period. The final data included the recordings of 219 participants.

Study participants who adhered to the plant-based diet high in legumes lost an average of 13 pounds and 9.1 pounds of fat mass over 16 weeks. The subjects who did not make any dietary changes showed no corresponding weight loss and remained essentially the same in terms of body fat and other measurements. Both groups ate about the same number of calories.

The study concluded that just by increasing your intake of plant-based foods (fruits, legumes, meat alternatives, whole grains) and decreasing the amount of animal products and oils you eat, you can achieve significant weight loss.

Vegan diet with lots of legumes most effective for weight loss

The study looked at dietary differences among the vegan participants to determine which plant-based foods were most strongly associated with the greatest weight loss. The PCRM researchers found that increased consumption of legumes correlated with the highest weight loss and the most dramatic reductions in body fat. Overall, the study showed that all plant-based foods helped participants reduce body weight, but legumes were the most effective.

“Our research shows that the best way to improve the quality of your health is to improve the quality of the food you eat,” wrote Hana Kahleova, MD, Ph.D., director of clinical research at PCRM and co-author, in a statement. “That means avoiding animal products and eating a vegan diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.”

Legumes are a group of plant foods that include:

  • Chickpeas
  • peanuts
  • Black beans
  • Green peas
  • lima beans
  • kidney beans
  • black Eyed Peas
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • soybeans
  • lenses
  • Great American beans

Legumes are high in fiber, contain protein and are low in fat and have no cholesterol. Although they contain complex carbohydrates, they also provide a variety of antioxidants that fuel the body without spiking blood sugar levels, so they help keep you full while providing constant energy. Both are helpful when it comes to reducing body fat and achieving weight loss.

Results of the study: Legumes help you lose weight

In the vegan group, consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, meat alternatives and whole grains increased significantly, while consumption of meat, fish and poultry, dairy products, eggs; Reduced nuts and seeds and added fats.

The greatest weight loss was associated with the highest consumption of legumes and the lowest consumption of meat, fish, and poultry. Those on a low-fat, vegan diet also increased intake of carbohydrates, fiber, and several micronutrients, and decreased fat intake.

Reduced fat intake was also associated with reduced body weight and fat mass and improved measures of insulin resistance

In the conclusion of the study, the authors write: “Compared to the usual diet of the participants, the intake of plant-based foods increased and the consumption of animal-based foods, nuts and seeds, and added fats decreased on a low-fat vegan diet. Increased legume dietary intake was the best predictor of weight loss by any single food group.”

Eat plants to improve your health

The study highlights how animal products also contribute to weight gain or an inability to lose weight. Reducing fish, meat, and poultry consumption showed significant associations with weight loss. Researchers even found that lower consumption of eggs and high-fat dairy correlated with lower weight and lower fat mass.

The research team also looked at how diet quality correlated with the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI) — a rubric developed by the Harvard School of Public Health to measure the relationship between diet and chronic disease. The vegan participants showed an average increase of six points compared to the group with a stagnant diet. Now the PCRM wants to show how beneficial plant-based foods can be for weight loss and overall health.

“Previous studies have shown that both Mediterranean and vegan diets improve body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, but so far their relative effectiveness has not been compared in a randomized trial,” Kahleova said last month. “We decided to test the diets head-to-head and found that a vegan diet was more effective at both improving health markers and promoting weight loss.”

A plant-based diet can help diabetics

This May, Danish researchers presented data at the European Congress on Obesity claiming that going vegan for three months significantly reduced symptoms of diabetes. The study found that diabetics were able to alleviate some of their severe symptoms by changing their diet. The participants who adhered to the vegan diet reduced their average weight by 9 pounds and lowered their body mass index in each trial.

The Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health published a study claiming that a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Recent reports show that 90 percent of diagnosed diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes – meaning it’s related to lifestyle choices, diet and exercise, as opposed to genetic, meaning dietary changes could help to prevent diabetes.

Conclusion: For natural weight loss, you should eat plants and consume legumes

If you want to lose weight, switch your protein sources from meat and animal products to whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and especially legumes. In a recent study, legumes were shown to help with weight loss and reducing body fat.

For more recent research, see The DailyGoodTips News articles.

Eliana Brown is a writer/reporter at Dailygoodtips.com's interesting news department in Los Angeles. She publishes daily updates on celebrity news, human interest pieces, and packaged visual galleries. Before joining the HollywoodLife team, Erin…

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