Obesity or being overweight are becoming more and more common in the developed world. Being obese can put a person at a higher risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and asthma. This means that finding ways to lose weight in a healthy way is becoming even more important.
There are many popular diet and exercise plans that promise to promote weight loss. But recently, studies have been showing that a certain diet can actually increase a person's metabolic rate. While exercise is a key component in maintaining health, we know now that diet may be the most important factor.
A study was recently published in the journal Nutrients showing that vegetarians have a higher resting energy rate than omnivores. This means that without even accounting for exercise, those who avoid animal products burn more calories at rest than those who do not.
The study involved 26 non-vegetarians and 26 vegetarians. Those in the vegetarian category had been following the diet for at least three years and either avoided all animal products or avoided only meat and fish.
Researchers looked not only at metabolic rate, but also cholesterol levels and markers of inflammation. Vegetarians had lower cholesterol, higher levels of anti-inflammatory compounds and a higher metabolic rate than non-vegetarians. To rule out the effect of body weight on these factors, participants were matched for BMI and statistical adjustments were made for physical activity, age, gender and body fat.
This study is in line with others that support a vegetarian diet having an effect on metabolic rate. Vegetarians have also been shown to have a lower body weight than non-vegetarians.
Within the plant-based diet, some people prefer to focus more on raw foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and soaked gluten free grains. This may be one of the most powerful forms of a plant-based diet because it eliminates all processed and inflammatory foods. I would argue that when food is uncooked more of the vitality, vitamins and digestive enzymes remain in the food, assisting in easing inflammation and encouraging optimal body weight.