Vegans, rejoice! Here’s a study that proves what we’ve known instinctively for a while: slimming down (and staying that way) isn’t just a matter of counting calories, as some trainers, gurus, and even dietitians would have you believe. What you eat has a tremendous effect on your weight, and a new study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics shows that the more phytochemicals you ingest through fruits and vegetables, the slimmer you are–even adjusted for the amount of calories.
The study tested 54 normal weight and overweight adults over 8 weeks. At the beginning of the study, they observed that normal weight participants ate more fruits and vegetables, and had lower BMI, and slimmer waists, than overweight participants. Then they were instructed to eat as they normally would over the next 8 weeks, and scientists measured the amount of phytochemicals ingested using PI (Phytochemical Index). PI is basically a score provided by dividing the energy supplied by foods high in phytochemicals by the total energy consumed from all foods as a ratio. Here is a quote straight from the study: “A vegan diet (excluding potato products, hard liquors and refined sugars) could have a score of 100, with less optimal dietary patterns, such as those in Western diets, may range below 20.”
Both normal and overweight participants maintained their body weight and body fat over the course of the study. They found that the PI was negatively correlated to body weight, body fat, and waist circumference, at every point in the BMI spectrum. That means, the higher your PI, the slimmer you are. What’s amazing is that the normal and overweight groups ate about the same amount of calories. But the difference was in the intake of fruits and veggies, and fat: the overweight group consumed about 60% more fat than normal weight group.
So nutrition science is finally affirming what we’ve known all along–that you are what you eat. (Thanks, Mom!) Even if you are already vegan, make sure to include plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, and to avoid many processed foods for most benefits.