New research shows at least one type of diet can increase your metabolism after you eat. And, it can result in weight loss. The study, published 3 months ago in JAMA Network Open, found that overweight or obese participants lost 13 pounds after following a low-fat vegan diet for 16 weeks, while their control counterparts, who were asked to maintain their usual dietary habits, did not. This is not surprising; if you put someone on a diet, especially a restrictive diet such as the one on the study, he or she will quickly see numbers drop on the bathroom scale. But, what did pique my interest was the "increased metabolism" finding. Specifically, despite causing lower total energy intake (a measure that is also expected to lower metabolism), the vegan diet increased metabolism after food intake. This was not observed in the control group.
What causes this? Actually, it's a phenomenon that occurs in everyone. We eat to provide energy for our bodies, but the act of digesting and absorbing that food takes energy, and as it turns out, quite a bit of energy. It accounts for about 10% of all the energy we expend. Actually, the more food we eat, the more energy it takes to process that food. The higher the food and calorie intake, the higher your metabolism after the food you eat. Make sense? So what is interesting about this study is that the vegan group increased this type of energy use by14%, despite reducing their caloric intake during the 16 weeks; none of this was observed in the control group.
Why would this restrictive diet increase your metabolism after food intake despite lower calories? One reason may be that vegan diets tend to be high in whole, unprocessed foods such as salads, nuts, seeds and legumes, and low in prepackaged, processed foods (many of these latter foods simply don't meet the strict non-animal criteria). And, since this diet is rich in low-calorie, high-water foods such as fruits and vegetables, you tend to just...well...eat more food. Since it takes more energy for your body to breakdown and "process" these whole foods, it needs to spend more energy (meaning increase your metabolism) to do so. If you're following, this means that technically, any diet rich in whole, minimally processed or unprocessed foods should do the trick. Essentially, it just means eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as oats and quinoa, natural nuts and seeds and legumes. If you're interested in learning more about plant-based diets, check out this blog. Otherwise, keep in mind that roasted, grilled or baked lean poultry and fish, as well as sashimi, would also likely increase your metabolism since high protein foods also require a decent amount of energy for your body to process.
DietCypher already incorporates recommendations for real, whole foods in all of its DietCodes, so we're already one step ahead, regardless of which DietCode works best with your genetics.