A whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet can lead to greater weight loss when compared to other dietary interventions that do not restrict calories or mandate exercise. WFPB diets have also been shown to result in significant improvements in chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, whereas carbohydrate-restricted diets such as keto diets have been found to impair arterial function and increase the risk of heart disease. Heart disease is currently the number one cause of death in Australia.
So how does a whole food plant-based diet work?
The benefits conferred by a whole food plant-based diet are likely owing to the following characteristics:
1) High water content of fruits and vegetables = low calorie density
2) High fibre content fuels good bacteria which has been shown to increase metabolic rate and contribute to weight loss
3) Lower exposure to calories, due to calories being 'walled off' by indigestible fibre
Eating structurally intact plant foods results in calories being walled off by indigestible fibre which may lead to lower absorption of calories from whole foods, compared to processed foods or products like fruit juice or refined grains and flour. These foods will also deliver useful prebiotics and fibre to our gut microbiota (good bacteria).