Metabolic Health 8 MIN READ

Does A Vegan Diet Boost Metabolism?

What do Venus Williams; a multiple grand slam-winning tennis player, Paul McCartney; the English singer-songwriter of the Beatles fame and Leonardo DiCaprio; a talented Academy Award-winning actor have in common? They are all passionate advocates of the vegan diet.

Written by Priti Noronha

Oct 14, 2022
vegan diet metabolism

What do Venus Williams; a multiple grand slam-winning tennis player, Paul McCartney; the English singer-songwriter of the Beatles fame and Leonardo DiCaprio; a talented Academy Award-winning actor have in common? They are all passionate advocates of the vegan diet. It’s a diet that’s become mainstream over the years, and according to the most recent United Nations estimates, approximately 79 million people in the world follow it.

metabolism boost vegan


  • A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs,
  • The diet is increasingly becoming popular for its numerous health benefits,
  • Various research lead to the conclusion that a vegan diet may boost metabolism.

What is a vegan diet?

The term ‘vegan’ was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, co-founder of The Vegan Society. A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs.

There are many reasons why people choose to follow a vegan diet. Some may find it morally unethical to eat animals, some may follow it for environmental reasons (the meat industry increases greenhouse gas emissions), and some may not like the taste of meat. Quite a few people choose a vegan diet for its health benefits.

Some common questions most vegans get asked are, “Where do you get your protein from?” and “Is a vegan diet nutritious enough?”. However, a vegan diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds and eating a variety of these foods will provide a wide range of important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein. No wonder a vegan diet can reduce the risk of various lifestyle and chronic diseases and aid in weight loss.

boost metabolism vegan

What are the health benefits of a vegan diet?

More and more doctors and nutritionists are recommending that their patients go on a vegan diet, especially patients who are obese, have diabetes or have heart conditions. Following are some of the health benefits of following a vegan diet:

Better weight management: Research claims that people who mainly follow a vegan diet tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than those who eat a meat-based diet. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are full of fibre and complex carbohydrates, which helps people on this diet stay satiated and full for longer, reducing the need to overeat.

Lowers the risk of heart disease and other conditions: A 2019 study from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that middle-aged adults who consumed more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and fewer animal products had a lower risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, eating a largely vegan diet can also reduce the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain types of cancers, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Diabetes prevention and treatment: A vegan diet may assist in preventing or managing diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance. According to a 2018 review, vegetarian and vegan diets may help people with diabetes by helping them lose weight, reduce dependency on medication and improve other metabolic markers.

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Does a Vegan diet boost metabolism?

In a study published in November 2020 in JAMA Network Open, a vegan diet helped the overweight and obese participants lose an approximate weight of 5.9 kilograms (roughly 13 pounds) over four months. The study randomly assigned 244 overweight and obese individuals into two groups. Participants in the focus group were told to follow a low-fat vegan diet, and participants in the control group were asked to make no dietary changes and continue eating as they were.

According to the lead study author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC., participants eating a vegan diet had to swap their high-fat, high-calorie meat food items with plant items that are lower in calories and rich in fibre and antioxidants. This change in diet helped them improve their cardiometabolic health.

Participants on the vegan diet had improved insulin sensitivity, or how easily their body converts sugars into energy. They also had faster post-meal metabolism and reduced fat accumulation inside cells. It was also found that participants of the vegan diet managed to reduce their calorie intake by an average of 355 daily calories more than the people in the control group.

Why does a Vegan diet boost metabolism?

According to Dr Hana Kahleova, there are many reasons for the calorie-burning, metabolism-boosting effect of the vegan diet. This plant-based diet consists of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. These food items are high in fibre and complex carbohydrates, both of which require a lot of energy to digest.

As the body works to break down fibre and complex carbohydrates, it generates heat, thereby burning calories in the process. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF: the energy required for digestion, absorption, and disposal of ingested nutrients).

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Vegan foods that boost metabolism

It’s important to understand that consuming the right foods makes for the cornerstone of any nutritious and healthy diet. If your diet primarily consists of highly processed vegan foods like mock meats, fake cheese, margarine, refined vegetable oils and simple carbohydrates like white bread and sugary cookies, then these food items will do your body more harm, even if they are vegan products. To ensure that you reap the full benefits of a vegan diet, include the following foods in your diet:

Legumes: They are the main source of protein in a vegan diet. Legumes take longer to digest and prevent glucose spikes.

Almonds: The fatty acids in almonds stimulate the process of metabolism.

Celery: Celery is also called a ‘negative-calorie’ food because the number of calories spent digesting it is more than the number of calories consumed.

Blueberries: have a really high antioxidant content, are low in calories and are rich in Vitamin C and dietary fibre, all of which help stimulate your metabolism.

Dark Chocolate: A rich source of magnesium and antioxidants, dark chocolate and raw cacao boost the body’s ability to burn fat.

Chia Seeds: They are chock-a-block full of essential micro and macronutrients and have a high content of both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon increases heat in the body, which helps stimulate the metabolism. Its effects can last for several hours after consumption.

Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV stimulates the stomach to produce more enzymes, resulting in better digestion and absorption of nutrients, all of which boost metabolism.

Grapefruit: Rich in antioxidants and low in calories, it greatly helps in controlling insulin levels.

Coconut Oil: One of the healthiest cooking oils, it is supposed to support the healthy function of the thyroid gland. The main job of the thyroid is to control your metabolism.

Chilli Peppers: Chilli peppers contain capsaicin, an element that stimulates metabolism and fat burning.

Seaweed: The high iodine content in seaweed enhances the function of the thyroid gland, helping boost metabolism.

Coffee and green tea: Coffee is rich in caffeine, and green tea is rich in both caffeine and catechin. Both of these compounds boost the natural metabolism rate.

Watermelons: Rich in fibre and high in water, they also contain an amino acid called arginine, which helps burn fat when trying to lose weight.

Spinach: Being rich in iron, this mineral keeps the blood healthy, strengthening your circulatory system and boosting your metabolism at a cellular level.

lady drink water

What are the non-dietary ways to boost metabolism?

One needs to follow a well-balanced diet and lifestyle to reap the full benefits of a vegan diet and to boost metabolism. Apart from a vegan diet, here are some of the other ways to boost your metabolism

Drink more water, especially cold water: Water has no calories; however, the body has to burn calories to process water. This calorie-burning effect may get enhanced if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

Do a high-intensity workout: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) comprises rapid and very intense bursts of exercises. It increases metabolic rate even after a workout is over.

Do weight-lifting: Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, and building muscle with the help of weight-lifting may help increase your metabolism. Also, higher amounts of muscle will result in a higher metabolism.

Keep moving: Sitting in one place for long hours is bad for your health and has even been called, “the new smoking”. Staying put burns few calories, which slows metabolism. So, try moving around for a few minutes after every hour or two.

Get a good night’s sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to a spike in sugar levels and insulin resistance. It can also boost the hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease the satiety hormone leptin. All of this can disrupt metabolism.

Take additional dietary supplements: Some of the essential nutrients that are lacking in a vegan diet include Vitamin B12, Creatine, Carnosine, Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Heme iron and Taurine. The deficiency of these nutrients can lead to many physical and mental health complications; hence, it’s extremely important to consume these nutrients in the form of dietary supplements.


To sum up, a vegan diet excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy and eggs. People choose to go vegan for ethical, environmental or health reasons. Various research from over the years point out that a vegan diet rich in unprocessed foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce risk of heart diseases and help lose weight.

All these combined health benefits help a person following a vegan diet to have a better metabolism. However, it’s important to note that a vegan diet needs to be supported with clean nutrition, regular exercise, good mental balance and healthy habits like sleeping on time, no smoking and limited alcohol consumption to get the full benefits of its metabolism boosting ability.

Lastly and most importantly, each diet has a different effect on each person. If you find that you are unable to thrive, physically or mentally, on a vegan diet then consult your nutritionist or a doctor to decide if this is the best diet for you or not. After all, there is no one path to good nutrition and health. Choose what works for you!

Disclaimer:The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.



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