How Long Does it Take for the Plant-based Diet to Work?
It’s human nature to want quick results, especially when it comes to our bodies and health. If you’re going plant-based, you’re probably wondering how long does it take for the plant-based diet to work?
While a plant-based diet provides many health benefits, the time it takes to work depends on what you’re working on. It also may vary from person to person. So it’s hard to find a definitive timeline as to how those changes would occur. That said, we can estimate how long it may take to achieve certain goals with a plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet requires commitment and patience, as you cannot expect drastic changes overnight. But one thing is for sure that you’ll start feeling good almost the very next day.
What are the Benefits of Plant-based Diet?
Many people who switch from traditional Western diets to a plant-based diet often do so to achieve a certain goal. It’s a wholesome diet that’s not merely a diet but a lifestyle, so you start getting all the benefits, in addition to the one you’re after. For instance, many people do it to lose weight.
Here are the main benefits of plant-based diets:
One of the most apparent benefits of going plant-based is better weight management. It helps lose all those extra pounds that are giving you a higher BMI. Since a whole-food plant-based diet (emphasis on the whole foods) doesn’t involve processed foods and unhealthy carbs, you lose weight every day, until you have a healthy weight.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
Another rather quick benefit of plant-based diets is that they help reduce high blood pressure. One out of two adults in the US has high blood pressure, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Lowers High Cholesterol
Animal products can increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Your body produces enough cholesterol on its own, but when it gets all that extra cholesterol from meat, it can put you at risk of coronary disease. A plant-based diet, free of meat and other animal products, helps lower high cholesterol and improves good cholesterol.
The standard American diet lacks fiber. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that helps with proper digestion of food and keeps you regular. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are rich in fiber that gradually improves gut health and fights any digestive issues.
Prevents and Treats Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US. Diet and poor lifestyle choices are a few of the main causes of the disease. A plant-based diet has the potential to treat and reverse heart disease and prevent it in those who may or may not be at risk.
Helps Control Type II Diabetes
Diabetes is a major health problem around the world, especially in the US. Poor diet doesn’t just cause diabetes; it can also make it incredibly difficult to control it. A Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) study showed that a plant-based diet helped control blood sugar three times better than a traditional diabetes diet.
Help with Inflammation
Inflammation is a symptom of so many diseases, including auto-immune diseases. Plant-based foods have antioxidants that help control inflammation and fight the diseases that are causing it.
How Long Does it Take for the Plant-based Diet to Work?
How long does it take for the plant-based diet to work depends on a number of factors. But once you commit yourself to eat healthy plant-based whole foods, you’ll start noticing changes from the very first week. However, it will only work if you sustain it and make it a part of your lifestyle.
When you start diligently eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and avoid animal protein, you’ll start feeling the change in your body. The most obvious effect is blood sugar control, which would be more apparent to individuals who take insulin.
Every time you eat something, your body secretes insulin to help the sugars enter the bloodstream and provide energy. People with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin to do that. However, plant-based foods can help control blood sugar levels organically. So for those who are diabetic, they’ll most likely see improvements in their blood sugar levels after a meal.
You’ll also notice an immediate shift in your energy levels, especially if you’ve been eating a lot of meat. Plant-based foods are nutrient-dense, so they readily provide energy. You’ll feel fuller with your lunch and dinner, and perhaps get more done during the day.
The most noticeable change, for many, is in your digestion. With all that added fiber, you may find yourself visiting the lieu more frequently. This is a good thing, if you ask most physicians. Few Americans are getting enough fiber to begin with.
Eating green will change that in a hurry. And, you’ll tend to feel great as a result. This is just the beginning part of really cleaning and purifying your gut, and your body will love you for doing it.
Week Two to Three
The first week is just when your body is introduced to a new, healthier diet. In the next two weeks, you’ll notice measurable changes. After targeting blood sugar levels, the plants will now lower your cholesterol.
Plant-based diets are free of cholesterol, as they don’t have trans fats. As a result, the bad cholesterol level drops since there’s no supplementation. If you have a history of high cholesterol, you should get it tested after two to three weeks to see the difference yourself.
Similarly, for those diagnosed with hypertension, blood pressure would be closer to normal. All these benefits are interconnected since all these ailments are also interconnected. With lower bad cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol, you’ll also experience lower blood pressure.
In these initial weeks, the fiber will also start doing its magic. But the experience may vary from person to person. You will either get more regular or feel bloated and gassy. The gas is rather a good sign, as your body is fermenting all the complex carbs. It’s a sign that the high fiber intake is fixing all your gut bacteria.
Oh, and you may lose a pound or two as well!
After a month of eating a whole-food plant-based diet, you’ll start seeing consistent weight loss. This entirely depends on what you’re eating. In other words, you lose weight if you’re focusing on whole foods and avoiding refined sugars.
Another PCRM study involving 64 women found that they were losing, on average, one pound a week on a plant-based diet. It’s worth mentioning that this was without any exercise, so you can imagine the effect it would have with some moderate or intense exercise.
Your digestive tract would start to feel much better. The gas and bloating, if any, would have reduced by now, as your gut bacteria flourishes. It takes time to get used to a large amount of fiber, especially if you were not getting enough of it previously. If you have a gut disease like IBS or GERD, you will experience a reduction in the symptoms.
If you have inflammation, it will reduce significantly in a month’s time. Most people with inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or asthma report a reduction in their symptoms in just a matter of weeks after going plant-based.
All those benefits you’ve been feeling will become more consistent. Better blood sugar management, lower blood pressure, and lower bad cholesterol will become the norm. Those who are diabetic and take insulin may need to take fewer doses or none at all.
You’ll be much slimmer than when you started on the diet and made positive changes. If we assume you’re losing a pound each week, by the end of the three months, you would have lost at least 12 pounds. People have lost way more weight in just a few months simply by eating healthy and exercising.
For those who have heart disease, three months of plant-based diet would make significant changes to their health. Since cholesterol and blood pressure are directly linked with heart disease, their improvements will also orchestrate an improvement in the symptoms of heart disease.
In six months’ time, you can achieve even more weight loss and perhaps reach your ideal weight. Once you reach a healthy BMI, the plant-based diet will help you maintain that. In this period, you’ll also develop a healthy lifestyle with better sleep, more energy, and of course, prevention from scores of diseases.
You have to ensure that you take a balanced approach and also deal with any side-effects, such as Vitamin D or Vitamin B12 deficiency. If you’re deficient in these key vitamins, all the good things plants have done for you will be in vain. Both these vitamins are essential for healthy bones and muscles.
Year One and Onwards
After a year, those with clogged arteries may experience their arteries unclogging. As indicated by the revolutionary Dean Ornish study from JAMA, patients with coronary heart disease showed improvement in just one year.
There are several such studies, including Dr. Esseltyne’s that have shown that a plant-based diet can treat and reverse heart disease and other deadly diseases. It takes time, but it can make a significant difference. From the first year on, you’ll be on your way to a complete reversal of the condition.
How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight on a Plant-based Diet?
Weight loss is one of the ways a plant-based diet gets your health back on track and treats diseases. Obesity, as you know, is linked with a plethora of health problems. But it doesn’t do all that overnight.
A plant-based diet can cause weight loss in a matter of days, but how much weight you lose depends on a number of factors. On average, you can expect to lose a pound every week without exercise and calorie restriction. With those, of course, the weight loss would be even more significant.
There are success stories of people losing over 100 pounds with a whole-food plant-based diet. For instance, this guy lost half his weight (130 pounds) in two years.
While a plant-based journey will definitely cause weight loss if you’re overweight, it’s important to understand weight loss is very personal. How long it takes to lose all those extra pounds around your waist varies greatly.
How Long Does it Take for a Plant-based Diet to Lower Blood Pressure?
A plant-based diet is super quick at lowering high blood pressure. A whole week of eating purely plant-based whole foods can get your blood pressure back to normal.
How? Plant-based diets are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol, which are primary dietary elements that cause blood pressure to rise. Similarly, animal protein, especially red meat, has also been linked with hypertension.
While you’ll see visible results in just a week, you can take control of your conditions in the next several weeks. If you take blood pressure medication, you may not even need it as much as you did before (consult with your doctor first before getting off medication).
How Long Does it Take for a Plant-based Diet to Lower Cholesterol?
One of the most effective ways to lower high cholesterol is to go plant-based. Plants are devoid of any bad cholesterol and don’t contain much fat either, which allows your total body cholesterol to gradually attain the right balance. In other words, your bad cholesterol (LDL) goes down, and good cholesterol (HDL) stays optimal.
Fiber also plays a vital role in dealing with extra cholesterol in the body. It basically reduces fat absorption. Reducing cholesterol can also help prevent artery-clogging and perhaps treat already clogged ones.
A study out of Stanford University comparing a plant-based diet with a low-fat diet found that the former reduced cholesterol level in participants in four weeks. Other studies have also shown similar progression, so it’s safe to say that it’ll take a few weeks for a whole-food plant-based diet to lower high cholesterol.
So how long does it take for the plant-based diet to work? Not too long!
Regardless of your goals, you’ll see tangible results in a matter of days or weeks. Of course, it also depends on the goals and how you’re making your transition. That said, you can only make sustainable progress if you commit fully but also take your time to slowly transition to a fully plant-based lifestyle.