A 48-Hour Vegan Diet Challenge in Healthy Women and Men Induces a BRANCH-Chain Amino Acid Related, Health Associated, Metabolic Signature

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Feb;62(3). doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700703. Epub 2017 Dec 28.


Scope: Research is limited on diet challenges to improve health. A short-term, vegan protein diet regimen nutritionally balanced in macronutrient composition compared to an omnivorous diet is hypothesized to improve metabolic measurements of blood sugar regulation, blood lipids, and amino acid metabolism.

Methods and results: This randomized, cross-over, controlled vegan versus animal diet challenge is conducted on 21 (11 female,10 male) healthy participants. Fasting plasma is measured during a 3 d diet intervention for clinical biochemistry and metabonomics. Intervention diet plans meet individual caloric needs. Meals are provided and supervised. Diet compliance is monitored.

Conclusions: The vegan diet lowers triglycerides, insulin and homeostatic model assessment (HOMA-IR), bile acids, elevated magnesium levels, and changed branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) metabolism (p < 0.05), potentiating insulin and blood sugar control after 48 h. Cholesterol control improves significantly in the vegan versus omnivorous diets. Plasma amino acid and magnesium concentrations positively correlate with dietary amino acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fiber inversely correlate with insulin, HOMA-IR, and triglycerides. Nutritional biochemistries, BCAAs, insulin, and HOMA-IR are impacted by sexual dimorphism. A health-promoting, BCAA-associated metabolic signature is produced from a short-term, healthy, controlled, vegan diet challenge when compared with a healthy, controlled, omnivorous diet.

Keywords: animal diet; bile acid; branched-chain amino acids; gender; glucose; metabonomicst.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / blood*
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / metabolism
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Eating
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Nutrients / analysis
  • Nutritional Status


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipids