5 Key Things to Know About a Plant-Based Diet
After completing a few rounds of no meat may the last couple of years, I became intrigued about the plant-based diet. I even went as far as becoming certified as a plant-based health coach through precision nutrition. Through those studies, I learned many things about the plant-based diet lifestyle that I never knew. Here are five key things to know about a Plant-Based Diet.
What does it mean to be Plant-Based
According to the definition by Precision Nutrition, plant-based is a varied spectrum of lifestyle choices and dietary patterns that the focus is primarily consuming the majority of plant-based things. To me, this is entirely independent of veganism or vegetarianism because plant-based eaters may still eat meat. The focus is a conscious decision to choose more plants for various reasons.
Here are examples of different types of plant-based lifestyles
- People who dabble or are curious
- People who get the majority of their diet from plant based foods
- People who will not eat any animal products
- People who will not eat any animal products or use them (i.e not wearing leather)
The Plant-Based Diet is Not a Weight Loss Diet
A popular misconception about going plant-based is you will lose weight. This is not always true, as there are several factors in weight loss and changing to a plant-based diet. If you are thinking of making the switch to plant-based, figure out your why. You might even see weight gain as you navigate through this new eating pattern.
Here are other benefits of switching to a plant-based lifestyle:
- Increasing nutrient intake with plants
- Eating less meat is better for the environment
- May lower blood pressure
- May help prevent diabetes
- More Fiber
- Hydration benefits
- May help you live longer
To see the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, consuming nutrient-dense plant food, and minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal products. The same caloric intake rules apply when eating plant-based. Be mindful of how much you are eating for the best results.
Not all Plants Are Good
Yes, plants can be harmful too. Some plants may contain toxins and antinutrients that can be detrimental based on how we react to that pant source. In addition, people could have food intolerances finding it very difficult to consume wheat or soy. Their intolerances may limit the type of protein sources like tofu or seitan that contain those ingredients.
Here are some other ways plants can be harmful:
- Toxic parts of the plant- i.e. apple seeds containing cyanide when digested
- Plants causing digestive issues in some people
- Food Allergies
- Antinutrients that block the absorption or conversion of nutrients
- Not everything made of plants is necessarily healthier ie meat alternative burgers
The takeaway here is that, like everything else, it takes research and knowledge of your body to discover the best types of plants to consume. Supplementation may be necessary depending on the level of a plant-based diet you consume since plants do not naturally produce vitamins like B-12 or iron.
You Can Still Build Muscle on a Plant Based Diet
A common misconception about eating plant-based is that you can’t build muscle, but you can. Although animal protein is ideal for protein consumption based on the high amounts of protein, it’s essential to focus on plant-based foods’ amino acids. Amino acids build protein, so it’s possible to meet your protein goals by eating plants. For best results, combine several high-protein plant foods to get the highest macronutrient yield.
In addition, plant-based food sources contain high-quality nutrients that support athletic performance. For example, complex carbohydrates and essential fatty acids. All of these assist in muscle growth and repair while fueling athletic performance.
Here are some high protein plant-based foods:
- Tofu- 10g protein per 1/2 cup
- Edemame- 8.5g protein per 1/2 cup
- Lentils- 8.8g per 1/2 cup
- Almonds- 16.5 g protein per 1/2 cup
- Plant based protein powder– up to 20g protein
- Potatoes- 8g of protein per serving
You Need to Have a Plan
To be successful with a plant-based diet takes planning, reading labels, and discipline. Without proper planning, you might miss out on crucial vitamins, minerals, and protein to help promote the benefits of switching to a plant-based diet. I suggest you start slow and keep it simple. Find different food combinations based on foods you like and slowly phase out of meat-based foods. Most importantly, please focus on the foods you know how to prepare to make them easier to plan.
Things to Consider
Before making the switch, identify your why, so you can keep that constant in your plant-based journey. Focus on the overall health and environmental benefits of switching your diet to keep you mindful of why you’ve decided to eat more plants. If you are not sure where to start, I can help you jumpstart your goals.