Let’s talk about plants! Many people are vegetarian or vegan for ethical reasons, but there are a lot of others who consider following or do follow those diets for other reasons – such as for the health benefits, or in order to lose weight.
Before I discuss the aspects of a plant-based diet, please note that it is not necessary to commit to an entirely vegan or vegetarian diet. However, including more vegetables in your diet is proven to improve your health, prevent nutrient deficiencies and is also a sustainable method of food production that helps to protect the environment.
Plant-based diets aren’t the easiest to commit to, in my own opinion, especially if you’re the type of person to have meat in every meal, just like how some people have trouble committing to keto-based diets, due to the carb restrictions.
Reasons people fail in adopting these diets
The transition can be difficult. Meal preparation and meal ideas are difficult for first-timers, which usually leads to eating “junk food” to meet energy requirements. This, in turn, often leads to weakness and the abandonment of the diet.
People can sometimes focus on the wrong aspects of plant-based eating, resulting in excessive consumption of nuts, beans and plant-based protein powders. Others eat too many refined or processed vegetarian foods. In doing so, they actually neglect the most important rule: eating fruits, vegetables and minimally processed whole-foods.
Simple transitions are the best
Some simple transitionary steps towards eating a wholly- or mostly-plant-based diet, include:
- Substituting rice or almond milk for dairy
- Substituting BYND meat or vegetable-based patties for meats
- Eating fruits & veg instead of chips and chocolate
- Incorporating super-smoothies: green smoothies full of micro & phytonutrients
- Including an extra portion of vegetables with each meal
Things to do:
For those of you who are looking to move towards a more plant-based diet or just want some guidance on some dietary choices, here are several helpful tips:
- Ensure that you choose your protein sources carefully. The best supplements are made from hemp, rice and pea protein. Aim for about 1 gram of protein per kg of bodyweight; add 30-40 grams each day if you are in a phase of intense training.
- Pay attention to make sure you get enough healthy dietary fat.
- Ensure that you get enough protein, good fats, vitamins, and minerals – through eating whole foods and basking in sunshine first, and then through supplements only if you need a boost.
- Make simple additions and substitutions to add more plants.
What NOT to do:
- DON’T consume too many processed foods (including “healthy” protein powders and processed soy products).
- DON’T get your nutritional information from bodybuilding magazines. That information is not applicable to 99.9% of people.
- DON’T just cut things out without adding healthy alternatives in.
- DON’T consume dairy or factory-farmed animal products.
Some final thoughts
Consider the many reasons to add more plants to your diet: from preserving the environment, to helping animals, to improving your own health.
Also, as a final head’s up: eventually you’re going find yourself in a situation where it may not be possible to conform to your diet, so don’t be afraid to get creative, especially when traveling or at restaurants.
Lastly: take your health in your own hands, literally! Check the internet for credible health journals and resources when exploring options. And, as always, if you’re looking for more information or some assistance with dieting, nutrition or fitness, feel free to click here for a free consultation and assessment!
Alternately: to start establishing healthy habits, join @FitInFounder in her 90-day #healthyhabitsmovement challenge! By starting off your day right, you stand a better chance of hitting your daily health goals.
Wes Van Hart is a personal trainer, nutritionist (and far more), located in Toronto. Wes is an advocate for constantly improving both physical and mental health, and as such, he is dedicated to advancing his knowledge base, certifications and ability to help his clients, no matter how that looks.
Wes was the very first FitIn affiliate, and is a regular contributor to the FitIn blog.