All Your Plant-Based Questions, Answered
As you know, the world is trending towards whole foods plant-based eating (WFPB) and it’s here to stay! People are becoming more aware of the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet and want to make healthy choices about what’s on their plate. But many people still aren’t sure too about what this diet is about, and some are still sceptical. Well hopefully I can set your mind at ease and have you on the path to a healthier lifestyle. So, let’s delve into WFPB 101.
What is a whole foods plant-based diet (WFPB)?
A WFPB diet embraces whole foods, primarily from plants like:
- - fruits
- - vegetables
- - whole grains
- - pulses
- - legumes
- - nuts
- - meat substitutes (soy products or few or no animal products like fish, poultry, meat, dairy and eggs).
So, the good news is, you don’t have to give up meat! A WFPB emphasizes minimally processed, artificial foods and avoids added fats and sugars (cereals, pastries, fast foods, sodas, ready-frozen meals, white breads and biscuits, candy bars, energy bars, refined flours etc. are a no-no).
What are the benefits of WFPB diets?
I could write a book to fully answer this question but, in a nutshell, it focuses foods from nature, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Food from nature is medicinal because the colorful pigments found in plant foods are highly nutritious and can help prevent illnesses such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes etc. It can also help increase happiness and wellbeing, maintain healthy weight, make your skin look younger naturally, and take care of gut health, thanks to all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in these plant foods.
How do I shift to a WFPB diet?
When going WFPB (especially if you are shifting towards a vegetarian or vegan diet) remember to include plant-based proteins in all your meals such as legumes, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu and all other beans. Protein is an essential nutrient that plays many vital roles in body functions like strengthening muscles and bones, improving focus and keeping your skin glowing.
Proteins aren’t needed in huge quantities. The body digests animal products differently to plant proteins and plant proteins rarely contain the full amount of essential amino acids so the recommended amount is 0.9 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
As a rule of thumb, every meal should include at least some of these foods:
- - Beans
- - Lentils
- - Peas
- - Seeds
- - Nuts
- - Nut Butters
- - Tofu and sprinkle hemp seeds
- - Chia seeds
- - Flax
- - Pumpkins
Kickstarting a WFPB diet
Here are some easy tips to help you start living your whole life:
Eat lots of Vegetables Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner. Make sure you include “the rainbow” when choosing your vegetables. You want to eat a variety of colours by having a small amount from the different food groups. Colourful foods make eating healthy more interesting because we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths.
- Change the way you think about meat. Have smaller amounts of animal products and increase your intake of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains instead. There are no strict restrictions to the WFPB, some might avoid meat altogether while others may opt for a lesser amount. Choose the best option for you.
- Find your colourful community. Your tribe determines your fruits and vegetable intake.
Eat fruits and vegetables - not just because they’re good for you, but they’re also gorgeous.
- Make 3 to 5 meals veggie-centric. by building them around vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains.
- Avoid added fats and choose good fats instead. Fats in olive oil, olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and avocados are nature’s miracle workers.
- Avoid processed, artificial foods. Convenience can often mean large amounts of cheap, unhealthy fats, added sugar and hidden sodium, removing many of the nutritious benefits of plant foods.
For the energizer bunnies out there- what should I eat pre-workout and post-workout?
A piece of fresh fruit and some good fat such as an apple with almond butter, a banana with peanut butter etc. It’s the ultimate pre-workout snack. The good fat allows the natural sugar from the fruit to slowly seep into your bloodstream. Which means you can longer on that treadmill!
For optimum post-workout recovery, you want to help your muscles repair by feeding your body plant-based proteins. Good snack ideas are carrots with hummus, protein shakes (made with ingredients like banana, Maca powder, chia and hemp seeds, nut milk etc.), a slice of toast with spinach hummus or trail mix (made with ingredients like almonds, walnuts, Goji berries, raw cacao nibs, black Mulberries etc.).