How Much Protein Should I Be Eating To Lose Weight Why You Should Eat a Plant-Focused Diet

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Why You Should Eat a Plant-Focused Diet

Plant-centered diets range from eating only plants to diets that include some meats and animal products. Here are some of the many you can follow:

Vegan… is in the extreme just plants end of the spectrum. Vegans eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. But they exclude all foods of animal origin from their diet… these include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and so on.

Vegans replace animal sources of protein with other sources that provide ample amounts of this vital macronutrient. These include beans, peanuts (as in peanut butter), tofu, tree nuts, peas and other legumes and ensure that vegans, despite rumors to the contrary, are not suffering from a protein deficiency.

Lacto-vegetarian… is a diet that excludes foods of animal origin with the exception of dairy products, such as milk, butter, cheese and other foods derived from animal milk.

Ovo-Vegetarian… is another diet that excludes foods of animal origin (meat, fish and dairy products) except that it includes eggs.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian… is a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products and eggs but excludes meat and fish.

Fisherman… is a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet that also includes fish.

Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian… include a variety of diets based on a vegetarian diet. They are plant-centered diets that can also include small amounts of red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.

As you can see, these plant-focused diets range from strictly plant-based to diets that include some or all animal products, but in limited amounts.

What are the benefits of plant-based diets?

Making plants the mainstay of your diet can:

  • lower blood glucose levels and prevent or slow the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D)

  • reduce blood pressure

  • reduce the strain on the kidneys (by avoiding or reducing animal protein in the diet)

  • help you lose weight and

  • prevent heart disease and strokes (by reducing the buildup of plaque in blood vessels.

… among a host of other benefits.

This statement is supported by many recent studies. For instance:

A study of nearly 100,000 Seventh-day Adventist church members, which encourages a vegetarian diet, conducted by Loma Linda University in California found that vegetarians had lower rates of T2D than non-vegetarians. The study also found that vegetarians tended to have healthier weights, which may explain why fewer of them are diabetics.

A 72-week study, published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, looked at the differences between type 2 diabetics following a low-fat vegan diet and those following a moderate-carb meal plan. The researchers found that there was a significant decrease in HbA1C and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the vegans. A low level of HbA1C indicates that you are managing T2D well.

Two ongoing long-term studies from the Harvard School of Public Health found that, among 150,000 health care workers, those who ate an additional half-serving of red meat per day for four years had a 50 percent higher risk of developing T2D.

Recent research suggests that inflammation within the body plays a role in the development of T2D. T2D manifests itself as insulin resistance. Both of these related problems appear to decrease with a plant-focused diet.

But this positive effect may not be solely due to vegetarian diets.

Most vegetarians are very health conscious (which is probably why they become vegetarians in the first place). But they also tend to practice other types of healthy behaviors, such as exercising, not smoking, not being couch potatoes, and getting plenty of sleep.

The kind of lifestyle that vegetarians tend to follow will greatly contribute to their overall health and help them control their diabetes and other health problems.

That said, meatless diets or diets that limit the amount of animal products (of all kinds) you eat contain oodles of beneficial nutrients. These diets are rich in dietary fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. Plus, the fats they contain are healthy…plant foods are low in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.

How to switch to a plant-centric diet

Some people who need to reduce the amount of animal products in their diets object to the effort they think will be involved in the switch. This is a misunderstanding.

Here are some pointers…

  • Don’t change everything at once. Instead, gradually reduce your consumption of animal products.

  • Mentally prepare by thinking of animal products as a side or garnish rather than the main ingredient in the dish.

  • Try having one meat-free day a week at the beginning of the switch.

  • Create a collection of meat recipes.

  • You know beans. Many varieties provide as much protein as meat and fish. Check out all the different ways you can prepare bean meals, prepare them in batches to build up a stash, and then freeze them.

  • Get to know whole grains like barley, quinoa, brown rice and couscous. Bake them in batches and refrigerate or freeze them.

  • Limit your carbohydrate intake by using peanut butter, egg whites (which contain at least 90% protein), low-fat or fat-free cheese, or other fillers.

  • Keep it simple. Go for things like veggie burritos stuffed with beans and green peppers.

Protein… some people fear that if they switch to a plant-based diet they will end up protein deficient. But this fear is completely unfounded.

Many plant foods are high in protein…beans (the best source), nuts, grains, and greens. Learn about the macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) in the plants you like to eat. You will find tons of verified facts at http://nutritiondata.self.com/.

Note… the advice to mix various plant foods with each meal to obtain complete proteins (i.e. proteins containing all essential amino acids) is now considered outdated and no longer valid.

Umami… is one of the five basic tastes (along with sweetness, acidity, bitterness and saltiness). The name is a Japanese word for “pleasant salty taste” and has been described as having a pleasant broth-like or meaty taste.

Umami is one of the reasons why people like meat so much, or why some say we are addicted to it.

However, meat isn’t the only source of umami—this flavor is also found in roasted vegetables, mushrooms, avocado, soy sauce, and cheese. It is also found in mother’s milk, which explains its attraction.

Including non-animal foods in your diet that contain umami will make the transition to a plant-based diet easy.

Supplements… when switching to a plant-based diet you need to be aware that your diet may be deficient in micronutrients, such as vitamins B12 and D, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc.

Your body can produce small amounts of vitamin B12 but not enough for your needs, and the only external source of this vitamin is meat. All omega-3 fats must come from outside the body, and the main source is fish (although some plants contain small amounts).

So taking supplements on a daily basis is highly recommended. Here’s what I take:

(1) Multivitamin

(2) B12 (4mcg) in a separate tablet

(3) Calcium (400 mg) plus Vitamin D (2.5 mcg) together in a separate tablet

(4) Cod Liver Oil High Strength Capsule with Vitamins D and E, in a separate capsule.

I urge you to do the same.

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