Today the term “plant-based diet” is used with increased frequency among health professionals, in wellness periodicals, and throughout mainstream media. So what is all of the hype about and what does “plant based diet” even mean?
Typically, a plant based diet means that at least 80 to 85 percent of your diet is comprised of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and anything else grown from the earth. The other 15 percent to 20 percent of your diet would be high quality, unprocessed foods like organic poultry or beef. Countless people have documented their experience of consuming more plants and have reported results including weight loss, mental clarity, and mood elevation. Still, extraordinary energy is the most commonly reported benefit of eating more plants! This increased energy can be attributed to the addition of more enzymes or minerals that are delivered through plant foods. It is also a result of the energy savings for your body in not having to work as hard during digestive processes, since plant foods are often more easily assimilated by your body.
If you lack energy or find yourself turning to sugary foods or caffeine to add pep to your step, a plant based diet is definitely something you should consider. With a well balanced plant based diet, you can greatly enhance your energy levels and restore your vitality.
Smoothies are one of the best ways to integrate more more fruits and veggies into your life. Try a simple recipe of 1.5 cups almond milk, 1 handful of frozen spinach, 1 banana, and 1 tbsp of nut butter. This mix gives you lasting energy that will power you through until lunch.
During your initial transition into plant based nutrition, you should aim to have two fully vegetarian meals per day. On top of this, enjoy a fully vegetarian day every Monday. You can find awesome recipes and support at http://www.meatlessmonday.com/favorite-recipes/
Adding more veggies to your diet does take some additional prep work. After your weekly trip to the grocery store, spend some time washing and chopping all of your veggies so they are easy to use throughout the week.
There are many great vegetarian protein sources. In addition to the plant proteins you will get by eating lots of leafy greens, you can add a high quality brown rice protein to your morning smoothie. Additionally tempeh, seitan, tofu, and good old fashioned beans make for wonderful essential protein solutions.
As you dive into a plant based lifestyle, you will begin to feel better and better and will naturally want to learn more and experiment even more. Websites like http://www.nomeatathlete.com/vegetarian-recipes-for-athletes/ and recipe sites like http://ohsheglows.com/categories/recipes-2/ will become trusted companions.
Treat your transition to a plant based diet as a marathon instead of a sprint. If you try to overhaul your diet overnight, you will end up feeling deprived and will likely also experience detox symptoms. Start by replacing one meal per day with plant based foods. Then switch to two meals per day and continue to increase your plant consumption until you tip the scales to that target of about 80 to 85 percent plant based food.
Since you may not have many vegetarian recipes in your repertoire, it is tempting to eat out when you first make the change to plant based nutrition. However, it is too easy to end up eating vegetarian meals with little nutritional impact when you eat in restaurants. Plus, although it may be a challenge at first, eventually you need to learn the tools to prepare your meals at home, so dive in and start cooking from day one.
Find a few recipes that you like and stick with them for the first few weeks. It may seem exciting to try lots of new recipes right away, but constant food preparation can lead to burnout. There is no need to try make each evening a gourmet dining experience. Keep things simple with a smoothie in the morning and a salad to accompany your other meals.
If you are out and about without food prepared, it is easy to resort to processed foods. Try your best to keep in mind that one of the great benefits of plant based eating is the fact that you are eating more real food! If you get stuck in a jam, choose the bag of nuts or trail-mix over the highly processed and nutritionally engineered protein bar.
This goes for any diet. When your friends notice you prioritizing your health, some of them may have commentary. Focus on your own own goals and how your body feels with the changes you have made. Maybe over time, you will inspire your friends to jump on board!
Embarking on a plant based nutrition plan will up your energy and your spirits. Remember to keep it simple, try a few new recipes at a time, and to use some of the many resources out there for recipes and guidance. If you pay attention to your protein consumption and avoid processed foods, you will be on your way to a successful transition to plant based food for longevity and vibrant health.
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