Plant-based diets have taken root in many cultures around the world in recent years, mostly thanks to the growing realisation about the health benefits of this eating pattern. But contrary to what some people think, plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean you must forego all animal products. Rather, you might just eat meat or dairy products less frequently, or in smaller portions.
To replace those lost calories, you should eat more beans and legumes, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. These mostly low-fat, nutrient-rich foods have been linked to improvements in many health-related issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
A plant-forward diet also can help reduce your food budget. And there’s yet another reason to feel good about this eating pattern: it helps preserve our planet’s health. A diet that contains only small amounts of animal foods requires a fraction of resources such as water, energy, and land to cultivate, and it generates fewer greenhouse gases. What’s more, by eating unprocessed or minimally processed foods, you avoid the additional energy and packaging that go into the production of processed foods.
“Following a plant-based diet may be an important way to reduce your carbon footprint. Research suggests that diets high in red meat account for five times the emissions of plant-based diets.
Plant Based Diet And Fitness
The stereotype of the weak, skinny vegan has become so universal that most people would have a hard time believing any person of significant size or strength didn’t eat meat or other animal products.
This is because we’ve been conditioned to believe that you need to eat lots of animal protein to build muscle and strength, and that protein only comes from animal foods.
Of course, only one of those two beliefs are true, as anyone who has ever seen a (herbivorous) silverback gorilla can easily deduce.
Most people, however, seem to think humans are more like lions, requiring meat or some form of animal protein at every meal to get big and strong.
There are many reasons for how this myth became so ingrained in the popular culture, but the reality is that from the hippie culture of the 60s until recently, a lot of those who followed a plant-based diet were skinny. This is partly because, for several decades, most people who chose meat/animal-free diets did so solely for ethical, environmental or health reasons, and didn’t really care about having big muscles.
Those who did care often lacked the basic nutritional understanding necessary to build muscle and strength eating plants.
What About Protein
The idea that you can’t get enough protein from plants, and/or that sources of plant protein are “inferior”, has no basis in science. What is backed up by scientific research is how much protein (animal or plant) is required to increase and/or maximize size and strength.
While the majority of people only need to eat about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (g/kg) per day — or 0.36 grams per pound (g/lb) — to maintain good health, research focused on gaining muscle and strength has consistently shown that considerably more protein is required.
Current research suggests that most athletes require between 1.2-2.0 g/kg , with endurance athletes on the lower end of the spectrum (, and bodybuilders and strength athletes toward the upper end (≥1.6). If your goal is to increase muscle mass and strength as quickly as possible, like professional bodybuilders or powerlifters aim to do, research shows that as much as 2.2 g/kg can be effective.
Vegan Chocolate Brownie
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This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.