Ditching The Meat? Read This!
For whatever your reason may be, you’ve decided to ditch the animal products and go 100% plant-based, but you want to continue living your active life, maintain or build lean muscle mass, and be able to stay in tip top shape without becoming nutrient deficient, right?
Worry no more, we’ve got a couple tips and tricks to help you stay on track to your goals!
Being a plant-based eater isn’t a deal breaker when it comes to macro counting either!
The beautiful thing about macro counting is that it embraces flexibility. That’s why we call it a flexible dieting lifestyle.
Going plant-based, you will reap incredible health benefits.
But…you’re also losing out vital nutrients found in animals and putting yourself at higher risk for nutrient deficiencies.
Nutrient deficiency risks include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Iron (Do not take an iron supplement unless directed by your doctor)
So how can you help prevent these nutrient deficiencies?
Keep reading! 🙂
What’s the difference between being on a plant based diet vs. being vegan or vegetarian?
Here’s the deal…there are MANY types of vegans & vegetarians out there, and there are a bunch of names for them.
Some have fish.
Some have eggs.
Some have cheese.
Some have meat on occasion.
Plant-based simply means–limiting or having zero processed foods and eating all or mostly plants.
Whichever version you are–the key indicator is that your plates are filled with quality plant foods.
Some vegans and vegetarians fill their pantries and plates with processed vegan-approved foods.
This is NOT considered a plant-based diet, and you will not reap the same benefits.
PLEASE keep that in mind–just because you removed meats, doesn’t mean the fake stuff is ANY better. Processed food is processed food.
Instead of thinking…calories in vs. calories out
As a plant based eater, think more of the lines of…
chemicals in vs. chemicals out for aesthetic and physique goals.
You want the true health benefits?
Eat the actual foods…not the fake ones.
OKAY…onto the good stuff.
So you’re plant-based and you want to make sure you’re eating enough protein and nutrients to meet your body’s needs.
Are you currently on an animal-based diet and you’re considering making the switch?
Make sure you progressively transfer over.
If you go 0-100, head bombing into plant-based only lifestyle, your body is going to be in shock. Make sure to ease your way into it. Because of the added amount of fiber, your digestive system needs to get used to this new lifestyle.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire a coach! (might I suggest one of us at Rising Tide Performance?)
We can help you transfer over and educate you on how to stay balanced, while also finding out what is optimal for your body and your goals.
Below are some pretty helpful tips and strategies from Ben Greenfield!
Especially if you’re planning on making the switch (or are already there).
- Eat real food. Avoid plant-based Frankenfoods such as fake meats, textured vegetable proteins and processed soy products. Soy is a biggie. Soy contains digestive irritants and digestive enzyme inhibitors such as lectins, phytates and protease inhibitors. Granted, most of these compounds can be rendered relatively harmless through fermenting soy and consuming it in forms such as miso, natto and tempeh – but you should avoid popular unfermented, processed foods such as soy milk and tofu. Soy also contains high levels of goitrogens, which are compounds that inhibit the thyroid’s ability to utilize iodine correctly. This could lead to hypothyroid problems if you have a high soy consumption. Finally, soy contains plant estrogens in the form of isoflavones which can raise your estrogen levels and lower your testosterone levels. So women with estrogen dominance or men and women with testosterone deficiencies shouldn’t be including soy in their diet.
- Avoid high intake of inflammatory omega-6 vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, or margarine. Instead, use coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil or macadamia nut oil. At the same time, increase omega-3 fatty acid intake from readily absorbable algae-based DHA supplements such as spirulina and chlorella and get some omega-3 based ALA from things like ground chia seeds, hemp seeds, or flax seeds.
- Supplement with vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is critical for a healthy heart and skeletal system and is notoriously deficient in a plant-based diet. I highly recommend a vitamin K2 supplement, consumed at about 100mcg per day, along with generous amounts of natto (which incidentally goes well with avocado, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil for a nice breakfast). Natto is very easy to make once you get a starter batch from your local Asian grocery store.
- Supplement with Vitamin D3. If you want to keep your bones and teeth strong, and give yourself adequate hormone and steroid precursors, I recommend about 35IU of Vitamin D3 per pound of body weight. This could be tough if you’re a strict vegan, because most supplemental vitamin D3 is derived from wool, and most vegan versions contain vitamin D2, which is a far less potent form. Garden of Life Vitamin D3 is one of the few vegan D3 brands out there. If you’re eating this much Vitamin D3 you must avoid toxicity by ensuring you balance the Vitamin D with intake of both Vitamin K and Vitamin A. Otherwise, it can do more damage than good.
- Get Vitamin A. Vitamin A is crucial for healthy bone tissue, vision and hormones, but plants only contain beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, but at a very inefficient rate. You need to focus on enhancing this absorption as much as possible by eating beta-carotene rich foods with fatty meals (i.e. have your beta-carotene rich foods with olive oil or avocado), and getting adequate iron and zinc, which help you convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Cooking beta-carotene rich foods also helps to increase absorption. Beta-carotene can be found in concentrated amounts in a variety of foods including sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro, fresh thyme, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce and broccoli.
- Properly prepare grains, legumes, or nuts. As you learned in point #1, fermentation can render soy more digestible. Similarly, you can neutralize many of the anti-nutrients and mineral binding compounds in grains, legumes and nuts by learning how to properly soak and (if desired) sprout and ferment them. Here is a useful soak time chart for most grains, legumes and nuts. The bigger the legume, nut or grain, the longer soak time it typically needs.
- Maximize iron absorption. Non-heme iron is the form found in plant foods, and it’s less bioavailable than the heme iron in meat. But you can increase iron absorption from plant-based foods when you consume them in the presence of Vitamin C (similar to consuming beta-carotene rich foods with oily foods). Combining foods such as swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, lentils, beans, and quinoa with foods high in Vitamin C like tomatoes, bell peppers, lemon juice, strawberries, oranges, papaya, kiwis, pineapple, or grapefruit. You should also moderate tea or coffee consumption, since these both reduce iron absorption.
- Take vitamin B12. Nearly every study conducted on vegans show much higher rates of B12 deficiency than omnivores, with elevated homocysteine as a result (homocysteine increases blood clotting and raises your risk of heart disease). So I recommend that if you’re eating a plant-based diet, you consume a highly absorbable liposomal Vitamin B12, at about 10mcg per day.
- Supplement with taurine. Taurine is an amino acid found only in animal foods, and it is crucial for brain development, healthy blood pressure, blood glucose stability, fighting free radicals and protecting your vision. Your body can make it’s own taurine from a combination of other amino acids, but as you can read in this study, this can be very hard for vegan athletes to pull off in adequate volume. There are vegan taurine sources out there such as NOW Foods Vegan Taurine Powder (a much healthier alternative to Red Bull), and I recommend using 1 gram per day.
*One additional suggestion Ben made was to take an iodine supplement. I did not list that in here because of the risk associated with supplementing with iodine on your own. PLEASE consult your doctor before including iodine supplements into your daily routine.
Seitan is a popular plant-based protein source. It’s made from gluten, the main protein in wheat and resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked.
25 grams of protein per 100 grams
Lentils contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs and high in fiber. In addition, the type of fiber found in this nutrient packed food, has been shown to feed the gut bacteria in your colon, promoting a healthy gut. They are rich in folate, manganese & iron, and contain a good amount of antioxidants.
9 grams of protein per 100 grams
Chickpeas & Most Beans
The garbanzo bean (chickpea) and other beans are excellent sources of complex carbs, fiber, iron, folate, potassium, phosphorus & manganese.
9 grams of protein per 100 grams
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. It’s sold in grocery stores as a yellow powder/flakes and has a “cheesy” flavor. It’s a popular ingredient on popcorn, mashed potatoes and pasta dishes. It’s considered as a complete source of protein and, if fortified, is an excellent source of B vitamins, manganese, zinc, magnesium and copper.
14 grams of protein 7 grams of of fiber per 28 grams
Hempseed comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. It contains a decent amount of iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and selenium. It’s also a good source of Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fatty Acids in the optimal range.
10 grams of protein per 28 grams
Peas are an amazing source of fiber, vitamin A, C, K, folate, manganese and folate. They are also a great source of copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron & several B vitamins.
5 grams of protein per 100 grams
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is packed with nutrients. It contains magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, manganese, iron, essential fatty acids, thiamin and copper. Phycocyanin, a natural pigment found in spirulina, has shown to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
8 grams of protein per 30ml (2 TBS)
Spinach is actually a solid protein addition to a healthy plant-based diet! The secret is to steam or cook is to up it’s protein content, but it’s also super easy to throw into a protein shake if you’re on the go.
3 grams of protein per 100 grams
Raw Nuts, Natural Nut Butters & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are great sources of fiber and healthy fats. They are also full of selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants and certain B vitamins. Blanching and roasting takes away some of the healthful nutrients, so try to aim for raw/unblanched versions when possible. To avoid added sugar and oil in nut butters, reach for the natural versions, or check the ingredients list when shopping!
5-7 grams of protein per 28 grams depending on the nut/seed
Protein Powder Supplement – recommended for active lifestyle & athletes
For those more interested in building muscle and strength training, a plant-based protein supplement can really help with getting some extra protein in.
As always, we want you to get your proteins and nutrients from quality, whole food sources, but because plant-based proteins come in smaller amounts and are less readily available than if you were eating an animal-based diet, we want to make sure you get enough protein in so that you maintain your lean muscle mass and not lose it!
A great way of doing so is to consume a plant-based protein supplement! Do some research on your protein supplement before buying, and make sure it’s coming from a legit & clean source in alignment with your needs and beliefs.
Add in 2-5 grams per day of creatine
250-500mg per day of L-Carnitine
1-2 grams per day of Beta-Alanine
I personally use…
Garden of Life-Sport (I love the chocolate, but they also have vanilla)
34 grams of protein per 50 grams of powder
There’s also the added difficulty of making sure you are getting enough complete protein since many plant protein sources lack all the essential amino acids.
A good rule of thumb is to combine plant proteins together.
Usually eating a legume along with a grain does the job nicely.
Beans and rice
Lentils and rice
Hummus on whole grain toast
Seeds and nuts are high in protein and hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa are among some that contain complete proteins.
More protein sources:
Ezekiel Bread & Sprouted Grains
Steel cut Oats
YAY! SO MUCH INFORMATION!
So what about macros?
Does that look different from animal-based prescriptions?
Short answer: Yes it will be different because of accessibility of nutrients available to you being in a plant-based diet, so in order to get ENOUGH calories and vital nutrients, the breakdown needs to change.
A more realistic macro ratio based off of your total caloric intake would be…
Make sure you cycle through grains and other starches making sure to get a wide variety of foods into your daily routine.
If you have questions regarding changing to a plant-based diet or are interested in improving your health, wellness and/or performance–even while plant-based, please email us to schedule a free phone consultation!
We would absolutely love to work with you!