Five Steps to Doing Plant Based Nutritionelly
Step 1: Whole food is always better.
This means looking for food as close to its' natural form as often as possible. Choose sweet potato or quinoa over bread or pasta. Tempeh and edamame over tofu sausages and soy cheese. Lentils and chickpeas over mock meats and protein. These are just a few examples, but in general if there are more than five ingredients in the product, it's diverging from whole food.
Step 2: Focus on nutrient density (ND).
A Diest focused on ND can't be argued. To achieve ND look for at least two cups of antioxidant rich vegetables with every meal, a source of protein, at least two different types of anti-inflammatory fats and the option for whole food carbohydrates. The biggest detractors from ND are trans fats and processed carbohydrates (sugar, wheat and the list goes on.
Step 3: Avoid excessive carbohydrate intake.
Excess carbohydrates inhibit fat burning and therefore limits appetite control, stable energy, hormone balance, cravings and fat loss goals. The easiest way to avoid excess is to a) prioritise whole food carbs post exercise (something like these Buckwheat Pancakes are perfect) and b) add them to other meals but ensure it doesn't come at the cost of the requirements for ND, as above.
Step 4: Prioritise gut health.
Imagine how upset you’d be to find a treasure chest of gold bars only to be told you didn’t have the key to unlock the chest and get your hands on the gold, it’s a little similar to the situation we face with nutrients in our food and digestion is that key. The foundations for gut health lie in achieving ND (see two), eating mindfully, limiting gluten (wheat protein) and being conscious of your exposure to pharmaceuticals and stress. Check out The Gut.Explained for more.
Step 5: Achieve food diversity.
It's easy to become attached to "safe" and "easy" meals, yet diversity of plant matter is absolutely crucial. Outcomes from the American Gut Project suggest we aim for at least 35 different plant foods each week to ensure an array of different prebiotics (food the gut microbiome) and optimal gut health. I also believe this mindset helps to achieve amino acid (building blocks of our cells) requirements.