The Complete Guide to Plant-based Nutrition vs Protein-focused Nutrition

Which one works best for you?

The vibrant growth of wellness and healthy eating has changed how people eat. This also means that more people are thinking about what they are putting inside their bodies, instead of simply eating whatever they see. From hot trends such as vegan burgers to smoothie bowls, plant-based nutrition has taken off with the power of jet fuel. 36% of consumers have purchased plant-based food, according to statistics cited by the Plant-Based Foods Association. Protein-focused nutrition continues to soar to new heights with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West swearing by protein-rich meals in order to lose weight and look good. In this dossier, you are going to understand all of the benefits of plant-based nutrition and protein-focused nutrition in order to choose the right nutritional plan for you. You can use this dossier as a guide before you talk to a professional dietician or nutritionist.

The Power of Plant-Based Foods

We all know that the secret to a healthy and toned body is the right nutrition. Whether you are a fitness novice or a gym superstar, you have to use food to fuel your body to reach new fitness heights. Plant-based foods can help to fuel your body in a way that hasn’t been seen before. More Americans are seeing the benefits of plant-based food. US sales of plant-based food in 2017 increased by 8%, according to FoodNavigator-USA. The easiest way to start your plant-based journey is by creating smoothies.

From nutrient dense fruits such as papayas and mangoes to superfoods like avocados, there are many ways that you can create smoothies that are nutritious and deriving of healthy plant-based sources. When you are creating smoothies, always look for plant-based options if you like thick, dairy-inspired smoothies. Instead of using cow’s milk, you can opt for rice milk and almond milk. You wouldn’t be alone either. American consumers love almond milk – sales have exceeded more than $1 billion since 2014, according to research cited by the Plant-Based Foods Association.

When you are creating smoothies, you still need to watch out for portions and calories. Just because you are doing a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you can forget the power of calories in, calories out. Smoothies are known for being rich in vitamins and minerals, but they can also be heavy in calories which can make you put on weight. If you are creating the smoothies yourself, you should be weighing the fruit and vegetables that you are using in the smoothies so that you can work out the calories that will be in each serving.

Pros & Cons of plant-based nutrition

Will a plant-based diet help you when you are doing intense resistance band exercises? Will it help you build muscle? These are questions that you can answer by understanding the pros and cons of plant-based nutrition.

PROS

  • Consume fewer calories: Protein-based foods are rich in calories while plant-based foods tend to have lower amounts of calories depending on how much you are having in a serving. If you are on a specific weight loss journey, a plant-based diet can help you consume fewer calories in your daily diet as long as you are counting your daily calories. Even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, you should have a healthy balance of calorie intake (2,000 for women, 2,500 for men). You can reach calorie intake goals by having a plant-based diet.
  • Enrich your body with vitamins and minerals: One of the most popular benefits of plant-based nutrition is the fact that many plants are enriched with nutrients that help to make your body healthy and strong. If you want healthy body cells, food such as cauliflower and broccoli need to be included in your diet.
  • Decreases blood pressure: Keeping your blood pressure low is critical if you are going to be healthy and do well in the gym when you are doing a wide range of workouts. Many types of plant-based foods include potassium. Potassium is key to decreasing blood pressure. Blood pressure can make you feel tired, worried and fatigued. The less tired you are, the more energy you have to commit to the gym and to your life in general.
  • Decreases the risks of diabetes and colon cancers: A huge element of plant-based diets is how they help to decrease the risks of diseases such as colon cancer and diabetes. Diabetes, in particular, can have devastating effects on people and their families and it can totally change how someone lives a life. Plant-based foods help to minimize this risk.

CONS

  • Protein consumption can be low: To have a healthy and fit body, you need protein intake to be considerable. It can be really difficult to get plenty of protein in your plant-based diet if you don’t know what you are doing. If you are going to go on a plant-based diet, you have to be laser-focused to ensure that you are getting protein from other sources. For example, you can get protein from chia seeds, peanuts, and soy milk.
  • Low in Vitamin B12: There is no way around the fact that plant-based nutrition plans will always be low in Vitamin B12. You can only get this vitamin from a variety of animal products. Vitamin B12 has tons of benefits including helping you to feel more awake, less tired, more alert and keeps your brain strong and healthy. If you don’t plan on including some animal products in your diet, you will have to find a solution for including Vitamin B12 in your diet.
  • Low in iron: You need to have iron in your diet that is easily absorbed by your body. If your diet is low in iron, you will feel tired and it can also make you feel moody. Plant-based diet plans tend to be low in absorbable iron.

With these benefits and downsides, you can see that plant-based nutrition is complex. It suits people who either want to try something different or want to decrease consumption of animal products. Whether it is right for you depends on how important its’ benefits are.

Does plant-based mean I can’t eat meat, poultry or fish?

You can include meat, poultry, and fish in your plant-based diet but you need to be calculated and these 3 animal product segments have to form a minority percentage of your diet. Many people think that plant-based nutrition means that you cannot have any animal products ever again. This isn’t true – only a vegan diet is devoid of products derived from an animal. A plant-based diet is neither vegan nor is it vegetarian. It lives in the middle.

The best way to look at this is to include specific animal products that you cannot live without. For example, if you are trying to grow muscle and you are constantly in the gym doing supercharged resistance band workouts, you are going to need rich sources of protein such as chicken to fuel these workouts. You could include chicken and fish in your plant-based diet but give up red meat entirely. One idea that we like at Fit Simplify is if you really cannot give up animal-based foods, opt for only one choice between fish, meat, and poultry and stick with it. This will allow you to be part of the plant-based movement while still giving your body the protein requirements that it needs.

Popular plant-based foods to include in your diet

Get inspired today with the list below of plant-based foods that you can start using in your meal plans. This list isn’t exhaustive but you can use it as an inspiration list to begin your plant-based diet journey or to improve your current plant-based diet if you are already doing it.

  • Nuts & Seeds such as peanuts, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and cashews
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat Flour
  • Plant-Based Butters such as almond and peanut
  • Spinach & Kale
  • Seaweed
  • Avocado
  • Squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Milk such as coconut milk, almond milk, and rice milk

The Soaring Demand for Protein-Based Nutrition

Protein-based nutrition derived from animal products shows no sign of slowing down. The average American consumer will eat more than 200 pounds of meat and poultry in 2018, according to data by the US Department of Agriculture as mentioned in this Seattle Times article. Despite the growth of wellness and plant-based diets, meat consumption reigns supreme in the US and many parts of the world. If plant-based diets are so popular, why is meat consumption increasing? There are many reasons but as global populations rise, the desire and need for meat will only increase. Changing fitness trends towards wellness and lean physiques also make protein more popular. Even though not all sources of protein are from animal products, there is a standard image that a protein-rich diet has to include animal products.

Pros & Cons of Protein-Based Diets

Let’s look at the benefits and risks of protein-based diets that are based on animal products.

PROS

  • Animal proteins are stronger: While some people think that plant protein is enough, one thing to note is that plant protein are not fully complete because they lack amino acids. Animal proteins have amino acids. Amino acids are critical to the health of your body because they help your body to work properly. Look at amino acids as the oil that keeps a car’s parts well lubricated and functioning. You need your body to be strong and healthy especially if you are someone who likes to do intense arm and glute workouts with various equipment such as resistance bands. Your body has to be able to handle the pressure of working out and it can do this by being strong.
  • More omega-3 fatty acids: If you want a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, you need to incorporate a protein-rich diet from animal proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids are like trophies of health and fitness. They help with so many things relating to human health such as helping to lower the onset of depression and helping to lower body inflammation, according to WebMD. You can find omega-3 fatty acids primarily in fish such as wild salmon, sardines, and tuna. If you are trying to build a solid fitness regime, you have to include omega-3 fatty acids in order to keep your body healthy and strong.
  • Poultry can help to decrease stroke: Including poultry in your diet instead of processed red meat is one good way to get protein and it can actually decrease the chance of getting a stroke, according to a study cited by Healthline. The study found that people who ate poultry instead of red meat in one portion every day had a 27% decreased chance of getting a stroke.
  • Decreased chances of heart disease: A study showed that people who ate poultry and fish had a lower chance of suffering from heart disease. A healthy heart is a central key to being successful with your varied gym workouts. Whether you are trying to be lean or you want to crush your latest resistance band workout, your heart needs to be in tip-top condition. By decreasing the chance of heart disease, your heart can function properly to reach your health and fitness goals.

CONS

  • Animal protein diets can be calorie-heavy: If you are exploring an animal protein diet, you need to be vigilant about counting calories whether you are eating at home or going to restaurants. If you are relying on just meat, poultry and fish but you aren’t measuring your food or counting calories, you can end up putting on weight. This isn’t ideal if you are trying to create a clean fitness regime for your lifestyle.
  • Processed red meat is dangerous: Having a protein-based diet means that you need to avoid processed red meat. This type of meat is linked to increased risk of getting a stroke and dying early. Avoid processed red meat at all costs if you want your body to be healthy. Processed red meat includes ham and sausages.

What if I am trying to build muscle?

Healthy animal protein is ideal if you want to grow your muscles. Chicken is a popular source of protein for people who are trying to build lean muscle in the gym. It’s more popular than processed or unprocessed red meat because it is healthier and it helps grow the muscles in your body when you are consuming it without carbohydrates and within a focused fitness routine that includes cardio, strength training, and resistance band workouts. You should avoid fried animal protein so this means no fried chicken or fried seafood.

Popular animal protein foods that are healthy for your diet

Finding protein sources derived from animals that are healthy isn’t difficult because we have collected a list of animal protein foods that you can include in your diet. It’s always better if they are cooked in healthy oils such as coconut or avocado oil. These animal protein products include:

  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Snapper
  • Trout
  • Tilapia
  • Wild Salmon
  • Cod
  • Grass-Fed Meat

Plant-Based vs Animal Protein – It is up to you

The most important thing to know about nutrition is that everyone is different. The rise of the health and fitness industry has meant that a wide variety of diet and nutrition plans have gone mainstream including paleo, Whole 30, 5:2 diet and Atkins. Whether you are passionate about eating plant-based food or you love the texture that animal protein rich diets give you, ultimately you have to decide on what works for your body. Some people love the feather-light feeling that plant-based foods give their bodies. Other people like how animal proteins make them feel full without putting on extra pounds. A balance between plant-based and animal proteins is the best option for putting on muscle and sculpting a lean physique that will make you stand out in the gym.

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