The first question that comes up when someone goes plant-based is usually something along the lines of “Well, how do you get your protein then?!”
I used to think that I needed to guzzle protein powder shakes in order to gain muscle mass, but now I know that I just need to reach my calorie needs and diversity of food. Diets high in leafy green vegetables, fruit, legumes, and carbohydrates will give you the complex carbs, essential fatty acid, and *drumroll please* the protein that you require to maintain and build muscle mass.
Leafy green vegetables have the most nutrition of any food you can get per calorie basis (we talked about this in our blog post “How Nutrient Density Affects Your Weight Loss Goals”), meaning that eating a plant based diet also prevents you from intaking excess calories, since plants have low calorie density and create lean muscle mass.
Now, if you switch to plant-based, you will need to make sure you’re eating enough of these calories to meet the amount of energy you expend throughout the day. The key to gaining muscle mass is to up your nutrient dense plant calories, while doing resistance workouts.
We know that there are so many benefits to increasing the amount of plants that we consume on a daily basis.
Some of the main benefits are:
Recovery: Plants have a ton of anti-inflammatory elements that help to reduce injury and make for quicker recovery. Some examples of anti-inflammatories are ginger, turmeric, and leafy greens.
Sustainable Health: There are 64 times as many antioxidants in plants than there are in animal foods. These help to prevent things like high cholesterol, heart disease, and more.
Gut-Biome Health: With the amount of processed foods in our world today, sticking to the foods that our guts were adapted to digest and avoiding micro-plastics is key to long-term health.
How to Start:
– Focusing on shopping around the edges of the grocery store, especially spending more time in the produce section, will help you to avoid taking in processed food items. Even, better make a trip to the farmer’s market! Supporting local farms is great for the environment and your gut biome!
– The aim isn’t to abruptly go vegan. Instead, simply aim to eat more plants. In the beginning, add more plants to what you’re already eating. Instead of a processed breakfast meal, make a smoothie. Work with changing one meal at a time. Then work on how you can add vegetables to your lunch. Your goal could be to only eat plants up until dinner time.
– With this in mind, you don’t need to go 100% plant based, in fact the all or nothing method to diets can be off-putting and unrealistic to think, “never again can I eat ___insert favorite animal product here___.
– To create a well-rounded plant-based meal, think: Grain, Green, and Bean.
Robert Cheeke and Matt Frazier, authors of the book, The Plant Based Athlete, were recently interviewed on the Happy Pear Podcast, and we highly recommend giving it a listen! They drop a ton more information on this very topic. Now go conquer those fitness goals!
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