FAQs – Here are some of the questions I’m asked most frequently.
I get asked a lot of questions every day about eating a whole foods, plant based diet so I’ve tried to capture as many of them as I can here.
If your question isn’t covered then get in touch with me and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Why is a whole foods, plant based diet good for me?
It’ll make you look and feel amazing! Plus, it will effectively help prevent and reverse chronic disease, give you loads of energy and as a bonus if you’ve been carrying around some extra weight you’ll find that it begins to melt away.
Since the 1970s, extensive research studies have been carried out that have shown that eating a whole foods, plant based diet is the key to optimum health. If you’d like to read more about the science behind the claim, take a look in the recommended reading section.
What is a whole foods, plant based diet?
A whole foods, plant based diet is a simple diet that avoids eating anything that has ever had a face or a mum. This means meat, fish, chicken, turkey dairy and eggs are avoided.
That means that grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes are all in.
Why should I avoid processed foods?
Eating a whole foods, plant based diet means avoiding refined foods such as olive oil, white rice and bread. Anything that has been through a process and is created artificially or has chemical additives. Whole foods are exactly that, foods that come from whole, unrefined plants.
Any food that has been through a process has been stripped of most of their nutritional properties. This means that the good parts such as healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals have all been extracted. Why would you want to eat something that nutritionally doesn’t do anything for you?
Not eating meat and eating a plant based diet is just another fad like the Atkins Diet isn’t it?
What if I told you that eating meat was a relatively recent thing to do? Eating meat only became popular as Western society, think of Europe and North America became richer and they could afford to eat meat.
The majority of people throughout world history have eaten a largely vegetarian diet and it is still that way in any parts of the world today.
If I only eat plant based food it’s going to be too restrictive and too hard to follow. I’ll never be able to manage it.
There are many different types of foods to eat. It could be said that you’re restricting your diet if you only ever eat meat, poultry, fish and dairy.
It’s very easy to eat meat free and by reading this you’re going to be able to do that very quickly.
If I only eat meat free I’m going to need to take supplements like vitamins and minerals.
Everybody is different in what they do each day, what they eat and their genetic make-up. Generally, if you need to take a supplement it’s probably because you have either a health issue or a poor diet.
Even vegetarians and vegans can have bad diets. For instance those that rely on supermarket ready meals and takeaways. Taking a vitamin or mineral supplement will not let you escape your health issue or your bad diet.
If you eat a healthy vegetarian diet then you will more than likely be taking on board all the vitamins and minerals you need. The only exceptions maybe B12 and vitamin D the sunshine vitamin.
I’m not going to be able to eat enough protein on a plant based, vegan or vegetarian diet
How much protein do you think you need? 10%, 20% , 40%, 50% of your total calorie intake? Well the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 8-10% of total calories consumed and even this is high for some people who can get by on 4-5% of total calories consumed.
Unfortunately, there’s a myth that’s been perpetuated for decades that you need animal protein. It was thought that it was a better protein, in fact it’s harmful to us, so harmful in fact that it can promote undesirable growth in our bodies such as cancer cells and atherogenic tissue (essentially when the artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol and triglyceride).
Eating plant proteins are better for us as they aren’t that good at promoting this growth in our bodies as we use them less efficiently which is actually beneficial to us. So don’t worry about not getting enough protein, as long as you eat a varied vegetarian diet you’ll be healthy.
Vegetarian foods that contain protein include: Grain foods, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice, nuts, beans and tofu.
If you’re really fixated on how much protein you’re getting in a day, go to: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/CreateProfile.aspx to track the nutrient profile of your daily diet.
Plant based eaters, vegans or vegetarians don’t get enough calcium in their diet.
Oh dear, another common misconception. Vegetarian diets are packed full of calcium. You can get it from green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, pak choy and collard greens. It’s also in dried figs, sesame seeds, tahini, beans, soybeans, soy nuts and tofu.
Did you know that your bones are constantly changing? They’re always breaking down and rebuilding, so much so that approximately 15% of bone mass can be turned over in just one year.
It’s not safe for children or pregnant women to follow a plant based, vegetarian or vegan diet.
As long as you have a healthy diet with all the necessary amounts of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals for a growing body then you’ll be absolutely fine.
I’m going to get fat eating loads of pasta, rice and potatoes. Carbs are bad for you!
If there’s one myth above all that I’d like to debunk it’s this one. People think that the sugars in starches are very easily converted into fat. They think they’re carrying extra fat on their tummy, hips, thighs and bottom because they eat too many starches.
If you want to read the research:
Hellerstein MK. De novo lipogenesis in humans: metabolic and regulatory aspects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr; 53 Suppl 1: S53-65
Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, et al. Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during massive carbohydraye overfeeding in man. Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Aug; 48 (2) 240-4
Minehira K, Bettschart V, Vidal H, et al. Effect of carbohydrate overfeeding on whole body and adipose tissue metabolism in humans. Obes Res. 2003 Sep; 11 (9): 1096-1103
Tappy L. Metabolic consequences of overfeeding in humans. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Nov; 7 (6) 623-8
Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract res Clin Edocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec; 16 (4): 679-702
Mickelsen O, Makdani DD, Cotton RH, Titcomb ST, Colmey JC, Gatty R, Effects of a high fiber diet on weight loss in college age males, Am J Clin Nutr. 1979 Aug; 32 (8): 1703-9.
The research makes it pretty clear that it’s all just a myth. When we eat complex carbohydrates our body breaks them down into simple sugars. Once broken down these simple sugars are transported around our bodies in our blood steam to millions and trillions of cells to provide them with energy.
If you eat more carbs than your body needs, guess what it does, yes it does store about two pounds invisibly in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen, but once it’s done that you’ll just burn the rest off as body heat and through physical activity such as walking, typing at the computer, doing household chores and fidgeting!
You can read more about how to get enough protein, calcium and iron on a plant based diet here.
You can find lots of other information on following a whole food, plant-based diet here.
Suggested further reading
If you’d like to read more extensively about eating a whole food, plant based diet then I’d suggest reading these books first: