Week 3

Video 3

Protein

 “Where do you get your protein?”

Chances are if you haven’t been asked this question yet, then it is only a matter of time. Protein is actually found in an abundance of plant foods. The cool thing is that when we get our protein from plant foods, we not only get protein, but an abundance of fiber and other disease fighting nutrients as well (something not found in animal products). Some of the biggest animals on Earth survive on plants alone. Examples are giraffes, gorillas, elephants, and rhinos.

“How much protein do I need?”

This is another very common question that comes up. We actually don’t need as much protein as you think. Only about 10% of the total calories that we eat in a day need to come from protein. There may be some special circumstances for slightly increased protein, but generally speaking 10%. That’s it.

As an example, if you are eating 1500 calories per day, then only 150 calories would need to come from protein. This comes out to be about 38 grams of protein per day. Have 2 slices of whole wheat toast with peanut butter for breakfast, a veggie burger for lunch, and quinoa and peas for dinner and you are already up to 44 grams of protein! And chances are you will eat more in a day than just what I listed.

Have a question about your specific protein needs? Book an individual consult HERE.

 

Plant Sources of Protein

 

 

Carbohydrates (AKA Carbs)

Carbs Defined

Carbohydrates are chains of glucose molecules. There are simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed and are found in a lot of refined and highly processed foods. Complex carbs are more slowly absorbed into the body and are plentiful in whole, plant-based foods.

Are carbs good or bad?

Carbs have a bad rep because of the high consumption of processed junk in the Western Diet. Eating too many refined carbs will lead to weight gain and increase your risk of chronic diseases. Examples of refined carbs are white sugar, white bread, white pasta, white rice, and pretzels. There are of course many others.

Some examples of complex carbohydrates that can actually decrease your risk for disease and promote weight loss are fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, potatoes, and oats. When choosing breads or pasta, select ones labeled “whole grain”, “multigrain”, or “whole wheat”.

A colleague of mine, Brenda Davis, RD, has a fantastic video on YouTube about which grains are the best to choose. You can watch the video by clicking HERE.

Fiber

Fiber is a type of complex carb and is one of the best things to include in your diet to achieve optimal health. Over 90% of Americans do not consume adequate amounts of fiber in their diet. Adequate intakes of fiber has been linked to lower rates of diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, improved mood, and bowel regularity. Aim for at least 30 grams of fiber per day. A plant-based diet is loaded with fiber! 1/2 cup of beans alone contain between 7-9 grams of fiber.

 

 

Fats

Saturated and Unsaturated

You have probably heard the terms “good fat” and “bad fat”. Bad fat refers to saturated fat, which has been long time linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Good fat refers to unsaturated fat that has shown to have a protective benefit for our health.

The greatest amount of saturated fat is found in animal products, so butter, meat, eggs, and dairy. Saturated fat is also found in coconut and palm kernel oils. The greatest amount of unsaturated fat is found mostly in plant-based foods, specifically nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados. Fish is also rich in unsaturated fat, but would typically not be included on a plant-based diet.

Our bodies require fat due to the need to ingest the 2 essential fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (Omega 6 fatty acid). Omega 6s are pretty plentiful in the diet and usually not a concern. Although too many Omega 6s can have a negative impact on our health. Just focus on eating a variety of whole, plant-based foods and this shouldn’t be a concern for you ; )

Omega 3s on the other hand, are powerful anti-inflammatories and health promoters, and luckily can also be found in a variety of plant-based foods. Some examples are chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, sea vegetables, and leafy greens. A quick and easy way to get your Omega 3s in for the day is to add 2Tbsp of chia seeds or ground flaxseeds to your favorite smoothie, oatmeal, nondairy yogurt, or cold cereal.

Oil

One of the common questions I see is “Why do I need to avoid oil?” The whole foods, plant-based diet promotes the exclusion of oil from the diet, even olive oil. The reason behind this is that oil is a highly refined food that provides little nutrients except pure fat and calories. 1 Tbsp of oil provides 120 calories! That adds up quick when we are adding it to veggies and salad dressings every day.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s research also shows us that oil is harmful to our blood vessel walls and should be completely avoided, especially if you have or are at risk for heart disease.

When it comes to oil, using it sparingly, or not at all, is best. There are many ways to cook without oil that we will cover in Week 5.

 

 

Week 3 Action Step

Identify 1 processed carbohydrate food in your diet and replace it with a whole grain, vegetable, or fruit