Have you heard about the incredible benefits that come with eating a plant-based diet? If you haven’t, make sure to check out our post on the top 10 reasons to try a plant-based diet. Our blog has been dedicated to posting health and wellness information. While it is not a prescription of what type of diet is best for your individual needs (consult a registered dietitian or doctor for this), having knowledge about nutrition can steer you in the right direction.
The plant-based diet has seen tremendous growth in both interest and adoption throughout the world. Many wonder why they should try a plant-based diet, others are considering the switch but are unsure of how to make the transition easy. Then there are those who follow a plant-based diet but have questions. Today, we hope to highlight and answer some common questions about the plant-based diet.
#1 – Am I Getting Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet?
This has long been a major source of concern among vegetarians, vegans, and now plant-based eaters, and it’s often what keeps some people from moving their diets in this direction.
It is entirely possible to comfortably meet your protein needs with a plant-based diet. Whether you, individually, are receiving enough protein on a plant-based diet should be investigated.
The traditional Western diet that has been relatively high in meat—particularly red meat—and lacking in vegetables and fruits may have downsides but meeting protein requirements was never one of them. However, it’s possible to find good sources of protein that aren’t animal products. Below is a list of some plant-based foods that are especially high in protein:
- Chickpeas, lentils, beans
- Plant-Based Burgers
- Pea Protein Powder
Everyone needs a different amount of protein per day based on their health, weight, and activity levels. Make sure to consult your registered dietitian or medical provider if you’re curious to know your individualized protein needs. Pea protein powder may help those with higher protein needs, such as athletes or those doing strength training. If you are unable to meet your protein needs through food, a quality pea-protein powder can help you stay consistent with your protein intake goals. Pea-protein is recommended because it contains all essential amino acids making it a complete and high-quality protein. Pea protein is also great because it rarely causes digestive discomfort unlike whey and dairy-based supplements.
When all else fails, keep Dr. Praeger’s plant-based burgers on hand for a quick protein packed meal!
#2 – Am I Eating too Many Carbs on a Plant-Based Diet?
The amount of carbs that you need is based on a number of factors such as lifestyle, activity level, and overall goals (losing weight, gaining weight, etc.) However, general nutrition recommendations and guidelines state that carbs should make up anywhere from 30-50% of your overall diet.
Carbohydrates are an important fuel source for the body and the brain, but like all good things, it can be easy to overindulge. If you feel that you are eating too many carbs, take a hard look at your plate, is it mostly comprised of starchy foods like rice, bread, pasta, potatoes and tortillas? It can be easy to go overboard on carbs when initially starting a plant-based diet. People tend to eat a lot of grains because they are healthy, energizing, and filling. However, it is important to balance your plate with vegetables, protein, and let’s not forget the fats.
Healthy fats, that is. Healthy fats can increase your satiety and provide ample energy and nutrition—as well as that precious macronutrient, protein.
- Coconut (and coconut oils)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds (chia, flax, hemp, etc.)
These items make up many of the go-to fat sources for plant-based eaters. If you find yourself eating too many carbs, add more fats into your diet. They’re versatile, nutritious, delicious and easy to incorporate. Try adding nuts or seeds to your salad or avocado slices to a Dr. Praeger’s plant-based burger!
#3 – Should I Be Taking Supplements While on a Plant-Based Diet
Disclaimer: do not begin supplementation of any kind without first discussing it with your primary care provider.
We spoke of supplementing with pea-protein if you have a higher-need for protein due to athletic training, but what about other supplements?
The Big 3 that those adhering to a vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, diet are often asked about or are themselves curious about are:
- Protein (which we’ve covered)
- Vitamin B12
B12 deficiency can be a concern for those that avoid animal products. A B12 supplement is typically recommended by doctors and RD’s for those that experience symptoms of B12 deficiency. Most commonly, those who are experiencing mild but chronic fatigue may be assessed for a B12 deficiency. Letting your doctor know you are eating a plant-based diet is important so that they have an overall picture of what your nutritional profile may look like and whether B12 supplementation is needed.
The same thing can be said about iron intake. Iron is abundant in many but is less readily absorbed by the body since it is non-heme iron. Heme iron, which is found in animal products, is easier to absorb. However, you can enhance your body’s ability to absorb iron by pairing high-iron foods with ingredients that are high in vitamin C foods. While eating plenty of plant-based foods can be enough to guarantee adequate iron intake, some individuals may not receive enough due to naturally lower absorption rates (predisposition to anemia).
Speaking to your doctor about getting your iron levels tested can be worthwhile for those who have committed to a plant-based diet to ensure they are meeting their requirements.
Dr. Praeger’s Plant-Based Frozen Foods
Plant-based diets have much to offer in so many different categories, which is why Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods offers so many plant-based products.
Have any questions for us? Contact Dr. Praeger’s today with your questions and we’d be happy to answer them.