Thinking about giving up meat? Plant-based dieting for beginners.

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There are many reasons why plant-based dieting has become popular these days. There are various health-related reasons to want to give up the consumption of meat products.

There have been a growing number of diets out there. Over the last ten or so years, we, as a global community have become more aware of the benefits and lack thereof of the various foods we consume. As a result of this newfound awareness, many folks around the world have decided to give up some foods altogether.

The COVID effect

The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused a ripple effect of changes throughout our society. Aspects of everyday life have shifted as people adopt to changes within schools, offices, stores and more. People have even started modifying their dietary habits as a result of the outbreak.

As the world continues to shift on a daily basis, people are adapting to a newfound sense of “normal.” Social distancing has impacted the world around us in ways never before imagined—even our food supply.

People are substituting meat sources for plant-based alternatives in order to help supplement protein dietary needs. While some question the efficacy of plant-based meat sources, the truth is they may actually have substantially better health benefits.

Why Are People Switching to Plant-Based Protein?

Plant-based meat alternatives have existed within the consumer marketplace for a long time, but their appeal has increased tremendously over recent years. Restaurants across the country have started offering meat alternatives in the form of impossible burgers or beyond meat.

Although many people are unfamiliar with plant-based meat alternatives, more people are consuming them as a regular part of their diet. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits associated with plant-based protein sources.

Plant Protein Linked to Longer Lifespan

Plant-based protein options can provide a number of health benefits. A recent study performed on over 70,000 men found that consumption of plant-based protein may help contribute to improved long-term health and longevity. Data was collected over the course of eighteen years and subjects consuming plant-based proteins were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Another larger study looked at over 131,000 participants over a 26 year period and found that high animal protein intake was positively correlated with cardiovascular mortality. Substitution of plant-based protein for meat sources was associated with lower mortality.

While both of these studies also take lifestyle factors into account, it’s important to note that food choice may be important beyond a macronutrient level. Although two foods may contain similar nutritional contents, food choice may play a pivotal role in overall health.

Anabolic Properties of Plan Based Products

Meat-based products have been protein dietary staples for decades. The traditional bodybuilder diet has always consisted of meat, rice, and vegetables. For years people have believed that meat protein was superior to plant-based options due to it’s anabolic effect. New research has shown that plant-based sources may actually be comparable to meat and dairy protein sources.

One study looked at the effects of whey or rice-based protein on body composition and performance over an eight week period. College-aged, resistance-trained, males were divided into two groups that consumed either 48g of rice or whey protein. Body composition and perceived recovery metrics were analyzed every four weeks. The results showed that both groups maintained similar performance and body composition during this time.

Several bodybuilders and athletes have effectively transitioned to full plant-based diets while retaining performance and body composition metrics. Diets should be tailored to best fit the needs of specific individuals.

Better Nutritional Profile

Plant-based protein typically has a better nutritional profile than meat-based counterparts. In general, plant-based foods contain a number of nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Plant-based options have also been proven to lower the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, help manage diabetes, prevent cancer, and aid in weight management.

Some of the best high-protein, plant-based food options include:

  • Tofu

  • Chickpeas

  • Lentils

  • Beans

  • Almonds

  • Quinoa

  • Broccoli

  • Kale

  • Various types of nuts

Plant-based protein options may contain significantly less protein, so people should ensure they’re eating a well-balanced diet to adequately meet all dietary needs. As people continue to shift towards plant-based protein, more foods will be brought to the marketplace.

Plant-based protein alternatives provide a number of health benefits not readily available in conventional meat sources. Having a variety of protein sources within your diet can help ensure you satisfy all macro and micronutrient needs.

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