Hi guys! Happy Sunday! NB this post contains some v strong memes - we hope you can handle it...
Today's post is all around the food we're eating and how to ensure we are eating well.
Especially being under lockdown, it can be easy to fall into the same old routine eating the same foods, reaching for fast food when we're feeling blue, or panicking and going for a trusty Deliveroo. So we thought it would be a good time - better late than never eh! - to finally get some expert advice. Are you vegan or vegetarian? Or are you thinking of going more plant based?
Does this look familiar?
Lizzy and I are both vegetarian now but figuring out what we should be eating whilst on a plant based diet can be tricky especially when thinking about protein. Some common questions that we hear all the time:
Are we getting enough protein?
How much protein?
Where do we get protein?!
But, spoiler alert, its easy!
So we sat down with Katie Dewhurst from @hellobalance_sg to talk us through some of the basics - not just on protein but the whole plant-based/nutrition shebang. You can check out our video chat on our IGTV right here, but the cliff notes are below. Enjoy!
Let's get into it..!
Tips for Plant Based Eaters from a Health Coach
Why we need protein?
Every cell in your body needs protein to function. Our bodies are constantly breaking down old cells (think immune cells, skin cells, muscle cells, hair cells etc.) and rebuilding them with protein from our diets! So yes, you could think of eating adequate amounts of protein as anti-aging.
Signs you might be not getting enough protein?
Symptoms of protein deficiencies include dull skin, weak nails, hair loss or broken thinning hair, muscle loss, weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, brain fog, trouble recovering from workouts, trouble building muscle, easily catches colds and viruses, easily gets injured etc.
How much protein do I need?
For my vegan and vegetarian clients I’ll usually track their protein intake for at least two weeks to make sure they are consuming enough protein (I like the app Cronometer for this). It depends on body type, goals and lifestyle, but as a rule of thumb females should consume 1g of protein per kg of body weight.
So how can plant based eaters make sure they get enough protein?
Aim for a variety of plant proteins. There are 9 different essential amino acids (proteins) that our bodies cannot make on their own so it’s important to include them through diet. Each plant protein offers a different mix of essential amino acids. In order to make sure you’re hitting all the essential amino acids focus on getting a variety of plant proteins and also eating adequate quantities (remember 1g of protein per kg of body weight). The Cronometer app can help you track all of this.
Good sources of plant proteins: The main one’s I recommend are nuts and seeds, legumes/beans, gluten free grains, and vegetables. Some examples include nut butters, like almond butter or cashew butter, and seeds like hemp, pumpkin, tahini, and chia; beans like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas; gluten free grains like buckwheat and quinoa; vegetables like mushrooms, kale, broccoli, asparagus and spinach; plant based protein powders like pea or hemp; nutritional yeast flakes; and spirulina.
Easy ways to increase protein:
· Add a protein shake for breakfast or afternoon snack
· Add 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast to roasted vegetables and creamy salad dressings
· Add nuts and seeds to salads, soups, and dressings
· Add a ½ cup of beans or gluten free grains to your bowls
Hungry in between meals?
If you find yourself reaching for a snack in between meals, increasing your healthy fats at your meals can help. I encourage fatty dressing made with nut butters, olive oils, and avocados to increase your satiety and help you feel satisfied and calm. Increasing your healthy fat content at meals instead of relying on more carbohydrates to fill up will also help keep your blood sugar curve more balanced, giving you more sustainable fuel without the steep energy spikes and crashes.
Do I need to supplement if I’m plant based?
Common deficiencies I see in my plant based clients is B vitamins (especially B12), Iron, and vitamin D. These are all available in vegan supplement forms. With any supplements you should be tested by a doctor before supplementing.
Are plant based meats okay?
I don’t recommend fake meats like impossible or beyond meat because of the ingredients. A lot of them contain a few of the following ingredients: conventionally farmed soy, inflammatory oils, sugar, natural flavors, or gluten. If you can’t live without them, enjoy them occasionally if you’re really craving some “meat,” but I don’t recommend them as a part of your everyday diet.
Do you recommend soy?
I don’t recommend relying heavily on soy products because depending on phytoestrogen receptors in your body soy can either suppress or speed cancer growth up. Conventional soy crops are also sprayed with pesticides, such as glyphosate, which is a known carcinogen. For this reason, I recommend buying organic soy products and watching out for GMO conventional soy hiding in lots of packaged foods under names like (soy oil, soy isolate, soy protein, soy lecithin, MSG, natural flavoring, etc.). Read ingredient labels closely as processed soy is added to so many products ranging from protein bars, salad dressing, baked goods and more. That said, if you love edamame or fermented soy like tempeh, miso, tofu or naturally brewed soy sauce, enjoy it and opt for an organic brands to avoid the unwanted pesticides! Highly processed conventional soy in excess is when health issues are more likely to occur.
Need a smoothie recipe to get you started?
Try my Cookies & Cream Smoothie - it’s packed with plant based proteins to fuel your morning!
Katie is a Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach based here in sunny Singapore with a passion for helping women live their healthiest, happiest, most balanced lives!