Plant Based Diet For Beginners Breakdown

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With so many fad diets trending daily, it can be hard to keep up. Figuring out how to nourish your body in the best way for your body can be a real struggle. One of the things that has always frustrated me about many diets claiming to be the next best thing is that they also claim to be perfect for everyone. The truth is that once I hear that, I’ve already switched off. You’ve lost my interest. This is because everyone’s bodies are so unique that any diet you engage with should be tailor-made to fit you and your lifestyle. And it should be based on your own unique nutrition needs.

That being said, there’s one diet that I can’t stop raving about. This is because it’s not a diet in the way that we’ve gotten used to thinking about the word diet. It uses the word diet in the old school way that used to mean ‘lifestyle’. Yes, the plant based diet is the lifestyle that we’re going to be discussing today. My favorite part about this diet is that it doesn’t boast to be the #1 weight loss diet out there. Its biggest claim is that it helps you to live your healthiest life – and that’s something I can get on board with. But before I get carried away, let’s answer the fundamental question: what is a plant based diet?

What Is A Plant Based Diet?

Girl eating with a spoon.

With a plant based diet you can still eat dairy and meat.

A plant based diet has become a rather controversial term because it is often used interchangeably with some other similar diets or ways of life. The terms “vegan” and “whole food” are often used alongside this diet. But what is a plant based diet? Let’s break down the main components of this diet to get a more wholesome understanding of the term.

A plant-based diet, unlike a vegan diet, does not restrict dairy and meat consumption totally. It just means that your diet is more plant based (shocker). It’s rich in whole grains, from-the-earth foods, fruits and vegetables. Another aspect of a plant-based diet is that unlike a vegan diet, which can often take over many other aspects of your life based on ethics, it refers specifically to the food that you eat.

Plant Based Diet Meal Plan

Mason jars filled with vegetables and fruit for meal prep.

Meal prepped jars.

There are plenty of sample plant based diet meal plans out there for you to try. So if you’re just starting out, there is no reason to panic. More often than not, it’s about knowing what to switch out your meat-heavy portion of the meal with. For example, if you usually eat eggs with cheese and bacon, you might want to switch out the cheese and bacon with some tofu and a vegetable instead. Here is a sample daily meal plan to get you started, with a couple variations to try! Once you try out a few different ‘meals’, you’ll find it easier to come up with your own plant-heavy alternatives to a lot of the foods that you usually eat!

Breakfast

Overnight Oats with Mixed Berries & Chia Sprinkles

OR

Scrambled Eggs with Sliced Avocado & Salsa

Lunch

Greek Salad with Whole Grain Pita Bread & Hummus

OR

Avocado Whole Grain Toast with Pomegranate Seed Topping

Snack

Nuts & Apple

OR

Kale Chips

Dinner

Vegetarian Chili with Sliced Avocado Topping

OR

Cauliflower “Steak” with Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

This meal plan is just an idea of one day in the life of plant based eating. If it doesn’t sound like it’s for you, don’t be anxious – there are so many more recipes for you to choose from!

Is A Plant Based Diet Healthy?

There is quite a buzz about eating a plant based diet. But is a plant based diet healthy? More and more people are jumping on the fruit and veg wagon, and this could actually be a good thing for most people. One of the reasons why this diet is so healthy is because going plant based results in eating fewer processed foods and focusing on a more enriching, raw diet.

A plant based diet is rich in fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals, and packed with antioxidants. This diet is also very often free from cholesterol and low in saturated fats. With all this in mind, a plant based diet can be particularly healthy for those with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers such as colon cancer or breast cancer. Generally speaking’ it also helps to reduce your cardiovascular risk and can help those who are struggling with obesity – which is currently a nationwide epidemic.

Plant Based Bodybuilding Diet

Feet next to weights.

Body building with weights.

Despite all its glory, one of the cons of a plant based diet is its low protein content. Saying goodbye (or at least a ‘see you rarely’) to lean meats and dairy products can take a toll on your protein levels if you’re not careful. While there are plenty of plant based proteins available, it takes some educating to know what you’re looking for and to ensure that you’re getting your daily recommended intake. With this in mind, there has been a lot of interest in whether you can sustain a bodybuilding regime on a plant based diet.

While most bodybuilders pride themselves on their meat-heavy diet, those who are on a plant based bodybuilding diet shouldn’t worry that they won’t be able to achieve the same goals. When finding the right plant based diet for a bodybuilder, it’s important to nourish your body with nutrient-dense foods in their macro state.

Here are some top recommendations of plant based, protein-heavy foods to sustain your bodybuilding workouts.

Nuts

Snacking on nuts is an easy way to incorporate some extra protein into your diet. Whether it’s some cashew butter or just tossing some almonds into your salad, adding some of these “good fats” into your diet is a great plant-based way to build muscle.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a complete protein superfood. It contains all nine of the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own. So it’s an ideal way to add that extra protein into your plant based diet.

Pulses

Combining rice and pulses like beans helps you to reach your daily protein intake. It also provides you with the necessary carbs to keep pushing through your workout. Rice is rich in leucine, which is the amino acid used to build muscle.

Plant Based Diet Breakfast Recipes

Assorted toasts with different toppings.

Toast with various toppings.

Whole Grain Toast with Varied Toppings

Ingredients

2 slices of whole grain bread

1 avocado

2 cherry tomatoes

Sprinkle of red onion

Method

Toast the whole grain bread until golden brown. Mash or slice the avocado onto the toast. Place sliced cherry tomatoes on top of the avocado. Sprinkle the red onion, and season to taste.

Banana Egg Pancakes

Ingredients

1 banana

2 eggs

Honey for taste

Method

Mash the eggs and banana together until it forms a smooth mixture. Pour the mixture into a pan, in the size of the pancake that you want. Wait until the bottom starts to brown lightly and then flip. Continue for the rest of the pancake mix. Lightly drizzle with honey for taste.

Overnight Chia Pudding With Mixed Berries

Ingredients

2 tbsp chia seeds

½ cup almond milk (or other alternative milk)

1 tsp honey

Berries of your choice

Method

Pour all the ingredients besides for the berries into a jar and mix well. Leave for 5 minutes and mix again to reduce any clumping. Cover the jar and place in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to eat it for breakfast, top with the berries (I recommend strawberries, raspberries and blueberries).

Plant Based Diet Before And After 

Woman holding bowl and eating in kitchen.

Eating a plant based diet will make you more mindful of what you eat.

As we have discussed, eating a plant based diet has a multitude of benefits ranging from your heart health to your weight. That being said, my favorite benefit that you can reap from eating a plant based diet is the fact that it encourages mindful eating. Before eating a plant based diet, you kind of just eat whatever is thrown your way. There isn’t much thought process behind each food choice you make (unless you’re on the latest fad diet, restricting yourself beyond reason without real knowledge of how it’s actually helping your health).

After starting a plant based diet, the first thing to notice is how you’re more mindful of the food that you eat. You’re nourishing your body, instead of punishing it. As you start to engage more and more with eating plant based foods, you learn about how each food nourishes you and helps you in different ways. To me, proper nutrition starts with education. Call me crazy, but how are you supposed to give your body what it needs when you don’t know what it needs? By eating plant based, you start to understand what your unique needs are and honor your body! That’s when all those other positive effects start kicking in!

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you know your body best. Well, you should know your body best. Looking after your body is your responsibility. (Unless you’re a kid, in which case it’s mostly up to your parents, so I hope they’re reading this!) The way that you nourish your body is important to so many aspects of your health, way beyond your weight. If you’re looking for a way to improve your all nutrition without driving yourself crazy restricting a whole host of (often seemingly random) foods, then going plant based might be for you.

You might need to start out slow, finding the right meal plans that work for you. But like anything else, after some time it becomes a habit. Eating right shouldn’t be a punishment, and that’s what a plant based diet is all about. It tries to holistically approach nutrition so that you can give yourself the best treatment your body deserves without feeling totally restricted. And the truth is that weight loss is often a side effect of eating healthily. So if you are here for the numbers on the scale, this ‘diet’ is still for you! Not sure where to start? Try some of the recipes and meal plans above and see how it goes! Enjoy nourishing your body from the inside out using what Mother Nature gave us! I know I do.