What are they and why are we afraid of them?
Fats are a macronutrient, meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy or calories.

CALORIES are ENERGY.
According to health.org: Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell growth. They also help
protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce
important hormones, too. Your body definitely needs fat.

WHY ARE THEY BAD?
Fats gained a bad name around the 1980s when professionals became aware of the harms of saturated fat.
From there, food industries started pulling ALL fats from their foods and then adding more products (like sugars) to
alter the taste back to normal!

HEALTHY FATS
Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. Look for these types of unsaturated fats when purchasing
prepared foods and cooking:
Monounsaturated fats: found in nuts, avocados, olive, canola, and peanut oils
Polyunsaturated fats: found in soybean, corn, sunflower, sesame, and safflower oils
Omega-3 fatty acids: found in fish, ground flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts

REMEMBER...FATS ARE FRIENDS!

Is the answer to the question of what to eat… to eat nothing at all?

Advice for what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat can be confusing and conflicting. I’ve talked to many people that say the amount of nutrition information out there tends to be more overwhelming than helpful. When this happens, it seems easier to simply eat nothing at all than navigate these muddy waters. It’s for this reason that intermittent fasting often seems so appealing. Proponents of intermittent fasting will proclaim the amazing benefits of simply not eating, saying that fasting will make you leaner, stronger, smarter, and even live longer. Are these claims true? Let’s find out!

If you’ve never heard of it, intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that involves abstaining from food for a particular period of time. There are many different forms that intermittent fasting, but the most popular forms are time-restricted feeding and alternate-day fasting. Time-restricted feeding includes a prolonged period of fasting followed by a shorter eating, or “feasting” period. This can often look like a 16-hour fast with 8 hours to eat, an 18-hour fast with 6 hours to eat, or a 20-hour fast with 4 hours to eat. On the other hand, alternate-day fasting involves eating little to no food for an entire day, while other days involve unrestricted intake.

Of course, one of the first things that come to mind with fasting is fat-loss. During a normal eating schedule, the average person eats enough food to provide their body with a consistent supply of energy. The body converts nearly all food to glucose, the body’s preferred energy source. At the same time, the body is able to store some glucose in the muscles and liver as glycogen. This stored energy is there for when you are pushing through intense exercise or go a short period without eating. When you don’t eat for 12 hours or more, though, you begin to drain your glycogen storage. Around the 16-hour mark of no food, give or take, is where the body is out of glycogen and forced to switch to fat-burning. The body is extremely efficient as storing fat (to many people’s dismay) because it wants to tap into using it for energy when food is sparse. This metabolic shift occurs to make the body no longer rely on glucose, but instead use its own stored bodyfat as fuel. To do so, your body breaks apart stored fat and turns it into ketone bodies, or ketones. These ketones circulate in the blood for readily available energy, and they are actually the namesake for the ever-popular “Keto diet”. The ketogenic diet is a whole other conversation, but this diet shares a similar process to intermittent fasting. It is by this mechanism, though, that intermittent fasting has become very famous for burning fat. Truly, there is a variety of research backing intermittent fasting’s ability to aid people trying to leaning out.4 The effect of fat loss with fasting is multiplied with endurance exercise, or cardio. Endurance exercise classifies as longer duration and usually lower intensity. Exercises like jogging and biking would qualify. With this type of exercise, your body actually prefers to burn fat for energy. If you do cardio in the fasted state, your body has already started liberating stored fat and converting it into ketones. As you jog, your working muscles are happy to pick up the fat and ketones circulating in the blood and burn them for energy.4 How can you practically apply this to your own fat-loss journey? If you are able to fast overnight and exercise before breakfast, cardio in the morning will have your body burning fat much more efficiently than after breakfast or any other meal of the day. It’s worth noting these effects aren’t a magic bullet, though. Fat-loss doesn’t happen overnight. Even if you were fasting during that night! There is limited research saying that people didn’t lose fat using intermittent fasting,3 but this research was done over a short period of time and in a very small group of people. In the end of the day, being consistent with your exercise and nutrition will always be the key to leaning out.

What about those of us that care more about living longer? Some research has related intermittent fasting to a variety of general health benefits that fight some of the most common ailments leading to death and disease. Some research has found that intermittent fasting has helped improve cholesterol levels, protect heart health, improve the balance of gut bacteria, and even help to fight cancer. Limited research saw that intermittent fasting actually decreased peoples’ triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol), while increasing their HDL (good cholesterol). Further, different fasting regimens have been found to slow down cell proliferation (excessive growth), decrease inflammation, and reduce hormones that are indicated in uncontrolled growth of cells. All of these processes are related to the belief that fasting can help prevent certain forms of cancer. In the gut, the metabolic changes that occur with fasting influence the “good” and “bad” bacteria. In short, fasting has been seen to increase the good and decrease the bad bacteria, which is a piece in improving digestion and gut health, as well as even helping to reduce and fight obesity. Part of these benefits from intermittent fasting stem from the ability to help the body reconnect with its circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock, telling us when to sleep, wake up, eat, exercise, and much more. Our current lifestyle that involves unpredictable eating and sleeping patterns disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, causing improper brain and hormone signals and patterns. Providing the body with set times to eat, fast, and sleep helps realign this rhythm and can correct the body’s metabolism. In doing so, our ability to regulate our bodyweight, fight cancer, and generally stay healthy is vastly improved. Further, there’s some research beginning to suggest that a properly executed intermittent fasting regimen can even help reduce stress and improve learning abilities.1,2,4

What about working out? Won’t fasting hurt my performance in the gym? Well… it might. Generally, exercise performance during “feasting periods”, or the times that you can eat, is unaffected. Unfortunately, a good number of studies has found that individuals that exercise during their fasting periods usually perform worse.4 In other words, intermittent fasting might help you lean out faster, but you most likely won’t be able to lift any heavier or run any faster. The evidence doesn’t suggest your workouts will be worse, they just won’t likely be any better.

How would you know if intermittent fasting is worth trying? Intermittent fasting may be achievable and sustainable if you’re someone who finds that they “forget to eat” when they’re too busy, has a work/life schedule that makes eating or snacking more difficult, or finds that they simply “don’t get hungry” very often. With lifestyles like this, intermittent fasting may be an easy dietary pattern to adopt. When you don’t feel like eating or don’t have time to eat, just don’t eat! On the other hand, intermittent fasting may not be sustainable if you’re someone who gets very tired or “hangry” from not eating, quickly gets hunger pains, or has better energy levels when they snack on small meals throughout the day. If you’re an individual in the latter group, you might feel like there’s no hope for reaping the benefits of intermittent fasting. Fear not! Even shorter periods of fasting carry their own benefits. Research has found that simply eating dinner at a normal time, say about six o’clock, and not eating the rest of the night until breakfast can have health benefits. Fasting between dinner and breakfast could help improve your quality of sleep and even help regulate blood sugar levels for the whole next day.5 Both of these benefits can lead to sustained energy levels for the entire day, prevent you from feeling the need to overeat, and prevent fat storage during the day. Even if fasting for 16 hours seems quite daunting, refraining from some late-night snacking can impart benefits similar to intermittent fasting without all the hunger pains.

Whew! There’s a lot that has to do with “not eating”! What’s the moral of the story? Intermittent fasting is simply another approach to how we eat, and it may have certain health benefits if you find it to be sustainable. Just as important as how we eat is what we eat, though. Regardless of how you approach nutrition, what matters most is that you eat a balance of food that is good for you and that you enjoy. Food is fuel, true. But food is also emotional. Food is tradition. Food is social, and food is meant to be shared and enjoyed. So, whether you’re slurping a kale smoothie or splitting a pizza, rest assured that you’re living a healthy life if you’re enjoying what you consume without allowing it to consume you.

References:

  1. Longo VD, Mattson MP. Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications. Cell Metab. 2014;19(2):181-192. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.12.008
  2. Patterson RE, Laughlin GA, LaCroix AZ, et al. Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(8):1203-1212. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018
  3. Tinsley GM, Butler NK, Forsse JS, et al. Intermittent fasting combined with resistance training: effects on body composition, muscular performance, and dietary intake. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(Suppl 1):P38. Published 2015 Sep 21. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P38
  4. Zouhal H, Saeidi A, Salhi A, et al. Exercise Training and Fasting: Current Insights. Open Access J Sports Med. 2020;11:1-28. Published 2020 Jan 21. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S224919
  5. Wagner S. Diabetes. Medical Nutrition Therapy II; March, 2020; University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Green Bay, WI.

 

WHAT ARE CARBS?
Carbs. Aka. Carbohydrates.

What are they and why are we afraid of them? Carbohydrates are a macronutrient, meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy or calories. Yes... CALORIES are ENERGY.

"The American Diabetes Association notes that carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen." - Livescience

Why are they bad?
Carbs gained a bad name when professionals realized reducing carbohydrates in a diabetic diet could make a positive impact on their patient's lives. Soon enough the whole country was in a frenzy of reducing carbs for EVERYONE and many believed it was the magical secret to weight loss.

Shouldn't I cut carbs though?
NO! Reducing your intake of healthy carbs can lead to the following problems:

A slower metabolism
Lower levels of muscle/strength-building hormones
Higher levels of stress hormones

The result? You might find yourself feeling cranky, fatigued, weaker, or even sick at times.

Aren't carbs just sugar?
Yes. Carbs DO turn into sugars in the body, but here's the thing: fiber is one of the things that makes the carbs usually described as "good carbs". Fiber helps the digestion process and gets this human factory moving! According to the USDA, most of the carbs you should be getting from your diet should be complex carbohydrates: the unprocessed, fiber-laden, long chain complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Less than 10 percent should be coming from simple carbohydrates, like table sugar, refined or processed.

Are there "good" carbs?

Carbs are carbs, but some are going to digest much more efficiently in your body than others! Check out a list of some of the most optimal carbs to include in a healthy diet according to Heathline:

1. Pizza

Now that I have your attention — yes, you can eat pizza! If you make it right, that is. Make it with a thin crust (preferably whole grain or gluten-free) and load it up with tomato sauce or pesto sauce, plus lots of flavorful vegetables.

2. Quinoa

This powerhouse seed acts and tastes like a nutty grain, but it’s actually a gluten-free seed. It’s higher in nutrients and protein than most grains, meaning that you can forego the cholesterol, saturated fat, and cancer-causing compounds found in animal proteins.

3. Lentils

Yum! Lentils are quick and easy to prepare in comparison to other types of beans. They’re high in protein and a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, which can be helpful for people with diabetes, as fiber prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. Lentils contain many important minerals including iron, magnesium, and folate.

4. Dates

Dates can help fend off everything from night blindness to anemia, and constipation to seasonal allergies. The significant amounts of minerals found in dates like iron, calcium, and potassium can help with healthy bone development and maintaining a healthy gut. Incorporatie dates into my snacks and desserts!

5. Oats

Oats play a vital role in improving our feeling of fullness, and can be a boon to our digestive, cardiovascular, and overall metabolic health. Oats are rich in a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan known to help lower levels of bad cholesterol.

6. Whole wheat pastas

Yes! Spaghetti, linguine, farfalle. Give pasta a chance, in smaller portions and especially when paired with a plethora of vegetables.

7. Black beans

Black beans are classified as legumes. They’re easy to make, and chock full of protein, fiber, and iron. They also contain many minerals important in building and maintaining bone structure and strength, and contain selenium, which plays a role in liver enzyme function and helps to detoxify cancer-causing compounds in the body.

8. Apples

Apples are one of the best sources of carbs you can eat, since they contain large amounts of pectin, which helps keep you feeling full, as well as vitamin C and potassium. They’re also rich in natural sugars, which digest more slowly than those found in processed foods.

9. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are particularly high in fiber and are loaded with health-building and bone-building minerals, including vitamin K, phosphate, and calcium.

10. Pears

Pears offer a large dose of potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber. They’re decadently sweet and aid in cleansing the digestive tract.

Did you know that vitamin D is comprised of more than one vitamin? Vitamin D is actually a “family” of vitamins that includes vitamin D2 (calciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is found in animal-based foods and vitamin D2 is found in plants. Although both help to fulfill your vitamin D requirements, research at times has shown that vitamin D3 may raise your blood levels of this important vitamin slightly more than vitamin D2. Keep in mind, both are still needed.

Vitamin D is important to your body because it helps to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Too little vitamin D can lead to soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia). Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain and other maladies. These studies show that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease, although they do not definitively prove that lack of vitamin D causes disease – or that vitamin D supplements would lower risk. As with many nutrition findings, more research is still needed.

3 tips to increase vitamin D

1. Consume foods that contain vitamin D. Sources of vitamin D3 include liver, egg yolk, butter, fatty fish, fish oil and supplements. Vitamin D2 can be found in mushrooms (grown in UV light), fortified foods and also in dietary supplements. These foods can easily be added to your diet in the following ways:

*Since vitamin D2 is cheaper to produce, it’s usually the most common form found in fortified foods.

2. Spend time in the sun. Even in Wisconsin, you can get sunlight to help your body produce the necessary vitamin D it needs. However, this works best if you are without sunscreen and lightly clad with clothing, which can be difficult in the winter months. Bottom line, getting outdoors for some vitamin D is always a good idea, but even if you don’t get the formation of this precious vitamin, getting outside and breathing fresh air is never a poor choice. Climates like Wisconsin may require you to take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months.

3. Talk with your physician. Take an active role in requesting that your vitamin D levels be checked. If you need a supplement, the safe upper limit for vitamin D is 4,000 IU’s. Your physician may put you on a dose ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 IU’s or more a day. According to the US Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily allowance is 400 to 800 IU’s. Bottom line, make sure your levels are monitored and check your level before you decide to supplement.

“It’s in the bag.” This is a common expression often used confidently to mean that the results will be favorable. It’s primarily been used to refer to a winning team of a sporting event or perhaps a salesperson may say this right before they close the big deal. A more literal meaning of the phrase, “it’s in the bag”, is the focus for today’s topic. Let’s chat about packing lunches. Currently, what is your present schedule when it comes to packing lunches? Do you pack it every day? Twice a week? Does someone else pack it for you? Do you take mostly cold items or hot? Once you have answered these questions, you will have completed an important step to packing healthy lunches.

How often do you pack a lunch? The benefits of packing a lunch are insurmountable. You have choices that you can make in advance so spontaneous eating is at an all-time low. Second, cold lunches usually help you to be more frugal. This is plain common sense. You can pack at least three lunches for the price of one lunch at a restaurant. Third, planning is KEY for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Notice weight loss wasn’t mentioned as a benefit of this eating pattern, but planning meals/snacks (including and especially those outside of the home) will help with the numbers on the scale.

What are you packing? Is it the same cold sandwich and piece of fruit every day? While there is nothing wrong with a sandwich and fruit, variety is not only the key to life, but the key to gaining valuable nutrients and antioxidants. If you are following a pattern of sandwich and fruit, try these simple tips. Change your protein every other day. Try chicken breast, tuna, canned salmon or nut butters for your protein sources. Make a turkey breast in the oven and use it for sandwiches during the week. Choose whole wheat bread such as Dave’s Powerhouse bread or Ezekiel bread. Switch up your fruit daily, or at the very least, every other day with different colored choices. Also, your spread on your sandwich can change from an olive oil based spread to a variety of hummus or avocado.

When are you packing your lunch? This matters because if you take the time to put some energy and thought into it, chances are it will be much healthier. If you start packing five minutes before you run out the door, chaotic choices usually are not the healthiest ones. Good rule of thumb: pack your lunch with or after your supper meal. As you are putting away leftovers, put some in small containers ready for lunch the next day. Also, when making a dinner salad, prepare two or three salads for yourself or others that need a packed lunch. You have all the ingredients out anyway so making multiple salads at once will cut down on time.

Don’t let packing lunches become a chore. You can make “around the world” lunches. Have you ever attended a party or holiday that had an “all around the world” theme? Choose a country, a region, a state, etc. and choose cuisine from that area for the week, the day or the month. Eating can become mundane if you don’t give it a little spark or change it now and then. What do you have to lose? Well, maybe your packed lunch boredom.

Usually, when one sees the abbreviation “vs.”, it leads us to believe that one is better than the other and that we must make a choice. This is not the case with fermented and fresh foods as both are beneficial to a healthy diet.

Let’s start with the simplest form of foods: fresh. Why choose fresh? Fresh food is food which has not been preserved and has not spoiled yet. For vegetables and fruits, this means that they have been recently harvested and treated properly postharvest. For meat, it has recently been slaughtered and butchered, and for fish, it has been recently caught or harvested and kept cold. These foods are at their finest as they are fresh. Try to purchase fresh foods whenever possible. Perhaps you grow your own vegetables, raise chickens for their eggs, or hunt or fish for lean/healthy protein sources. These are all examples of eating fresh and an excellent way to promote healthy eating.

So what is all the hype regarding fermented foods? First, fermentation uses microbes, such as bacteria and yeast, to preserve food. It is an easy way to add beneficial bacteria to your gut to help support a healthy microbiome. This ancient technique of preserving food breaks down carbohydrates, like starch and sugar, using bacteria and yeast. Common fermented foods include kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, apple cider vinegar, tempeh and yogurt. These foods may reduce heart disease risk, aid digestion, immunity and weight loss. Let’s take a brief look at these as they are less familiar to most people.

Kombucha is a fermented tea that is fizzy, tart and flavorful. Since it is made from either green or black tea, it contains all of those health-promoting properties. During the fermentation process, the bacteria turn the sugar in the tea to alcohol leaving a low level of alcohol in this drink. However, commercial-made kombucha tea has less than 0.5% alcohol, so unless pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s usually not a huge issue. Homemade varieties can have up to 3% alcohol in them so be vigilant and ask questions.

Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish and is usually made from fermented cabbage, but it can also be made with other vegetables such as radishes. It is known to help with lowering cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance.

Kefir is a dairy product is similar to yogurt but has a thinner consistency. It can be used as a drink or it can be used with cereal instead of milk.

Apple cider vinegar has been noted to have many benefits. To name a few, besides its fermentation properties, research suggests it may help with lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Tempeh is popular in Japanese cooking. It is a soybean-based fermented food and is a popular meat substitute (similar to tofu). It does contain all the essential amino acids so it is a complete vegetarian protein source.

Vegetables are packed with powerful nutrients and antioxidants. Two of the most common fermented vegetables are sauerkraut and pickles. However, other vegetables can be fermented, such as eggplant, ginger, beets, broccoli, mustard greens, carrots, radishes, etc.

If fermentation sounds interesting to you, please note there are many different recipes, blogs and tips available for you. Here is just one basic recipe that you can use to start fermenting vegetables.

Choose fresh AND fermented foods for better health!

Tony Robbins said the secret to happiness in one word. ... “I always tell people if you want to know the secret to happiness, I can give it to you in one word: progress. Progress equals happiness.” That's because reaching a goal is satisfying, but only temporarily. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that needs to be replenished again and again. “Did I get that thing that I want? Yes, Now I’m happy. I didn’t get what I want. Now I’m unhappy.” Happiness doesn’t stay in one place forever and that’s why we need progress over and over because progress is an onward movement towards a destination. And moving forward is the only way to attain goals.

I believe that’s what keeps people coming back to the gym and working on themselves: goals. I don’t think it needs to be totally tangible either (while many are very tangible). Some people come to the gym to work out because they need a social connection every day while some come because they want to lift a particular weight. Some come because they want to make their golf or tennis better and others want to lose 15 lbs. by summer. Some work with a personal trainer towards a specific goal and many others make it a priority to make it to a high energy class a few times a week.

I think having a goal and working towards it is a very important part of progress. And progress leads to happiness.

To everyone out there who makes a goal and is working towards it, no matter what it is, I applaud you. Keep up the great work. If you’re new in the fitness world, my advice is this: Do things you like and keep doing it. If you hate running, don’t do it. Maybe you’d enjoy walking your dog every night for an hour instead. If you want to lose weight but can’t seem to figure out how, start with looking at what you eat. Try eliminating one unhealthy thing like sugary treats, candy, or perhaps cut wine down to a glass per day or every other day. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with adding things you don’t care for such as grueling workouts. Try the process of elimination. You’re body and mind will respond for the better by default. That’s the start of progress which will lead to happiness.

Are you a tomato lover? Me too. There’s nothing quite like eating a fresh heirloom tomato right off the vine in the heat of summer. I’d love to share a tasty Caprese salad recipe from the blog of Elizabeth Rider, a health expert, author, and creative entrepreneur that I’ve been following for six years. Although this recipe is dairy-free, everyone in Wisconsin who can tolerate cheese should add freshly sliced mozzarella (or mozzarella balls) and pair this salad with grilled chicken. I love the seasonality component of the tomatoes and basil, especially if you have these beauties growing in your backyard. I enjoy the untraditional aspect of thinly sliced watermelon radish as it brings a crunchy texture and pop of color.

This salad becomes more satiating with the high amount of healthy fat from the ever-popular avocado. Something I’ve learned about avocados over the years is to buy them slightly green and wait a few days until the peel turns black and is slightly soft. This ensures that the avocado will be at its peak texture and flavor. Feeling extra fancy? Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, take out the pit, and peel off the skin. This allows you to slice away to perfection and amp up the aesthetics of this salad. Lastly, who doesn’t love balsamic? Even better, a balsamic reduction sauce adds a velvety drizzle of flavor. Not only is this salad simple to prepare, it can be whipped up in an easy ten minutes. It’s the perfect dish to pass at a cookout, graduation party, or a day at the lake - just don’t expect to bring any leftovers home. I hope you enjoy this recipe and savor the freshness that our summer season offers!

Fine the recipe here: www.elizabethrider.com/healthy-avocado-caprese-salad-recipe

Food additives are very present in our food supply. When is the last time you looked at a nutrition label strictly for food additives? Of course, it is always important to pay attention to the entire nutrition label focusing in on added sugar, calories, saturated fat, etc. However, I want to draw closer attention to the ingredient list on products and provide a few tips.

You may already know that ingredients are listed from the ones with the highest amounts added to the lowest. However, even if they are on the bottom of the ingredient list, there are additives you want to avoid completely. Please refer to the Chemical Cuisine web site and look at the key and the ingredients that are placed within the following categories.

Safe: The additive appears to be safe
Caution: May pose a risk and needs to be better tested. Try to avoid.
Cut back: Not toxic, but large amounts may be unsafe or promote bad nutrition.
Certain people should avoid: May trigger an acute, allergic reaction, intolerance or other problems.
Avoid: Unsafe in amounts consumed or is very poorly tested and not worth any risk.

If you have specific questions regarding one of the additives, the site provides a relatively lengthy description of why it was placed within a certain category. Too often, in an effort to eat healthfully, you may be choosing chemically ridden foods. I encourage you to use this resource as a reference and to expand your nutrition knowledge.

Debbie Guenterberg MS, RDN, CD
Prevea Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

There are few people I know that actually feel that they eat a sufficient amount of vegetables in a day. Many people try to eat healthy but recognize they fall short of incorporating sufficient fresh produce in their diet. Truthfully, those that actively seek to eat more veggies tend to be missing out somewhere, and those that don’t try to eat more vegetables regularly might find they almost rarely eat any! I won’t bore you with the stats, but the number of people that can go days to weeks without eating a fresh, plant-based food is astounding.

The most common kickback to trying a plant-based diet (be it vegetarian, vegan, or some off variant of the two) is that they won’t be able to get sufficient protein. Done right, this simply isn’t true. You can actually get quite a solid dose of protein whether you do a combo of foods, like rice and beans, or go for complete-protein plant sources, like hemp, soy, or quinoa. True, there are some common deficiencies seen with plant-based diets, like Vitamin B-12 and D, Omega-3, Iron, and Zinc. Are these all reasons to empty your vegetable crisper drawer to make room for those chicken breasts and ground beef? Absolutely not! Many of these nutrients can be obtained through careful planning, supplementation, or just a more balanced approach to your diet. The benefits of following a plant-heavy diet (ranging from improved energy levels and weight loss to cancer-fighting potential) vastly outweigh any of the potential drawbacks. Attempting to eat more fruits and veggies doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. The best, long-lasting changes are the small ones that you can maintain with your lifestyle. Maybe instead of totally giving up meat, try the trendy “Meatless Mondays” option. You could even choose one meal a week to try and find an alternative protein source rather than meat. Done right, a diet more rich in fresh produce can greatly excel any of your health and fitness goals. Don’t believe me? Feel free to speak with Western Personal Trainer Devin Van Dyke, who is currently following a mostly plant-based diet. Even his performance in the gym speaks for itself.

If I were to summarize, I would just want to say this. Just lettuce be more open to turnip the amount of plants in our diet. Going bananas for fruits and veggies may kale any ailments you have, help you beet your friends in sports, and berry your cravings. This might seem corn-y, or you may even think I am nuts. But if bean healthy is your goal, you might want to eat more plants.

Tad Taggart
ACSM Personal Trainer

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