One of the biggest challenges for most people to overcome before they start a plant-based diet is the concern about gaining weight (all the carbs) and losing muscle (not enough protein). No one wants to see their metabolism obliterated when they start eating more greens, right? Let's dive into whether or not plant-based diets really work.
When I wrote The Belly Burn Plan about five years ago, I kicked the meal plan off with this incredible 3-Day Cleanse. I didn't advertise it at the time, but the Cleanse is plant-based. This was intentional, and I'll explain why in a minute. But the results of the Cleanse on my readers was even more astonishing that I could have imagined.
The way I designed the Cleanse was to be as catabolic as possible. In a nutshell, I wanted the foods of the Cleanse to break down toxins and reduce as much inflammation as possible.
Catabolism is the process of breaking down. Apply this to your body, and it's the process of breaking down toxins that are held up on a cellular level, allowing them to move out easier. If you eat too catabolic for too long (let's say a long-term fast), you lose muscle. On the opposite end of the spectrum is anabolism, which is the process of building. Think of muscle development as an important anabolic process.
After interviewing people with varying degrees of success, the people who followed a more inflammatory diet prior to following the plan in my book lost the most weight; the people who ate less inflammatory before following The Belly Burn Plan lost less weight. At the very least, the Cleanse is a testament to the importance of eating fewer inflammatory foods.
The one thing that was absolutely void in the Cleanse was animal protein. It was food-based and not a fast, but the foods in the Cleanse were catabolic and anti-inflammatory.
But what about an entirely plant-based diet with no animal byproducts? With all the carbs, wouldn't that surely pack make someone fat and reduce muscle?
Do Plant-Based Really Work?
We all know that protein is a building block of muscle. And muscle helps to boost metabolism, keep us strong, and help us feel fuller. This is true!
Aside from what protein does for our body, what is protein...exactly?
What is protein...really?
Any protein - no matter what form - is a blend of amino acids. You could say that proteins are just amino acids and that would be true. When you eat anything, whether it's a spoonful of peanut butter or a slice of chicken, your body will break down that protein into its respective amino acids and send them throughout your body, putting them to good use.
The upside of animal-based protein is that they give you all the essential amino acids your body needs. You still get all the essential amino acids from plant-based foods, but the difference is you get them from a variety of plant-based foods instead of one single source.
Your body breaks protein into those amino acids and uses them - regardless of the source.
Anyone could make the argument that if you spend 2 hours in the gym lifting heavy weights, you need to eat more protein - preferably animal based. Yes, this could be done, but it doesn't have to be done to stay strong and healthy.
In fact some of the world's greatest athletes are 100% plant-based, including tennis stars, Novac Djokavic, Venus Williams and Serena Williams; Formula One driver, Louis Hamilton; NBA pro, Kyrie Irving; UFC fighter, James Wilks; Soccer pro, Alex Morgan...Arnold Schwarzenegger is even a complete vegan and thanks his diet to reversing symptoms of heart disease.
And me...I may not be a pro athlete, but for a mom in her mid-40s and the best shape of her life, I'm 100% plant-based.
Will you gain weight and fat eating plant-based?
Highly unlikely. Of course, you could sit down and eat a loaf of plant-based bread, sleeve of vegan cookies or pint of non-dairy ice cream...but you wouldn't do that.
You won't gain weight if you eat smart. The great thing is, you don't need to overthink it with my 21-Day Plant-Based Plan. All the work is done!
Do you have to eat kale all day and night when you follow a plant-based diet?
No, no, and no...and definitely not if you get my plan. A plant-based diet gives you a balance of the amino acids your body needs.
What will happen is you'll likely:
- improve digestion
- reduce inflammation
- improve your recovery time (especially if you like to run, spin or practice power yoga)
- help the Earth a little bit
Give it shot. Get the full 21-Day Meal Plan today. I'll be in touch to walk you through it if you have questions.