The primary con to this diet is that it can be extremely limited and difficult for some people to follow. The average fat intake is only 6% of your total calories, which is considerably lower than the recommended 20% to 35%. This limitation is because meat is omitted from the plan. Cutting out an entire food group may be too much of a restriction to maintain over the long-term, so some people do best by modifying this diet to allow for a moderate amount of meat. The high fiber intake may also pose a problem initially. It's best to slowly increase the amount of fiber you consume so your body can get used to it. The goal is always long-term weight loss and maintenance. This diet does have the research to support it, but it may need modifications to make it work for you.
Great sources of protein include wild fish, skinless turkey or chicken, beans (eat them like a condiment, not too often or too much), raw nuts, and vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. I use spinach instead of lettuce in my salads for a nutrition boost. Protein powders can also be a good source, but read the labels. Whey protein contains casein, which is an excitotoxin in the brain, and can be overly stimulating for some people. Many companies put sugar and other unhealthful ingredients in their powders. My personal preference is pea and rice protein blends.
“If a client has come to me looking to lose 10 pounds, I would tell them to simply move. Move more, and more often. Walk or bike ride to class or work, even park further away from your location in the parking lot. Take the stairs or take a walk during lunch. You don’t have to spend hours every day in the gym sweating, but you do have to make a conscious effort to move more, and sit less. This works great because it doesn’t feel like work and you’re burning more and more calories throughout the day.” — Ajia Cherry, personal trainer and Founder at Functional Innovative Training
Eating sugary foods might be satisfying in the moment, but they can increase your cravings for more sugary foods in the future — and that only leads to trouble. "Many foods high in added sugar are also higher in calories and fill you up less than lower-calorie, still-sweet alternatives like fruit," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. But there are still ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without ODing on sugar. "When you're baking, cut out some of the sugar in recipes by adding in vanilla extract or cinnamon, blend unsweetened cocoa powder into a smoothie instead of honey, top your French toast with unsweetened frozen fruit instead of syrup, and nosh on a slab of watermelon instead of cookies."
Not in an extreme, Atkins sort of way, but having a little protein at every meal fires up your metabolism. "Your digestive system uses more energy to break it down, so you burn more calories," explains Lisa Dorfman, R.D. However, keep protein levels to between 20 and 35 percent of your diet; eating too much of it can cause kidney strain and may cause your body to store too much fat.
Finally, deciding to follow a plant-based diet has introduced me to the most amazing individuals—so many of them kind, interesting, and awake. Wonderful people like Woody Harrelson. So I’ll end this introduction with a story: About 10 years ago, right after becoming vegan, I was feeling sort of alone and disconnected. I had bumped into Woody at a number of events, but we’d never really talked, so one day I called him. “Woody,” I said, “I’m so frustrated. I keep learning about food, and the planet, and I feel like I’m going crazy!”
Useful goals should be (1) specific; (2) attainable (doable); and (3) forgiving (less than perfect). "Exercise more" is a great goal, but it's not specific. "Walk 5 miles every day" is specific and measurable, but is it doable if you're just starting out? "Walk 30 minutes every day" is more attainable, but what happens if you're held up at work one day and there's a thunderstorm during your walking time another day? "Walk 30 minutes, 5 days each week" is specific, doable, and forgiving. In short, a great goal!
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