It all started with the documentary called The Game Changers on Netflix. My husband and my 11-year-old son sat down on the sofa for interest in the science behind it. As a weight loss and health coach, our team has very spefic ways we help men and women lose weight. This documentary was more about sports nutrition and athletic performance but either way, we were all intrigued. After watching most of the documentary, fast-forwarding only through the section about erections with a plant-based diet, we decided we were all “IN” for a week of this type of nutrition. This article reviews what happened when I went plant-based for a week.
How I typically eat
On a regular day my diet includes low carb, whole food nutrition. We always have fresh veggies and fruits at home along with chips and snacks common in the Standard American Diet. Our children do not eat a restricted diet though we educate on the benefits of avoiding highly processed and sugar laden foods. I typically cook 10-12 meals at home each week and they mostly include an animal protein, two veggies, a starch for my kids like rice or pasta, and a piece of fruit. We eat a lot of simple food here. We do not drink alcohol at home, so dinner includes sparkling water for me and Manny and the boys drink water, juice, or organic cow’s milk with their meals. I personally eat 2-3 meals a day with one snack. To be clear, I typically eat animal protein daily.
The first thing I noticed: Bloating
The first and most obvious side effect that was immediate was the intense bloating and gas 😳. My stomach protruded similar to the time I was four months pregnant. Not only did I feel so full and tight, I had gas. So embarrassing but true. It was clear that the veggies and their fiber properties were affecting my gut. My pants didn’t fit well and my body was not happy. I consume vegetables daily, but not at this level and my body was clearly going through an adjustment period. From an article in Everydayhealth.com, the editors had this to say.
“It’s likely you’ll experience more gas when you first switch to a high-fiber vegetarian diet. During this transition phase, your gut is colonizing the new bacteria it needs to aid in digestion. Over time, your body will adjust to the increase of fiber in your diet, and you’ll have less gas and bloating.”
The next thing I noticed: Processed plant-based meats
In the grocery store, my family sent me to find meat substitutes to emulate normal dishes at home. While shopping in the frozen foods section, I noticed ultra-processed, plant-based meat substitutes. I added black bean burgers, chicken tenders, and chicken patties to the cart in the hopes that it could ease some of the time spent making these vegetarian dishes. My husband quickly reminded me that it was strange to be eating these frozen foods rather than fresh meals. I agreed and through some suggestions from friends, found fresh plant-based meats in the produce section of the grocery store. I’ll be honest, they simply do not compare to the real thing.
I felt pretty clean eating all plants!
I will say, I felt like I was a rock star eating all plants. I knew I was fueling my body with phytonutrients, the beneficial chemicals only found in plants. The wide variety of colors on my plate only encouraged me to create more meals with brightly colored vegetables and fruits. I don’t have issues with energy, but I felt the same constant balanced energy throughout the day.
My calories burned per workout shifted
Unfortunately, my calories burned per workout drastically shifted into a lower amount of calories burned per workout. I was very disappointed by this as the intention of this experiment surrounded the benefits of plant-based diet on athletic performance. I checked my device for updates, read online to see if there was a shift in my heart rate tracking design, and I found no evidence that there was a shift in the principle. My research lead me to believe that the lack of caloric intake resulted in my lower calories burned. Basically, the less food you eat, the lower performance or output you will experience in your workouts.
What happened when I went plant-based for a week and how it ended
I can tell you I am eating a whole foods based, omnivorous diet again alongside my son Noah. We walked away feeling happy we did it for a week and ready to eat some chicken. My husband Manuel is still plant-based three weeks into the experiment. His running performance has improved, he is the leanest he has been in 10 years, and he has great energy and much improved gut health. What happened when I went plant-based for a week was much different. I on the other hand, gained weight and my workout performance decreased.
Finally, should I try plant-based living?
So the question stands, should I go plant-based to change my body composition and improve my exercise performance? I’d say try it! Give it a go and see how you feel and perform. We all have physiological differences and the only way to know what’s best for you is to try it. This is a challenging way to eat. My best advice: make a plan, find a certified and trusted coach to guide you, and stay consistent. You can also keep a journal to record when you feel well and what foods or food combinations simply don’t work well for your body.
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