Many people fear a plant-based diet because of one proverbial question: Will I get enough protein? Protein is an important nutrient in the body and how much protein you need depends on your gender, age, and activity level. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, differ between animal products and plant-based products. Although animal protein is a “complete” protein, most plant-based proteins are just missing one of the essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins become complete by simply pairing it with another food that has the missing amino acids (as a rule of thumb, protein quality from healthy sources is more important than protein quantity). Supporting an active lifestyle requires a well-balanced diet inclusive of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients can be found in a plant-based diet.
The truth is, there are countless reasons why you might choose to follow a specific diet. Regardless of the reasons behind your food choices, or whatever diet philosophy you subscribe to, everyone benefits from eating a specific group of foods: plants.
Rasheeta Joy Fields , a Navy Veteran, personal trainer, sports nutritionist, chef, and motivational speaker, is one of many who has made the transition to a plant-based lifestyle. “Living plant-based was a pull at my heart strings for many years before I decided to make the change. I went plant-based because chronic illnesses are related to food and diet, and these illnesses were destroying my family's health. My mother passed away from colon cancer in October 2012, but she taught me about the plant-based diet and how this could change our family history. Once I went plant-based, I knew I made the right decision and started sharing my new understanding!”
Going plant-based doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Give your body time to adjust with a “transition period”. Here are some helpful tips for adding more plants into your diet:
1. Building a new habit takes time. We recommend starting with an 80/20 approach, where 80% of the time you’re eating plant-based, and you give yourself the freedom to enjoy that burger or pizza 20% of the time.
2. Prepare. If you’re used to an omnivore diet, switching to plant-based might throw off your typical eating habits. That’s why we suggest batch-cooking meals to freeze. Not big into cooking? Order from a meal delivery service.
3. Feeling bloated? Don’t stress. This is just your body adjusting to a higher-fiber diet. Drink lots of water, and know that once your body has adjusted, you should start feeling leaner, cleaner, and more energized.
One question Splendid Spoon often gets from people transitioning to plant-based diets is whether or not plant proteins provide enough fuel for workouts. Rasheeta is a full-time trainer and enjoys challenging workouts, which means she understands the importance of refueling her body. A plant-based diet can 100% support any active lifestyle through a combination of healthy carbohydrates and natural plant proteins, like those found in bananas, nuts and grains. Rasheeta often uses smoothie bowls for recovery because the healthy carbs help her refuel. “With no time to waste after a workout, I typically opt for a smoothie bowl. Smoothie bowls are my absolute favorite breakfast and they are a great pre- and post-workout meal. I top mine with fruits, added proteins and fats to support my workouts.” Rasheeta has provided her favorite smoothie bowl and topping recipes below for you to try at home.
“You may ask, how do I feel as a plant-based athlete? I feel like a plant-based superwoman! Saving lives and looking good,” says Rasheeta. “This lifestyle makes me feel physically strong, healthy, and energetic. My integrity is intact, because I know I am doing the right thing for my body, my family, and Mother Earth.”
Plant-based eating can 100% support your fitness goals, and with so many plant-based and gluten-free choices at Splendid Spoon, boredom is never an option. There’s freedom to make the dish your own and they’re simple to heat and eat. Plus, they save you tons of time (which we all need more of). Try Rasheeta’s smoothie bowl recipe after your next workout - you won’t look back