What is a Plant Based diet?
Plant based diets are surging in popularity with most grocery stores offering a wide-range of vegan products to the masses. A vegan or plant based dieter eliminates all animal-based products from the foods they consume, as well as from other products for personal or environmental reasons. Recently, the vegan diet has emerged as a potentially ‘ideal’ dieting plan, yet there are some health considerations that need to be taken into account (such as nutritional deficiency due to potential reduced levels of Vitamin B12, iron, protein and calcium). If doctor supervision and a balanced diet plan are pursued, a plant based diet is a promising solution for dieters. However, a customized diet plan based with a balanced nutritional profile may be a better option.
Short list of foods removed from a Plant Based diet:
- All meats from beef to fish, poultry and eggs
- All dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheeses
- Products using animal-based preservatives and proteins
Plant based dieters adhere to a diet that is rich in vegetables, beans & legumes, possibly carbs, and alternative protein products mainly due to personal, and environmental reasons.
Where health is concerned, vegan diets can initially be great for
- Lowering cholesterol in the form of saturated and trans fats
- Lowering blood sugar
- Reduced cancer risk
- Lower incidences of arthritis and inflammatory conditions
- Reduced prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases
What are the differences between Vegans and Vegetarians?
Vegans tend to remove all animal proteins, as well as products using animal based sources from their diets. For instance, many preservatives used in processed foods contain pork products such as gelatin. Vegans are likely to skip many processed foods and products ranging from skincare brands to certain supplements.
Vegetarians tend to restrict most meats from their diets, but might opt to include eggs, dairy and other animal based products. Pescatarians adopt a plant based diet that allows for fatty fish and other seafood as their only meat source.
How can a Plant Based diet treat obesity?
According to the National Institute of Health, plant based diets are considered a viable option for the treatment and prevention of obesity. Plant based eaters have been shown to be among the lowest BMIs of all diet groups, and also gain much less weight as they age than those who eat meat. These results occur for a few reasons, many dieters may lack complete protein sources and therefore have less muscle mass than someone who regularly eats meat. Additionally, plant based dieters tend to be more health conscious than the average meat eater, making them more apt to exercise and portion control. In this case, lifestyle might have a stronger correlation to keeping weight off, rather than avoiding meat itself.
Plant based diets have also been linked to lowered total cholesterol levels. Given that there are two types of cholesterol (good HDL and bad LDL), lowering LDL, lowering triglycerides, and raising HDL is the best approach. Also, plant based diets tend to cause initial weight loss because people are by chance replacing higher calorie animal proteins with lower calorie, fiber dense foods. This increases fullness while minimizing calorie intake. This style of dieting isn’t intrinsically linked to weight loss, but any dietary change that may reduce sodium or portion size can trigger some initial losses.
What are some drawbacks to Plant Based dieting?
While plant based diets may seem healthy due to a reduction in fat, and a higher vegetable intake, many vegans miss out on important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids necessary for brain function, energy, and nervous system regulation. Vitamin b12 for instance, which is only present in animal products can become a deficiency for vegans and is characterized by fatigue, weakness, a high prevalence of anxiety and neurological symptoms. For those at risk for anemia, vegan diets can exacerbate an iron deficiency and lead to cognitive problems, feelings of weakness, anxiety, dizziness, and more.
The most concerning issue of this diet is the lack of enough vital protein in the diet while still limiting carbohydrates and overall calories for weight loss. The experienced medical team at
DocTalkGo has assessed the value of vegan dieting and finds that it may have drawbacks that could be a cause for concern. The relative ratios of protein:carbs in typical unprocessed vegan protein sources like legumes, grains and nuts are not as favorable as animal protein which has zero carbs. While these are still solid, healthy foods, they also contain carbs that could inhibit weight loss when used to replace meat.
Additionally, any weight loss benefits of veganism are somewhat negated by the muscle loss that can occur too early on, as it is rare for protein targets to be met without strict diet vigilance.
Does DocTalkGo recommend a Plant Based diet program?
DocTalkGo routinely caters to the vegan diet philosophy by keeping a strict focus on dietary macros, which are given in grams and can accommodate any diet philosophies. Our team often recommends plant-based vegan protein powders for patients that are much lower in carbs and can sometimes be necessary in order to hit macro targets. While we might offer vegan-style options, our team believes that a balanced diet is the optimal route for safe weight loss without potential nutritional deficiencies. In addition to creating safe, vegan-influenced diet plans, DocTalkGo analyzes patient health status for an individualized focus that gets to the root of ongoing weight loss challenges. Diet plans are tailored to be specific to the needs of those of any age, gender, shape or size and for those who are struggling to lose that final 10-20 pounds to those who must lose 100 pounds or more. Call today to request a private, confidential, no-cost online consultation.