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what is the best plant based diet

Release time:2017-05-23

The Healthy, Practical Plant-Based Diet: A Typical DayWritten by Matt Frazier What do you eat during a typical day? Even as the plant-based diet for athletesbecomes more commonplace, people still ask me this question all the time. And I like it — it’s an opportunity to explain that you can eat 100% plant-based and really, really healthily … without spending your life in the kitchen or subsisting on trail mix and sprouts (while living in a treehouse, I think). I’m busy like anyone else. I have two young kids and work hard, and as a result, I’ve streamlined my diet so that it’s affordableand doesn’t take a lot of time. But I do make food a priority, like it should be. I’m very happy with my version of a healthy, plant-based diet, and I’m happy to share it with you in this post. A Typical Day on a Plant-Based DietI eat according to a few simple guidelines(e.g., until I feel mostly full). My focus is on simplicity and health, and one of the amazing things I’ve found is that over time my palate has adjusted so that simple, healthy food is the food that tastes good. But there’s another important point here. I’ve set up my diet so that I eat the same types of meals most days until dinnertime, adding variety only within a certain category of foods (like mixing up the fruits or nuts in the smoothie, or choosing different veggies or dressing for the salad). And what that means is that each day, there are relatively few decisions I have to make around food. This is important because: The fewer food decisions you have to make early in the day, the better the choices you’ll make later (see: decision fatigue), andWhen you know ahead of time the types of meals you’ll eat, you can “engineer” your diet to include exactly what you want and none of what you don’t.But I should add that what follows is only a “typical” day — this is the stuff I’ve consciously decided to eat on a daily basis. But because I’m a human, I like eating a muffin when my wife bakes them for the kids’ school, or the times when I have leftover (delicious) pasta for lunch instead of my usual salad. I don’t stress a bit about these little indulgences, because know that what I do most of the time is what matters. With that, here’s what a typical day looks like for me. 6am-9am — Water, tea, or coffee. Except when I’m actively trying to put on weightor build muscle, I don’t eat anything for the first few hours of the day. Just water and cup of tea or coffee. I can’t really call myself an intermittent faster, but I do believe that one of the reasons people are overweight is that they don’t give their bodies enough time between meals. So I try to extend the overnight fast as long as I can, by making sure I don’t eat until I’m really hungry each morning. Most of the time, that’s not until 9am or 10am. This isn’t easy for everyone, but I’d suggest just paying very close attention to your body in the morning — are you actually hungry, or just eating because that’s “what you do” when you wake up? 9am — Smoothie. My first meal of almost every day is a smoothie. The Perfect Smoothie Formulais the template I use, but not strictly. Over time, and especially since having kids, I’ve learned to appreciate simplicity in the kitchen, and this extends to the daily smoothie. Most days, my smoothie recipe looks like this: 2 handfuls of mixed frozen berries — raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries (usually I choose two)2-3 very ripe bananas2 handfuls of frozen spinach leaves (or whatever greens we ate for salads last week that I moved to the freezer after they peaked)1/3 cup raw walnuts2 tablespoons flax seeds2-3 cups of waterDHA/EPA supplementThis makes enough for two giant smoothies, and I can usually count on my wife and kids to drink the one that I don’t. There’s no measuring; I just eyeball the amounts and adjust if something tastes off. I make the smoothie in my Blendtec, which does a good job of grinding the nuts and seeds at once with everything else. But if you don’t have a Vitamix or Blendtec, you can grind the nuts and seeds into a powder in a coffee grinder, then add that powder to your smoothie. As for protein powder? I used to add that, along with flax oil or coconut oil, but I’ve shifted heavily towards whole foods and found that I do just fine without any of those supplements. (I do take a DHA/EPA supplement and a vitamin B12supplement each day, usually in a multivitamin that also includes vitamin D3, zinc, vitamin K2, and iodine. More on supplements here.) And on that note, no, I don’t think about proteinanymore. Or any other macronutrient amounts or ratios, for that matter. 11am — (Sometimes) Whole wheat pita or pancake. If I’m hungry before lunchtime (and I’m not usually), I eat a whole-wheat pita spread with almond butter, or perhaps throw a small frozen pancake in the toaster (always this recipe, which we make in huge batches and freeze for the kids’ daily breakfast). I don’t usually put anything on the pancake, and think of it almost like bread, but every now and then I drizzle some maple syrup on it. Because, again, that thing about being a human. 12pm — Giant salad with beans and nut-based dressing. I used to eat dinner leftovers for lunch each day, but as dinnertime has gotten busier with kid activities, I found that too often I was skipping the big salad I used to eat before dinner. So now I eat it for lunch. A typical salad for me looks like: Half a plate full of romaine or green leaf lettuce (pro tip: skip the clamshell packs and just chop it yourself; it lasts much longer and is cheaper)Half a plate full of something more bitter, like dandelion greens, radicchio, or kale (usually, bitter = more nutrients)Some cruciferous veggieslike red cabbage, radishes, or broccoliWhatever else I have around: carrots, celery, tomato, scallions, avocado etc.1 cup of chickpeas (I use different beans sometimes, but I like the texture of chickpeas the best. Whichever beans I use, if they’re not made from scratch, I buy low- or no-sodium cans)Nut-based dressing (see below)I don’t believe you need to eat 100% oil-free, all the time, but for meals built habitually into my day, it makes sense to make them as healthy as possible. Which means no oil, not even olive oil. So what to use for dressing, then? Keep in mind that the point isn’t to remove fat, which is important for absorbing all the micronutrients in the salad. Instead, it’s to get the fat in whole-food form, which means nuts or avocado. Most often I use this raw, cashew-based ranch dressing recipe I got from my friend Sid Garza-Hillman: 2 1/2 cups cashews (you can soak them for a creamier dressing)2 cups filtered water for blending3 tablespoons lemon juice2 tablespoons cider vinegar1 teaspoon garlic powder3 teaspoons onion powder2 teaspoons dried dill2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste1 teaspoon basil1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper or to tasteBlend all ingredients (ideally in a high-speed blender) until creamy and smooth. Make sure not to blend so long that the dressing gets hot. If it’s too thick add more water. It’ll thicken in the fridge; just add more water to make it pourable again. It’s delicious, even for non-vegans. The kids love it too. Important: This salad isn’t a small meal. It takes a long time to eat, and I’m almost completely full when I’m finished. When salad is your meal, it shouldn’t leave you hungry. 3pm — A piece of fruit, or hummus & veggies. Not much to say about this one. The salad digests quickly and I usually need a snack in the afternoon. If I’m going for a run, I’ll choose the fruit, so that I get some sugar in me to help with the workout (and usually have a piece afterward, too). The hummus I use is either Roots Oil-Freeor a homemade version. 6pm — Dinnertime!  It’s worth pausing here to note that up until now, there haven’t been many decisions to make, like I mentioned in the introduction. So no stress, no decision fatigue. And on my “best” days, before dinnertime my diet has been entirely: FruitVegetablesBeansNuts & SeedsWater, coffee, and/or teaTo me, these are the healthiest foods I can eat. I’ve got nothing against whole-wheat flour or other grains; I just don’t think they contribute as much in the way of micronutrients as the foods above. But when I’ve eaten this way all day, I feel totally okay about eating a big old vegan pasta dish, a whole-food vegan pizza(we use a sprinkled cheese made from cashews and nutritional yeast instead of the processed vegan cheeses), or stir-fry with brown rice for dinner. Those are pretty typical choices for me. Other favorites around my house are lentil-and-ricedishes; a grain, a green, and a bean; rice and beans, curriesand stews, and of course, tacos and burritos. So pretty much anything that’s Italian, Asian, Indian, or Mexican, as long as it’s vegan and mostly whole-food.
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