What is all the hype about “plant-based eating” and what does it mean? This term is being used throughout mainstream media, more health and wellness practitioners are talking about it, and our grocery stores are being stocked up with more plant-based products. Typically plant-based means absence of animal products and processed foods. For many, the term plant-based is a foreign concept but for others like myself, I live, work and breathe by this term.
So why is this phrase so popular? For one, research has shown us that the health benefits of going plant-based cannot only prevent many chronic illnesses and diseases, but actually reverse them. People are eating plant-based for environmental and compassion reasons, while others are reaping this one reward, a substantial increase in energy levels. Who doesn’t want more energy, right? From a digestive perspective, plant-based foods are much more easily digested, therefore, taking less time to be processed throughout the body. This results in an energy savings as your body doesn’t have to work as hard. Secondly, you are consuming more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, to help fight out illness. Thirdly, you are putting less toxins in your body by not consuming processed foods with foreign ingredients that your body doesn’t recognize. This all adds up to MORE ENERGY!
If you are finding yourself constantly turning to caffeine, sugary foods, and energy drinks to give you that little extra bounce in your step or get you through your day, you might want to consider giving plant-based foods a try. With the right combination of whole foods, you can significantly increase your energy level and vitality without causing it harm with the RIGHT foods. Use these tips to help you not only get healthier, but give you so much energy, you won’t know what to do with it.
Choose the RIGHT Carbohydrates
First of all, it’s important to know that not all carbohydrates are the same. Carbohydrates have always received a bad wrap but not all carbs are bad. The ‘bad carbs’ known otherwise as ‘simple carbohydrates are refined, low in nutrients if any, high in saturated fat, and provide no health benefit to our bodies. These carbs are quickly digested, releasing sugar rapidly into our bloodstream causing insulin spikes that lead to energy highs and eventually crashing lows. Foods such as white rice, white flour, table sugar, and sweets are all examples of simple carbs.
Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are a great source of fiber. They release glucose into the bloodstream gradually providing our bodies with a steady supply of energy. These foods also help us with weight management by keeping us sated so it’s important to consume foods such as whole grains, oats, quinoa, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. These foods are as wholesome as they get, unrefined, and a healthy way to stay full and provide us with lots of energy.
If you’re one of those people who skip breakfast whether it be because you’re not hungry or simply trying to keep your weight goals in check. I’ve got bad new for you. What you eat or not eat for breakfast can either help you or sabotage you for the rest of the day. There is a reason why we eat breakfast and not just any food but foods that are high in complex carbohydrates. This is why breakfast is the MOST important meal of the day. It can break you or make you. A combination of complex carbs with some protein will give your body all the energy it needs. When we eat foods like white toast, muffins, or pastries (examples of simple carbs), these foods digest so quickly that you get an instant high but crash very quickly and in turn you eat more of them sending you on this viscous cycle of consuming foods that give you highs and lows all day long. Eat a breakfast like whole oats with some nuts or seeds topped with fruit, or whole-wheat pancakes topped with your favourite fruit, or a whole grain bagel topped with some avocado and fresh fruit. These are energy foods that will provide your body with sustainable energy.
Never wait to drink water if you’re thirsty. At this point, the body is already dehydrated. Dehydration can affect everyone regardless if you are working at a computer all day long or running marathons. There is no magical amount of glasses of water/day to consume as depending upon what you’re eating, your foods can also contain water which can contribute to your hydration levels. Foods such as fruit (there are some exceptions) are very high in water, therefore providing you with some hydration. If you eat soup for lunch, you are getting some liquid with your meal. Ensure that you always keep some good quality water with you at all times to keep the body hydrated.
So, what does water have to do with energy levels? Water is a main source of energy for our bodies. If you’re thirsty, it’s a sign that your energy level is becoming depleted. Dehydration can also lead to fatigue so if you need a little mind boost, maybe it’s a sign to consume a little more water to keep you awake and alert. Most people wait until they are thirsty to consume water so get ahead of the game and carry a re-usable water bottle with you.
Eat the Rainbow
We live in a world of ‘macro-thinking’ instead of ‘micro-thinking’. Too often we worry about how much fat, carbohydrates, and protein we are consuming. Instead, we need to switch our mindset to that of a more holistic way of eating foods instead of a reductionist way of thinking. Switching our focus to think about the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber we are getting instead of worrying how much protein we are eating.
Too often we consume the same types of food day in and out. This can lead to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals work hand-in-hand. For example, it’s easier to absorb iron if you’re also eating Vitamin C. The whole concept of single nutrient consumption doesn’t work. If you want to increase your energy levels, give your body a wide variety of plant-based foods. For example, have greens mixed with some colour such as red or yellow peppers or red beets along with some sweet potatoes and black beans. Each food provides different vitamin and mineral requirements. When you compliment different colours of foods, they work together to provide your body with an abundance amount of energy.
Eat Well – Move Well – Live Well
Your Compassionate Coach,