Plant-based diet for weight loss – a problem?

The airwaves are rife with claims that switching to a plant-based diet will solve the weight loss issue.

Tis the season to plan to lose weight after all.

Are you already eating a plant-based diet?

2022 meal plan - plant-based?

The media constantly promotes the change to a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons in addition to weight control, from reversing climate change to general health. But be aware, plant-based eating can be at least as unhealthy as opting for a carnivore diet?

Whichever diet you currently follow, you are unlikely to have escaped the festive eating and drinking to excess. Irrespective of your beliefs, the Christmas holiday is as keenly awaited as New Year is followed by numerous regrets by a majority of the population. Just as you need to settle the credit card for your financial security, the calorie excess must now be repaid for your health.

Starting line - Happy New year 2022 - will your diet be plant-based?

So, let us help you understand some of the issues surrounding diet choice, whether plant-based or otherwise this new year.

We want you to be able to lose weight in the most healthy way.

What is a plant-based diet?

 

According to the British Nutrition Foundation:

Plate of food - Plant-based diet

“Plant-based diets are dietary patterns that have a greater emphasis on foods derived from plants (such as fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts, seeds and oils).”

It is critical to understand this is not vegan or even vegetarian dieting.  There is no absolute exclusion of animal derived foods, such as meat and dairy, just a swing to a much higher intake of plant-based foods.

A carnivore diet is more restrictive, consisting of only animal-based foods and dairy, plus optional salt, pepper and honey (ref. Medical News Today). At the other extreme there is the vegan diet. In this post we are focussing on why it makes no nutritional sense to follow these restrictive dieting extremes, especially if trying to lose weight.

Nutrition is the foundation of human health - should it be based on plants?

To stay healthy, you must consume certain amounts of the macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins minerals and trace elements). You are an individual with your own requirements within a narrow range. We have discussed how to work out the number of calories you need, but how can you be sure of the nutrition you require?

In general terms a plant-based diet follows the healthy eating principles of a Mediterranean diet, advocated by many healthcare professionals. Plant-based eating doesn’t exclude all animal foods just much less reliance on them. However, those dramatically reducing or excluding meat and dairy entirely must be aware that individual plants contain far less of the essential amino acids (contained in the protein macronutrients) needed for people, and plants are especially deficient in Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.

A critical review of protein sources in supporting muscle mass states:

plant-based proteins have less of an anabolic effect than animal proteins due to their lower digestibility, lower essential amino acid content (especially leucine), and deficiency in other essential amino acids, such as sulfur amino acids or lysine. Thus, plant amino acids are directed toward oxidation rather than used for muscle protein synthesis

Berrazaga, Insaf et al. “The Role of the Anabolic Properties of Plant- versus Animal-Based Protein Sources in Supporting Muscle Mass Maintenance: A Critical Review.” Nutrients vol. 11,8 1825. 7 Aug. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11081825

 

The following table enables us to compare the relative quality of various plant and animal based proteins:

Plant protein versus animal protein - protein quality assessment for plant-based diet

1 Hoffman and Falvo [52]; 2 van Vliet et al. [53]; 3 Sarwar et al. [54]; 4 Marinangeli and House [55]; 5 Mathai et al. [56]; 6 ANSES [57]; 7 Rutherfurd et al. [58]; 8 Sarwar [59]. Abbreviations: PDCAAS: protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score; DIAAS: digestible indispensable amino acid score; Lys: lysine; SAA: sulfur amino acids.

This table shows that animal protein is a more easily digested, is of higher quality and is a better utilised protein source than the proteins of plants.

But the human body needs much more than just protein.

An online search for animal versus plant nutrition and you’ll see that this is a topic steeped in bias from both sides. Plants do contain much of what we require, therefore, so long as you consume some meat, fish and dairy you are much more likely to be getting your broad range of nutrition than if you opt solely for a carnivore or vegan diet.

selection of steaks - food nutrition tables are an average not an absolute

But how do you know what you are eating contains the right mix of nutrition?

Let’s take “sirloin steak” as an example.

Go on Google “sirlioin steak calories” and see the wildly differing values of calories, protein, fat, etc.

We know you are very busy, so we’ve done the hard graft for you using Nutracheck.co.uk (website accessed 14/12/2021):

 

Table showing results for Sirloin steak nutrition using Nutracheck

Steak nutrition comparison table

There are a few points to make regarding these figures.

Firstly, the manner in which the steak is cooked is shown to alter the values and therefore the integrity of the published nutritional reference values. Frying, grilling or eating steak tartare will each alter the caloric and nutritional composition of the steak.

Secondly, and most importantly, there is a big issue with the supposed conformity of the various steaks on offer.

Do you really believe the Tesco steak is exactly the same as the M&S steak?

This is not a class issue. Look at the pictures on Nutracheck, or better still go into a supermarket and look at the individual steaks themselves.

Are they identical?

Categorically no!

Just like you and me, the steaks will be different. No steak will be exactly the same. They will almost certainly have come from different animals. Why else do you peruse them, selecting the best one corresponding to your preference for marbling, outer fat layer thickness, and general appearance.

Plant-based foods are reliable though, aren’t they?

This individuality within food type extends to nutritional composition and is just as relevant when it comes to plants.

Have you grown your own fruit and vegetables at home? Where and under what conditions were they grown?

tomatoes

Another great example is the humble grape. Wine is determined by the terroir:

No two winemaking regions are the same – indeed, there can be myriad differences between two vineyards in close proximity to one another. What makes every wine unique is its terroir, a French term meaning ‘a sense of place’. While there’s no official definition of terroir, it’s a widely accepted phrase among wine aficionados when it comes to describing a wine’s particular qualities, and generally hinges on the combination of several elements of wine growing, including temperature, climate, soil composition and topography (things like slopes and elevation).

 

All living things, plant and animal are a product of their total surroundings.

Grow an edible plant in a field deficient in selenium and it will be deficient in selenium. Raise a cow in a field where excessive selenium can be found and, yes you’ve guessed it, the meat will show high levels of selenium. A product of the surroundings.

So, what if you happen to be deficient in selenium? The ethical food in terms of climate is far from the healthy choice at that time

Pulling all this together, it is critical to understand a few principles when deciding on your plant-based food at the supermarket.

You need to ask yourself:

  • Can you trust the calorie value on the packet or the “health App”? – no, these are just a guide derived from an average, but we know how to calculate YOUR calorie need
  • Can you trust the nutritional composition label? – no, again these are always an average not an absolute
  • Is plant-based better than meat based? – not really. It depends upon your nutritional requirements (preference and climate are separate issues)
  • How do I know I’m getting the nutrition I need when I’m already cutting back on my food intake, trying to lose weight? - this is not easy to achieve using conventional foods

Being different to everyone else is part of what makes us human after all. So, this new year celebrate your individuality and that of your food. If reducing your food intake, however, a difficult and complicated effort becomes even more difficult.

Lipotrim happens to satisfy the requirements of a nutrient complete weight loss diet, regardless of plant-based or not..

  • Lipotrim is nutritionally complete, comprising identical formula meals, whose nutritional values are tested in a laboratory.
  • Lipotrim is even suitable for vegetarians, skimmed milk powder being the only animal-derived ingredient.
  • Lipotrim contains no meat products, even the chicken flavoured soup which contains a vegetarian chicken flavouring, yet contains the full compliment of essential nutrients including all the essential amino acids.

Ultimately the choice of diet is yours but for an optimally balanced intake of nutrition and weight loss results there is really only one choice.

Speak to one of our diet experts today.

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