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Why You Should Consider Switching to a Plant-Based Diet

Let me start things off by saying that I’m not trying to condemn anyone for eating meat. This isn’t an ethical, environmental piece. This is one about nutrition and heart health. Allow me to explain.

Fruits and vegetables - edited by Bryan Lockley

The more muscle mass you gain, the more your capillaries expand, the more pressure is placed on your heart to meet the demands of all the additional blood flow.

Ideally you’re heart is able to keep up with that blood flow. That is why we do cardio after all. But certain factors make it difficult for your heart to move blood as efficiently as it needs to. For example, low potassium, thyroid imbalance, anemia, or aberrations in the growth of your heart’s valves may lead to arrhythmic conditions (where your heart beats at an abnormal rate), which can in turn lead to some big problems.

I should know. After one particularly grueling workout session, I noticed that my heart was beating irregularly…and it hurt! I ended up needing to be hospitalized overnight. It was big ordeal. On being discharged, the doctor taking care of me recommended that I try out a plant-based diet. It turns out that people who eat mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains are half as likely to be diagnosed with a whole host of health problems including heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

It’s been a slow transition, but I’ve noticed that the less meat, dairy, and bread I eat, the better I feel overall.

Aside from heart health, here are some reasons to look into a plant-based diet:

The Challenge

As difficult as it can be sometimes, I love changing up my eating habits. We humans have the gift of potentially living for so many years. Why spend all of that time eating the exact same thing? Switching to a plant-based diet is a great opportunity to change the way that you fuel your body through life. And this happens to have an additional benefit.

Empathy

“Empathy from eating? What?” There are a number of people who eat plant-based diets. By stepping into their shoes for a period of time, you get to see the world from their eyes.

More Fiber

Fiber is abundant in vegetables, beans, fruits, lentils, and even fruit. Yes, regular bowel movements is one advantage of having a high-fiber diet. But the benefits of fiber go beyond that. Fiber helps your body get rid of bad cholesterol and also keeps you felling fuller, longer.

Diversifying Your Nutrition Portfolio

Vegetables, fruits, and nuts are all rich in varying nutrients from phytochemicals to potassium to antioxidants. In particular, potassium is found in a lot of plant-based foods and it know for reducing the effects of sodium. Although meat carries nutritional benefit as well, its portfolio is not nearly as colorful as that of plant-based foods.

pyramid depicting how to manage a plant-based diet

Lower the Risk of Diabetes

Refined sugar is straight-up bad for you. Unfortunately, it’s in almost any processed food. Chips, breads, drinks, numerous dairy products — all of these have refined sugars in them. Refined sugar is addictive and can lead to diabetes, obesity and even heart complications. If you’re on a plant-based diet you can still get sugars, it’s just that they’ll mostly be coming from fruits and vegetables. What’s worse, the high sweetness of sugars essentially desensitizes your taste buds, making it hard to enjoy the natural sugars that are everywhere. Once you start cutting refined sugars out of your diet, you’ll be able to taste the awesome sweetness of a carrot.

Easier Way to Manage Weight

If you’re just looking at calories, you can get away with eating a lot more vegetables, fruits, and nuts than you can meat. A half of pound of beans will supply will keep you full at a fraction of the caloric cost of half a pound of steak or even bread.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Absolute

If you’re apprehensive about cutting meat completely out of your diet, that’s totally fine. Feel free to adopt a flexitarian or opportunistic carnivore lifestyle. Although I don’t cook meat myself, I will have it if I’m at someone’s house and they’re serving a meal or if I’m really curious about the gourmet burger that my friend is eating at a restaurant.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Forever

Perhaps the greatest part of a trying out a plant-based diet is that, well, that’s all it is. A trial. If you find that a plant-based diet isn’t for you, you can stop at any moment.

 

I hope you find this illuminating. Again, I highly encourage everyone to try out a plant-based diet. Especially if you’re working out a lot. If you do end up switching to a plant-based diet, I recommend that you consult with your primary care physician. Although the transition usually goes without a hitch, there is the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies.

 

Bryan Lockley

from Bryan Lockley and Fitness http://ift.tt/2aQpTgN

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