This post is part of an ongoing series of questions about eating a plant-based diet from my readers. If you have a question that you’d like me to answer, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I read every question and answer them personally so if you feel stuck or are struggling with something or feel overwhelmed, I’d love to help you!
I’ve been plant-based faithfully since Feb 2017, it solved just about every issue I was dealing with from sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, I take no medicine anymore but Zantac for heartburn, Barrett’s esophagus. I see myself eating a lot of plant-based protein like beyond meat products, I crave meat, what are the ramifications of excess protein in plant-based eating. I’m hungry all the time and I eat all the time, I live with meat-eaters and it’s not easy day after day of BBQs in Florida. Thank you I feel I need a retreat of some sort to get a handle on the proper distribution of fats and protein and carbs. It’s getting very boring eating all the time.
First, congratulations on accomplishing some great health strides! That’s super that you’ve been able to reduce most medications and issues. I understand your concerns about eating too much protein, even on a plant-based diet, and it sounds like you’re looking for greater variety in your meals as well.
Do you think you’re craving meat because you’re still being exposed to it or is it just the remembrance from the past? I know these things can be triggers for behaviors so when those meat cravings hit, make sure you have some plant-based food that you really enjoy as a substitute. Have these favorite plant-based foods prepared and ready to go on the top shelves of the fridge so it doesn’t take too much time or effort to eat healthily. I’m thinking of hearty dishes like a bowl of chili or even leftovers from last night’s dinner.
You may already know this, but unfortunately, the Beyond Meat products, although vegan, are not considered “healthy.” They’re made from highly-processed ingredients and contain lots of fat and salt. And it’s not just this particular brand, most meat substitutes on the market won’t be as healthy as those you make for yourself from whole foods.
There is one exception that I’ve found, a brand called “No Evil” that makes products without added oil so you might consider those on occasion. (I really like their “pulled pork,” by the way!)
However, making your own burgers and sausages in your own kitchen – so you know what went into it – is the ideal. Here’s a few wholesome whole food burger recipes to try: Black Bean Beet Burgers, Falafel Burgers made from chickpeas and Black Bean Mushroom Burgers. See which one you like best or enjoy them all!
VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENT
I’m wondering if you’re taking vitamin B12? As you may know, B12 supplementation is necessary if you’re not eating any dairy or meat. Plant-based pioneer Dr. Michael Greger from Nutritionfacts.org recommends 2,500 mcg of cyanocobalamin B12 per week or 250 mcg per day if you’re under age 65 and up to 1,000 mcg per week if you’re over 65.
TOO MUCH PROTEIN
As for your question about eating too much protein – the fact is that everyone’s protein needs are different. I’m wondering if you’ve calculated the amount of protein you need per day? You can use this USDA calculator to quickly find out. Then you’ll know whether you’re going over or not.
There is a potential health concern with too much protein. Consumption of animal protein is believed to increase levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), a hormone made by the body that regulates the effects of growth hormone and is involved in the metabolism of sugar. Higher than normal IGF-1 levels may increase the risk of several types of cancer.
Plant-proteins in general, according to Dr. Greger, may not have the same effect as animal protein, although “excess” soy may likewise raise IGF-1 levels. Given the possible issue with soy, you may want to consider monitoring or limiting your intake of soy-based protein.
“THE GAME CHANGERS” MOVIE
By the way, if you haven’t seen the trailer for “The Game Changers” documentary that’s coming out Sept. 16th, you should check it out. Tickets are on sale and are popular. It’s good to know that athletes who typically require higher amounts of protein are doing fantastic on plant-based diets.
HUNGRY ALL THE TIME
As to why you’re hungry all the time, there could be a few things going on. I don’t know if you exercise or what you’re actually eating so a plant-based nutritionist or dietician should be able to help you obtain balanced nutrition relative to your activity level and weight. See PlantBasedDocs.com to find one.
Are you eating enough plant-based fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds? Vegetables have fewer calories than meat and dairy so you probably will feel hungrier and need to eat more. Having some healthy fat will make you feel more satiated. You can add a little almond butter to oatmeal in the morning and this may help.
Also be sure you’re eating plenty of foods that fill you up such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain bread and pasta. While you definitely want to have a large (very large) salad for one meal every day be sure to add a dressing made with nuts or seeds for added fat. Adding in a snack or two during the day is fine but make sure they’re fiber-rich. Perhaps a dip of hummus (made from chickpeas) with some raw veggies or sliced apple with peanut butter?
As mentioned previously, a good plant-based nutritionist or dietician should be able to help you with meal planning and getting a handle on your concerns.
I hope some of these tips are helpful. Let me know how you’re doing and if you have any other questions.