It’s 2020, and many people’s New Years’ resolution is to go on a diet to lose weight. Then they will probably wonder what diet they should go on. Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, Dash… to name a few, there are so many diets nowadays, so how do you know which one is the best. To answer that question, I think you should define what you want from a diet.
In general, I think there are two main reasons why people want to go on a diet: one is to lose weight, and the other is to improve health or both. So a proper diet should not only help you lose weight and improve your health but also I believe that a proper diet should also be evidence-based and sustainable.
So what do I mean by evidence-based? Evidence-based means when a diet program tells you that it will help you lose weight or improve your health, there should be evidence such as research papers or scientific studies to back up that claim. And it should be a long term study as well so that you can be sure that you will be healthy for the rest of your life. Unlike some diet that helps you lose weight now, but it will give you chronic diseases in 10 years.
And what I mean by sustainable is that you should be able to maintain the diet in the long run. The majority of people will start following a diet for a few months and see their weight drop, but then the weight loss will be tapered off, and they will give up on that diet. After a while, the weight will go back up, so they will jump onto the next fad diet to try to lose weight again. So instead of going on a diet, I believe it better to think of it as a lifestyle change, slowly transition to a healthy eating lifestyle that you can maintain for the rest of your life.
After researching many diet programs and tried a few, I came across a YouTube video by Dr. Michael Greger on whole food plant-based diet, and I was intrigued. Dr. Michael Greger is an interesting character. He is an internationally-renowned nutrition expert and a whole food plant-based advocate. He is also a physician, and New York is Times bestselling author and founder of the Nutrition Facts website. His website NutritionFacts.org, is a strictly non-commercial, science-based public service providing information on healthy eating. Peer-reviewed scientific research papers support all nutrition and health information on his site. So I dig deeper into the whole food plant-based diet, at first I thought it was the same thing as vegan, but I was wrong.
Whereas vegan is based on belief and it tells you what not to eat and not to wear. The whole food plant-based diet is solely based on nutrition, and it tells you what you should eat. Therefore, you can be a vegan and be unhealthy if your diet consists of food like soda and chips, for example. But if you follow a good whole plant-based diet, your weight should go down, and your health should improve.
So what exactly is the whole food plant-based diet? Whole food plant-based diet is the only diet that’s been proven to help prevent—and in some cases even help treat or reverse—every single one of our fifteen leading causes of death, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more. The basic concept of this diet is to maximize the intake of foods- as-grown—whole, plant-based food—and minimizes the consumption of processed and animal-based foods. What’s excellent about the whole food plant-based diet is that you can take your time transitioning into this lifestyle of eating, you don’t have to give up meat or dairy right away. Most people have this idea of all or nothing thinking that prevent them from starting this diet. It doesn’t matter if you want a slice of pepperoni pizza. It doesn’t matter what you eat on holidays. It’s doesn’t matter what you eat on your birthday. It’s the day to day stuff that adds up. You eat poorly one day, you do a little better the next day. Your body can recover from repeated insults. We shouldn’t prevent these kinds of mental blocks from moving us in the right direction. If you love pepperoni pizza, continue to eat pepperoni pizza but make it a special occasion. Really enjoy it! If you’re going to eat crap, you should get the best possible crap and really savor that. You can’t beat yourself up over this. There’s this black-and-white thinking, almost this religiosity when it comes to food. Labels like vegan or vegetarian all of it can prevent people from making the first step, and that’s really the worst part.
After all the research I did, I decided to give the whole food plant-based diet a try. I told myself I would try for 30 days, but it’s been over six months now, and I am still following this diet. For me personally, the reason I wanted to try to this lifestyle of eating is mainly for health reason. My health is excellent right now, but I am in my mid-forties, and both of my parents have cancer, so I want to try to reduce my chances of getting chronic diseases. The second main reason is that I do CrossFit 5 times a week, and as I get older, my body doesn’t recover as well as it used to. I hear a lot about how this style of eating improves your athletic recovery, so I wanted to find out if this is true.
The reason I stayed with this lifestyle of eating is that I find that there are more gains than losses. I find that whole food plant-based foods can be full of flavors. I enjoy eating fruits and vegetables. I used to enjoy eating a lot of Asian and Italian dishes, which I find that these dishes can be easily adapted to whole food plant-based dishes and still taste great. For example, I replaced pork with tofu for sweet and sour pork and I replaced ground beef with pinto beans and mushrooms and these dish still taste as good as it used to. So for me, transitioning to whole food plant-based food wasn’t hard. However, it did take a few weeks for my body to adjust to the amount of fiber I was eating. I feel that in the long run, this diet will prevent me from getting chronic diseases. I have also loss some weight along the way without trying while my strength remain the same. My recovery from my CrossFit workouts are significantly improved, my muscle doesn’t get as sore as it used to after heavy lifting session.
In conclusion, I believed that a whole food plant-based diet is one of the best diets there is. It’s the only diet that has been proven to prevent or cure chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases. It’s great for weight management because this lifestyle of eating, with the right food, you can actually be full and lose weight without counting calorie. I find that once you figure out what plant-based food you like and don’t like and how to corporate them into your daily meal, I find that it can actually be enjoyable and easily sustained in the long run. If you think this lifestyle is something you might be interested in and want to get a massive dose of inspiration or delve deep into some research on the benefits of plant-based eating; you can not go wrong by starting your research with these famous plant-based doctors that often prescribe apples, kale, and sweet potatoes instead of blood pressure pills and insulin shots: Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr.Garth Davis, just to name a few.