By Kenny Robinson
A plant-based diet means making vegetables and to a lesser degree fruits the primary food source in our diets.
Is a plant-based diet the same as vegetarian or vegan diet? Yes, and no.
Vegetarians/vegans typically eat a plant-based diet. Research shows they are generally healthier than the average population and they have fewer incidences of cardiovascular issues, some forms of cancers, such as colon and rectal cancer and other lifestyle related diseases.
Even vegetarians/vegans can fall into the trap of eating too many carbohydrates and packaged “healthy” foods, which have a high salt and sugar content, which can lead to host of problems such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
My reason for turning to a plant-based diet in the late seventies had nothing to do with my spiritual quest or an attempt to save the planet. My quest was strictly selfish and practical. I was trying to find a diet that would help me become the best basketball athlete I could be. My girlfriend at the time gave me a book, “Cooking with Mother Nature” by Dick Gregory. It changed my life forever. From that point forward I read every book on training and nutrition I could find and subjected my body to the most grueling workouts possible. I played basketball college level, I have trained for road races both short and long distances, trained for martial art competitions and triathlons, and lifted weights like a body builder.
I have run so much that the thought of running now makes my legs want to run away from me, which is why I have replaced running with yoga, cycling and walking. I am not against running, and I know from experience that it is the most efficient cardiovascular, weight reducing exercise you can do, especially if you couple it with a sound plant-based diet. But, in my opinion running has a shelf life and like any athlete there are only so many miles your body will run before the accumulation of it breaks your body down. That is why professional athletes retire in their thirties. The body can only take so much punishment before you have to switch to something else.
My point is, I did all of this to test the validity of all the research I was doing on the benefits and strengths of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. What I learned as an athlete is a plant-based diet will give you a competitive edge, because it provides your body with the best means assimilate nutrients, which improve recovery times and overall stamina. Whether, you are an athlete or a business person you need all the edge you can get to compete in this ultra competitive world.
What if I have a slow metabolism and just can’t seem to lose weight – will a plant-based diet help me?
I hear this all the time, which causes my eyes to glass over. What the heck is that, I think to myself? I just respond, okay, and then give them a copy of my training journal and ask them to keep track of all the food they eat and the exercises they perform for the next week and then we can discuss their slow metabolism. Unless someone is taking steroids either medically or illegally, they will not have a problem getting lean and fit on this eating regimen. Now there are always exceptions, but I am willing to bet that those exceptions are less than one percent of the total population of people I see and talk to about losing weight. There is no question eating is easy and exercising is hard. Similarly, there is no secret to getting slim and fit if you want to be slim and fit. The simple formula is calories in and calories expended. If you expend more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.
The plant-based diet is about eating the best quality food to help your body reach its maximum potential. Your mind is also at the mercy of your diet. More and more research is coming out every day about foods and cognitive health. Whether you are an athlete or not, the health of your body and mind is your ticket to happiness. If you don’t believe it, try to be happy and full of smiles when you are sick or can’t remember what you started out to do a few moments ago.
To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Buddha
“The author makes no claims or guarantees concerning proper diet or exercise regimen for any individual. All information in this document is for informational purposes only. Please check with your health care practitioner before starting an exercise program or making dietary changes that may adversely impact your health.”