There are many paths to optimal fitness and health. The definition of what it means to be “fit” is also greatly subjective and will hold various meanings for different people.
You may have heard someone saying “You can’t be fit on a plant-based diet”. This statement could be a reflection of a personal experience they’ve had when making adjustments in their nutrition. Or maybe it’s related to some sort of perception that a plant-based diet doesn’t contain enough protein.
Let’s take a look at the statement “You can’t be fit on a plant-based diet” and bust this myth once and for all.
The Cambridge Dictionary offers a definition of the adjective form of the word “fit”, as pertaining to health:
“In good health, esp. as a result of exercise; strong”
The definition itself is rather subjective since the definitions of “good health” and “strong” can vary greatly between people. Ultimately, it’s a matter of opinion whether someone is in good health or not, and sometimes underlying health problems are present without signs or symptoms.
So for simplicity, and to “fit” with the purpose of this website, let’s discuss whether a plant-based diet can assist you with fitness-based goals such as:
“Plant-based” has been a bit of a ‘buzz word’ in recent years. It’s often interpreted as meaning an exclusively vegan diet.
However, someone that eats meat could still consider themselves as being on a “plant-based diet”, or rather, having “plant-based days”, if the majority of their food choices are centred on foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, spices, and legumes.
Just like the word “fit” is somewhat subjective, the definition of “plant-based” can also vary, and is often open to interpretation. There is not a defined percentage of what should be considered as a plant-based diet. The book, The Blue Zones – by Dan Buettner, contained studies that show that there are 5 ‘blue zones’ in the world where people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else. They found that these areas typically followed a 95 to 100 percent, unprocessed plant-based diet.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, is predominantly plant-based. The majority focus is on plant-based whole foods. It is also supplemented with small amounts of fish, chicken, and dairy products (and very little or no red meat). Many studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can improve a number of health markers.
When approached sensibly, opting for whole foods over processed ones, and tweaked for individual requirements, a plant-based diet will provide you with the necessary nutrition for improving and optimising your fitness and health in general.
Many professional athletes are 100% plant-based. Venus Williams – Tennis, Kendrick Farris – Olympic Weight Lifting, Scott Jurek – Ultra Running, Novak Djokovic – Tennis, and Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1. To name but a few.
The main nutritional components that play a role in helping you to get fitter and healthier are:
For a healthy lifestyle, and especially a fitness-focused lifestyle, protein sources are important to help the body recover and repair. Carbohydrates provide much-needed fuel. Fats are essential for things like healthy cells and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy immune system and help optimize a huge number of functions in the body. Phytonutrients such as flavonoids and carotenoids can also help support the health of the body in a number of ways.
All of these nutritional components can be obtained from a plant-based diet. Protein is often the main concern regarding the myth “You can’t get fit on a plant-based” diet. Plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, and legumes contain much-needed protein for muscle recovery and repair. Carbohydrates are certainly not lacking in plant-based foods, and healthy fats can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Plant-based foods also contain vitamins and minerals and are the best source of phytonutrients – natural chemicals produced by plants, that help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
Do you consider yourself to eat a plant-based diet? What does this mean for you? Have you noticed any benefits from switching to more of a plant-based diet? Please comment below!