My goal with this post is to further alleviate any unfounded worries that a vegan diet, or more in particular a whole foods vegan diet, is deficient. Any diet, vegan or not, when it is based on refined foods, or as I like to call them, food-like substances, will be deficient. But a diet based on real, whole foods, that’s a different story, as you will see.
I hesitate posting something as mundane and not really all that exciting as what I ate yesterday (seems a bit presumptuous, narcissistic, like you all care what I’m eating), but I feel it’s important to further drive home my main point, which is, you can more that adequately meet ALL of your nutritional needs on a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Not a day goes by that I don’t encounter some sort of dietary myth or misconception, particularly as it relates to a plant-based eating.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve started using the CRON-o-meter as a tool to gauge nutrient intake as well as provide some accountability and awareness for what I am eating. Using the CRON-o-meter has been empowering and enlightening on many levels. I knew that a whole foods diet, based on nutrient dense foods met my nutritional needs. But I had no idea that not only do I ALWAYS (if I’m getting adequate calories, which is no problem for me 🙂 )meet EVERY nutritional requirement (macro & micro nutrients, yes, EVEN calcium) but I usually exceed needs by quite a bit as well.
Case in point:
Here are my stats from yesterday.
This may seem like a lot of calories, but consider this: I did 30 minutes of ashtanga yoga, taught a 45 minute step class, walked 3 miles (while pushing a 3-kid stroller at that), and did several hours of chasing/picking up kids, washing dishes, cleaning up, ect. I don’t think I sat all day except to read my kids books and do some things on the computer. Point is, I move A LOT, which explains why I eat so much :).
81% calories from carbohydrate
13% from protein
7% from fat
99 g of fiber (!)
102 g of protein (!)
Easily met my omega-3 and omega-6 essential fat requirements.
I was talking with a client the other day. She mentioned how her personal trainer recommend she go on a 30% calories from protein diet. If I had consumed 30% calories from protein yesterday, I would have been at 200g+ of protein! I suppose if I was only consuming 1000 calories, which would be 75 grams of protein (30% calories from protein), then it’s more reasonable, but what about carbohydrates, the body’s energy currency? I tell you what, if I was only getting 40% of calories from carbohydrates, I’d be asleep right now. I, and all of mankind, NEED carbohydrates for energy, for living. When we don’t get enough, we crave sugar, we’re tired, burn-out easily, don’t have the energy to perform basic day to day functions.
Most individuals, athletes or not, need somewhere between 45-70 grams of protein a day (any more than that is extra, which your body will need to excrete). The particular amount really depends on your caloric needs (the more calories you need, the more protein you will get, assuming these calories are not coming from sugar or refined foods), which are based on height/weight/gender/activity level. I just can’t imagine why this belief that “more protein is better” myth continues to pervade in our culture, especially in light of the massive amounts of research that suggests otherwise. It baffles me.
Another thing, is the recommendation for fats. This same client was recommended to get 28% calories from fat. Again, if you took my 2700 calorie diet from yesterday, that would put me at 84 grams of fat! I don’t care if it’s “good” fat, no one needs 84 grams of fat daily. Your body needs those fatty acids which it cannot produce on it’s own, hence, essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). All foods, with very few exceptions contain varying levels of fat. Regarding omega-3 (the supposed “fish” fat–it is found in fish, but the fish didn’t just “make” it, they got it from eating plants), the AI (adequate intake) suggested by the National Academy of Sciences is 1.1 g of omega-3 (2 tsp. of ground flax seed provides this). Your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio should not exceed 1:4. And side note, there is no AI set by the National Academy of Sciences for DHA, because the human body can manufacture omega-3’s into DHA.
The only vitamins that I did not get 100% of were vitamin D and b-12. Vitamin D, is the sunshine vitamin (your body manufactures it when you get adequate sun exposure, and also has the ability to store this vitamin for long periods of time), and I spend time outside, even in the winter, and especially when it’s sunny outside. For b-12, I take a sublingual dot daily when I’m nursing, or every few days when I’m not nursing, like right now (although I also get it from the brewer’s/nutritional yeast, soy milk, and JuicePlus complete).
Here’s a more in depth summary of my day:
Energy 2714.7 kcal
Protein 102.2 g
Carbs 567.0 g
Fiber 98.8 g
Fat 20.3 g
Vitamin A 132385.4 IU 5674%
Folate 866.9 µg 217%
B1 (Thiamine) 3.7 mg 338%
B2 (Riboflavin) 3.5 mg 320%
B3 (Niacin) 38.6 mg 276%
B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 14.7 mg 293%
B6 (Pyridoxine) 5.7 mg 438%
B12 (Cyanocobalamin) 2.3 µg 97%
Vitamin C 387.7 mg 517%
Vitamin D 140.0 IU 70%
Vitamin E 16.2 mg 108%
Vitamin K 126.2 µg 140%
Calcium 1262.1 mg 126%
Copper 5.4 mg 595%
Iron 42.2 mg 235%
Magnesium 895.7 mg 289%
Manganese 11.5 mg 641%
Phosphorus 2149.2 mg 307%
Potassium 7742.0 mg 165%
Selenium 103.0 µg 187%
Sodium 1902.0 mg 127%
Zinc 23.7 mg 296%
Saturated 2.3 g 12%
Omega-3 1.8 g 160%
Omega-6 5.4 g 124%
Cholesterol 0.0 mg 0%
And here’s what I ate (and I really did eat all of this food, I promise!)…
(Food, Number of Servings, Serving Size, Calories)
JuicePlus Complete powder 1 Serving
Bananas, raw 2 small (6″ to 6-7/8″ long)
Blueberries, frozen, unsweetened 1 cup, unthawed
Brewer’s Yeast 1 tbsp
Seeds, flaxseed 1.5 tsp, whole
Quinoa, cooked 1.2 cup
Miso 0.04 cup
Hummus 0.5 1/2 cup
Carrots, baby, raw 1 NLEA serving
Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, without salt 3 large
Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked 1 cup
Corn, sweet, yellow, raw 1.5 cup
Beans, white, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, with salt 1 cup
Spring Mix Lettuce Greens 4 Cups
Vinegar, balsamic 2 tbsp
Potatoes, baked, skin, without salt 1 skin
Apples, raw, with skin 1 small (2-3/4″ dia)
Mung beans, mature seeds, sprouted, raw 1 cup
CAMPBELL Soup Company, PACE, Thick & Chunky Salsa 1 2 tbsp
Snacks, popcorn, air-popped 8 cup
Brewer’s Yeast Lewis Labs 0.5 tbsp
Oranges, raw, navels 1 fruit (2-7/8″ dia)
Pears, raw 1 medium