Plant Based Diets

Plant based food protein alternative


Plant based eating has grown in popularity lately and is widely regarded as one of the healthiest approaches to fueling your body. Our resident dietitian, Rachel Hobbs, explains the benefits and practicalities of replacing meat with two veg.

 

What is a Plant Based Diet?Plant based - rice, beans, advocado and seeds

Plant based diets are a bit of trend in the nutrition world at the moment. The media claims they can do anything from cure cancer, to prevent heart disease and reverse diabetes; but what is all the fuss about and do they actually benefit us at all?

As a dietitian I define a plant based diet as a diet that aims to maximise the consumption of … you guessed it, plant foods, whilst minimizing processed foods, oils and animal produce. Sounds identical to a vegetarian or vegan diet? Similar, yes but the main difference is that often individuals choose to become vegetarian out of ethical or environmental reasons. Meat, fish and animal products such as milk, cheese and eggs are not banned from a plant based diet, but they are minimized.

A plant based diet encourages individuals to consume lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses, seeds and nuts and is generally low in fat; this can seem impossible and confusing for many, especially as for the past 10 years the fitness industry has hammered into the general public they should be eating chicken breasts, tuna and other high protein foods to be healthy.

 

 

What are the Benefits?Plant based - oats, raisins, seeds and nuts

There are many benefits of a plant based diet if it is followed correctly; science says that they are better than meat heavy diets for weight management and fat loss. This is hypothesised to be because they are higher in fibre and therefore make us feel fuller for longer; but also they are more nutrient dense, therefore contain more vitamins and minerals, allowing our bodies to work more efficiently. Research also shows they may prevent heart disease and diabetes too. Due to the increased fibre intake of a plant based diet, scientists suggest that they decrease the risk of getting some cancers, especially those associated with digestion such as colon and stomach cancer.

The jury is still out as to whether it is the increased consumption of fruit and vegetables that decrease disease risk or the reduced intake of meats and processed foods, personally I believe it is a combination of the two.
When discussing a plant based diet with my clients there are a few questions which are commonly asked; I will answer these now.

 

 

“Where will I get my protein from?”Plant based - vegetables, peppers, cabbage, green beans, chick peas and advocado

Many of my clients come to me with elevated protein levels in their diets without a balanced consideration of the role of other nutrients, often carbohydrates

Instead of focusing so strictly on grams of protein per day, I ask my clients to focus on food quality- if they consume foods of high quality or nutritional density, they will automatically meet their protein needs.

The only concern is to ensure adequate essential amino acids are consumed, these are amino acids which cannot be produced by the body. This can easily be achieved by pairing foods with differing amino acid sequences such as beans and rice or hummus and pitta bread.

 

 

 

 

“What does a typical day’s food intake look like?”Plant based - oats, almond milk, soya yoghurt, nuts and fruit

To meet average requirements, a typical day could look like:

Breakfast: Overnight oats made with almond milk and soya yoghurt, topped with nuts and fruit

Lunch: Falafel, hummus and avocado wrap with spinach and rocket.

Snack: Peanut butter on toast.

Dinner: Lentil dahl with rice and peas.

Sometimes it takes a little while for the gut to adapt to the higher fibre intake so a pea protein shake such as Reflex Nutrition’s Vegan Protein would be a great supplement to take. This would also be ideal post workout or to add into a breakfast smoothie.

 

 

“Should I not eat any meat now?”

A plant based diet is exactly as it sounds, it is based around plants, which doesn’t mean all meat and animal products are banned. I actually recommended my clients to have two portions of oily fish a week such as salmon or mackerel to ensure they consume adequate Omega 3.

 

Plant based salad

 “Where do I start?”

I think it is important to take a step by step approach when making dietary changes, so I often prescribe my clients to just start with a “Meat Free Monday” and to experiment with different meal choices every week so they can increase the variety of plant based foods in the diet and feel more confident to try two days of plant based eating.

So, all in all, I think plant based diets are positive for many individuals. They increase fibre intake, they increase vitamin and mineral intake and they decrease processed food intake. So next week, why don’t you give “Meat Free Monday” a go?

 

 

 

 

Guilt-Free Chocolate Fudge Brownie Recipe

Reflex Nutrition athlete and talented protein chef, Gauri Chopra, shares her ultimate clean cheat recipe – indulgent chocolate fudge brownies with peanut butter frosting! 

I think I am yet to meet an individual who doesn’t like chocolate or peanut butter – and rightly so, I’d say! If you haven’t tried the two together yet, you can only imagine that combination of the two definitely becomes a force to be reckoned with, ESPECIALLY in the form of a Brownie!

Not only do people tend to associate brownies with being a delicious treat, and a mouthwatering tastebud tingler, but they also get the bad rep of being an unhealthy guilt-food, and a bit of a waistline teaser! What if I told you, you could have all the flavour and fugdy texture of a naughty traditional brownie, minus the guilt? One that could offer a whole host of nutritious benefits to go with it? You wouldn’t believe me, right? Well let me prove you wrong!
As stated by my personal ‘taste-testers’, these healthy Chocolate Fudge Brownies are out of this world, and taste just as good (if not better) than your traditional, refined sugar-loaded ones! Made from natural ingredients, they are also flour-less, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and free from any artificial ingredients or flavourings.

Since these brownies are high in protein, healthy fats and fibre, they work in perfect harmony to keep you fuller for longer as well as keeping blood sugar levels stable to ensure you get a good prolonged energy supply (unlike your traditional brownie which would typically spike your blood sugar levels and eventually cause you to crash!)

Another gold star for these beauties in that they take virtually minutes to prep and make… I think the hardest part was opening the cans and jars!

Ingredients for the Brownie:

  • 1 can Black Beans drained and rinsed (200g)
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 60g pure maple syrup
  • 35g extra virgin organic coconut oil or grass fed butter -(I use coconut oil because I love the slight hint of coconut it gives to the brownies but feel free to use grass fed butter as an alternative!)
  • 15g Cacao (or Cocoa) powder
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder (use gluten free if intolerant)
  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt (or normal sea salt will do)

Ingredients for the Protein Peanut butter ‘Frosting’:

  • 2 tbsp natural crunchy peanut butter (smooth is also fine, however I like the added texture from the crunchy!)
  • 50ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop Reflex Nutrition Chocolate Peanut Instant whey Pro
  • Optional: Sprinkling of Cacao Nibs for texture and extra chocolatyness!

Cooking steps:

  1. Pre-heat fan oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Whizz all ingredients for the brownie in a food processor until is has reached a smooth consistency (you may need to scrape down the sides/blender once in between).
  3. Pour the batter into a 6″6″ baking tin lined with a little coconut oil on some grease proof paper and gently tap/shake to ensure the batter is spread evenly
  4. Before placing it in the oven, make your ‘frosting’ by heating the almond milk and peanut butter together in the microwave on a low heat for 60-90 seconds. Once this has been stirred and combined, mix in your whey.
  5. Place the brownie tin in the middle shelf of the oven for approximately 10 minutes (or until the top looks like it is just about to start cooking through). Then take it out and smear on your protein peanut butter frosting and cacao nibs before placing it back in the oven to cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
  6. You should know that the brownie is cooked when it springs back a little when touched.
  7. Holding the grease-proof paper, remove the brownie from the tin, then very carefully peel down the sides of the paper. Cut the brownie into 12 pieces then use a spatula to carefully transfer the pieces onto a plate or cooling wrack before devouring… If you can wait that long!

Your Guide to Winter Health

As the weather is getting colder it is so important we make an effort to take care of our heath over the long winter months.

The common cold and flu are more likely to catch us between March and November; the flu otherwise known as influenza is actually based on an Italian phrase translated as “influence of the cold”. The fact that more people suffer with illness in the colder months is thought to be due to more people staying inside, which means it is far easier for a virus to spread.

However, there are many ways that we can prevent illness over winter and even improve our health and wellbeing over the cold months.

Here are my top five tips:

1. Get Active

Try to do some sort of physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day; this activity can flush bacteria out of the lungs and the airways which can reduce the chance of getting a cold or the flu. Exercise also causes beneficial changes in our body’s white blood cells, which make our immune system stronger and better able to fight off virus’ and infections. Try to find an activity that you look forward to, anything that gets your heart rate up and a little sweat dripping down you face. Try a spin class, netball club or even an aqua aerobics to mix things up.

If you struggle to find the energy to train after work, try sipping an espresso before training or try Reflex Nutrition Pre Workout.

2.Get Enough Sleep

A lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on the immune system making it harder for our bodies to fight off colds and illness. Ideally we should aim to sleep for eight hours per night.

Following a pre-bed routine will help get to sleep quickly; try a warm bath with lavender oil, listen to relaxing music, sip on a hot milky drink and switch off the TV and instead have a read of a good book.

3.Scrub Up

Colds and virus’ are spread through human contact, therefore to avoid these germs spreading it is vital that we focus on washing our hands well and ensuring we wipe down our exercise equipment with anti-bacterial spray too!

4.Get Your 5-a-Day

In the cold months it is less appetizing to tuck into a big salad so it may become harder for us to consume enough vitamin and minerals through food sources.

Try experimenting in the kitchen with different soups to increase vegetable intake; give these a go;

  • Carrot, butternut squash and sweet potato
  • Broccoli, leek, potato and pea
  • Tomato, roasted pepper and spinach

Or perhaps experiment with cooking fruits and adding them to breakfast or desserts to increase vitamin intake;

  • Baked apples and raisins with natural yoghurt
  • Cinnamon grilled peaches on porridge
  • Stewed pears with sultanas

To make sure that we are not deficient in any vitamins and minerals it is a good idea to take a daily high quality vitamin and mineral supplement such as Reflex Nutrition Nexgen Pro.

5.Avoid Comfort Eating

Colder weather and longer nights can increase our temptation to snuggle under a blanket and eat warming mince pies and drink hot chocolates with cream, however this is not going to beneficial for our health. This means it is important to have healthy food choices in the house, plenty of vegetables – frozen are fine, different fruits, stock the cupboards with lentils, beans, chickpeas and wholemeal rice and pasta and have good quality meats and fish in the fridge and freezer. Having healthy ingredients in the house means we are less likely to give into our cravings and order a takeaway to comfort us.

Some warming comfort meals without the extra calories include;

  • Chunky vegetable soup with wholegrain rye bread
  • Sheppard’s pie made with lean turkey mince and topped with sweet potato and butternut squash.
  • Chicken, mushroom and pesto pasta with spiralised courgette as a pasta substitute

 

If you are looking to drop some body fat for the New year make sure you have an adequate intake of omega 3 from salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna. Omega 3 helps the body utilise food for fuel instead of storing it. If you don’t manage to eat oily fish three times per week try purchasing a good quality supplement such as Reflex Nutrition Omega 3.

Omega 3, coconut oil, butter and other healthy fats melt styrofoam

You may have seen the video that has been circulating the internet recently. Its shows a high quality Omega 3 oil from Reflex Nutrition dissolving a polystyrene cup. That’s nothing new to us as there are countless healthy oils which will melt straight through polystyrene including virgin coconut oil, butter, MCT oils, lemon oil and many others, some faster than others. The real irony is that the person who created that video is a huge fan of Reflex products and was actually using the test to demonstrate the product’s quality. Of course, it’s easy to jump to conclusions about videos and whilst we’d prefer not to have had this potentially negative publicity, we’re glad this has come to light because it raises a real issue that you should be aware of;

Polystyrene is not ideal for foods

Polystyrene is made up of long chain polymers and the non polarity of polystyrene therefore makes it excellent for liquids which are highly polar. However that’s about all its good for.
The trouble with polystyrene is once it comes in contact with medium chain fatty acids (e.g coconut oil) or worse still long chain fatty acids (e.g any omega 3 fatty acids) which all are non-polar they will start to dissolve because they are similar in polarity. It’s one reason why water and oil do not mix – they are polar opposites! Guess what is polystyrene made from? You guessed it, it is oil.

Omega 3 ethyl ester fats are generally far more concentrated than standard triglyceride Omega 3s and in addition the ethyl ester structure is even more non-polar and will dissolve polystyrene faster.
But Why Ethyl Ester in the first place ?

Reflex Nutrition use Omega 3 ethyl ester fats in preference to triglycerides for three very valid reasons;

  • Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats are the result of molecular distillation which results in one of the purest Omega 3 products in the world, a tried and tested manufacturing process.
  • Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats are factually the most researched form of Omega 3 in the world today, with nearly all of most highly praised, most positive and health promoting studies conducted used Omega 3 ethyl esters.
  •  Finally it is more cost effective to manufacture Ethyl Ester Omega 3 fats and as a result Reflex Nutrition’s Omega 3 offers great value delivering 330mg EPA and 220mg DHA from sustainably sourced fish.

On top of these high quality credentials, Reflex Omega 3 is sourced from a partner that Reflex Nutrition has been working with for over 10 years that delivers both the quality and potency we demand but also the guarantee that the Omega 3 oil comes from fish that are sustainable.

http://www.friendofthesea.org/
It’s safe to say either form will offer benefit because ultimately either ethyl ester or triglyceride Omega 3 will both build up over time in very similar concentrations to deliver the health benefits associated with consumption of EPA and DHA, here are the amounts needed, as per EU Health Claims, for those benefits.
Maintenance of the normal brain function- required daily amount 250 DHA, in theory that’s 2 x Reflex Omega 3 capsules
Maintenance of normal cardiac function– required amount 250mg EPA/DHA, in theory that’s 1 x Omega 3 capsule per day.
Maintenance of normal blood pressure – required daily amount 3,000mg EPA/DHA, in theory that is 6 x Omega 3 capsules per day.
Maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentration of triglycerides – required daily amount 2,000mg EPA/DHA, in theory that is 4 x Omega 3 capsules per day.

Now for something that is worrying;
We all have a genuine duty of care to let the public at large know about this so please share this post.
Bullet proof coffee which has become very popular over the past year or so is coffee made with either the addition of coconut oil, butter or both. Fine when it’s in your favourite mug, not so if you decided to make a takeaway coffee bullet proof that was served in a styrofoam polystyrene cup. AS SOON AS YOU ADD THE COCONUT OIL OR BUTTER THE POLYSTYRENE WILL START TO DISSOLVE INTO YOUR COFFEE AND CONTAMINATE IT.
Very few people realise this and it’s made worse because the coffee is going to be hot which will speed up the reaction. There was an important studied published just last year highlighting this very problem.
See it here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25569333
Whilst it will not dissolve immediately it can and has caused polystyrene fail causing the hot contents to spill! However the most worrying and potentially harmful aspect we can see is the silent and unknowing ingestion of dissolved polystyrene on a regular basis. It’s something everyone should know.
Spread the word on the health benefits of Omega 3 fats, but equally important, please spread the word as regards the potential issues of using polystyrene cups and any oils!