Please Pass the Fat
My food journey has been going on for over 40 years and switching from vegetarian to vegan during that time, I had an interesting realization.
I have always been curious about why ex-vegetarians exist, since for me the commitment to a plant-based diet has always strengthened by ever more information. So over the last few years I have gotten personal and started asking people. The answers were varied but I found a common thread. Either they themselves felt like they were missing something or their health practitioner told them to go eat some meat to feel better.
Finding the Missing Link
Now I cannot begin to purport to have done a scientific study, but I think this analysis bears thinking about. Most of the people I interviewed were what I like to call “no-meaters.” They simply took the meat off their plate without thought to the consequences of an unbalanced diet. None of those I interviewed took into consideration the intricate balance each human must attain of carbohydrate, protein and fat sources to be commensurate with their life style. In fact most thought they needed to go back to an animal based diet because they needed protein for energy.
The Aha Moment
The real break through came to me one day on the way back from a “boot-camp” style yoga class with Karna. We both had a craving for eggs. After trying to figure out what we must be missing, we decided it had to be the fat. So we came home and had a stir-fry with olive oil. Mission accomplished.
We discovered very soon that we could monitor energy intake better and not have the craving any more. Regular intake of carbs could do it or balancing with fat would extend energy longer if we could not eat as frequently.
Three vs Five Meals a Day
One of the problems that the Western diet prescribes is 3 meals a day. And they are all typically very animal fat based. Ya, I know, everyone thinks it is the protein they want. I am sure it is the fat.
If you just were to eat fruits and veggies three times a day, you just can’t keep a steady energy level. Throw in some grains and beans and it improves and of course ups the protein. Add some nuts, olive or coconut oil, avocados and you get a steady source of energy.
Is Fat a Bad Word?
There seems to be two very opposing camps on this. The carbs for energy folks want you to get your energy from carbs and cut the fat. The primal folks want you to skip the carbs and get your energy from fat.
I think the answer lies in between and is relative to your lifestyle and metabolic makeup. But simply relying on carbs three times a day, as did most of the folks I interviewed, you are ending up literally starving half your waking hours. No wonder why the comfort of going back to a fat and hence animal-based diet makes sense. The fat taking longer to process provided fuel long after the carbs had been used up.
Your body burns both fat and carbs. At rest it burns more fat than carbs. The more in shape you are, the more it burns at rest. But when you start working out, you will burn more carbs.
So it really is your choice to eat more or less carbs or fat. Play with the balance with your lifestyle. If you are going to eat 3 squares a day, you will no doubt need more fat. If you are going to graze all day you probably can get away with an all carb diet and your body can store the extra as fat.
Sources of Energy
Most whole foods have everything you need to sustain energy. If you use some common sense with the level of activity you have, you can pretty much intuitively get the right amount of energy to sustain you.
Perhaps find some balance by eating a mid-morning and mid afternoon snack. Nuts and dried fruit are a great way to build that balance between immediate and sustained energy fueling.
So, before you give up on your Plant-Based Diet, please pass the fat.
Note: Lester is not a nutritionist or medical practitioner..These are ideas for thought and consideration in building a conscious diet and should not be considered dietary advice.