Consuming a whole food plant-based diet will help you gain more control of your health.
Our guest Rip Esselstyn is a health activist, accomplished food writer, and a former professional triathlete. Rip created the Engine2Diet community when he was a firefighter and wanted to help his co-workers combat high cholesterol. A whole-food, plant-based program is key, and after his fellow firefighters’ success, he wrote his book Engine2Diet to share his findings.
He shared some of his top tips on The Sonya Looney Show and we’re bringing you his best insight.
You are in Control of Your Health
By adopting a plant-strong diet, you gain more control over your health. People think heart disease is genetic and it’s just a card they’ve been dealt when in fact, you can control your risk of heart disease. Genetic predisposition doesn’t mean you have to accept your fate with heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.
It’s not in your genetic destiny. Embracing a plant-strong lifestyle is a great way to set yourself up for success.
It’s Not a Diet It’s a Lifestyle
It’s all about your willpower. Willpower is a muscle, and if you’re always trying to resist temptations, you can tire out that muscle. That’s why when someone starts a new diet, they end up binge-eating at the end of the day. For more on how to boost your willpower, check out this article I wrote.
A plant-based diet is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle. So if you change, this is how you can intend to eat for the rest of your life. Many diets are just about weight loss, and often they aren’t very healthy for you.
What’s The Difference Between Plant-Strong and Veganism?
Let’s talk about the difference between a vegan lifestyle and plant-based whole food nutrition.
Vegans stay away from animal products and all dairy products, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re eating a healthy well-balanced diet.
Coca-Cola is vegan, and so are French fries, Doritos, Cheetos, and Fritos; but those are all considered processed junk food.
A whole food plant-based diet consists of foods as close to naturally grown as possible and minimally processed.
The reality is most Americans are getting two to three times the amount of sodium they need every day, and we’re getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 times the amount of added sugar every day. Plant-strong means you’re getting all of the oil and all the naturally occurring fats that you need, but from whole plant-based foods.
Seven Days and Seven Pillars
Rip Essesltyn says, “I have seven pillars that I ask people to follow for seven days. My promise, my guarantee is that if you do this and you don’t deviate, you’ll see incredible results. It happens every time. There are no anomalies.”
We want to eat plants and only plants, no animal products.
2. Whole Plant-Based Foods
We have to make sure we’re following a whole food plant-based diet because “plant” can often mean all the junky vegan foods that are out there.
3. Chew Your Food
Don’t drink your calories. Most Americans are consuming a thousand liquid calories a day and our brains and our stomachs don’t register those calories as calories, and you’ll eat the same amount of food on top of any liquid calories you consume. So for seven days, stick with water.
4. Calorie Density
Pillar number four is a game-changer. Whole plant-based foods are the most calorie-light, nutrient-dense fiber-filled foods on the planet. You don’t even have to count calories, worry about portion control, or any of that nonsense. So, potatoes and beans and pasta and broccoli and collard greens, mustard, greens, apples, pears, bananas, mangoes, all these things have a calorie density of roughly 600 calories per pound or less, which is fantastic.
5. Limit Protein
We don’t need to worry about protein. There’s no such thing as protein deficiency in this country. But we’re so concerned about protein that we’re buying shampoo because it says “protein enriched.” Many athletes get worried about this, and there is simply no reason for it. (note: you need 0.8g of protein for every kg of body weight if you’re an athlete)
When you think you are protein deficient, you are simply detoxing. You will experience withdrawals and feel sluggish and grumpy because you aren’t eating the sugars and highly addictive foods. But give it seven days, this is an experiment that we encourage you to do because, ultimately, this will be the best thing for your health and athletic performance. As human beings, we only need between five to 10% of our calories coming from protein.
6. Salt, Sugar, and Fat
Limit salt, sugar, and fat. Americans are overdosing on these ingredients. They’re all appetite stimulants that make you want to eat even more.
Number seven is to exercise. We are a society that sits way too much, and sitting has become the new smoking. We were meant to move. And it’s so good for brain health, and it’s fantastic for cardiovascular health and bone health.
In seven days on average, people following these seven pillars are losing 3.1 pounds and bringing down their cholesterol.
Cooking Plant-Based Foods
The biggest obstacle that many people have with even starting a plant-based diet is that they don’t know what to eat. We have a wonderful tool to help with that, simply go to plantstrong.com, click on food, and then the dropdown menu will give you the engine two meal planner. The planner is really robust and very customizable. You simply put in your information, and it will generate recipes based on your preferences. It will even create grocery lists for you as well.
Join a Plant-Strong Community
Food is a really important part of our culture and of feeling like you belong to something.
I (Sonya Looney) created a private Facebook group called the Plant Powered Academy. It’s the most supportive, encouraging, loving, positive group you’ve ever seen!
Learn more about this plant-powered lifestyle at Plant-Powered Academy and check out my cookbook!