Meta: Although the WFPB diet isn’t a set diet with clear guidelines to follow, it’s simple and effective. Use the lifestyle change to maintain long-term health, lose weight, or help the environment.
The whole-food, plant-based diet is taking over, as more people are making the change to a healthier lifestyle and natural foods. If you’re new to this diet, we’ll show you the science behind how this simple and effective strategy truly produces results.
What is the WFPB Diet?
A whole-food, plant-based, or WFPB diet, is the practice of only eating plants and whole foods. Similar to a vegan diet, this meal plan reduces the number of animal products you consume. However, whole food, plant-based diets focus on healthy and natural foods. Oreos, for example, are considered vegan because they don’t contain animal products. They’re not healthy though. Instead, the WFPB foods that you can eat have the following principles:
- Whole food – Natural or minimally refined foods that aren’t heavily processed. Replace foods for whole-grain options.
- Plant-based – Foods that come from a plant over any animal product, especially meat. This means you won’t eat anything made from an animal, like honey, eggs, or milk.
Avoid all animal products and highly refined grains, such as white flour or rice, sugar, and artificial sweetener. This diet excludes fast food entirely, as well as most desserts and sweetened beverages like a soda. You’ll also avoid processed foods, packaged foods like cookies or chips, and refined grains like pasta and bread.
Some people do continue eating some animal products while transitioning, such as eggs or cheese. Plant-based diets are confused with veganism for this reason. While you’re eliminating foods, you don’t have to cut protein completely. Try selecting low-fat or unsweetened dairy products, and don’t fear dairy alternatives such as unsweetened soy or almond milk. They contain the nutrients you need to counterbalance the reduction in vital nutrients and reduce bloating.
Although plant-based diets vary depending on how much animal products you choose to exclude (particularly while you’re transitioning into the lifestyle), the point is to pay close attention to the quality of the ingredients you put in your body. Look for locally sourced, organic options where you can, and remember to limit your intake of seafood, dairy, eggs, honey, and meat.
The foods you consume include:
- Vegetables – Mainly leafy greens, such as kale, lettuce, collards, and spinach. You may also eat tons of corn, green beans, peas, peppers, avocados, tomatoes, cauliflower, squash, and more
- Whole grains – Oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa, etc
- Fruit – Organic, natural fruits like bananas, apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits
- Tubers – Easy to grow under soil, tubers include potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and parsnips
- Legumes – Any type of bean, as well as chickpeas, peanuts, and lentils
- Plant-based protein – Tofu or tempeh
- Seeds and nuts – Including seed and nut butter as healthy alternatives
- Plant-based oils
- Spices and herbs
Beverage wise, you’ll mostly stick to coffee, tea, and water. These options are healthier and suggested by most dentists today for adequate tooth care as well.
How Do I Know if the WFPB Diet is Right for Me?
Healthy eating is ideal for all people. However, those with chronic diseases or people attempting weight loss see fast results. Changing to this type of diet allows you to take control of your health, which can reduce and even reverse illnesses and chronic diseases. This diet even helps the environment. Science shows the WFPB way of eating boosts overall health, energy levels, better fitness results, and reduced inflammation. If you want any of these gains, a diet with more plants is best for you.
Why Does the Diet Work?
The diet works because it’s simple, easy-to-follow, and produces results. It’s less of what you’d call a diet and more of a lifestyle change. However, the process isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds. You can smoothly transition because the change is gradual. With plant-based eating, you move toward improved health holistically.
If you want to struggle with weight loss and dieting but want to regain your health, this diet is ideal for you. People who eat more whole foods and plants tend to appear leaner, probably because the diet allows your body to drop added weight quickly. But if you continue to follow the diet, you can expect to keep the weight off long-term.
Unlike traditional fad diets that require you to alter your eating habits for a set period, like a few months, until you reach some unattainable goal, this diet works because it’s a true lifestyle change. You won’t have to cut calories, starve yourself for long periods, refrain from eating, or cut carbs completely. However, you do need to find healthier alternatives to your favorite unhealthy meals.
You truly transform your life and rewire traditional eating habits with this diet. Rather than design your entrée around a meat centerpiece, for example, expect dinner to include more veggies. This change extends clear to your shopping habits. Meat costs much more than leafy greens, and you can grow many of your vegetables at home, so you may notice a lower price each grocery store trip as you transition into eating fewer animal products. These foods also keep longer than meat or dairy.
Multiple studies show how plant-based diets benefit weight loss. The combination of excluding processed foods and replacing them with high fiber content plants allows extra pounds to fall off. In a review with 12 different studies on weight loss, people who followed a plant-based diet lost around 4.5 pounds more each week than non-vegetarian dieters.
The results of the study took place over 18 weeks with continuing results as well, which suggests the diet allows people to maintain a healthy weight over time. Most people (80%) regain the weight they lose from dieting soon after. Restrictive diets don’t work. However, there are many qualities of a WFPB diet that helps maintain weight loss.
By reducing your carb intake and focusing on healthy whole grains, you can focus on not only the number of carbs you consume but also the type of carbs going into your body. Refined carbs, like white bread and pasta that are low in natural fiber, are incredibly detrimental to weight maintenance. Science shows that low-carb diets are more likely to help people keep the weight off and burn more calories.
In this plant-based diet, you’re not only reducing the number of white carbs you eat though. You’re also eating much more plant-based protein. Healthy protein helps maintain weight loss, lower your appetite, and helps you feel full longer. It also boosts hormones crucial for weight regulation, which allows your body to feel decreased hunger and immediately reduces your daily calorie intake.
As several studies show, protein has a significant effect on your metabolism and appetite. It allows you to feel full longer after eating healthy options and increase your body’s ability to break down the foods quickly. You’ll burn more calories than you consume and tap into your body’s natural metabolism-boosting hormones. These gains increase if you consume around 30% or 150 grams of your daily calories from protein on an average 2,000 calorie diet.
A WFPB diet also offers tons of benefits for a wide range of health conditions. Whether you want to reduce your likelihood of falling ill to the common cold or a severe health condition, adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet is ideal. It’s known to also reduce symptoms of chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
One of the most well-known benefits of this diet, WFPB eating is exceptionally heart-healthy. A study with over 200,000 subjects shows that diets rich in heart-healthy foods like veggies, fruit, legumes, whole-grains, and nuts like this resulted in a lower risk of future heart disease. Eating the right types of food is proven the best way to prevent heart disease as well.
Cancer research shows that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of some types of the disease. One study shows vegetarian diets lower the likelihood of gastrointestinal cancer, while another study demonstrates a 22% reduction in colorectal cancer in vegetarians over non-vegetarians.
Whole-food, plant-based diets are proven effective for reducing and managing diabetes. With many Americans today developing type II diabetes later in life, studies show adopting healthy plant-based eating habits results in a 34% lower risk of diabetes. If you already live with the disease, plant-based diets have also been shown to boost blood sugar control.
Other studies even show that following a whole-food, plant-based diet can prevent or slow down natural cognitive decline as you age as well. Promising results even show up in scientific studies on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. By eating more fruits and veggies, older adults can reduce cognitive decline no matter how bad they’re slipping.
If you want to remain feeling and looking great into your old age, a diet high in vegetables and low in processed foods can get you there. The benefits are wide-ranging, long-lasting, and astounding. Plus, there’s not much you need to do to make the change. It’s a diet that takes a step back into more traditional eating habits humans used to adopt, and science shows the results are fantastic for the plant and your overall health.
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