The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

by Dr. Jennifer Gray, DPT, CHC, RYT-200

What do you think of when you hear the word “vegan?” If you are anything like me, I immediately pictured a tree-hugging, granola-chomping yogi or a crazed PETA advocate screaming “Meat is Murder.” Although I am a yoga instructor, neither of these pictures really seemed to fit me or my lifestyle. However, I found myself signing up for “Veganuary” earlier this year after watching a slew of very disturbing documentaries on Netflix (cue me sobbing on the couch to my husband watching Food, Inc). I pledged to be vegan for the 30 days of January. Now, I don’t love labels (hence the earlier connotation of the word vegan), so I now refer to myself as a whole-foods, plant-based eater. Yes, that’s right... it stuck. Not only did I lose the last 10 stubborn pregnancy pounds that I had been holding onto, but I have never felt better in my life. I have more energy during my long days at the hospital or playing with my 2 young children, and I recover so much faster in between my workouts and training. I even shaved 20 minutes off my half marathon time and completed my first triathalon!

Image via  @runningyogimama

Plant based diets have been known to decrease obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attacks, strokes, and some types of cancer. The reason for this decrease is in large part due to phytochemicals, which are power substances found in plants. Plants are also rich in antioxidants and provide a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients. Minerals are actually derived from the earth and make their way into food from plants themselves. The only way animals (including humans) get these minerals into their body is from eating plants. Plants are also our only source of fiber in the human diet. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion, acting as a bulking agent and keeping the smooth muscle of the digestion tract strong, as well as for detoxification, as it binds to waste and excess hormones to be released by the liver. Fiber can also slow the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.

I whole heartedly believe that I am the healthiest I have ever been eating this way, and I’m on a mission to help others feel like this too. Spoiler alert...you don’t have to give up meat altogether or start eating tofu! There are easy ways to just start implementing more whole foods and plants into your diets regularly, without giving up the foods you know and love.

10 Day Detox Follow Up

10 Day Detox Follow Up | Lean and Green Body® Blog

We did it!! My husband and I just completed our first 10 day detox together!

Our bodies have been free of gluten, dairy, alcohol and meat for 10 days!

This is a huge accomplishment and I am so proud of my husband for completing the detox with me. 

This was his first official detox, and I am impressed that he completed all 10 days. 

The verdict: we feel amazing!

We have so much energy. My productivity has been expanded ten fold. I have found this sense of clarity and the afternoon brain fog has dissipated for both of us.

My skin is glowing and clear, the whites of our eyes are crisp, and any belly bloat is gone. 

As many of you know, I love detoxing. I plan to detox at least four times a year, in addition to a 24 hour detox every month. My first published book on detoxing, Revitalize and Renew was released earlier this year, you can check it out here.

I am so passionate about detoxing because it is a time to reconnect to my roots. We can focus on food purely as fuel for our bodies. It’s a time to simplify and get back to basics, all we need is real food.

For this detox my husband and I sustained ourselves on real whole foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and teas. Our goal was to drink 90 oz of plain water per day, in addition to nettle leaf tea, dandelion root tea, and our daily coffee or black tea. We ate tons of raw greens, sweet potatoes, black beans, and delicious smoothies. I honestly did not feel deprived. I felt satiated. There was a connection to the food that we ate, and I enjoyed the time we spent together cooking and dining. 

Many of my clients worry that they will feel a lack of energy and become hangry during a detox… we experienced the opposite. We had loads of energy and laughed more than we have in weeks. We had fun with the detoxing process. I highly recommend detoxing with your partner, it allows you both to grow and bond together.

Moving forward, I have chosen to limit meat in my diet to maybe 1-2 days per week. I am flexible with myself and do not want to put any labels or firm restrictions on my dietary habits at this time, but right now this is my plan. Ricky on the other hand is looking forward to adding organic healthy chicken and fish back into his diet. He is someone who craves meat, and has been a good sport for the past 10 days.

Our household is already gluten free, due to my allergies, and previously we aimed to limit dairy. After completing the detox, I believe we will both eliminate dairy from our diets, it simply does not make us feel good and is really pro-inflammatory and unhealthy for our bodies.

As we begin to ease out of our detox, we will add alcohol back in sparingly. We plan to limit drinking to two days per week, taking into consideration parties and events. We have made the decision to extend the alcohol-free portion of our detox to about 14 days, and to make a regular habit of detoxing our bodies. 

We will both be more aware of how we are fueling our bodies, and more in tune with what makes us feel good. 

This detox was never about losing weight or a quick fix, it was always about tuning in and listening to our bodies. Our bodies are so smart, if we just listen they will tell us what they need.

For more information about detoxing contact Jennifer at jennifer@leanandgreenbody.com

August 8 10 day detox

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We are taking the plunge! We are starting our first family detox!

After several nights out, fatigue, brain fog and too much stress, we determined that it was time to commit. 

  • We have decided to write our own rules for our 10 day real food detox, not surprising I’m sure to anyone who knows me personally. 
  • We will be eliminating gluten (as always), dairy, alcohol, added sugar and meat. 
  • We will be consciously limiting coffee, but will not be eliminating it entirely for the 10 days because well… sanity. 
  • We will be consuming a plant based diet, packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats and greens.
  • We will be increasing our water intake will aid in flushing out our systems and rehydrating our bodies.
  • We will be supplementing with green drinks and herbal teas.

My favorite teas while detoxing are YOGI Peach Detox Tea, Parsley Tea, and Nettle Leaf Tea. All three have amazing healing and cleansing properties. 

Our goal from this cleanse is to come out with a deeper appreciation for how we fuel our bodies. We want to feel re-energized, refreshed and renewed. We are looking to eliminate fatigue, brain fog, toxic foods and stress; all of which take a serious toll on our bodies. 

For tips on how to detox at home check out my latest book Revitalize & Renew available now!

Vegan Protein Options

Vegan Protein Options | Lean and green Body Blog

A common misconception is that vegans do not eat enough protein. The truth is spinach, per calorie, has more protein than red meat. Shocking? Can you become muscular, healthy, and fit by following a vegan lifestyle? YES!

Plant based proteins are packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, and so much protein. Spinach has 7 grams of protein per cup, and peas offer 9 grams of protein per cup. Your daily greens are packed with way more protein than you would initially think, right? Protein helps to keep your body full, create muscle, and helps to repair and rebuild our muscles after a workout. It is essential to everyone’s diet...vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, or meat eater...everyone needs protein.

Quinoa - Vegan Protein Options | Lean and green Body Blog

Of all the grains available, quinoa is my favorite! Quinoa is not only gluten free and vegan, but it provides 8 grams of protein per cup. This is an excellent option instead of other traditional carbohydrate options like pasta and rice. Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate and will help to prevent spikes in blood sugar, keeping your energy steady after each meal. Quinoa can be substituted in the mornings for oatmeal, added to a salad at lunch, or mixed with pesto and vegetables at dinner. For those readers who are able to tolerate gluten, farro can be a great addition to your diet. Farro naturally contains 8 grams of protein per 1 cup of cooked farro, and is higher in carbohydrates and calcium than it’s quinoa counterpart, making it an excellent choice for athletes.

Tofu - Vegan Protein Options | Lean and green Body Blog

For those on a budget and looking for an inexpensive vegan option, tofu is a great choice, averaging only 50 cents per serving! One serving of tofu (approximately 4 ounces) has 9 grams of protein. Tofu can be added to your salads, smoothies, or bowl recipes.

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein and complex carbohydrates, making them a great pre- or post- workout fuel. Beans average approximately 14 grams of protein per cup, the highest on this list! Beans and legumes make a great addition to any meal.

Chia Seeds - Vegan Protein Options | Lean and green Body Blog

Chia seeds and flax seeds are another great vegan protein option, packed full of protein, omega 3’s, fiber, and healthy fats. These two superfoods are great additions to your smoothies, oatmeals, salads, and bowls. These seeds are versatile and easy to pack, making them a great on the go protein option.