Since childhood, I’ve fluctuated between vegetarianism, veganism and an omnivore diet – most recently preferring plant-based eating due to yoga practice, limited basic food budget in NYC or animal protection awareness. But over the last six months I’ve slowly introduced meat back into my diet again with noticeable improvements both physically and in terms of my overall wellbeing.
No one should dictate their food choices; every body’s dietary needs differs, and what works for me might not suit yours. That being said, switching up from an all-veggie to meat-and-veg diet has some fascinating results on our bodies, and I sought assistance from Lisa Valente, M.S. RD to better understand why these changes were taking place and support my health during this change process. If adding meat back into your eating regimen is on your agenda (or starting fresh! ), here are four considerations you need to prepare yourself for before doing it.
1. How will this change impact my body? 2. Will switching up my health? 3. To help understand these effects further I spoke to Lisa Valente M.S. RD for advice regarding this topic! If reintroducing meat back (or adding it for the first time), here are four things you need to keep in mind before doing it: 1. Considerations before adding meat back (or starting fresh!). If considering adding it back or even starting fresh for the first time), here are four points worth remember before doing it: 1. 2. Thinking About Reintroducing meat back (or starting fresh).
here are four thoughts you need to consider before doing it: 1. Know Why this transition occurs and support your health during it and 3. If thinking about adding meat (or at least initially) If considering adding meat back or simply switching things out), here are four points worth keeping in mind before proceeding further.
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1. Your Digestion May At First Slow Down
At first, when I implemented this change, I only ate meat once every few months; not enough to notice any noticeable difference in my body or digestion. But once I started testing things out more regularly, I began eating a small portion of meat three to four times each week – this fits into both my budget and diet perfectly – yet one change became very apparent: My digestion became significantly slower compared to when eating exclusively plant-based. Most veggie lovers will agree that plant proteins make things simpler and faster moving – what was happening here?
“Meat is high in both protein and fat content, while lacking fiber content; these factors combined can negatively impact your GI tract and may contribute to blockages or alterations of ease and frequency of craps,” states Valente.
Science supports Valente’s thesis, and my own experience confirmed it: When I ate meat, it often displaced an otherwise plant-rich item like dark salad greens and broiled yam. To help maintain proper stomach cycles and avoid discomfort in your body, Valente recommends prioritizing plants over meat when planning your daily menus – such as pairing lean ground turkey or singed salmon with dark salad greens or braised yam.
2. You Might Pass Less Gas
Nobody enjoys passing gas, but veggie lovers and vegetarians tend to produce more gas than nonveg eaters. I was used to passing more gas thanks to my consistent intake of lentils, beans and cruciferous vegetables; not only was this smart in keeping my stomach level; this also kept swelling at bay since my excess air had to leave through somewhere!
So here I am now, suddenly having food issues every day. When I started eating meat, my body reduced how much gas I passed out through perspiration – this meant more gas was produced within my body, which led me to avoid my favorite thin pants as much as possible; additionally it was awkward and embarrassing! So I asked my doctor for any solutions or ways to ease the situation.
Valente suggested increasing my fluid intake, which wasn’t hard: I just drink warm water throughout the day. She also advised snacking on fiber-rich food sources like nuts, seeds and products of the earth while opting for whole-wheat pasta over white pasta, enjoying oatmeal or grain soup as part of my meals.
3. You Might Have More Energy
Though I enjoyed how light-bodied I felt on a plant-based diet, I often experienced energy crashes. Hunger pangs would set in just minutes after lunchtime, and midafternoon slumps were part of my everyday schedule. Although it’s certainly feasible to manage yourself with sufficient protein intake on a vegetarian or vegan diet, I found it challenging. After years of living in an anabolic body state, I’ve recently made efforts to increase my protein consumption – now at approximately 80 grams daily. (Please keep in mind that the protein intake outlined here is tailored specifically to my body and was determined by a certified dietitian, while your individual requirements might dictate different protein intake levels. Speak to an RD about developing an eating plan tailored specifically for you!)
80 grams of chickpea protein is quite a large quantity, so I often didn’t hit my daily target and experienced an energy crash. Since incorporating animal proteins into my eating regimen, it seems much simpler for my body to receive what it requires to function optimally and give me energy for doing what I love (here’s how you can calculate how much protein to eat daily.).
4. You Might Acquire Muscle Mass
My body had always been lean and strong – thanks to yoga! However, after switching up my diet to include meat-eating I began gaining bulk. Everyone’s bodies vary; your results could change or remain similar when embarking on similar dietary journeys. What helped me gain muscle was not necessarily animal protein itself but instead eating enough of any macronutrient altogether – giving my body enough protein for its functions was what caused visible change to occur in my physical appearance.
Valente suggests two primary considerations when transitioning to an omnivore diet are going slowly and practicing portion control. She recommended I aim for servings of 3 to 4 ounces when choosing meat; most Americans, myself included, seem to go beyond this limit when eating meals. She also advised changing up my meat types while keeping processed options like bacon and store-bought products to a minimum.
These tips are particularly relevant to individuals who have been vegetarians or vegans for an extended period, since you might not experience significant emotional changes by simply going back to eating meat again. She advises consulting a dietitian, something I did when changing my eating regimen: “If there is an underlying medical condition that triggered your decision, a dietitian could work with you on designing an individual plan tailored specifically to you.