Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss

Weekend Q&A: Can I Get All My Essential Nutrients on a Vegan vs. Animal-Based Diet?

February 03, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss
Weekend Q&A: Can I Get All My Essential Nutrients on a Vegan vs. Animal-Based Diet?
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Can you thrive on a vegan diet (zero animal-based foods)?

The question we're answering is:

"What nutrients are essential for life and can only be found in animal products?

I guess it would be more about vegan and vegetarian diets and the assumptions that you can’t get certain nutrients from plants. Maybe more context would be what essential nutrients are often regarded as only coming from animal sources, and are there plant sources of those nutrients? Could a person eat a vegan diet without supplements and get all of their essential nutrients from foods?"

Find out in today's Weekend Q&A bonus episode.

Download the MacroFactor app to stay on track with your diet and achieve your fitness goals. Extend your free trial using the code WITSANDWEIGHTS.

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This is a special Weekend Q&A edition of the Wits & Weights podcast, where we supercharge your Saturdays with an answer to one burning question so YOU can put it into action this weekend.

These questions are taken from the weekly #AskPhilip thread in our free Wits & Weights Facebook community. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless amount of information and, let’s be honest, MISinformation online and just want a straight up answer without the jargon, that’s what this free service is for.

With the weekly #AskPhilip thread, you can post a specific question relevant to your unique, individual situation that week and have it answered live by me on Friday. If you’d like to experience it yourself, I invite you to use the link in the show notes to join the Wits & Weights Facebook group. It’s totally free and you’ll quickly find out what a positive and supportive community it is.

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Speaker 1:

Can you thrive on a vegan diet with zero animal-based foods? In other words, can you get all of your essential nutrients on a vegan versus an animal-based diet? Find out on today's weekend Q&A bonus episode. Welcome to the Whits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, philip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self-mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in.

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the special weekend Q&A edition of the Whits and Weights podcast, where we supercharge your Saturdays and Sundays with an answer to one burning question so you can put it into action this weekend. These questions are taken from the weekly Ask Philip thread in our Free Whits and Weights Facebook community. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the endless amount of information and, let's be honest, misinformation online, and just want a straight up answer without the jargon, that's what this free service is for. With the weekly Ask Philip thread, you can post a specific question relevant to your unique individual situation that week and have it answered live by me on Friday If you'd like to experience it yourself. I invite you to use the link in the show notes to join the Whits and Weights Facebook group. It's totally free and you'll quickly find out what a positive and supportive community it is.

Speaker 1:

With that, let's get to today's Q&A what nutrients are essential for life and can only be found in animal products? Now, for anybody that follows Dustin and his show, the Working Weights LLC podcast, he talks a lot about specific nutrition topics in each episode and then dives into the science in detail. If you watch a YouTube video, he shares the papers and he shows graphs and spreadsheets and all that. If you're a data nerd, you're going to love it. Then he ties that to practice. He gets way more into analyzing the studies than I ever do, and that's our thing. Go for it, man. You own that space. That's why I responded. I feel like you're testing me.

Speaker 1:

Is there any more context? I'm suspecting he's basically saying, hey, you can be vegan, right, you don't have to have animal products and still survive and even thrive. I think that's what he asked me. It's kind of rhetorical. I get it, dustin, but you're giving me the platform here and also fulfilling one of the boxes and the habit tracker for the challenge. Then you said I guess it would be more about vegan and vegetarian diets and the assumptions that you can't get certain nutrients from plants. Maybe more context would be what essential nutrients are often regarded as only coming from animal sources, and are there plant sources of those nutrients? Could a vegan person without supplements diet without supplements and get all their essential nutrients from food? Then Chrissy added to this and said I'm interested in this.

Speaker 1:

I've been eating vegan for 27 years. I supplemented with B12, take a multivitamin, zinc, magnesium, adding creatine. My eating habits make it hard for me to gain weight, muscle. All these things are definitely what I see, chrissy. When it comes to vegans, which here's the general gist of it, it's going to be harder than if you have animal products. That's like saying it's harder when you cut anything out that's available to eat in the world versus including that thing. Generally, that's just a principle because of diversity and availability and all that, but not impossible. Maybe it doesn't even have to be that crazy hard once you develop the habit and the things that you need. I put together a document I'm going to go over in a second here. My goal has been to add weight, muscle and overall strength and endurance. I lose weight so quickly without meaning to anxiety is just not feeling hungry. Some of these are more behavioral things that, chrissy, we can talk about.

Speaker 1:

I was not going to answer them here specifically because it can go on and on and on. I want to answer Dustin's question, then you I can personally go down the rabbit hole of specific things. Then you mentioned Huell, which is a meal replacement product, and started seeing and feeling muscles. I feel stronger already. You said earlier you just started to lift. That's going to be huge. Lifting itself is a major key to unlock performance and health for vegans. Big time, big time. I'm glad you're doing that.

Speaker 1:

Here's what I put together, dustin. I think you're going to love this. Based on your question. I did exactly what you asked which nutrients are mainly in animal products, but then can you get them from vegan sources? And then some general recommendations to go with that. Okay, vitamin B12. And for some of these I listed what they're for. I'm not going to go into all that today, but vitamin B12, I think we've all heard of that. For vegans, you can get it from four to five plants, foods and supplements. Now, yes, you did say can you do it without supplements. I think you can. I think you could get close without supplements. I wonder how practical it is. In other words, you get very little room for error, I believe.

Speaker 1:

Now, dustin, if you have like an example meal plan that and you probably could create on chat GPT, I'm sure that you like that includes just plants and satisfies everything quote unquote optimally. I think it can be done, based on my own understanding and working with a few vegans and some of this research. But usually there's supplementation involved and that's the case for omnivores too. We have supplements like I take magnesium because I just no matter. Even when I track it and try to consume lots of foods with magnesium, you just can't seem to get to that number while doing everything else. It's this real fine balance and we're going for thriving and performance and optimization here, we're not going for just the bare minimums. So, having given you all those caveats, omega-3s are the other one usually found in fatty fish. You can get them from Algal Oil for sure.

Speaker 1:

Iron now, whether you call that supplementation or food that's maybe splitting hairs, iron for sure it can be tough to get, but it's still available in plants, the non-heem version of iron. So if you have a diverse diet lentils, spinach. If you have vitamin C and citrus and other foods of vitamin C to help with absorption, I think you'd be okay there. Now, granted, pre-menopausal or I should say menstruating women need the most iron of anyone, right, like double or more of the iron that post-menopausal women or men need. So it's just that much more important to watch that. But if you're using something like macrofactory, you can know exactly how much iron you're consuming and you can set a target.

Speaker 1:

Calcium of course that's the big one. It's in dairy, but you could also eat calcium from plenty of plants Broccoli, also plant milks, and then, of course, supplements. Zinc a lot of this has to do with bioavailability, I think in the animal products and again, dustin, you might pick on this and I'm not asking you to do that, I'm just pointing out that that's the consensus, so to speak, and it doesn't really matter because, again, you can get it from nuts, seeds, legumes, if you soak and sprout. That improves absorption as well. Vitamin D many of us are deficient in that.

Speaker 1:

I supplement with vitamin D. I live in the Northeast, I walk outside, I still don't get enough, and I test my vitamin D and it's smack dab in the middle, having taken supplementation. 5,000 IU a day is what I take. Some people take up to 10. Some people say, oh, five's too much, I only need one or two. Depends on you, right? Vegans can take vitamin D2 and then they're lichen sourced D3 supplements. So this is one where you probably want to take supplementation.

Speaker 1:

And then creatine everyone should take creatine, in my opinion, like I mean, you don't have to, but everyone can benefit from it. It is found in meat, but all of us omnivores, included in the lifting world, tend to supplement with creatine monohydrate 5 grams a day. And then torene is also primarily meat and fish, but it's not essential. The body can produce it and for that you can take supplements. Maybe this shouldn't even be on the list. So I think I covered the big ones.

Speaker 1:

Dustin, I wasn't going to go too detailed for the ask Philip type of deal. It could basically become a podcast episode at that point, and maybe you want to do that. Maybe you're going to come up with an episode on this. It'd be awesome. Recommendations Okay, definitely supplementation. Again violating Dustin's question, can you do it without supplementation? But you may need it. Creatine, for sure.

Speaker 1:

The biggest thing is a diverse variety of whole foods. It's about the matrix right, how everything comes together. This is omnivores and vegans and vegetarians, having a lot of different things, not limiting yourself to like two foods that you like, you know. Try to really incorporate a lot of different things and get that variety in Test. You know, take blood work, track all that, all of that. You know tracking via food logging, micronutrients and blood work right, you should have included that in there. And then this is another big one, especially for you, chrissy is eating enough, just having enough calories and protein. So protein would be legumes, tofu, tempa, seitan, all that good vegan sources of protein. Calorie dense foods would be things like nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, and this is always what I recommend to everyone.

Speaker 1:

If you could spend most of the year not dieting, you're probably going to be better off from a health perspective Once you've gotten down to a kind of a range of healthy weight. You know, assuming you're not very overweight, that's usually a good strategy when you can get there. Meal replacement is one final option, which would be, of course, powders. Pean rice protein blend is my favorite for vegans, if you can tolerate those vegan protein bars Hul you mentioned, I know there's a special version called Black Edition that's higher in protein. That's it for today's weekend Q&A bonus episode. Remember this is just a small part of the weekly Ask Philip live Q&A in the Wits and Wates Facebook group, which you can join totally free using the link in the show notes. I invite you to join us as we improve our health and physique together. Thank you.

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