So, you have decided to go plant-based and stop eating meat and animal products. Congrats! There are many changes in your life that await ahead of this new road. Things like a switch in your hunger patterns and cravings, new timings of bodily functions, changes in your body weight and metabolism, and of course, a different response to a high-fat, high-animal protein meal. Of course, I need to remind you that all of these changes should be done under clear dietary advice from a professional. Unfortunately, it’s not just about eliminating animal products from your diet.
Topics that will be discussed ahead:
- Hunger and cravings with a plant-based diet
- Changes in your bodily functions with a plant-based diet
- Changes in your body weight and metabolism
- Typical reaction after a high-fat, meat-based meal
I have created this post because most of the people I see who have gone plant-based under my indications are amazed by the changes they notice after the first two weeks. After seeing the same reaction in many of them, I thought it was a good idea to share this with all of you, who are interested in the change.
Hunger and cravings with a plant-based diet
When you stop eating meat, the majority of the calorie-dense foods are removed from your diet. This means that you need to replace them with other food sources. In a vegan diet, most of the bulk of the food is not too calorie-dense. When replacing meat products, you need to look mainly for complex carbohydrate choices which are high in vegetable protein and fiber. By doing this, you will increase the volume of food you consume throughout the whole day, want it or not. This takes us to the real point: There is usually no cravings or real hunger present in the plant-based diet if done correctly, addressing to your caloric needs.
With meat, the volume of food you ingest in rather low, and the amount of calories that it represents is relatively high since they are packed with fat. Since the volume is lower, the satisfaction response of the “hunger” triggers in the stomach is not ideal, and it can trick the brain to think that it’s not full yet.
On the other side, a vegan/plant-based diet with the proper macronutrient distribution has to provide more volume of food in order to cover the same amount of calories as the meat-based one (remember we are not talking about reducing the amount of calories, just changing the source), creating a better satisfaction and satiety response with the same amount of calories. Also, it is based on complex carbohydrates which provide dietary fiber, which stimulates more the “triggers” in the stomach mentioned before.
By following a diet plan based on complex carbohydrates, the insulin response of the body is more stable, making your sugar cravings virtually disappear. Normally, sugar craving arise when we have peaks of blood glucose (sugar) randomly during the day, making your insulin production not stable or indefinite. You are actually eating carbohydrates all day, but since they are complex ones, the body needs more time and energy to process and metabolize them, reducing the likelihood of them becoming fat and releasing insulin in a controlled way. In this regard, it will surprise you to know that meat triggers a similar or even bigger insulin response in the body, but that is a topic for another time.
Changes in your bodily functions with a plant-based diet
Another thing that has been reported to change with the switch to a predominately vegan diet are bodily functions. A lot of the things that we consider “normal” are usually not. Things such as feeling really sleepy after lunch, going to the bathroom every two days, waking up in the morning depleted of energy or having a slow metabolism, among others.
Overall energy levels: When you remove meat products from your diet and reduce the general amount of fat consumed every day, your body can focus on healing and perform as it should. Your micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) levels will be stable, your inflammation markers will also decrease and your metabolism will use less energy to digest your meals. All of this results in having more energy. Your hormone-producing glands will work properly since they do not need to worry about having too little micronutrients to work with, your autoimmune system will stop working overtime, and your digestive system will invest less energy in obtaining the energy and nutrients that every meal you eat provides.
Bowel Movements: The increase in dietary fiber and the reduction of saturated fat helps your digestive system to work faster and cleaner, allowing you to excrete toxins and residues faster (actually, how it should always be). Our bowel movements should be regular and periodical, not sporadical and random. This means we should go to the bathroom every day, at around the same time, and even twice a day.
Body Odor and skin: When you remove nitrogen residues from your daily diet (they come with meat products), your body odor changes. At first, this is not too notorious, but after the first two weeks, you (or your partner) will notice. Unfortunately, meat products rot in our gut, generating an unpleasant smell that transfers to our skin and pores. In regards to skin, addressing and surpassing your micronutrient needs helps to improve your skin, hair, and nails.
Changes in your body weight and metabolism:
It is better for you to read the whole article based on body weight changes in a plant-based diet. Here, have a look:
Typical reaction after a high-fat, meat-based meal:
Now, this is a really good one, because most people don’t expect it to be so strong. When you hear a vegan speaking about how bad they feel after eating meat or a meal which has high levels of saturated fat, most people react with: “come on, don’t exaggerate”
Well, dear readers, it’s real.
Since a plant-based diet is so low in saturated fat and has no meat products, when you present your body with any of these, it just does not remember how to react. Your stomach starts overproducing acid, your pancreas secretes too much insulin, your brain does not control your hunger hormones, etc. In short, everything goes to hell in your body. Top that with the fact that your small intestine does not remember what to do with those big fat molecules and produces diarrhea shortly after your meal and gastrointestinal discomfort (stomach pain) for the next few hours and you will also be complaining about how bad your body reacts to meat or meals high in saturated fat.
Stay informed, stay curious.