Something I hear quite often from clients and friends is that they have a hard time either gaining or maintaining weight while eating an alkaline plant based diet. For those of us who work out or train for a particular sport, it can be difficult to consume enough calories to fuel our activities. So how do we compensate for burning through salads, smoothies and fresh fruit on the go? Vending machines, corner stores and organic markets are not the most ideal place to find snacks or meals that fit into the alkaline category — and good luck finding a Dr Sebi Approved meal bar.
As a health food chef for over 7 years it’s clear to me the effects food can have on us both positive and negative. I personally have dealt with being 58lbs overweight and pre-diabetic with digestion issues and joint pain. Since getting my eating under control and learning some effective techniques for managing my weight I’ve eliminated every single symptom of bad dieting that ailed me.
Here’s how we take control of our calorie burning machine without counting calories because chances are there’s a few factors that can be easily overlooked. Let’s start with the foods that contain good fats and high, nutrient rich calories.
- Pasta (Kamut/Spelt)
- Grains/Flours (Kamut/Spelt/Rye/Teff/Garbanzo/Amaranth)
- Wild Rice
- Nuts (Walnuts, Brazil)
- Seeds (Hemp, Tahini, Quinoa)
- Squash (Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti)
From smoothies to hot breakfast cereal to Guacamole to flatbread with Tahini butter — there’s more than enough calories on Dr Sebi’s Nutritional Guide for an athlete, weekend warrior or a busy mom who has transitioned to a plant based lifestyle and doesn’t necessarily want to lose weight. Keeping this in mind, it’s also important to eat the right foods and the right amount of food at the right time.
For example: A friend of mine is training for a triathlon and she’s concerned that she’s not consuming enough calories and won’t have enough to burn during workouts or even worse, on the day of the race.
We always hear “eat small meals often and throughout the day” — but that’s for someone who wants to keep the metabolism going in hopes of burn extra calories and perhaps improving digestion and as a result losing weight. This method is not for someone wanting to gain or maintain weight and or muscle mass. Horses and Gorillas have extremely strong and well defined muscles and do not consume meat, so weight and muscle aren’t exactly the result of what some call “protein”, meat, fish oils, sugary or fatty foods.
My personal regimen usually includes 30% exercise and 70% food. Here’s what I do to keep lean muscle mass and remain at my ideal weight while being on an alkaline, plant based diet.
Combine Good Fats
Putting good fats together in pairs can help raise the calorie count of a meal pretty quickly and keeps me satiated. Fats like a the Guacamole and Spelt Wrap w/ A PeaNot Punch – Tahini Butter and Walnut Milk. The important thing to remember here is keeping weight on or gaining a few pounds, so unless you have an extremely fast metabolism, are working out or training, this is not a suggested food grouping for every day consumption.
Getting enough fiber from say homemade flatbread made with Rye, Spelt or Teff flour is a great addition to a “good fat” combo if I’ll be burning additional calories for the next 6 hours after consuming them.
Eat High Calorie Meals At Specific Times
As a rule of thumb I tend not to eat much before noon. I believe the term breakfast is misleading and implies one must eat something before noon in addition to it being the most important meal of the day. If you DO eat before noon it should be light like tea, fruit, smoothies or grains as a hot cereal.
It’s not easy to stop eating at 7:30pm but by keeping it light in the evening and not eating anything at least 2 hours before laying down it will help the body properly digest it’s food for that day. This will allow the body to absorb the nutrients you’ve provided and create a regular schedule by which it absorbs minerals and disposes of toxins. Once the muscles receive ample minerals, oxygen, hydration and fiber they will hold mass and definition.
Getting In The Greens
When raising your calorie intake and pairing good fats it’s imperative that we make sure we get those greens in. Salads, Leaf Wraps, Smoothies, Green Juices and Sea Vegetables are essential in ensuring we balance our mineral intake to compliment the flours and fats.Each meal can have some form of greens worked into it.
- Green Juices, Cucumber Slices, Salad, Sea Weed Snacks, Wakame Flakes, Green Smoothie, Sea Moss
The Power Of Smoothies
Smoothies are a good way to get those easily digestible calories and minerals when you may not have time to eat. I’m a big fan of green smoothies when I’m on the go and can’t make a salad. The variety of greens accessible to us is larger and can be made to taste great with the addition of apple and lime. But smoothies can also double as a meal or a calorie supplement. Combinations like Tahini Butter and Walnuts w/ Agave and Sea Salt make a great PeaNot Punch when you want something filling and sweet.
One of the most overlooked aspects of maintaining muscle mass is drinking enough water. One gallon of Spring Water is ideal for every day consumption and more on days when you plan to perform highly physical activities. If you’re a runner or use a treadmill at the gym it’s important to hydrate during your workout with very small sips. Staying hydrated can’t be stressed enough as one of the most effective ways to maintain proper digestion, circulation and absorption of minerals.
For more creative recipes that may help maintain a high calorie intake using Chickpeas get your copy of the cookbook ‘Beyond Vegan’
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