by Scott Bell
Last week marked our return from vacation, and the conclusion (for now) of our plant-based diet experiment. It lasted 6 weeks, and we were extremely happy and satisfied with the food. It was a great opportunity to cook with a bunch of new ingredients and prepare some more traditional dishes from around the world. We would have continued with this diet if it weren’t for two things: GI distress and poorer body composition.
When we first started eating a very high fibre diet, I assumed it would take around 4 weeks to adjust, digestion-wise. During this time I experienced a lot of bloating, gas, and cramping (as might be expected), but it seemed to taper off somewhat at 3-4 weeks. However, a moderate and constant amount of gas and bloating persisted, and this wasn’t something I was used to or particularly keen on tolerating. I felt as though most of the legumes and grains that we ate were properly prepared (legumes soaked for at least 24 hours, sprouted grains, etc.), so it’s not clear whether or not these symptoms could be fully resolved on a diet including these foods for us. A possible alternative would be to base meals around starchy tubers, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. We may consider this approach for the future.
The body composition issue (decreased muscle, increased fat) was not severe, though still fairly disheartening. This is something that wouldn’t be an absolute show-stopper for me in the long run, but at the same time, who doesn’t want to be more lean and muscular? Since the diet was very high in carbohydrate, I did avoid any additional added fats. This meant no nuts, no added oils (not even for cooking), and choosing plenty of low-fat staple foods such as lentils and rice. Of course, if you believe Taubes, it makes perfect sense for carbohydrates to drive fat storage, but I was trying to give the other side a shot with this experiment.
So what’s next? A diametrically opposed experiment, of course. More details to come, but here are some dinners in the meanwhile.