Nutritionist TJ Waterfall’s new book The Plant-Based Power Plan promises to help you increase strength, boost energy and perform at your best. Here’s a taste of what’s inside.
A sports nutritionist to world-class plant-based athletes, Waterfall’s The Plant-Based Power Plan shows you how a meat-free diet can be the not-so-secret tool you need to improve both health and performance.
The book breaks down the strategies he uses with Premier League footballers, professional rugby players, Team GB Olympians and endurance athletes, into easy but comprehensive guidance for anyone looking to get the most out of their plant-based approach.
Expect science-backed myth-busting, proven tips to help you excel in your sport or training, and a selection of 30 quick and easy plant-based recipes to show you how simple it is to incorporate the most important nutrients into must-try meals.
Veganism has been shown to promote longevity and protect against all manner of diseases, including cancer and dementia. In this extract, TJ Waterfall offers a few reasons why.
If you don’t eat meat or animal products, you need to replace these calories with other foods, and often these are whole plant foods.
For example, an omnivore might have chicken with their Sunday roast, whereas a vegan would typically replace it with a nut roast made with pulses, vegetables and nuts.
Of course, not all vegans eat more plants, but on average vegans do eat significantly more of these whole plant foods and have healthier dietary quality scores.
Why is this important? Well, let’s look at the biological pathways by which eating more plant foods like vegetables, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds can dramatically improve health.
The body can generate its own antioxidants as part of its free radical defence programme [free radicals are unstable atoms that, left unchecked, can cause serious harm], but some must also come from the diet – for example beta-carotene and vitamins C and E.
There are some antioxidants in meat and animal products, but a comprehensive review of the antioxidant properties of over 3,000 foods worldwide showed that plant foods have an average of 64 times the antioxidant properties of animal-based foods.
Therefore, the higher antioxidant intake when eating more whole plant foods can help prevent oxidative stress, and is one of the pathways by which eating more plants can provide such a profound protective effect against so many major diseases.
The gut microbiome [the huge array of micro-organisms that live in your gut] is so important it’s often referred to as the ‘forgotten organ’.
Studies show that vegans tend to have a reduced abundance of pathogenic (‘bad’) bacteria and a greater abundance of protective species. This is mostly down to the increased fibre intake of a typical vegan diet.
Fibres are the primary energy source for most of our healthy gut microbes, so intake can directly benefit those ‘good’ bacterial species.
Many good bacteria species also ferment certain fibres, and in the process produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs lower the pH of the gut, which in itself inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria and increases the absorption of some nutrients.
They’ve also been shown to keep the cells lining the colon healthy, reducing the risk of colon cancer through several mechanisms.
Weight gain is too often oversimplified, when in fact it’s a hugely complex issue. Genetics play an integral role in people’s appetites, and therefore weight.
Also, the world around us influences our ability to maintain a healthy weight…[with] the constant bombardment of advertising and cheap pricing of fast food, sugary snacks and drinks.
But while traditional weight-loss diets simply don’t work in the long run, plant-based diets have been shown to both help prevent weight gain in the first place, and improve weight reduction in overweight populations.
A meta-analysis comparing plant-based diets with other approaches such as the Atkins diet and even the American Diabetics Association recommended diet showed significant weight reduction in vegetarian and vegan diets.
There’s a whole host of reasons why. These range from psychological factors such as motivation and adherence (vegan diets tend to be long-term lifestyle choices rather than short-lived weight-loss attempts), to biological factors such as the fibre content and nutrient/calorie density of plant foods.
TJ Waterfall’s Easy Vegan Burgers
Having tried dozens of vegan burger recipes, this one hits that magical sweet spot of being easy but tasting great.
Serve in a bun with avocado, tomato and red onion, and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce if you like. Before cooking, the burgers can also be frozen – simply defrost them in the fridge for at least a few hours, then cook as below.
TIME: 15 minutes prep + 10 minutes cooking
STORAGE: Keep burgers covered in fridge for up to three days
MAKES: 4 burgers
– 3 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
– 1 white onion, finely diced
– 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained
– Handful of fresh coriander
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
– 4 tbsp plain flour (or gluten-free flour)
– Pinch of salt and pepper
- First, fry your onion – heat 1 tbsp of the rapeseed oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and stir occasionally for around ten minutes, until softening and turning translucent. Add the garlic and continue to fry for another one to two minutes, then take off the heat and set aside.
- Drain the chickpeas well and put them into a food processor along with the cooked onion and garlic, the fresh coriander leaves, the paprika, cumin, ground coriander seeds, flour, salt and pepper. Blitz until a thick burger mixture has formed (you may need to scrape the sides of the food processor down a couple of times during the blitzing).
- Shape the mixture into four burger patties. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan, then fry the burgers on each side for four to five minutes, or until they have nice golden, crispy sides.
- Serve each burger in a bun with quarter of an avocado, half a sliced tomato, a few slices of red onion, 1 tbsp of vegan mayo and 1 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce. This goes brilliantly with regular or sweet potato wedges.
PER SERVING (in a bun with suggested toppings):
Kcals: 622 | Protein: 18.5g | Carbs: 77.9g | Fats: 24.7g