Critics have claimed over the years, that a plant-based diet cannot provide a full and balanced diet, however, dietitians and nutritional experts reveal that a plant-based diet may help alleviate many health issues, including obesity

Professional triathlete and two times Ironman champion, Kyle Buckingham, shares how he satisfies all his nutritional needs on a plant-based diet.

Related: The benefits of plant-based nutrition

Where do vegetarians and vegans get their protein from?

Protein is an important part of a balanced diet; it contributes to the building of muscles and muscle recovery, which is essential for a professional athlete like Kyle.

While the question may be common, Kyle says he has never suffered from a protein deficiency while on a plant-based diet.

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“I certainly did my research on this, especially since my job is to be a professional athlete, and I need to optimize my recovery every single day. I still get 100-120g of protein a day on a plant-based diet, through beans, edamame, lentils, nut butter and the list goes on,” says Kyle.

Can you improve your fitness on a plant-based diet?

Moving from a couch potato to a more active lifestyle means changing your diet to meet your nutritional needs and support your fitness goals.

Kyle says research (made easier by the golden age of the internet) is really important and could help you find the best foods for your needs.

“I would look at going as whole food as possible when doing your grocery shopping. Meaning you are going to spend time at the vegetable and fruit section and selecting a variety of different foods with lots of colours, as well as a variety on beans and lentils,” says Kyle.

Admitting that preparing meals from whole foods is more time-consuming than preparing processed, Kyle says recipes from Fry’s Family Foods and other platforms definitely make it easier for him to prepare balanced and nutritious meals.

Fry’s Family Foods also offer a large range of quick and easy to prepare plant-based foods including meat substitutes.

Related: How to combine plant-based foods to make complete proteins

Choosing the right meat substitute

Meat has been celebrated as the best source of protein, iron and other nutrients making it ‘essential‘ to a balanced diet. On the contrary, it has been proven that a plant-based diet can provide all those nutrients too. Some vegetarians and vegans also eat meat substitutes to add variety to their diet, and because meat has been a part of a ‘normal’ diet for so long.

The problem with meat substitutes is that they are notoriously filled with empty calories aimed at imitating the flavour and texture of meat and not delivering on nutrients.

Kyle says it is important to check the ingredients list for your meat substitutes carefully, noting the amino acids and the nutritional value of each serving.

Fry’s Family Foods foods are made with taste and nutrition in mind. They offer a variety of high protein meat substitutes.

Kyle loves Fry’s Family Food’s meat free mince

Related: Kyle Buckingham’s recipe for Fry’s Family Food meat free mince vetkoek

You really can survive without meat

The Ironman contest is synonymous with strength and vitality, having won the competition twice before, Kyle definitely knows a thing or two about getting your body in peak athletic condition.

Since switching to a plant-based diet, Kyle says he hasn’t had any negative effects, in fact, he feels more energised than before.

“I think there is no better way to stay healthy than eating loads of vegetables, some fruit and healthy carbohydrates daily. I don’t believe that a person, who wants to be healthy and fit, has to incorporate meat and dairy into their diet. I’ve done a lot of research and some of the best athletes in the world are either Vegan or Vegetarian. I have also noticed that my energy levels are way higher now on a plant-based diet than ever before,” he says.

Related: Tips and recipes for plant-based eating