The Daily Beet

22 Nov Plant-Strong Q&A with fitness and nutrion expert, Lani!

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It’s Tuesday and that means that Lani is dropping by to answer some of your questions! If you want to learn a little bit more about Lani, or check out her helpful advice in the comments check out this introduction post.

But first, we have a winner from last weeks giveaway! The winner (picked at random in the comments from last weeks post) is Carrie! Carrie – look for an e-mail from us!

Today’s questions are about go to snacks, good nutrition post work-out and fat in the diet. Remember, leave a comment or a question and you can enter the 2nd giveaway for one of Lani’s popular “Fit Quickies” !

Laura asks: When I come home for work, I’m STARVING and need to eat something right away. What are some things I can have on hand for healthy snacks, besides the usual fruit and carrot sticks?

Lani Muelrath: Laura, this is one of THE best questions because it points the way to the answers to so many other challenges.  Fruit and carrot sticks are excellent and have their place but being limited to them can also be a carry-over from diet thinking.  Where we are trying to ‘tide ourselves over’ to the next meal, save up calories, or not ‘spoil our appetites’.  Meal time is when you are hungry.  From that perspective, anything you would eat at any meal is game for ‘snacks’:

  • Cold baked and seasoned potatoes:  I like to cut rich red potatoes in half and steam them with Bragg’s herbs sprinkled on top.  Great grab and travel food.
  • Cold baked and seasons yams and sweet potatoes.  A new favorite for all:  Purple yams with creamy dreamy vanilla flesh!
  • Brown rice with beans and salsa in a bowl, or simply rice with salsa.  Cold is good!
  • Leftover lentil with kale soup.  Just threw this together:  Smokey Butternut Lentil Soup
  • Hummus on grainy bread.   Hummus is the new mayo!
  • Refried beans rolled in a corn tortilla

Somebody stop me!

Beth asks: What do we really need nutrition –  wise after a work out to replenish the body? Do we really need a protein shake??? And yes I do workout hard.

Lani Muelrath: Beth, after a hard workout, the glycogen stores in your muscles and liver are depleted and what you need more than anything is to get them replenished.  But you don’t need a protein shake to do it.  Rather, I call it the carbohydrate window.

The muscle building – or anabolic  – phase is a critical phase that occurs within about 45 a 45 minute window after your workout. This is when muscle cells are highly sensitive to insulin. Eating the proper nutrients in order to make gains in muscle endurance and strength is important during this time. Eating these same nutrient 2 – 4 hours post-exercise doesn’t have the same effect.

This is when you want to eat carbohydrate. Insulin sensitivity created upon the workload to the muscle causes the muscle cell membranes to be more permeable to glucose within this 45 minutes post-exercise window.  I call it the carbohydrate window. Glycogen storage is ramped up and the muscle recovery process is enhanced.  PLUS you get a lot more readily-available fuel in the muscle tank for your next workout (Burke et al., 2003).

Again, the storage of muscle glycogen is replenished the fastest within that first hour after exercise and consuming carbohydrate then is what does it.  This also helps to increase protein synthesis. (Gibala, 2000). And remember most foods you eat have on a plant-strong diet have a mix of carbohydrate and protein anyway!

Lisa asks Just read an article that we need some degree of fat in our diet (added) to help absorb minerals and certain vitamins. truth or myth?

Lani Muelrath: Yes, fats in the diet are essential.  Truth.  Yet you easily get the 10% or so you need with a varied, whole-foods plant-strong diet.  Where we get mixed up is thinking that “fats” means oil.  Whole grains, vegetables (hey broccoli has omega 3s!), beans, seeds….there’s fats in them thar foods!

Thanks for the great advice Lani!  Remember if you have any questions/comments please leave them in the comments (and you will be entered in the giveaway!)

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Lani Muelrath
    Posted at 08:40h, 22 November

    Congratulations again to Carrie! Can’t wait to get your Fit Quickie choice into your hands. Be sure to check out the Fit Quickies page to select the 1 out of 10 you want!

    And thanks to everyone here at E2 for such a warm and enthusiastic welcome and response. The questions posted last week as well as on have been absolutely delish and keep ’em coming.

    Be sure to post your comments and questions below, and you are automatically entered in the Fit Quickie give-away for this week.

    I’ll be here each week with answers and resources for you. And in the interim, you know where to find me.

    Show me the plants!

    • Carrie
      Posted at 15:52h, 22 November

      Whoooo Hooooooo Thank you ! Number one sounds like a great place to start! Love the comments and especially the answers!

    • Carrie
      Posted at 03:34h, 30 November

      Hi Lani,
      When I saw my name as the person who won the giveaway, I went back to your first blog post and believed I was the only Carrie to reply to it. I never received an email from y’all so I came to your site (I read through an RRS feed) to find someone else had replied under Carrie. I once again went back to verify and still only see my question under the name Carrie. Did someone else claim the fit quickie as me or am I mistaken? Thanks for your time,

  • Lani Muelrath
    Posted at 08:48h, 22 November

    Oops! Major linkage to fb in my post. No way to edit from my view!

    Cheers, me

  • GetSkinnyGoVegan
    Posted at 10:49h, 22 November

    Thanks for showing how easy it is to make super fast and easy vegan eats! It always surprises me that even people who think plants are cool, still think you must be able to cook a lot if you are vegan. It is what you make it! You can make super fast food or a 12 course meal, just like any other cuisine!!

  • Engine 2 Team
    Posted at 10:49h, 22 November

    We can’t either for some reason (regarding the links) it’s okay 🙂

  • Catherine Davis
    Posted at 10:54h, 22 November

    So post-workout carbs are essential for replenishing our bodies, but in order to build bigger muscles do you agree that protein (20-30g) after a strenuous workout is beneficial? There is a big difference between simply replenishing and making gains, or is this incorrect?

    • Catherine Davis
      Posted at 11:01h, 22 November

      To elaborate, I’m talking about bodybuilding goals: big, strong muscles.

  • Lisa
    Posted at 11:40h, 22 November

    My family is just starting on Engine 2. I have 2 children who are overweight and I am really afraid of messing them up if I put them on a “diet”. I don’t know what kind of nutrition they need, if they can work out, or anything really about children losing weight. I am also afraid that I’ve already set up bad habits, we used to go to McDonalds a few times a week! And now they don’t understand why we’re not going anymore. I really don’t know the first thing of what to do or if Engine 2 is healthy for kids, and if I should be getting them to work out. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    • Joe in O
      Posted at 14:00h, 22 November

      I’m not sure if Lani will respond to these comments, but I can share my experience with children changing to a plant-based whole-food diet. We are in our third year and went “cold turkey” when our boys were 6 and 8. We talked to them lots about why the way we had been eating was hurting us and had already hurt some of our family members. The first month was the hardest as they hated the change and all the convenience of stopping for fast food went out the door. We just stuck it out and made sure we still had treats and tried to include them in what to eat and making what they could. It gradually got easier and today it’s no big deal. After about a year of eating this way during a discussion of diversity at my son’s school, in which the teacher was mentioning how each of the students was different, she said that Matthew is a vegetarian, to which he responded “Well actually I’m a whole-food vegan since we don’t eat eggs or milk or oils.”

      A plant-based whole-food diet is the best way for children to eat and it will undo the damage done by what they have been eating.

      • Lani Muelrath
        Posted at 15:56h, 23 November

        Joe, what a beautiful story and you’ve obviously done a great job with your kids.

        Yes, I’ll be responding to questions as the column unfolds, as there isn’t time to address each question right on the spot as it comes up.

        Have you had a chance to take your kids to Farm Sanctuary? They would love it! I just completed editing 2 videos from last Saturday’s celebrations, with a third on the way with all kinds of footage of children and the animals. What was the biggest motivation for your kids?

  • lani
    Posted at 11:44h, 22 November

    I am still confused about the nuts and seeds issue. Different doctors have different opinions about using them for a fat intake. Do you think one should have any if you have a bad family history of heart disease? And if not, how much should one consume per day?

  • Cori
    Posted at 12:13h, 22 November

    Hello! So, starting this week I am attempting a vegan plant based diet for breakfast and lunch and will eventually get dinner together when I can absorb all of this info more. Plus, this is a REALLY bad time of year to try to start this especially for vacation coming up….My question is, I have a problem with soy/tofu and don’t know of an alternative in recipes that require it (like Rip’s Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna) What can I use in place of soy? The only thing I can think of is maybe some black beans all mushed up. Thank you.

    • Lani Muelrath
      Posted at 13:22h, 23 November

      Cori –

      Cannellini beans! They mash up nice, are white, and easily take on other flavors – just like the tofu.

      And actually, this is a GOOD time of year for getting started. Why wait until more damage is done?

      Here are some more motivation and tips to keep you inspired NOW:


      • Lani Muelrath
        Posted at 13:24h, 23 November

        It appears I’m missing some code – will try again on that link!


        • Lani Muelrath
          Posted at 13:26h, 23 November

          Oh well! It ended up wedding itself to my name. The tip sheet I was linking is called “4 last-minute tips for a healthy, happy, in-harmony Thanksgiving”

  • Denise Welsh
    Posted at 12:35h, 22 November

    Brown rice in salsa for a snack…who would of thought. That is why I love reading the-daily-beet. Great tips and Yummy!

    Thanks 🙂

  • Julie Guthrie
    Posted at 12:56h, 22 November

    Found a reliable source for purple sweet potatoes in Austin, MT Market on N. Lamar. I boil a batch and keep them on hand for snacking. Also, an excellent post workout recovery food.

  • Lynnette
    Posted at 13:07h, 22 November

    Great ideas for snack suggestions. I agree that I need something quick to grab when I walk in the door after work, before starting dinner.

  • Jess
    Posted at 13:51h, 22 November

    I have a question about workouts. I always seem to hurt myself , pull something or am in lots of pain when I try to do hard workouts, like circuit training or weights or really anything that does not involve walking LOL! My question is, am I just better off walking every day? Or should I keep pushing? The problem seems to be when I do a hard workout , I’m in so much pain and then I end up taking a few days off. So I’m thinking maybe I should just do something low impact and easier every day till I figure out how to stop hurting myself. I’ve had 12 workout related injuries this year!

    • Lani Muelrath
      Posted at 14:03h, 22 November

      Jess, ouch!

      To know for sure I’d need to know what moves you are doing, what the resistance is, what percentage it is of your max and perhaps most importantly, what your form looks like!

      From the sound of it, you may just be using too much weight which might be compromising you orthopedically. You can use less resistance and still get delivery on results:


      You SHOULD have some muscle ‘awareness’ after a challenging workout. You should NOT have debilitating pain.

      Does this connect?

  • Lani Muelrath
    Posted at 14:05h, 22 November

    Man, so many great new questions today! Thanks everyone, if I can’t get to them here they’ll go into the queue for the weekly Tuesday Q & A.

    Keep them coming and have a ‘plantiful’ Thanksgiving!

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 15:02h, 22 November

    I am so thrilled to see the snack ideas. Those are really great and things that I would have never thought of. Really great. Now if someone out there can help me with a dairy and gluten free substitute for Cream of Mushroom soup-UGH!

  • Bev
    Posted at 15:40h, 22 November

    Yum, I’m off to buy purple yams now! On the way out, I’ll grab an apple off my tree, slice it, and squeeze some Meyer lemon (from my other tree) over it, and sprinkle some organic cinnamon on it. My own version of apple pie-ish. 😉

  • Justin Rutherford
    Posted at 16:35h, 22 November

    3 weeks and going strong. Feeling great, and my energy levels are crazy. I have some questions about working out? Before starting this lifestyle change I was lethargic, always napping, I would workout for a few days and then just fall right back into a slump again. Well I’ve been back at it for 3 weeks and so far so good. If I’m attempting this lifestyle change and I”m working out 6 days a week (weights and cardio) do I still need to worry about calorie and protein intake? Please advise;


  • Barbara
    Posted at 21:03h, 22 November

    Pop that rice and salsa (or veg or whatever) in the microwave for a minute before chowing down. Warm foods are what I crave after work, and it makes me feel more ‘full’ with fewer bites.

  • Leah Cody
    Posted at 21:45h, 22 November

    Thanks for the great snack ideas!!

  • Leah Cody
    Posted at 21:45h, 22 November


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