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Plant-Strong Q&A with fitness and nutrition expert, Lani!

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.

This week Lani addresses the soy question as well as a question about osteoporosis.

Also! Tune in tonight to Lani’s tele- class with Engine 2′s, Natala Constantine! Click here for details.

Alison  asks: Please put the soy question to rest! I have one friend telling me she can’t consume soy because of the estrogenic effects.

Lani Muelrath: Hey Alison, I love the soy question because invariably it is asked by people who are pounding down the dairy and quite possibly other animal products with far more dangerous risks to our hormonal profile than a few bites of something soy.

Whether or not  this is true for your friend, here’s the thing.  Some people are allergic to soy, so that’s a no brainer about elimination.  And all ‘soy’ is not created equal.  Processed soy products and isolated soy proteins should not form a large part of a whole-food, plant-strong diet.  A little bit of tempeh, a few cubes of tofu, and a splash of soy milk on your oatmeal is a far cry from isolated soy protein shakes and bars.  Soy foods should not comprise more than about 5% of your total calories for the day, which they probably shouldn’t anyway because they are rather high in fat.  You might as your friend at what levels of soy consumption she is concerned with the estrogenic effects.  It’s possible that her health care provider has  directed her not to eat soy due to her own personal sensitivity and profile, which she should listen to.  This is different from general recommendations.

Vikki  asks: I’m 60 and was diagnosed with osteopenia / osteoporosis last year. What’s the best thing(s) I can do to halt and / or reverse the progression?

Lani Muelrath: Vicki, the 2 primary points of intervention are diet and exercise.

Let’s start with exercise. First, remember that bone is a living tissue and given the right stimulus it will try to build itself stronger. Bone is built by stress that is delivered in 2 ways:  Through impact of gravity and through muscle tugging on bone.  Every time you take a step while walking or jogging, your muscles are getting the inspiration to become more dense.  Every time you lift a weight or object, muscle tugs against bone and bone building is the response.  When you try to regain your balance, the muscles of the back tug against the spine and you build bone.

When it comes to diet, a whole-foods plant based diet rich in greens, beans and their other plant friends is loaded with calcium, iron, zinc, etc, and the more plants you eat the more minerals you get.  The problem is then not the supply.  The problem is potential depletion of mineral stores in the bone.  Here’s how it happens.

The typical American diet of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese as well as processed grains is very acidic. These acids demand to be neutralized.  And guess what the primary buffering system of the body is. The bones. They dissolve so as to neutralize the acid. They are washed out into the kidney system.  What’s left behind is osteoporotic bones.

Corrective diet and load-bearing exercise along with resistance training are your two allies in the quest for stronger bones.

Thank again Lani for taking the time to answer some questions!

Do you have a question for Lani? Please leave it in the comments below!

About the author

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!

18 Responses to “Plant-Strong Q&A with fitness and nutrition expert, Lani!”

  1. Thanks Vikki and Alison for such excellent questions for today’s Plant-strong Q & A Tuesday.

    Be sure to leave your comments and questions for future columns, too.

    Cheers! Show me the plants!


  2. marissa says:

    What is your opinion on getting dha/epa? I’ve read that plant sources of omega 3′s are mainly ala, but that dha is most important to get. I bought some vegan supplements, but I burp up an awful taste afterwards! Are there any alternatives? Thank you!

    • Marissa, this will deserves a longer answer so I’ll put it in the Q & A Tuesday queue.

      For now, we easily convert the plant-derived omega-3 fat (which is entirely plant-derived), ALA, into DHA or other omega-3 fatty acids in the liver. With fish oil supplements, you get the DHA that the fish has converted from a plant source. You can do it all by yourself. ;-)

  3. deb says:

    I just found a recipe I want to try… but it calls for 1/4C of greek yogurt. Are there any substitutions I could use?

    • Deb, you could make a tofu cream or even try cannelinni beans (not knowing the recipe). There are non-dairy yogurts, though I don’t know that much about them. that I don’t know much about. I did hear about this on a referral and haven’t read the ingredients or tried it, but it came highly recommended as a flavor agent:


      Can’t find the ingredients list right off but it looks like it’s verrrrry high in fat. Creamy homemade tofu ricotta may be your best choice.


  4. Peggy King says:

    can you comment on the Paleolithic diet?

  5. melanie says:

    My question: Does cooking veges reduce the amount of vitamins and nutrients in them?

    • Melanie,

      Cooking vegetables does destroy some nutrients. To best preserve the nutrients in your vegetables, (such as vitamins B and C) cook them as quickly as possible as a quick cooking time helps preserve the heat-sensitive nutrients.


  6. Sue says:

    Hi Lani,
    I am brand new to the Engine 2 Diet. I got my book with the Forks over Knives during the Thanksgiving weekend. I tried just doing veggies a few weeks ago and obviously did it wrong, I gained five pounds.
    So, now I want to follow the book, but I must say, most of the recipes are rice/beans/pasta – most confusing. I am 62 yrs young and want to get stronger as I get older. What is recommended for an easy breakfast to get out the door for work?
    Thank You,


    • Hey Sue,

      Just veggies wouldn’t gain you 5 lbs! In these circumstances I usually ask someone to keep an accurate food diary so we can find out where the problem is!

      My usual breakfast is a big bowl of oatmeal or steel cut oats, or cream of rice, or other hot cereal, with some fruit on top and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed. If you are in a hurry in the morning, start it soaking the night before and it will cook up fast on the stove or in the microwave. I have a big pyrex pitcher that I use just for that.

      In Engine 2 Diet book, there are lots of recipes starting on page 149, some fancier than others. Keep it simple, yummy, and eat plenty – very important for success through the day. Build on a good breakfast. Then start working on the lunches. Be sure you are packed and planned with the food you need for the day. Don’t leave it to chance. When you want to eat a healthy diet, you have to make it happen by being prepared.

      Thanks for stopping in, it is really best to address challenges early on as they come up – so that you can start building on more success.


    • Sue, meant to add more about breakfasts, why they are important, and simple guidelines for a good one. I call it a ‘gusto brekkie’

      3 Elements of the Gusto Brekkie:


      Off to cook my oatmeal!


  7. Jess says:

    So what is the deal with water? How much do I really need to drink?

    • Jess

      For those eating a typical American diet, high in refined, denatured, and processed foods, the moisture content of these foods can be avery low in comparison to their whole foods, natural originals. The typical American diet is also very high in sodium, which will also increase your thirst.

      However, if you are eating a diet based on unrefined intact starches as you would with E2, and you are adding in lots of fresh fruits and vegetabless, then you injest lots of water in your diet itself.

      If you are eating a whole foods, plant-based diet without lots of processed foods and artificial imposters, you can let thirst be your guide. I find that the recommendations for how many glasses of water to drink a day are designed for those on a higher protein, low in high water content foods diet. If you are active and sweating a lot, respect that as well.


  8. Dana says:

    Is it true the muscle weighs more than fat? Every time I gain weight my bf tells me that it’s because I’m gaining muscle, is that true? It doesn’t seem very logical!

    • A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same thing – a pound. Of course, you know that!

      The difference is that a lb of muscle takes up less space than a lb of muscle – it is denser. It’d like comparing a lb of feathers and a lb of dirt – you know the dirt would probably take a smaller bag.

      Here is a graphic to show you the comparison between 5 lbs of fat and 5 lbs of muscle. You can see the difference in amount of space they take up:



  9. Teresa says:

    My problem is I am ALWAYS hungry! I think part of the reason for it is that I don’t eat enough breakfast during the week. I grab and go on the way to work and am starving by 9:00. Also, my blood pressure runs a little high and I’ve been vegan for several years now. And my weight is not where I want it to be, either. I think I can pinpoint some of the trouble areas: I eat lots of crackers and processed soy foods. I’m trying to do better, but can you offer any sure fire strategies to get me moving in the right difrection?

  10. [...] Plant-Strong Q&A with fitness and nutrition expert, Lani! [...]

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    The Engine 2 blog will feature tips, plant-strong success stories, how to make plant-strong work, answer your questions and feature special guest experts. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to help you become and stay plant-strong. Please be sure to jump in the conversation by leaving comments on each post!
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