By: Mario Penchev
21 January 2021

The benefits of meal planning and plant-based nutrition

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to pull off a successful business life yet still manage to follow a healthy diet and progress towards their fitness goals? Did it get all too complicated planning and cooking to reach your fitness goal? Are you losing the battle against ordering unhealthy food that you know you shouldn’t be eating, all because you didn’t prepare your meals ahead of time? We hear you.

We have all been there. Better results are only attainable by making better decisions, and needless to say that it is hard to keep up the motivation you had on the first day of a healthy diet. We all seem to need a little help making the smarter choices. QuickThyme Nutrition is exactly that, your companion that helps you make better decisions and shapes your body and health for tomorrow, starting from today!

Cooking oftentimes becomes a spooky word for those who know the struggle. It is very easy to promise ourselves that we will follow through a healthy diet starting on Monday, and it is easier to break the promise by Wednesday morning. Although it seems like a ‘’piece of cake’’, the mental effort put into maintaining a balanced diet is neglected. It isn’t about just putting the ingredients in the pan and turning on the hob. Finding a tasty recipe, calculating and planning your nutrition targets, and doing the grocery shopping are all parts of this ceremonious activity we call meal prep aka. cooking. Let alone eating healthy, this process becomes something we dread so quickly and we find ourselves choosing the path of least resistance, that often being quick to make, processed oven food or simply ordering ‘regret foods’ with a click of a button.

If you are looking to tailor a healthy diet for your busy lifestyle, you are in the right place. This app spares you the trouble by being an assistant and making the right choices that lead to a delicious and healthy way to stay healthy, for you. The best part is that the app is especially useful for beginners who want to follow a plant-based meal plan. Let’s see how QuickThyme Nutrition will benefit you through complete meal planning!

It gives you the bigger picture

Counting calories is often the go-to method when it comes to weight control and muscle building goals, however, it can easily become overwhelming. A diet is more than the calories you consume, and reducing it to just that might sometimes be alluring since it might as well let you gulp down a dessert instead of a nutritious dinner. Eating with a plan will help you track the progress you are making towards your goals, and it will also help to spot the culprit that is keeping you from achieving weight loss or gaining muscle. Planning your meals and tracking your progress will allow you to clearly see what works and what doesn’t – as well as allowing you to make the necessary changes. Luckily, QuickThyme Nutrition adjusts your nutrition targets and meal plans automatically based on the progress you make and log into the app.

Feel more in control

It is not uncommon to feel like our life is rolling to an unknown destination and we are just in it for the ride. The daily stresses of a busy life and the countless responsibilities, leave us clueless and lost at best when it comes to improving our lifestyle. Psychological evidence shows that a regularity in a lifestyle factor like diet has a positive effect on the psychological domain, reducing depression as well as anxiety (Scott et al. 2008; Xu et al.2010), increasing life satisfaction (Headey et al. 2013) and self-perceived general mental health, causing a heightened sense of self-control.

Less food waste

You wouldn’t believe how much money goes down the drain because of wasted food. Households generate 6.6m tonnes per year of which 4.5m tonnes are avoidable. Overall 13% of edible food and drink purchases are wasted at a cost of £500 per year for an average household in the UK. (WRAP Food surplus and waste in the – UK key facts Jan 2020). You could see your share in that by simply remembering how many times all the veggies you bought with immense determination looked sad and wilted in your fridge later that week. Buying veggies and leafy greens is one thing, planning and eating them is another. By planning out the meals you will be cooking, you will ensure that no more food is wasted. This is not only good for the environment but also your pocket and time. Less time spent browsing the supermarket prevents emotional buying, cuts the risk of buying unnecessary items and therefore saves your valuable time and money. 

Holds you accountable

Having an eating plan at hand, and seeing exactly how many calories and nutrients you will consume creates a sense of feeling responsible about what you put in your mouth. It is the exact same psychological effect that you experience when you check your bank account regularly, you end up being more responsible with your spending. You will see that eating responsibly will be less of a restriction and more of an informed decision.

Finally, don’t forget that the plant-based diet is not an unhealthy crash diet to lose weight or a quick fix for your health problems that will lack sustainability, it is a lifestyle.

Times are changing, as do our ways of viewing food and exercise. We see bigger and bigger groups of people following different fad diets and listening to a plethora of fitness gurus. Food is no longer only a source of calories nor a means to survive; if guided properly, it is a way to extend life! As scientists discover the complex mechanisms of our body and how nutrition is so interlinked with our biochemistry, it’s only natural that the paradigms shift. 

Although our knowledge about how to eat right grows exponentially, we seem to be going backward as a society. The many additives people tend to ingest every day from easy-to-access junk foods, coupled with sedentary lifestyles that society normalises more and more, we lose an important part of life which is to nurture our health and body. A study from Ghent University shows a staggering trend of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are responsible for 90% of deaths in the European Union! [1] This is even more striking considering the high preventability of the diseases with a carefully personalised nutrition and exercise plan. Since, a study from GBD (Global Burden of Disease) estimates that, in the European Union in 2017, over 950,000 deaths and over 16 million DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years, which is the number of years you suffer disabilities) are attributable to dietary risks due to unhealthy diets. [2] These numbers are attributable to many different reasons and obesity is one of the most obvious culprits. In fact, being overweight or obese has significant effects on a wide range of chronic diseases, including several types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to begin with. [3] Many other factors can also be listed that most of which essentially boil down to what you put in your mouth! 

How will you avoid this catastrophe of disease and agony? Data from observational studies show that vegetarians tend to have:

  • reduced risk of morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease,
  • are less likelihood of developing certain cancers, especially among vegans,
  • decreased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes,
  • decreased risk of developing metabolic syndrome,
  • and, lower all-cause mortality,

compared to those consuming omnivorous diets. [4]

These positive health outcomes likely relate to lower body fat; lower glucose levels; lower blood pressure; lower total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein, often referred to as ‘’bad’’ cholesterol); lower triglycerides, and many other parameters.

As you can see, ever-increasing evidence suggests that following a plant-based diet, done right, makes a big impact. The key here is knowing that there is a right and a wrong way of doing it, many of the fellow health-conscious people spend years to find the sweet spot. Taking it one step further by breaking the societal norms, and taking control of what you eat brings about its own struggles if you are new to the world of nutrition. 

  • ‘’How can I be sure I’m getting enough protein?’’,
  • ‘’Am I getting enough Omega 3s?’’,
  • ‘’Did I eat enough fiber today?’’, 
  • ‘’What is the bioavailability of iron and how do I get enough?’’, 

and many other questions ran through the minds of numerous people trying to make a change. 

When you have a 9-5 job or a business to run, a social life to maintain, and countless other responsibilities to attend to, it all of a sudden becomes a burden to eat and live better.

Health is a complex concept and there is no magic pill or diet that will solve all your problems. That being said, it’s not only having a plant-based diet that does the trick, but it appears that planning your meals according to your goals is important, too! 

Would you like to know more about what the evidence says about plant-based nutrition? Keep reading to find out.


Inflammation is an innate and healthy response to pathogens in our body. Inflammation is part of the healing process and it’s how your body fights off invaders that cause infection. Inflammation is healthy in reasonable amounts and goes away as an infection subsides. However, at other times it stays in our body as chronic inflammation. The downside of chronic inflammation is that it’s mostly invisible until it causes major health problems such as autoimmune diseases, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, type-2 diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, and many more. Chronic low-grade inflammation is associated with a bad diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to toxins in the environment. 

On a positive note, there are many compounds called anti-inflammatories that plants can offer us in this fight. Many studies have shown an inverse correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and serum levels of inflammatory markers for every age group.

It is also very easy to fulfill the therapeutic amounts if you have a plant-based diet. For example, a study from the UK concluded that a modest increase in BCX (β-cryptoxanthin, a pro-vitamin A pigment, found mainly in fruits and vegetables) intake, equivalent to 200 mL of freshly squeezed orange juice per day, is associated with a reduced risk of developing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. [5]

Great for the microbiota

You are not alone in your body. In fact, you live with hundreds of trillions (yes, you read it right) of microbes living in your gastrointestinal tract, which encompasses ∼10 times more bacterial cells than the number of human cells and more than 100 times the amount of genes in the human cells. [6] Scientists explain the importance of microbiota by claiming that our flora has more of a say in our health than our actual genes! 

If you feed your microbiome with healthy fats, fiber, and phytochemicals, the composition shifts in favor of friendly bacteria that create Vitamin K, help absorption, and even produce serotonin for your brain! [7] In contrast, saturated fats, animal protein, and choline (comes from animal products but mostly from eggs) create an overgrowth of the harmful bacteria that bloat, and interfere with nutrient absorption. They can even create very toxic chemicals such as a cardiotoxic substance called TMAO (Trimethylamine N-oxide) and many others that kickstart the pathogenesis of diseases like obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, type-2 diabetes and even autoimmune diseases. This imbalance (known as dysbiosis) is correlated with the consumption of animal protein and inversely correlated with plant protein [8]. 

Aids in weight loss

Dropping a few pounds may seem like arduous work. This is true when you follow excruciating regimens that get you starving and overworked. Did you know that eating more plants makes you feel more satiated and therefore you are more likely to eat less, which in turn helps you lose weight?

This is due to several reasons. First of all, plants are the only source of fiber in our diet, no animal product has it. Fiber is the content that is not digestible and passes our gastrointestinal tract without being changed much, creating a feeling of fullness. 

Even more exciting news comes from a study where a plant-based diet was found to cause weight loss even in the absence of caloric restriction and exercise. [9] Weight reduction appears to result from early satiety due to higher dietary fiber intake, leading to a drop in energy intake. This is explained by the higher energy expenditure during the digestion of foods with fiber and the fact that fiber basically takes longer to be digested. Such foods are called ‘’low GI (Glycemic Index) foods, and they are known to release the energy steadily to your bloodstream helping you stay full for longer. 

Helps to prevent certain types of cancers

Revving up the portion size of plants on your plate might be well beyond a subtle change. In fact, in a study from Dr. Campbell and colleagues found that a group of cancers (notably cancers of the colon, lung, breast, brain, as well as leukemia) were all associated with higher blood cholesterol and other factors. These risk markers were directly associated with the intake of any type of animal fat and animal protein and inversely associated with dietary fiber and vegetables.

There is mounting evidence linking cancer risk reduction and a plant-based diet. In another study, vegetarians were found to experience a modest, 8 percent risk reduction for overall-cancer risk. For other cancers that were studied, vegetarians had approximately half the risk of developing colon cancer, 23 percent risk reduction for cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, and a 35 percent risk reduction for prostate cancer compared to non-vegetarians. Similarly, vegetarians tended to have a lower risk for cancer of the respiratory tract and cancer in general. [10]

Besides offering protection against cancers, a plant-based diet has also been shown to be protective against other western chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity which we elaborate on below. [11]

May help prevent Type-2 Diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is very closely linked with our modern living conditions. These lifestyle and diet changes reflect so quickly on the statistics that the rate of type-2 diabetes worldwide has increased by 102.9% between 1990-2017. The current rates show that almost 63,000 people have been newly diagnosed with diabetes per day in 2017. [12] On the positive side, eating a plant-based diet filled with high-quality plant foods reduced the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 34%.

Your heart will thank you

Your heart will be the first to celebrate your new way of eating; since the cardiovascular effects are probably the most studied aspect of a plant-based diet. A study shows that vegetarians had 26 percent to 68 percent lower risks of mortality from ischemic heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. For the record, heart diseases are the leading cause of death in both the developed and developing countries.

The reductions in circulating levels of total and LDL cholesterol seen with plant-based diets are particularly caused by the absence of animal fat, as well as by certain compounds coming from plant-based foods, and are typically greater than those seen in other diets. [13][14] Low-fat vegetarian diets showing decreases in good cholesterol are not associated with poor cardiovascular health in observational studies, and have been shown to improve atherosclerotic lesions and cardiac events despite lowering of good cholesterol in randomised controlled trials. [15][16][17][18]

Also, hypertension risk was 55-75% lower in vegetarians and vegans respectively. This is striking since hypertension is known to be the single biggest risk factor for heart and vascular diseases. 


We have all heard it. The myth about how plants do not provide enough protein, and how it’s bioavailability is very low. This has been debunked over and over again. According to the recommended dietary allowance, the actual amount of protein intake humans require daily is only 0.36 grams for every pound we weigh. This amounts to nearly ten percent of daily caloric intake requirements of protein, which is about 46 grams per day for the average woman, and 56 grams per day for the average man. The largest study conducted on plant-based diets shows almost no discrepancy between strict vegetarian and non-vegetarians protein intake.

A study from the USA found that the average protein consumption of Americans per day is sixteen percent, proving that there is a common overconsumption of protein. [19] However, depending on the goals of the active individual, they may need more protein in their diet than the average sedentary person.

The plant-based diet is often bashed by individuals advocating the omnivorous diet for the fact that it does not contain complete proteins (protein that contains sufficient quantities of all essential amino acids). Consuming complete proteins on a plant-based diet is not a problem due to the variety of complementary proteins available (two incomplete proteins that, when consumed together, mimic a complete protein by providing all essential amino acids). An example of mixed complementary protein sources are rice and beans. Rice proteins are poor sources of lysine, but they are rich in cysteine and methionine. Beans have enough lysine, but they are poor sources of methionine and cysteine. Thus, they can be combined to form a complete protein in a single meal and compliment each other. In general, you can pair grains and nuts/seeds with legumes to obtain a sufficient amount of essential amino acids. They also do not have to be consumed together in a single meal but can rather be consumed in across meals over a 24-hour period, which in turn will result in a sufficient total daily intake of essential amino acids. (Young, V. R., & Pellett, P. L. 1994)

Mental health

There is evidence regarding the brain-boosting effects of eating more plants. [20] Eating more fruits and vegetables means better physical health and inflammatory markers because of two main things: the gut and the phytochemicals. A balanced plant-based diet ensures we get enough fiber, a lack of harmful fats and animal protein which favors the bacteria in your gut and incentivizes them to produce anti-inflammatory compounds for us. Likewise, numerous types of phytochemicals are present in most plants, some of which boast significant anti-inflammatory effects. For example, folate and antioxidants, such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables and have been related to lower levels of markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in adults. [21][22] Another type of compound that is found in plants is a large family of chemicals called polyphenols. [23] Such effects are even used therapeutically and are being researched extensively.  Similarly, many mental illnesses were associated with low-grade inflammation in the body and were worsened by environmental factors, but mainly diet. [24] Also in a study that specifically looked at the relationship between the two, it was found that increasing restriction of animal foods was associated with improved mood.


It is a well-known fact that cooking for yourself is a cheaper and a healthier alternative to fast food. Even more so if you are following a weekly plan! Having a meal plan can help you reduce food waste, and save money by only buying the ingredients you need. By having a meal plan the decision of “what to eat” has already been made, which in turn will help you avoid making the poor food choices and make it easier to reach your fitness goal.


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