3.2. Dietary and Food Intakes of Participants in Our WFPB Lifestyle Program
There were no statistically significant differences among participants in the short-, medium- and long term in our WFPB lifestyle program by gender, in absolute intakes of energy, most macronutrients (except linoleic acid, α-linolenic acid for females and water for males), and a majority of micronutrients (see Table 2
and Table 3
). Consequently, we present and comment upon dietary intakes for all participants, regardless of their time in the WFPB lifestyle program (from 0.5–10 years) by gender, (see Supplementary Tables S2 and S3
The mean energy intake of all participants was 2057 (SD 689) kcal/day. The mean proportions of macronutrients for all participants, of both genders, were adequate with 20% of energy from fat, 57% from carbohydrates, 7% from fibres, and 15% from protein. The mean fibre intake of all participants was 70 (SD 21) g/day. The average total water intake, including drinking water, water from beverages, and solid foods was 4 (SD 1.2) litres/day. Participants had a very low intake of free sugars at 22 (SD16) g/day (4% of energy), saturated fats 7 (SD 4) g/day (3% of energy), and dietary cholesterol 7 (SD 18) mg/day (vs. recommended < 300 mL/day), with high intakes of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid. Intakes of nutrients that are often of concern in PBD like protein (mean 1.2 (SD 0.45) g/kg BM), PUFA (EPA and DHA), vitamin B12
, iron, and zinc (except for calcium: 1081 (SD 329) mg/day) were all adequate [59
The mean energy intake was significantly lower in females as in males (1841 (SD 539) vs. 2618 (SD 726) kcal/day, p
< 0.001). Consequently, the intakes of most macronutrients (nine out of 14) (exception: EPA, DHA, arachidonic acid, cholesterol, and water, which were not statistically significant different, Table 2
) and micronutrients (15 out of 25) were lower in females than in males (Table 3
). There were no differences in the relative intake of macronutrients (% of energy intake) between genders, except in the percentage of total sugar intake, which was higher in females vs. in males (17 (SD 4) vs. 16 (SD 4) %, p
The comparison between genders according to different groups showed that, with the female participants, group 1 had a statistically significant lower relative intake of free sugars (% E) than group 3 (p = 0.032), while it showed a higher absolute intake of PUFA (p = 0.017) and linoleic acid (p = 0.041) compared to group 2, as well as a higher absolute intake of alpha-linoleic acid compared to group 2 (p = 0.050) and group 3 (p = 0.046). With the male participants, group 3 had a statistically significant higher intake of water compared to group 2 (p = 0.046) and group 1 (p = 0.041). The comparison between genders of the three groups did not show any significant difference when it came to the intake of micronutrients.
The evaluation of food group intakes showed that the supplemented WFPB diet was primarily based on unprocessed vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, white potatoes, nuts and seeds, bread and bakery products, plant-based MR, spices and herbs and processed fruits (mean: from 455–20 g/day; Table 4
). Intake of pasta was very low (mean: 17 (SD 35) g/day), mostly consumed in combination with PA. Intakes of fast food and ready meals, processed vegetables, sweet products, alcoholic drinks, vegetable fat, and of sweeteners were very low (mean: 6.5–0.2 g/day). Intakes of foods of animal origin were in minimal amounts (3–0.2 g/day for fish and meat; 0.1 g/day for milk and dairy products), while there was no consumption of eggs or added animal fat. The majority of vegetables (99% in females and males) and fruits (95% in females and 94% in males) were consumed fresh and unprocessed.
The majority of the group vegetables was represented by cruciferous (e.g., broccoli, kale, cabbage) and coloured vegetables. With regard to the fruits group, the most consumed fruits were berries, cherries, other local fruits (i.e., apples), as well as dried dates and bananas. Mostly consumed among grains and the products food group incorporated oatmeal, buckwheat porridge, and whole wheat bread. From the legumes group, beans, including green beans, lentils, chickpeas, and soybean tofu were the most consumed sub-groups. From the potatoes group, locally grown white potatoes were the most consumed, occasionally also sweet potatoes. From bread and bakery products, the majority of bread was wholegrain (from wheat, buckwheat and rye) and MR was consumed as part of breakfast and recovery after a resistance workout or as part of dinner. The nuts and seeds group mostly consisted of walnuts, flaxseeds, and unshelled sesame seed. Participants included all locally grown spices and herbs, in addition to bulbs, celery, rosemary, and turmeric. Processed fruits and vegetables were consumed as fresh homemade smoothies (green-fruits smoothies), while liquid intake came from water, herbal teas (e.g., green, black and hibiscus), fibre beverages, and hypotonic sport drinks. Salt intake was in most cases iodized and was used mostly for soups, burgers, spreads, and salads.
All foods were prepared without added vegetables oils or fats of plant (coconut, palm) or animal origin (i.e., potatoes: boiled, mashed, or baked on baking paper). The majority of participants did not use any vegetable oils, not even extra virgin olive oil, while only a few individuals used minor amounts for salads dressing (mean vegetable oil and fat intake = 1.4 g/day). The majority of sugar was consumed as naturally occurring sugar, from dates and other fruits, while free sugars originated from MR, smoothies and hypotonic sport drinks. Alcohol was not part of the participants daily diet since only three individuals were drinking alcohol (two participants 1 dcl of wine and 4 dcl of beer within three days, one participant 1 dcl of wine on the first and third days of 3-DR).
The majority of energy from non-conventional foods came from MR in powder (mixed in water or in plant beverage without flavour, oil or sweeteners) and hypocaloric sport drinks, while a very limited amount came from dietary fibre beverages and herbal teas. The majority of micronutrients from non-conventional foods came from MR, multivitamin dietary supplements, and selected single dietary supplements (e.g., vitamin B12 and D3). There was no specific pattern in the selection of dietary supplements brand, since the participants used supplements (e.g., vitamin B12, D3, probiotics) from approximately 40 different producers.