Diet Roadtest #4 – it’s time to go vegan!

It’s now been a week since I commenced my latest roadtest – vegan! The challenge with a vegan diet, particularly for people who want to gain muscle, shred fat, and maintain energy levels, is usually:

  1. Getting enough protein
  2. Getting enough iron
  3. Getting enough calcium

So can it be done?

For this roadtest, I’ve enlisted the help of our affiliate dietician at Raw by Bek, Ellena Burnett. I knew I couldn’t do this one alone – particularly when it came to getting the right sources of protein and iron.

Here’s the challenge with a vegan diet – while there are plenty of protein sources, none of them have a complete set of proteins. So you need to know more in order to pair the right foods.

After a consult with Ellena, she’s put together a plan that takes into account not just the vegan roadtest, but also the amount of training I do (and the intensity of that training), the time I have to prep food (needs to be simple), and my goals (shred).

The meal plan

A typical day for me this week has looked like this:

Breakfast:

    Overnight oats (oats, cinnamon, vegan protein, chia seeds) with coconut yoghurt and half a cup of berries.

Lunch:

    180g tofu, 1.5 cups of cooked veggies, rice.

Dinner:

    Tofu, veggies, rice – although this varies depending on if I’ve trained in the evening, and how intense the training was.

Snacks:

    Morning tea has typically been a slice of whole meal toast with avo, and in the afternoon a protein shake on almond milk. If I’m training that evening, I’ll also have something like a banana to fuel my workout.
Meal prep, vegan style

What I’ve learned so far

  • This isn’t too different to what I was already eating in terms of type of food – I’ve just had to swap out a few things like real yoghurt for coconut yoghurt, and a different source of protein for dinner (I was already having tofu and veg for lunch).
  • I wasn’t having anywhere near enough protein or good fats in my day-to-day diet. I have actually doubled the amount of tofu I’d usually have for lunch.
  • Eating out isn’t too bad – it’s certainly easier than Keto! So far there’s either been vegan options or I can make modifications to menu items to make them vegan. However, finding vegan wine (yes, that is a thing) is proving more difficult if you’re buying off the menu! May need to investigate BYO…
  • I hate vegan protein powder. It has a weird after taste I thought I’d get used to. That has yet to happen. Also vegan protein powder = vile farts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This diet has also coincided with my getting braces and Invisalign fitted. Long story short, will need jaw surgery next year and this is the pre-work. But that’s a story for another day.

It means I also need to be wary of if the food is too tough to eat. But more than that, having to take out the Invisalign every time I want to eat is a right pain in the arse. So much so that my laziness has trumped my hunger at certain times, which has actually been a really good way to curb my snacking habits!

One week down, and I’m feeling pretty good, although a little lethargic. I’m not saying vegan is to blame for that, as I’ve also had a massive week at work. So let’s see how week two goes … stay tuned.

Discovering new ways to see fitness programs

A few months ago I had the privilege of seeing Olympian and marathon champion Kurt Fearnley speak at a conference I was helping to facilitate. As I sat behind the AV desk listening to Kurt recount his countless hours of training and what it took to become a champion athlete, I started to reflect on my own fitness practice. I’ve always said my personal philosophy is that fitness should be accessible to everyone, yet it occurred to me that someone like Kurt, a super-fit athlete, couldn’t train in our gym the way it is currently set up or the way we run our classes.

Cue the lightbulb moment!

A few weeks later I was talking to my cousin, Lachlan, who is a member at my gym, about my lightbulb moment. Lachy has two remarkable friends – Santiago and Ciara – who are both vision impaired. Long story short, I invited them both to come to a PT session – I train them for free, while they teach me about what we need to do to make our training and facility more inclusive.

What we’ve learned so far

Both Santi and Ciara have different vision impairments, meaning the way we need to approach their training and how much they can do unassisted is very different. But there are some common themes emerging – things all gyms could do differently to make a big difference to how inclusive our programs and facilities can be. From the little things at the beginning, like making all of our forms online forms so they can use screen readers to complete them, through to the big things like the design of the gym space itself, and better coaching habits … it’s exciting how much scope we have to improve!

Most exciting though is the changes I’ve seen with Ciara – she’s now joined the gym and is participating in classes (mostly with Lachy’s help – he’s a good egg) and training regularly. As a result, her balance, strength, and posture have improved ten-fold, and she’s feeling happier and healthier. Imagine what difference we could make to so many other people’s lives if we could make fitness truly accessible!

The journey is just beginning … stay tuned for more updates!

Time to get creative!

Week two of my diet road test has not been my best week, to be honest. A few things got in the way of eating my six million meals a day and being able to meal prep properly – a whole weekend at instructor training, Foo Fighters concert (woo!), and facilitating training sessions at work did have their impact on the routine.

Along with those interruptions, I was really, REALLY bored of the meals already. Here’s a quick snapshot of the meal plan on the app:

 

So basically, egg whites and vegies top and tail the day (with a ‘starch’ with the breakfast serve), then the other four meals are protein, starch, and vegetables/salads (with the exception of dinner – no starch).

bored gif

I decided to find out what others had done to combat this problem and trawled through the Jamie Eason LiveFit Trainer group on Facebook. It’s similar to the group we run for our Raw by Bek members in that it’s for sharing info, success stories, and asking questions.

While exploring the group, I noticed that some of the members had posted PDFs of the meal plans (from prior to the program going behind a paywall) and they were quite different to the meal plan on the app, in that they actually had some variety.

Shock. Horror.

So thusly I asked:

“I’ve noticed the meal plan on the app differs to the PDFs I’ve seen some people post … ie, zero variety. Any ideas?”

It turns out I was not alone! Quite a few people had been wondering the same thing. The problem was there wasn’t a concrete answer. I can only assume that when creating the content for the app, they felt this particular representation of the meal plan was simpler and easier than the original PDFs. Here’s an example:

img_00301.jpg

It was time to experiment.

Now if you’ve been following me on Insta, you’d know that I experimented with the turkey muffins mentioned above.

They. Were. Disgusting.

To cope with this, I basically deconstructed the muffin to work out how much protein/carbs/fats was in each serve and then created a mini meal to have instead – essentially, chicken, vegies, and quinoa.

But that’s a LOT of protein + vegies to have in one day. Not only that, it’s a lot of containers to take to work and they wouldn’t fit in my lunchbox. These are the real problems.

So I was excited to see on the PDFs that there are other options! I could have a home-made protein bar or another ‘small meal’ option instead.

To that end, today I cooked up one of her protein bar recipes – she has quite a few on the app, in a range of flavours, including pumpkin spice, lemon, and chocolate. I made the apple and cinnamon variety and it’s surprisingly delicious.

img_0017.jpg

Next up – breakfast!

I have been making a frittata with egg whites (surprise), sweet potato and vegies. It’s been really convenient, but by the end of week 2, I’m a little bored.

So today I’ve made some breakfast muffins instead – using eggwhites, mashed sweet potato, celery, capsicum, kale, and broccoli, seasoned with cumin, herbs, and salt and pepper. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet as they’ve just come out of the oven, but they look okay…

img_0032.jpg

Lunches!

This week I’m going to experiment with using different types of starches to make life more interesting. I did throw in some chickpeas with my salad instead of sweet potato for some meals last week, which was a nice change. This week… TBC!

So, is the diet working?

At this stage, it’s hard to tell what’s the result of this meal plan vs what’s the result of actually just eating well again after the excess of the holiday period! I think it may have helped to speed up my metabolism a little, but again that could be down to getting back into a training routine. The real proof in the proverbial pudding will have to wait a few more weeks, I think.

This week coming I’m going to have to travel for work for a couple of days, which means I’ll need to come up with some ways to keep on track with the meals as well as sneak in some workouts. Follow me on Insta @mel.loy to see what I come up with … if anything!