Vegan Week: REVIEW

I'm clocking off from my week eating as a vegan! Please scroll down to see what I found out....

OBJECTIVE

  • Eat as a Vegan for 1 working week, Monday - Friday 5pm
  • Do not use vegan ‘meat & dairy replacement’ products (egg replacer, vegan burgers, vegan sausages, vegan cheese, vegan bacon, veganaise etc. Tofu & Tempeh is allowed as they are not replacers)
  • Attempt to stay within approx daily macros: CALS/1700, PRO/149g, CARB/149g, FAT/57g
  • Especially focus on hitting protein whilst not overloading on carb & fat

REVIEW

The hardest part by far was down to the fact that most vegan foods that are high in protein are also high in another macro: lentils are really high in protein but they are also really high in carb. Almonds are a great source of protein - but obviously high in fat so you can’t get much of your protein from almonds or….well….you know! Taking into account that one of the main reasons for this research was to nail down how to eat a healthy & balanced high protein vegan diet - the logistics of juggling this all was initially a bit of a nightmare! I spent quite a lot of time planning daily meals on a spreadsheet in advance to work this all out but I pretty much hit my macros each day so quite pleased! The key to getting in high protein is to get it from a variety of different sources in small amounts (please see my instagram for the vegan protein spider gram). So like any diet - meal planning was key. I had to ensure that if I had a higher carb breakfast & lunch, my evening meal was low in carbs and therefore high in fat etc. This is pretty standard for any diet, vegan or not, but getting the variety of protein from lots of different sources added another layer of complexity into the mix.

However! Please bear in mind that I was being very strict on myself purposefully for ‘research’ and it’s actually not that hard to eat a balanced diet as a vegan with high protein without going overboard on calories. I did supplement my diet with vegan protein powder, but I’m confident that a good level of protein can be reached daily without this. It really didn’t take me too long to get used to balancing out my meals and I got on a bit of a roll with things once I’d made a couple of meals - but they don’t always need to be fancy! On Monday and Tuesday I spent way more time in the kitchen - by Wednesday I was throwing salads together and eating out at non-vegan restaurants no problem. If I was doing this longer term I would definitely get used to batch cooking.

No slip ups - I can honestly say I haven’t eaten any animal products for 5 days. How do i feel? Many non-vegan foods are much easier to digest than animal products and I definitely felt ‘lighter’ digestion wise though I never really have any digestion issues with animal products. On Monday night I felt very bloated but I’m putting this down to eating lentils and black beans (alone with some brussel sprouts!!) which is not my normal diet. Now - I feel normal - I don’t really note any marked differences; I’ve done my usual training with no issues, I haven’t felt unusually tired, nothing has really changed for better or worse! I feel quite on it and alert, but I am usually quite healthy so I generally feel like this…so that confirms there has been no detrimental effect from not getting nutrients from animal sources. Being honest though - I have missed eggs for breakfast and it’s so easy to make meals with chicken! 

CONCLUSION

There’s no doubt there is a strong movement towards becoming a vegetarian or vegan in the US and also in UK for any number of reasons which I discussed in my previous blog post. It’s been a bit of a eye opener doing this and if you are thinking about all of this or are interested then I would urge you to look into doing with this 5 dayer or even dipping a toe in and doing meat free Monday - just to see that it is possible to not be SO reliant on animal products. I’ve listed my daily diet breakdown below but please feel free to contact me to discuss more or if you’d like the full spreadsheet then shoot me an email: ebdfitness@gmail.com - I can also help you put together vegan menus if you think you are struggling with it.

If you’ve got to this point then thanks so much for reading!

Ems x

 

Menus

 

Day 1

Breakfast - Proats

Snack - Chia Pod

Lunch - Lentil & Quinoa bowl 

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Dinner - Tofu Stir Fry

 

Day 2

Snack - Soy fat white and banana

Breakfast - Black bean burger and veg

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Dinner - Cashew Caesar salad & Chana Masala (chickpea & sweet pot) at Cafe Gratitude Vegan restaurant - be careful - big portions!

Snack - Protein shake

 

Day 3

Breakfast - Protein pancakes/biscuits (went wrong but confident it can be done!)

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Lunch - Salad with avocado, quinoa, chickpeas, spinach & kale 

Snack - Protein shake

Dinner - Cashew Raclette, Kale salad, Raw Lasagna and Tempeh Udon (shared all this with Stru and purposefully kept my carb & fat low the rest of the day to allow for it!)

 

Day 4

Breakfast - Protein shake with oats, banana, almond butter & spinach

Snack - Post workout protein shake

Lunch - Tofu Tacos

Dinner - Smashed avo on toast

Snack - Popcorn 

Nighttime snack - Oats and almond milk

(This was the only day I was slightly off with my protein and overall macros. We went to the Staples Centre to watch the Basketball and I was out working in the afternoon and forgot to pick up a healthy snack to take with me….so it ended in salted popcorn and late night oats. Could have been worse! Fail to plan then plan to fail people!!)

 

Day 5

Breakfast - Oats with chia, almond milk & butter

Snack - Post workout shake

Lunch - Tempeh fried rice with spinach

Snack - Brown rice cakes and Hummus

Modern Living: Ways to help calm a stressed out mind!

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If you're anything like me, my mind is usually charging around at full pace every day on various things I've got going on. It's easy to feel quickly overwhelmed! I've been meditating for a couple of years now using the app Buddify (which is amazing by the way especially if you're new to it - lots of long & short meditations for different situations). Taking a short break in your day, even 5 mins to clear your head can be really helpful. It doesn't have to be a daily thing or a huge deal. I'm not a regular meditator - just when I feel I need it - there's no right or wrong practice! I often use a sleep meditation from Buddify when going to bed if my mind is not switching off and I'm usually asleep in 5 mins.

Another way I like to calm my mind is by finding an amazing view to stare at. Of course holidays are our way of getting away from it all and we can usually stare at a beautiful vista for days - but what about when you're not on holiday? One of my favourite places in London to go is Primrose Hill. The view of London from the top of the hill puts things in perspective and always gives me some headspace. The other place I love to go is Wapping down by the River Thames where I used to live - the view of Tower Bridge and up river is so cool - but really any view along the river is amazing.

There's lots of research on the fact that water is calming for the mind - not that we necessarily need it as we all know staring out to sea can be very therapeutic! There's a marine biologist in the US who has written a book called 'a blue mind' which looks at ancient rituals and believes human brains are hardwired to react positively to water - any water!

So this means that if you're feeling stressed out, seek a view with some water, go swimming, go paddle boarding or even take a shower or a bath!

Building rituals which your mind can recognise as soothing I've found can really help in switching off for bit which is so helpful in this fast paced lifestyle we lead!

Mobility - how important is it?

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🙆 M O B I L I T Y 🙆

In the past 3 months, I've made 2 changes: 1) I've been dedicating about 10 mins before every workout to mobility training and 2) I've been doing yoga twice a week for approx. 45 mins/1 hr (sometimes in my house/garden from a youtube video - free & easy!).

What a difference it has made! Stretching used to never really be part of my workout apart from a bit of foam rolling on a rest day and being seated at a desk for so long leads to tight hip flexors, lazy glutes & rounded shoulders. I had major issues squatting properly, gained a serious shoulder injury lifting with bad upper body posture and had a constant niggle round my right shoulder blade which sometimes turned into a sharp pain when doing particular movements.

I've really started to reap the rewards of all this mobility work, safely lifting heavier than before, my squats are much deeper than they used to be and my core is the strongest it's ever been. My posture has hugely improved and I'm burning more fat at rest from stronger muscle.

So if you choose to start incorporating mobility into your workouts, try not to see this as a chore but a complementary part of whatever other activity you are doing! Here's a typical mobility warm up I use:

Lower body:

- 3 points contact on the floor front/centre/back - 10 reps (straight legs/soft knees - stretch out back of legs) - Walk out - 5 reps - High plank - right foot to right hand & stretch right arm behind you (same for left) - Cossack squat - 5 reps each leg - Squat hold - 15 secs x 3 (deepen every 5 secs if you can) I then activate glutes using a band which also raises heart rate for warming up - usually lateral walks, kickbacks, clams etc

Upper body- broomstick drills (there are loads of others you can do but here's an example): - Hold the stick in front of you resting on your thighs with a wide grip, keeping arms straight roll it up above your head, round and down your back as far as it can go - but don't arch and don't force x 10 - your range should increase by the tenth rep - Keeping arms straight roll stick to the left and up behind your head, same on the right side x 10