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What a Vegan MUST Eat (and Charlotte’s Month 1 review)
Now we’re in February and the post-Christmas hype has settled down, we get to see who managed to make it past month 1 of the New Year’s Resolution and will continue to pursue their ideal body and health.
It has always bugged me how so many of the people who take up some form or means to improve their health and shape, do not manage to maintain it beyond the first few weeks – it’s not one I’m happy to accept as just ‘they weren’t committed enough’.
I know there must be a deeper reason why each of these individual people is unable to uphold their routine, and perhaps if I could find that, I would be able to help improve the retention numbers throughout February and beyond.
I am delighted to say that, out of the very many new faces we saw over late December and across January, over 90% are still with us, achieving fantastic results and showing raw motivation to make big changes that LAST!
Considering the retention rates of the industry at this time of year, I’m extremely honoured to be doing my part in improving the number of people that take care of their body and invest in their health.
But let’s save the talk on retention for another time because this blog is actually on a slightly different subject – Charlotte (Our Vegan Experimentee)
Charlotte set herself the New Year’s Resolution to uphold a non-animal-based diet for the entirety of 2016.
Starting on January 1st, Charlotte has been following my nutritional guidance to ensure that she not only updates you on her journey, but that she shows you how to nail your nutrition despite the elimination of some major food groups.
I caught up with Charlotte earlier this week to see how she was getting on and see what further advice she was needing. (It’s my way of knowing what YOU want me to write about)
We discussed quite a few topics, both positives and negatives, including her disastrous attempt at a Sunday roast.
But the thing that stood out to me, and Charlotte seemed quite stuck on, was knowing if and when to supplement vitamins and minerals into the diet.
I’ve spoken to Charlotte a fair bit about this and I also covered it in my initial blog, but I haven’t actually disclosed any information with calculating your requirements and meeting them.
That’s what I’m going to do today.
Firstly, I want to cover the basics of a vegan diet and then I can go into each particular nutrient that tends to be neglected or dismissed.
With regards to calories, your requirements will not change either way just by becoming vegan.
You still have the exact same body that requires the exact same things.
But often, the swap to vegan can have big effects on your total calorie intake with the removal of some of the most calorific foods.
As much as fruits, salads and vegetables are essential and should definitely make up some of your diet, they are mostly very low in calories and high in fibre and starch, making it a struggle to uphold your previous calorie intake.
The best sources for calorie-dense nourishment are avocadoes, nuts, seeds, coconuts, dairy-free chocolate, grains.. these foods must become your new best buddies!
Moving onto nutrients that you may need more guidance on acquiring and monitoring..
So, I did actually speak about this in reasonable length in the last issue of the Vegan Walkthrough, but one this I didn’t mention was what we call the ‘amino acid profile’.
Now I don’t want to bore you to sleep with what exactly that means, but here’s a brief summary to help get your head around it:
Protein is made up of amino acids, each having it’s own role to play in maintaining your body in some way. In order to fulfil every role that protein has in the body, you need a ‘complete amino acid profile’, where every amino acid is present in the body, in correct ratio. There are 20 amino acids in total, but only 9 are essential amino acids (EAA), meaning that these are the ones you must ensure you ingest. Although some protein sources can be labelled ‘complete proteins’, having all 9 of these in correct ratio, these are almost all animal-based products.
This obviously proves problematic when you remove those foods from your diet, but there is a solution.
It’s actually rather obvious, but just by combining two or more different sources of ‘incomplete’ protein, with complimentary amino acid profiles; you can achieve the same result. Obviously, this requires that you know the amino acid profiles of the various types of foods, which could seem like a whole fuss not worth worrying about.
But there is a system..and it’s one that you’d probably prefer to monitoring your amino acid profile.
Eat Them All!
It doesn’t matter whether all the proteins are consumed in the same meal so long as your getting them in on the same day. Try to ensure you get 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight and get it in a variety of these:
– Beans, lentils, split peas
– Wild Rice, Quinoa
– Quorn (just check the pack for egg whites as some of their products include this)
– Soy Milk
– Vegan Protein Powders
Easy peasy! In fact, there are loads of other food types that have proteins in, so do a bit of hunting yourself and you may find some goodies of your own to add to this list!
This is one I actually came across when doing a bit of research myself. I hadn’t considered the lack of leucine within non-animal proteins. Leucine is an amino acid that is essential for muscle protein-synthesis – the process by which protein is where you body transforms the protein into a usable state for muscle repair. To combat this, you can either decrease your meal frequency to 3 meals or less which will allow you to get bigger protein spikes in the day, or purchase a leucine capsule supplement (vegan-friendly, of course) and add 2-3g of these capsules into each meal.. or even both!
Calcium and Zinc
I’ve couple these together as they tend to occur in the same foods. Although, as you may already know, you can find both in green veg, the level of bioavailability (absorbable content) is very low.
On the good side however, most vegans are familiar with tofu and probably use this quite frequently in their diet – well he’s a beaut for calcium! How about rice and soy milk? Add these two to your next shopping list as well to bulk up your calcium intake.
But for zinc, you’re going to have to be eating a whole lot of nuts, seeds, cooked beans, wheat germ, cooked grain, bread and leafy greens to hit your requirements. This can prove problematic for one who is intending on a lower calorie diet, so for those of you I would recommend a zinc supplement to make things flow smoother.
I did discuss this on the first write up I did on the Vegan Walkthrough, but just to illustrate: this is nearly non-existent in a diet that eliminates fish. So I would definitely recommend a supplement for this. Obviously, most omega 3 supplements would be fish oils, but there are other omega 3 supplements out there that are vegan friendly – I’ll leave it up to you to search and compare.
I actually did a rather hefty write up on this before, but here’s a few things I didn’t mention (and a recap of some of what I did mention).
Vitamin B12 is a bacterium found in soil, meaning that it’s very easy to get in when you are eating animals that have eaten food from soil. But when you eliminate these animals, you have to look back down the food chain to the foods they were eating. Vegetables would be great for B12, if we weren’t washing them before eating, which I completely understand isn’t a pleasant idea. Aside from that, a great option is marmite.. if you like the stuff (sorry, no offense, but I find the stuff repulsive). If the idea of eating marmite in high quantity on a daily basis doesn’t appeal to you, then just find yourself a B-12 supplement to take daily.
That just about covers all the essential foods to ensure you don’t neglect when you eliminate animal-based foods from your diet.
I know this was a bit of a fact-y blog as oppose to something fun to read, but I hope you found it beneficial and I would really appreciate it if you repaid the favour by sharing this on your social media.
I love offering free content out like this, but I need people to read it in order for me to dedicate the time to getting the right content out for you.. so please get yourself onto the mailing list for the Vegan Walkthrough and you’ll also get updates when we have events and promotions on.
If you have a topic you’d like me to cover, or a question you’d like to ask, then fire it across and I’ll shed some light for you.
Next week I’ll be talking about over and underactive metabolisms and how and low calorie diet could be destroying your weight/fat loss goal!
Until next time!