After the recent buzz around plant-based diets, I decided to give it a go and see if I could stay within the confines of my current nutritional goals.
My dietary approach is eating clean foods with a proper macro balance. I strive to hit 8-10 servings of veggies and fruit daily, drink at least 1/2 my bodyweight in oz of water, and keep added sugar below 25g/day, additionally I’m dairy free.
For the past 3 months I’ve been in a reverse diet, working on kickstarting my metabolism after a period of time under-eating and overtraining (oops!). My current macro goals are 125 g protein, 180g carb, and 65g fat which equals about 1800 calories. FYI. I’m still in reversal mode with a goal to get maintenance up to 2200-2300 calories.
LESSONS LEARNED EATING PLANT-BASED
1. Vegan food can be tasty AF. Each vegan recipe I made was delish, thank you @thugkitchen
2. I never craved the taste or texture of meat
3. I felt satisfied after every meal
4. Energy levels during workouts stayed high as my carb intake was high
1. Hitting daily protein goals was v difficult. High protein plant-based options such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds come packed with high levels of carbs and fats respectively. In order to get remotely close to my protein goal, I was seeing my carbs hit +250g, fats +100g and still only seeing protein at 70-95g. This shot my daily calories up to around 2300, something I was not comfortable with in this stage of my reverse diet.
I tried opting for soy based protein choices such as tofu and tempeh, but like the beans, found that they made me feel super bloated.
2. Post workout recovery majorly suffered. I was beyond sore all day every day for two weeks without making any changes to programming. I owe this a reduced protein intake.
3. I ended up eating LESS veggies per day as I was so damn full from all the beans and fats.
4. I ate more processed foods than before, i.e. crackers, pastas, vegan cream cheese, and vegan scones (SO GOOD!)
5. To follow a plant based diet, you’ve got some serious prep-time for meals, especially if you’re trying to avoid processed foods.
6. No matter how full I felt after a meal, I was hungry an hour later.
This was purely a personal experience and definitely not a long enough trial to determine lasting physical effects to body. I myself felt fluffy and bloated consistently, perhaps that would change after a period of time.
I’ve always advocated a well balanced diet that prioritizes eating plenty of veggies and fruits, which could be considered a plant-based diet. Instead of going full vegan and potentially suffer from protein deficiencies, simply opting for a few meals a week that are meat-free could be a nice compromise.
Another lasting lesson was the major learning curve that comes with changing a diet. Trying to navigate the grocery store for plant-based options and learning how to prep tofu was overwhelming. As a nutrition coach, this gave me great insight as to how my clients must feel when learning how to change their diet. This was a humbling experience that has given me a deeper level of understanding the challenges they face.
All in all, it was an interesting learning experience. Vegan doesn’t work for me, but I respect those who rock it.