Body Sculpting Blueprint

“How do you build muscle on a vegan diet?”

“I’m worried now i’m vegan carbs will make me fat”

“How can I lose weight and tone up on a vegan diet”

“Where do I get my protein from?”

“What do I eat to recover from a workout?”

These are just a handful of the questions I get asked on a daily basis through my Facebook page so I decided to come up with a really cheesy title (Body Sculpting Blueprint) and put together some of the fundamentals for body composition, diet and training.

First up, STOP LOOKING FOR THE MAGIC ANSWER, whether its a program or diet PLEASE JUST STOP. Look, if you really want to spend money to “feel” like you are accountable and have THE answer, then just donate £100 of your hard earned cash to a vegan charity of your choice and then simply read this post. At least that way your cash is helping the world rather than lining the pockets of someone who convinced you that carbs are the devil or it only takes THESE 5 exercises to sculpt your abs and tone your ass. haha

Phew, now thats out the way, I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do to reach your goal…and here is the big secret, that everyone cant figure out, once you know what to do, the ONLY way to get results is consistency and commitment. There I said it. I swear, hands down, that if you follow what I am about to tell you, then you will achieve your goal. Depending on how much you adhere to everything, depends on what your end result will look like. So here goes..

No.1 It’s the Calories That Matter

Calories will determine if you lose weight or gain weight…not carbohydrates, not fat, not protein but calories. If you burn (through metabolism & activity) more calories than you eat then your body must make up for this energy deficit by releasing stored energy and using it for fuel, the end result is you lose weight.

If you eat more calories that you burn (through metabolism and activity) then your body will store this energy and you will gain weight.

If my daily energy expenditure was 2,500 kcal a day and I ate 2,000 kcal of Oreos every day for 3 weeks I would lose weight or if I ate 2,000 kcal of peanut butter for 3 weeks or 2,000 kcal of bananas…it’s the calories, not the specific macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) that determine if you gain or lose weight.

2. Losing or Gaining the Right Kind of Weight

Now you know how to lose or gain weight, is there a way that we can shift the odds in our favour in terms of what kind of weight we gain or lose.

What I mean by this is, when dieting we dont just want to lose weight, we want to safeguard our muscle and lose just the fat and likewise when bulking we dont want to add 5lbs of fat for every 1lb of muscle. We want to tip the scales in our favour, after all, if you weighed 150lbs dieted for 8 weeks and lost 10lbs but 8lbs was muscle and 2lbs was fat, you could find that you actually have a worse body composition after your diet than you did before…your overall body fat % may have gone up even if you lost weight!

The good news is that yes..we can tip the scales in our favour either way.

When Dieting

We want to safeguard our muscle, to do this studies have shown that an increase in protein consumption during calorie restriction can prevent muscle loss and therefore, as long as your weight loss is steady and not drastic, will mean that you mostly lose body fat during your diet and not your hard earned muscle. Aim for 2-3g protein per kg of bodyweight.

When bulking

There is likely no benefit to eating more than 1.4-2g protein per kg of bodyweight, so don’t waste calories on unnecessary amounts of protein. Instead, consume a sensible amount of fat 10-20% of total calories (from good fat source, not saturated) and use the rest of your calories for carbs, particularly around your workout to fuel your intensity and recover quickly.

Whether bulking or cutting you typically want to aim for 0.5-1lb change in bodyweight each week. If your macros are correct then you should be transforming your physique, sculpting it to your desired goal.

“But 0.5lbs sounds too slow”

I hear you…but listen, if your calories and macros are on point, along with the right training plan then that number means F.A. Why?! It is possible to lose fat and build muscle at the same time, you dont have to go through big ups and downs with your body fat level. What if over the next 4 weeks you lost 3lbs of fat but gained 2.5lbs of muscle…well that means that you have only dropped 0.5lbs on the scale, but guess what…you look bad ass now, toned and tighter, everything coming together. Dont focus on the number, focus on how you look!

3. How Many Meals

Don’t beleive the nonsense that you have to eat every few hours to stoke the metabolic fireplace and keep your metabolism high, research shows that whether you eat all your food in one go or spread across the day, the energy expended from eating is the same. HOWEVER…

There is a reason I favour splitting your meals up, which is protein synthesis. You see, to build muscle or maintain muscle we want to keep our body in a positive state of anabolism, meaning that our body is trying to build muscle and repair instead of catabolic where it is breaking down muscle. Truth is your body goes through this process of anabolic and catabolic all day, but we want to tip the scales in our favour, just like we do with macros. By eating every 3-4 hours and splitting our protein up to set portions across the day we can maximally stimulate protein synthesis across the day and give us the best chance of achieving our goals.

4. Micronutrients

On a vegan diet there is no reason why you should not be getting 20+ of your “5 a day”, your diet should be packed with vegetables, salad, fruit, nuts, legumes, seeds, grains and beans. Think of every food that you eat like a medicine for your body, everything serves a purpose. Why would you want to eat cookies if blackberries have powerful antioxidants to fight cancer and starve off diabetes. Everything you eat is amazing and can either heal your body and help you reach your goal or fight you and cause inflammation, constipation, wild fluctuations in blood sugar and a whole host of other issues.

I highly recommend purchasing “How Not to Die” on Amazon, it will give you a great insight into some of the powerful benefits of a plant based diet and specific foods you may want to include…or just confirm how awesome you are and justify everything you eat already 😉

4. Training

Calories (tick)

Which macronutrients to have (tick)

Micronutrients (tick)

Your body now has everything it needs, the right calories and macros combined with a nutrient dense diet (I will give you my diet plan below) to get you to your goal. Now all you need to do is spark the fire that will put all this nutrition to use and set you on your way to the changes you want.

First up is Cardio

I recommend that everyone (unless you have a v active job), whether you are bulking or dieting includes 35-45min of “cardio” a day, getting your heart rate above 130BPM and sweating. Not at a level where you cant breath, but just a comfortable pace for general cardiovascular health.

Next is weight lifting

Whether you are a woman who wants to look good in a bikini or a man who wants to step on a body building stage, the method of gaining muscle is exactly the same!

This DOES NOT mean that women will gain ripped bulging biceps! also it DOES NOT mean that mean will get big quickly..the amount of people that say to me “I want to get big but not too big”…c’mon! I have been training day in day out, meticiulous with my diet for years and I’m not too big haha…

for your body to build muscle it takes hard work and consistency, your body does not want muscle, in terms of evolution and survival, too much muscle was a handicap. Your body would rather be lean and nimble, not have lbs of additional lean mass to worry about.

so to actually build muscle we must force our body to change and we do this through

mixing up the exercises and confusing the muscle (JOKING, rolls eyes)…

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD

We want to apply an increasing load (stimulus) to our body over a period of time to force an adaptation.

Imagine a guy in the gym doing squats or bench press with 60kg

Now imagine a woman in the gym doing db shoulder press with 20kg

1 year goes by, you walk back in the gym and that same guy and girl are using the exact same weights for the same exact amount of reps.

Do you think that their body changed?….NO

this is why you see people in the gym month after month, year after year with little to no change.

Because their magazine or app or whatever it was said do 4 sets of this for 12 reps thats what they did…for a year!

So whats the answer?

FORCE YOUR BODY TO CHANGE

Imagine now that same guy and girl, you walk back in the gym a year later and he is bench pressing 120kg and she is db shoulder pressing 40kg, now do you think their body would have changed?… exactly.

Dont focus on “fluff” going for the burn or aimlessly following a routine. Have a goal! a purpose and progress your lifts week on week to force an adaptation.

Lets see an example..

Set a time scale of 3-4 months and focus on building your strength each week for specific exercises.

I recommend training body parts twice per week with 2 variations of workouts.

Using legs as an example..

  • Week 1 Session 1 (LEGS a1)
  • Week 1 Session 2 (LEGS b1)
  • Week 2 Session 1 (LEGS a2)
  • Week 2 Session 2 (LEGS b2)
  • Week 3 Session 1 (REPEAT WEEK 1, a1)

etc

this gives you a good rotation through exercises so that you do not stall on lifts and enough variety that over 3 or 4 months you are not bored.

LEGS a1 could be something like

  • Squats
  • Leg press
  • Walking lunge
  • Leg extension
  • Barbell stiff leg deadlift
  • Seated hamstring curl
  • Calves

Then LEGS b1 would be a variation

  • Front squats
  • Feet wide and high leg press
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Sissy squats
  • DB stiff leg deadlift
  • Laying hamstring curl
  • Calves

you would create 2 more variants, a2 and b2

All exercises would be in the 8-15 rep range, with the exception of the isolation exercises e.g. leg extensions, for these you can go up to 20 (just a personal preference).

Do enough warm up sets that you are ready to lift and then go for your absolute max weight for 8 reps. e.g.

  • Squat (warm up/not failure) 60 x 10
  • Squat (warm up/not failure) 80 x 8
  • Squat (warm up/not failure) 90 x 3
  • Squat (1st working set) 100 x 8
  • Reduce weight by approx 10%
  • Squat (2nd working set) 90 x 11
  • Reduce weight by approx 10%
  • Squat (3rd working set) 80 x 14

Log the 3 working sets, next time round (in 2 weeks) your goal is to beat these numbers. IF you beat the numbers on every exercise, every set, every 2 weeks AND you are eating enough food then you will grow, no doubt about it!

Diet Example

Breakfast – Oats, protein smoothie (kale, spinach, protein powder, cinnamon) , berries.

Pre Workout – Beetroot juice, banana, fermented BCAA

Intra Workout – Carb powder, fermented BCAA

Post Workout – Protein smoothie (as above), beans, sweet potato, dates.

Lunch – Chickpea salad (Apple, lettuce, tomato, pepper, spinach), protein smoothie (as above), blackberries

Mid afternoon – protein smoothie (as above), popcorn

Dinner – tofu, lentils, avacado, broccoli, cauliflower, protein smoothie (as above)

Bed – Brazil nuts, walnuts, protein smoothie (as above plus flaxeed)

 

Right.. thats it in a nutshell, ping me on Facebook if you have any questions and thanks for reading!

Where Do Vegan’s Get Their Protein?

Various vegetarian products, raw tofu, marinated tofu, ground and ball soy protein.
Various vegetarian products, raw tofu, marinated tofu, ground and ball soy protein.

Within 1 week of going vegan you will already be exhausted of this question, friends and family will look at you puzzled and ask “you’re vegan?!”…”but I thought you need protein to build muscle?!”

The immediate assumption is made that because you are vegan you won’t be getting enough protein to build muscle.

SPOILER ALERT: Protein is abundant in every plant based food on the planet 😉

Before we get into the various different protein sources for vegans, it’s important to consider that just because you are vegan, this doesn’t mean that the laws of biology suddenly change for you. I commonly witness people go vegan and jump on the 80/10/10 bandwagon, where 80% of your food is from carbs, 10% from protein and 10% from fats.

There is nothing wrong with this diet setup if general health and well being are your goal, the abundance of carbs from plant sources will ensure that you are getting more than your recommended 5 portions of fruit and/or veg per day and the protein/fat ratios will be enough to serve your body’s minimum requirements to function..

..HOWEVER..

..I am sure you frequent my page because you want to add some lean mass and build muscle right? You don’t just want to “get by” with the bare minimum, you want to give your body the best possible chance of packing on some lean mass and/or losing body fat.

Whilst the 80/10/10 diet is fine for the average Joe, i’m guessing you don’t want to be average and therefore we have to look at the real data to determine what it takes to actually build muscle?

How Much Protein do Vegans Need?

First it depends on your goal

If you’re in a calorie deficit then you should increase your protein intake to reduce the amount of muscle loss. Remember, we never just want to lose weight…we want to lose and target FAT. An increase in protein during a calorie deficit has been shown to prevent muscle loss, aim for 2-3g protein per kg of body weight. [1]

If you are at maintenance calories or surplus, then there is likely no benefit to eating more than 1.4-2g protein per kg of body weight, save your calories for something else. [2]

Protein Timing

Regardless of whether you are vegan or not, if we keep our body in an anabolic environment by maximally stimulating muscle protein synthesis across the day we will build muscle and prevent muscle protein breakdown. Your body goes through a cycle of anabolic (build up) and catabolic (breakdown) of muscle tissue many times throughout the day, what we want to do is tip the scales in our favour.

Research shows that eating a protein rich meal at least every 4-5 hours is probably enough to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This puts the ideal amount of meals per day at 3-4, something like

  • 8am
  • Noon
  • 4pm
  • 8pm

When you eat enough protein containing the king of amino acid’s Leucine, your body flips the switch to start the anabolic process.

This will last for 2-4 hours (depending on what you ate), your body then returns to baseline at which point we want to hit it again with more Leucine rich protein to push protein synthesis up again.

Leucine is a key component to trigger muscle protein synthesis, therefore my choices of protein are based on their amino acid profile, ensuring that we provide our body with all the essential amino acids to build muscle.

Protein Sources For Vegans

My No1 protein source is Soy; Beans/Tofu/Shakes

Despite the misconception that Soy may give you moobs (look out for another article on this soon), Soy is one of the only plant based proteins that people would consider complete, meaning it has full amino acid profile, making it a great choice in your pursuit of building muscle.

  • Whole soy foods are also an excellent source of B vitamins, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • High quality protein with sufficient amounts of Leucine for muscle protein synthesis.
  • Low in saturated fat.
  • High in fiber.
  • There is increasing evidence that consumption of soy protein in place of animal protein lowers blood cholesterol levels and may provide other cardiovascular benefits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated the countries where people live to full health the longest and Japan came out on top with 74.5 years.

Much of this is due to diet, they are the largest consumer of fish in the world and of whole soy!

That’s right, the healthiest people in the world eat soy..lots and lots of soy!

A typical serving of 200g of tofu provides 16g of protein, pair this up with some lentils or chickpeas (see below) and you have a nutrient dense, protein packed meal.

Quorn

Also known as Mycoprotein, Quorn is actually a protein-rich food made from an edible fungus. Similar to Soy, Quorn has a full amino acid profile, is used for many meat substitutes and if that doesn’t sound good enough…has almost enough fiber in 1 sitting to hit your entire recommended daily allowance!

1 bag of vegan Quorn pieces has 45g of protein.

Lentils

Lentils contain high levels of soluble fiber which has been shown to lower cholesterol, aid digestive health and stabalise blood sugar. They are also a great source of magnesium and folate which are good contributors to heart health.

A 240g serving of lentils has 10g protein, great to pair up with other protein sources like Tofu.

Chickpeas

Similar to lentils and soybeans, chickpeas are legumes, as such they contain similar benefits. High in soluble fiber, magnesium and folate, chickpeas also contain a much higher ratio of protein compared to lentils.

200g of chickpeas packs a whopping 38g of protein, perfect for a chickpea curry. Personally I find that the health benefits and protein content of chickpeas more than justifies my addiction to houmus 😉

These are just a few of my favourite protein sources for vegans, truth is, protein can be found in every plant based food there is, I recommend to mix and match your protein sources at each meal and rotate them across the week. This will give you a full amino acid profile at every meal and a delicious variety of combinations.

References

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19927027

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4022420/

How’s Your Lymphatic System? (it’s important)

Until the other day I had only heard of the Lymphatic System in serious conditions and  not given much thought to the role it plays in our body and how an efficient Lymphatic System can help increase your recovery and overall health.

What is the Lymphatic System?

Your Lymphatic System removes waste from every cell in your body and regulates your immune system, its function is to move a clear liquid called Lymph, containing white blood cells around your body to clear out waste and toxins. You have almost twice as much Lymph in your body than you do blood! the network is HUGE! Throughout the Lymph network are small structures called Lymph Nodes, in times of attack/inflammation/harmful organisms your lymph nodes go into overdrive to product antibodies and often can become sensitive or tender.

This is part of the reason I started to read up on the Lymphatic System, a few months ago I detached my Adductor and burst several blood vessels in my leg resulting in blood pooling, my leg filled with blood and became severely bruised, over the next few weeks I could feel tender areas around my groin and swelling, researching online it suggested that my Lymph Nodes could be in overdrive and even congested, preventing a speedy recovery. As I was sitting on the couch on my ass all day unable to move my leg…good times!…I started researching and reading about the incredible role your Lymphatic System plays in the body.

Interestingly your Lymphatic System does not have a pump, like your heart, to move Lymph around your body, instead it requires your movement/muscle contraction and help to get around, one of the best ways of course is exercise!

This is where it gets tricky with a busted leg, being sat on my backside all day, certainly was not helping in Lymph drainage and recovery of my injury. I wanted to find out further symptoms of a sluggish Lymphatic System and to see if there were any supplements or dietary changes I could make to improve the overall well being of my system, reaching the conclusion that an optimal and efficient Lymphatic System would not only assist in the recovery of my injury, but now armed with this information meant that keeping a healthy system at the top of my priority list will help long term with training, recovery and health!

Let’s imagine you’re injured or have toxins in your body, but you sit on the couch or lay in bed not moving, this can lead to a pooling effect of toxins, and in severe cases create a blockage in your Lymphatic System.

What are some of the symptoms of a sluggish Lymphatic System?

As I researched this, I started to realize that perhaps my Lymphatic System needed help a long time ago!…

  • Dry skin
  • Feeling tired
  • Bloating
  • Trouble sleeping/staying asleep
  • Holding on to water in trouble areas (lower back for me)
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Migrains
  • Loss of appetite
  • GI Issues
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Cellulite

Just to name a few! have you ever had a day where you feel sluggish and mental fog? again these could be symptoms of a poor Lymphatic System.

For me sleep was big thing, I often wake in the night and find it hard to get back to sleep, in the afternoons I feel an overwhelming fatigue and as the day goes on I find water retention increases and bloating becomes an issue.

So how can we maintain a healthy Lymphatic System or even repair it?

  1. Clean up your diet, stop eating processed crap, meat, dairy, gluten and reduce sugar/refined carbohydrates.
  2. Supplement with liver and kidney enzymes/support/supplements
  3. Take an intolerance test to foods or allergies test that may be putting added stress on your body.
  4. Drink at least 2 liters of filtered or purified water a day
  5. Exercise regularly – skipping or jumping on a trampoline can be one of the best ways to increase efficiency in less that 10min a day!
  6. Try not to sit/be inactive for extended periods of time
  7. There are specialist lymphatic massage experts that can stimulate lymphatic drainage
  8. De-stress – take time for yourself, reduce general stress around you

As I already take part in most of the above! I decided to seek out some additional supplements and a tiger roller! to support my Lymphatic System.

Supplements I found were…

  • Swanson Condition Specific Kidney Essentials
  • Swanson Ultra Diosvein Diosmin/Hesperidein
  • Swanson Condition Lymph Essentials with Yellow Clover Extract
  • Liv-52
  • Milk Thistle

As for the Tiger Roller, this thing is amazing, it is a massage roller that I have been using all week on my leg and feels like it makes a huge impact!

It is very early to tell with the supplements as this is only day 3, but last night I had the highest quality night sleep I have had in about 6 weeks and woke up today looking drier than normal. Time will tell, but I am positive about the assistance these supplements can give me and will keep the health of my Lymphatic System at the top of my list for overall body efficiency and well being.

How to Structure Your Diet

how-to-structure-your-diet

In a previous post I discussed the best diet for vegans that exercise http://www.vegan-body-coach.com/best-diet-vegans/

Today I want to share with you what I consider the best way to structure your diet across the day. (this is my opinion on nutrient timing and works well for me, but ultimately the best diet is the one that YOU can adhere too, we are all different)

First it’s really important that we understand carbohydrates and the role they play in our body composition goals.

Carbohydrates are not necessary for your body to function. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, unlike essential fatty acids (fats) and essential amino acids (protein), your body can continue to thrive regardless of carbohydrates as long as your body has everything else it needs.

There are 2 ways your body can create energy without carbohydrates, one is through fat where by the body will produce ketones, you may have heard of people following a “Keto” diet, which is the process by which the body metabolises fat to Ketones for energy.

The other is Gluconeogenesis, whereby the body will metabolise proteins to glucose for fuel.

So why eat carbs at all?

I eat carbs because;

  1. It helps me to look “full” When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts them to glycogen, which is then stored in the muscles for energy. For every gram of glycogen stored, you gain approximately 2.7 grams of water. When your body fat is low, but your glycogen stores are full, you will have full muscles with great shape. Instead of looking “flat”.
  2. Energy…when exercising your body’s no1 fuel source is carbohydrates. At times when our body needs quick access to energy to perform an exercise, I dont want to wait around for the conversion of proteins or fats to energy, I like to sip on a high GI carb powder to give my body everything it needs to perform at an optimal rate… This is even more important in times of calorie deficit, when you are tired or feeling sluggish. During high-intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the main source of fuel your body taps into. High-intensity exercise, whether it’s HIIT training or heavy resistance exercise, primarily uses carbohydrates for fuel. Muscle glycogen is the main fuel supply for intense exercise and is a major fuel source during the first hour of exercise.
  3. Despite popular belief it is not specifically carbs that makes you fat. It’s an excess of calories. If you are in a calorie surplus you gain weight, regardless of macronutrient (carbs, protein, fat) split. Likewise with losing weight, a calorie deficit is the fundamental reason for losing weight.

How do I use carbs?

I have always had the best results from the gym when I utilize my daily carbohydrates around the workout window; Pre, Intra, Post..when my body needs them.

At all other times of the day your body does not need carbs to perform day to day functions and I achieve a better body composition with low carb or low GI carb foods across the remainder of the day.

Having been considerably over weight in the past, I also have insulin resistance (will do a separate article on this subject soon), meaning that high carbs at every meal causes a long list of issues such as hypoglycemia, irritability and fat gain.

I currently train first thing in the morning, upon wake (30 minutes before a workout) I will have;

10g BCAA + 10g Cyclic Dextrin (high gi carb powder) + 5g creatine

(I will write another article about the specifics of workout nutrition soon going into more detail)

Intra workout I sip on the same cocktail;

10g BCAA + 30g Cyclic Dextrin (high gi carb powder) + 5g creatine

and generally finish the drink 15-20min before the end of my workout.

my post workout meal is then 1 hour after the workout. Currently I enjoy a couple of bagels and a soy protein isolate smoothie with frozen berries and banana.

Put it all together…

  • 5:45am – Pre workout
  • 6:30-7:30am Intra workout
  • 8:30am Breakfast

My next meal of the day is approx 11:30 or 12:00 depending on schedule, and will consist of high protein, medium fat and low GI carbs, something like..

  • 200g Tofu
  • 200g Lentils
  • 100g Broccoli

3 hours later I need a snack mid afternoon, I normally opt for a protein shake or protein snack and a handful of peanuts or cashews.

Dinner is high protein, high fat and low carb. Lately I enjoy a bag of Vegan Quorn fillets, 1 pack of caulirice and some more broccoli. Normally I will throw it all in a pan and create a stir fry or curry.

The meal itself is not high fat, however I love chocolate! even when dieting! so straight after my meal I will have 50g 80% dark chocolate.

Depending on my total protein intake across the day, I will then add in an extra shake or soy yoghurt before bed if needed.

If I were training in the evening (and this would be my preference if schedule allowed), I would change the meal layout as follows;

Breakfast – Low carb, high fat, high protein (scrambled tofu? avacado etc)

Lunch – low carb, high fat, high protein (caulirice, tofu, broccoli, peanuts)

Mid afternoon – high carb, high protein, low fat (couple of rice cakes, sliced banana, agave, protein shake)

Train at 5 or 6pm – intra workout high carb + BCAA

Post workout – High carb, low fat, high protein (jasmine rice, vegan quorn, veg)

Desert – oats & berries or similar medium carb treat

Bed – shake as needed

Notice that anyway I do this, I will include a treat for myself in the evening, this helps me adhere to the diet.

What about rest days?

My training preference is a one on one off split, upper/lower body parts. Day 1, training, would be as per the above and then on a rest day ALL of my meals would be low carb, high protein and medium fat.

Why is this way of eating so great?

Training days you get to eat lots of delicious carbs. As most of your carbs are around the workout you can factor in some of your favorite foods..even though you are on a diet…hence the reason I eat bagels post workout!

Then on rest days you eat lots of delicious fats. Peanut butter, avacado, dark chocolate etc.

You essential rotate your food choices and macronutrients day to day, this means that you are always getting a variety of foods from high fat to high carb and removes any restriction a typical diet would place on you.

Variety is the key to diet adherence, the less restricted you are and more choices you have, the easier it will be to transition this into a lifestyle…not just a diet.

If you have any questions about your own diet feel free to message me or comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/gluconeogenesis.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/309135-can-a-high-carb-diet-cause-you-to-retain-water/

4 Fuel Sources Your Body Can Use During Exercise

Build Muscle Without Getting Fat

the-right-way-to-bulk

Bulking season is upon us. The time of year when you throw caution to the wind and devour anything and everything in sight in hopes of adding some lean muscle to your frame. A relic of the early years of bodybuilding, bulking is yet another dogmatic strategy that is at best — ineffective. Nowadays, we know better. There are more effective ways to build lean mass without rapidly expanding your waistline and those pudgy cheeks at the same time.

The Traditional Bulk

The logic behind a traditional bulk is to add as much muscle mass as possible by any means necessary. Instead of counting calories, macros, or trying to optimize the diet for muscle gain, you are instructed to consume everything in sight. Pizza, ice cream, sushi, burritos, nothing is off limits. This goes on and on, almost indefinitely, until you either get so fat that you can’t bear the sight of your own reflection, or it comes time to prep for a show, summer, event, etc.

This strategy is based on the simple fact that you need to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight — but while this is true, it is not the whole picture. There are a whole host of factors — like hormones, nutrients, and macros — that determine whether the weight you gain is actually muscle, fat, or just water.

And the worst part about bulking is the aftermath. Traditional bulking usually comes with excessive fat gain, and natural or not, it is a monumental task to get rid of it all. While bulking is all fun, games, cheat foods, and happy days, the cut is miserable, long, and ends in negligible gains and metabolic damage.

Is there a limit to a bulk?

Even if we concede to brutish methods and forgo calorie counting and macro management in favor of plain and simple excess, the traditional bulk can only get us so far. You see, the fat you gain during a bulk has a direct negative impact on your general health and anabolic hormones. Creep over 15% BF, and your body will start to fight against you.

Your heart works overtime, your blood pressure rises, your estrogen goes through the roof, and you become insulin resistant, all of which result in more fat and less muscle. You lose motivation, you feel tired throughout the day, your mood suffers, you lose your sex drive…Your body goes completely out of whack, and basically, stops supporting the muscle building process.

The bottom line is that the higher your body fat is, the less likely you are to gain muscle.

What is the right way to bulk?

Your body likes balance. It does not want to be higher than 15% Body Fat (males) / 25% Body Fat (females) and it does not want your body fat to be too low (single digits) — your body wants the Goldilocks scenario, everything just right. When you start to stray from this comfort zone, your body will fight to bring you back to baseline. So why fight it?

Instead of putting yourself through the turmoil of an off season bulk, where body fat routinely blows past 15%, try cyclical bulking to keep your hormones in check and smash through plateaus. So what is cyclical bulking, you ask?

The Cyclical Bulk

In one sentence, cyclical bulking is a strategy whereby you switch between brief periods of cutting and bulking in order to maximize your capacity to gain muscle and lose fat. That’s the synopsis — now let’s dive into the details, because there is a bit more to it than that.

The ABCs of a Cyclical Bulk

If you are over 15% body fat, then it’s time to cut before even considering a bulking phase. If you are already at 15% or less, then it’s time to bulk. That is your baseline.

From there, you pick a number that is 5% over your current weight. This is your target for the bulk.

e.g. 200lb male X 5% = 10lbs

Your aim is to manipulate food intake to add about one to two pounds a week until you reach your goal. So our example 200lb male will bulk for between 5 and 10 weeks, depending on how much he gains every week. You will have to make adjustments every week based on your progress. Gain more than a pound or two, cut back on the food…didn’t gain enough, time to add some meals. Simple.

Once you reach your goal weight, regardless of how long that takes, you immediately go into a cutting phase to lose two thirds (66%) of the weight you just added. So our sample 200 lb male, who just gained 10 pounds, will aim to lose 2/3 of that. A little bit of math (.66 x 10 = 6.6) and presto! He knows he needs to lose about 6 pounds.

By the end of the cut, our bodybuilder has gained 4 pounds* of real muscle.

That would be one whole cycle. Basically, you repeat this process for as long as you want — until you are as big as your heart desires.

*Now I know you’re probably thinking that 4 pounds on a 200lb bodybuilder doesn’t sound like much, but  remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed that in his best year he managed just 15lbs! And that’s Arnold we’re talking about! So if you can manage 4lbs every every 3-6 months, you are not very far from Arnold’s best.

The Magic of  A Cyclical Bulk

What makes the cyclical bulk so great is that it works with your body instead of against it. You feed your body when it is primed for growth, and you cut the fat when it is ready to shred. Here’s how the magic happens:

  1. It is really easy to gain weight immediately after a cut
  2. It is really easy to lose fat immediately after a bulk
  3. Growth and fat loss, both occur in spurts

After a cut, your body is extremely sensitive to nutrients. It has been deprived of food, and in response, has unregulated many processes which allow it to absorb nutrients and build muscle efficiently. The opposite happens after a bulk — your metabolism is through the roof from the extra food you have been consuming and the muscle you have just gained. Minor manipulations to your diet, and the fat melts off. The last point is perhaps the most important. Growth and fat loss occur in spurts, neither is consistent. You may not see any changes for weeks, and then BOOM, a few pounds come or go practically overnight. The cyclical bulk takes advantage of this. Instead of idling, waiting around for progress to happen, you force it to happen by forcing you body into rapid growth and fat loss cycles.

How To Structure Your Cyclical Bulk

Structuring a cyclical bulk is pretty simple. If you are above 15% body fat, start by cutting. If you are below 15% body fat, start bulking. Measure progress weekly, and if the scales are not moving every week, then increase/decrease your kcal by 10-15%, and weigh yourself again in 1 week. Always maintain a high level of protein in your diet , and look to increase this when cutting to keep hold of all your lean gains in a kcal deficit. And as far as food choices go, be flexible, eat healthy most of the time, but enjoy some “cheat” foods too, i’m a big fan of flexible dieting to ensure you adhere to a lifestyle instead of a “diet”. I recommend 80-90% of your diet is nutrient dense food that will have a good impact on your health and goals, but 10-20% of your diet can be treats, cheats…basically whatever you want. This way, you not only optimize nutrition to maximize progress, but you stay happy and sane throughout the entire process..everything in moderation 😉

Bulking Must Die

Everyone that’s bulking cant wait to get shredded, and everyone whose shredded can’t wait to eat and grow.

Old school mentality would have us bulk up, adding lbs of muscle..and fat in the process, only to be followed by a long and arduous cut to reveal a few measly pounds of muscle.

Cyclical bulking is the intelligent way to gain muscle, look good year round, and achieve greater gains in the long run.

Vegan Diet Plan – Cardio & Conditioning

vegan-runner-dietEvery Sunday I will be answering questions I receive on Facebook in a blog post to share with everyone.

This week I was asked how to setup a diet and exercise plan for someone that is training for a half marathon but wants to build muscle and get stronger at the same time.

They are currently running 5 times a week, eating 2,500kcal a day with a macro split of 80% carbs, 10-15% protein and 5-10% fat and have no access to a gym.

The unfortunate reality is that it is incredibly unlikely you will build any muscle whilst training for an endurance event. Endurance training such as long distance running is catabolic by its very nature and will limit if not regress your ability to build muscle. With this in mind I therefore recommend that one does all they can to maintain all their current muscle mass whilst dieting and/or training for such an event, and then focus on building muscle afterwards, when you are in a calorie surplus.

Let’s take a moment to consider the people in the world that put on the most muscle..bodybuilders. Their whole focus in life is building muscle, which is why you will see them go through periods of “bulking” and then “cutting”.

In periods of a calorie surplus, with the right training, your body will grow. Depending on how accurate you are with your calories..and dedicated with your training, you will gain different amounts of muscle and fat.

Then when you start the cutting process it is vital to maintain your hard earned muscle and train/diet in a way that predominantly focuses on fat loss.

The end result over these cycles of “bulking” and “cutting” is a toned, lean physique with good muscle definition and low body fat.

Training for an endurance event will likely put your body in a catabolic environment whereby it uses carbohydrates, fats and protein (your muscle) as fuel.

So my advice would be..

Focus on the task at hand, train as you are for the marathon, but adjust your macronutrient split to give your body the best chance of preserving as much muscle mass as possible.

Then once the event is over you can focus your attention on your secondary goal of building muscle and getting stronger.

At that time you can add in more calories, join a gym and grow.

Similar to a bodybuilder “bulking” up, by eating an excess of calories will put your body in an anabolic environment. I’m not suggesting by any means to gain 50lbs in 3 months or binge on cakes, chocolate and pizza. But small increments in your calories each week as you get stronger in the gym.

You could spend several months in the gym getting stronger and leaner, and then several months training for your next marathon.

If nutrition is correct, you will gain muscle and some fat in the bulk stage, then lose the fat and maintain your muscle in the cardio/endurance training stage…end result? stronger and leaner..boom!

How do we maintain muscle mass in a calorie deficit?

There are 2 simple ways to maintain muscle mass in a calorie deficit

  1. Diet
  2. How you train

1. Diet

It is vital in a calorie deficit or when training for an endurance event to increase your protein intake to preserve as much muscle as possible. When dieting I would aim for at least 3g protein per KG of bodyweight. I recommend you take a look at my previous article here The Best Diet For Vegans

You will also want to ensure that your body has ample amounts of glycogen stores (carbohydrates) to fuel your training.

In my opinion most people eat way too many carbs, especially those that are sedentary at any other time than the gym. In the basic terms think of carbs as your fuel source. If you are sitting on your ass all day you don’t really need them! Which is why I favour carbohydrates in and around your workout/training window.

At times your body needs it we provide carbohydrates and protein.

Then for the rest of the day we focus on fats and protein for recovery and repair.

Lets say you train at 5pm in the evening. Here is how I would setup your food for the day.

  • 9am Protein and fat meal
  • 12pm Protein and fat meal
  • 3pm Low GI carb, something like oats, sweet potato and protein
  • 5pm Intra workout carb drink, 20-50g carbs, with BCAA
  • Post training – large carb meal, high GI, rice etc with protein
  • Pre Bed – Protein and fat meal or maybe low GI depending on how your body responds.

The macro split would be 40/40/20

(40g protein, 40g carbs, 20g fat)

In my opinion this type of setup would give you plenty of fuel when you need it and enough protein (providing calories are accurate) to give you the best chance of preserving muscle.

2. How You Train

You may read and hear about people lowering the amount of weight they use and doing higher reps to “tone up”. You know the broscience; heavy weights and low reps to build muscle, high reps and low weight to tone up.

This is complete utter nonsense. The only way you are going to preserve your muscle mass when dieting is to finish your diet as strong as when you started!

If you can squat 100kg now, then you better make damn sure you can squat 100kg at the end of your diet.

This is the ONLY way to train if you are serious about maintaining your muscle when dieting.

Just take a moment to think about it…at a time when your body is in a calorie deficit, why on earth would it hold on to excess muscle mass if you did not give it a reason to. If you suddenly drop the weights and blasting reps out, that’s a sure fire way to kiss goodbye to all your hard work.

Instead give your body no excuse but to keep that muscle. Take a log book with you into the gym and make sure that no matter what you are at least maintaining your strength in the gym.

Conclusion

  • Focus on one goal at a time, either endurance, cutting, dieting etc or get stronger, adding muscle etc.
  • When dieting, consume at least 3g protein per kg of bodyweight.
  • Schedule your carbs at times you need them, in and around your training.
  • Train heavy (safely of course), to maintain you strength when in a calorie deficit.
  • For more information about the best diet setup for vegans please visit my previous post; The Best Diet For Vegans

Scared of Soy

soy gyno

There seems to be a BIG misconception about the consumption of soy and possible negative side effects this can cause on your hormones. I have to say that even I fell into this trap in the beginning. You see, people argue that soy has estrogenic properties and potentially can be detrimental to the health of both men and women.

A quick search online will have men concerned that if they consume too much soy, they will get Gyno (moobs), lose their hair, gain fat and become an emotional wreck.

So whats this all about?

The confusion comes with the phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogen is a plant estrogen, a naturally occurring nonsteroidal plant compound.

People hear that word “Estrogen” and panic sets in, they immediately think about estrogen created by the endocrine system and assume it’s the same, however that’s not exactly true.

Although phytoestrogen has a similar structure to our natural estrogen there is little to no evidence to suggest that when consumed this exactly mimics estrogen in the body. Some studies say because of the similar structure it will actually bind to our estrogen receptors and block negative effects from our own natural production..which could be a good thing. And other studies say it raises our estrogen levels and could cause an issue.

When science sits on the fence as to whether something is good or bad, all we can do is look at the evidence in front of us and make a logical conclusion.

How can I be sure that soy will not give you moobs? or estrogen related issues?

The World Health Organization (WHO) calculated the countries where people live to full health the longest and Japan came out on top with 74.5 years. Much of this is due to diet.

They are the largest consumer of fish in the world and of whole soy!

That’s right, the healthiest people in the world eat soy..lots and lots of soy!

But what about the man who had boobs?

Meat eaters will be quick to point out this 1 case study, of an elderly man who consumed 3/4 gallon of soy milk a day and developed gynecomastia, he stopped and the symptoms disappeared.

Before jumping to any wild conclusions, lets think about this..

Out of the MILLIONS of people who eat soy every day, 1 person..yes just 1, developed gynemastia, not to mention the fact that he was elderly, so his natural testosterone production would be low, estrogen would be high anyway. Don’t you think that if estrogen was really an issue, there would be hundreds if not thousands of cases like this?

Soy makes up at least 75% of the protein I consume on a daily basis, it is one of the most complete proteins that vegans can consume in their efforts to build muscle.

Benefits of Soy

  • Whole soy foods are also an excellent source of B vitamins, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • High quality protein with sufficient amounts of Leucine for muscle protein synthesis.
  • Low in saturated fat.
  • High in fiber.
  • There is increasing evidence that consumption of soy protein in place of animal protein lowers blood cholesterol levels and may provide other cardiovascular benefits.

In 1995, a meta-analysis of 38 controlled clinical studies8 concluded that substituting soy protein for animal protein significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides without affecting HDL cholesterol. These effects were greater in subjects with higher baseline cholesterol values. Daily soy protein consumption resulted in a 9.3% decrease in total serum cholesterol, a 12.9% decrease in LDL cholesterol, and a 10.5% decrease in triglycerides.8 The cholesterol-lowering effect of soy was in addition to the effect seen with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol (NCEP [National Cholesterol Education Program] Step I diet).

GMO Soy

in the US over 95% of their Soy is genetically modified and covered in pesticides. I would be more concerned about the health consequences of pesticides and GMO than I would about anything else.

Although deemed “safe” for consumption, I ask why on earth would you want to eat something that has been sprayed in chemicals? I will write a new article soon regarding GMO and organic food.

Where ever possible for ALL food I recommend non GMO and organic only.

Who Should Really Be Worried About Estrogen?

Meat eaters! yes, you know the ones, trying to persuade you that soy is going to mess up your estrogen.. Oh really, please tell me about how that milk your are drinking with blood, igf-1 hormones, puss and steroids are not effecting your health?!

ALL cow’s milk (regular and ‘organic’) has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol.

Most cow’s milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels), up to 52 powerful antibiotics (perhaps 53, with LS-50), blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses.

Yet surely its Soy…a natural protein source, that screws up your hormones..

come on guys, get real. :p

References
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-soya

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/102/20/2555.1

https://www.womentowomen.com/nutrition/the-health-benefits-of-soy/

http://www.rense.com/general26/truth.htm

This for That – Vegan Substitutes

You realise that the world is mad, something just clicked in your head, whether it was cruelty, global warming, sustainability or all 3 and you start to wonder why the hell you didn’t go vegan sooner?!

vegan-diet-hardBut then something happens, you start to think…it’s actually bloody hard to be vegan, can I do this? it takes time, thought and a lot of effort. Not to mentioned all the comments and remarks you will get from the uneducated/ignorant humans on the planet.

“I could never go Vegan, I couldnt give up cheese! steak! Bacon!”

Translates to – I just dont give a shit!

Your first week…super tough, you quickly learn that there is egg or dairy in everything! and it starts to look like your limited to just a handful of food choices. Heck I even went to purchase some guacamole to discover it has milk in it! Now I just make my own.

You even learn that Vitamin D3 and other nutrients such as Calcium that are added to foods as preservatives or to further increase nutrient density, in many cases come from animal sources.

Take Vitamin D3 as an example, 1 of the top deficiencies in the UK, this vitamin has been added to almost every cereal you can imagine, but where do they get it from?

sheep

It actually comes from Lanolin, a waxy substance that is secreted by glands found in a sheep’s skin.

By the end of the first week you’re exhausted, but determined more than ever to make a difference and stand up for what you believe in, so you push forward and guess what…it starts to get easier..much easier, the more you learn about foods and what you can/can’t eat, the easier it becomes. Once you have a strong core group of substitutes for things you use to eat there is no stopping you!

..And the great news is that we live in a world of technological advances and ever growing Vegan population, meaning new food substitutes are either here or just a round the corner.

eric-schmidt-vegan

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has named the number one “game-changing” trend of the future as the consumption of plant-based proteins instead of meat.

I truly believe that there is simply no need on ANY level or reasoning to consume ANY product that has come from another life, whether that be cow, sheep or kangaroo! There is no excuse, the only reason people aren’t vegan is down to habit. Their parents weren’t vegan, their grandparents weren’t vegan and they have years of commercial and social brainwashing to justify (in their eyes), why they eat meat. Sadly through years of conditioning and the HUGE disconnect between whats on a supermarket shelf and how it go there, people will forever choose to turn a blind eye if it makes their life more difficult 🙁

HABITS ARE NOT NEEDS

For all you incredible vegans out there, here are some of my favourite substitutes I have found over the last year, it took me nearly 6 months to create a pizza lol, trialing different dough, cheese and toppings every Saturday! But it was worth it! I hope there are a couple of gems here for you. If you think I have missed anything, please just comment and I will add.

Cheese -> Yeast Flakes, Nut Cheese, Coconut Cheese

vegan-cheese
nutcrafter.co.uk

I soon realised with cheese that there is not a universal cheese that you can use for every purpose. Instead you must be selective of the right cheese for the right occasion.

For pizza you need something like Mozzarisella, available at veggiestuff.com, this is the cheese that ZiZi are now using on their vegan pizza’s.

Or you can do as I did and create your own, using a combination of nutritional yeast flakes, almond milk and oil, you can create a great tasting cheese sauce for pasta or pizza.

nutcrafter.co.uk delicious cheese (one of my favourites) from cashew nuts.

Vegusto.co.uk has a good selection of hard cheeses.

Meat -> Wheat Gluten, Jack Fruit, Tofu, Mycoprotein

Meat has only recently come on my radar, I subscribed to the fact that as far as meat goes I would be disappointed to pursue an alternative.

Tofu is great as a protein substitute, but does’t really resemble that of meat.

I am yet to try JackFruit, but some of the recent recipes I have seen make it top of my list!

Mycoprotein, better known as Quorn, is o…k… a little bland on it’s own, but if you are using the chicken style pieces in a sauce or curry then its much better. The Vegan Quorn spicy burgers…LOVE them!

And then came Wheat Gluten…all hail Seitan!

www.baked-in.com
www.baked-in.com

Wheat Gluten opened up a whole new world for me, I would never use it as my primary protein source (the bio-availability sucks!) but as part of my daily diet, hell yes! Because of its texture, wheat gluten can really fill that void where you once had meat. Again Veggiestuff.com is my go to source, the “ribs” are delicious.

Dairy -> Almond/Soy/Oat Milk

It seems a new variant of Dairy is coming out every month now, Almond, Soy, Oat, Coconut, the list goes on..spoilt for choice!

Egg -> Tofu, Egg substitutes

Sgaia's Vegan Meats
Sgaia’s Vegan Meats

There is actually a Vegan egg substitute now, promising to be the same as eggs in consistency and taste..but vegan. It even comes in an egg box and imaginativily called VeganEgg.

Another gem I recently found was https://www.instagram.com/sgaiafoods/ (see pic)

Other than that, if eggs on their own is what you want, then puree Tofu is a great alternative for a similar texture.

Chocolate -> so many choices!

green-blacks-veganWhen it comes to chocolate there is an overwhelming choice! My absolute favourite is Green & Blacks mint chocolate, I eat at least half a bar a day, I cant get enough of it.

I recently discovered dairyfreetoffee.com, after reading some rave reviews on Instagram, I’m going to put my order in!

Yoghurts -> Alpro soy yoghurt

Alpro do a wide range of soy yoghurts with fruit and even chocolate like mousse. Of recent there are a number of new coconut based yoghurts also turning up.

Ice Cream -> Cashews

booja-booja-veganNow i’m sure that there are other ice creams out there, but in my opinion only 1 can reign supreme of the vegan ice creams and that my friend is…drum roll please…Booja Booja Hunky Punky Chocolate, not only is it dairy and egg free, it has just 4 ingredients! Try it, I promise you won’t be dissapointed!

Struggling for Snacks? why not try..

  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • Flapjacks
  • Bagels with peanut butter

If you think I missed anything please comment below, Facebook or message me and I will add to the list. Thanks 🙂

The Best Diet for Vegans

vegan-diet-choiceWhen I started my vegan journey, I soon realised that there is a lot of confusion around dieting as a vegan. The 80/10/10 diet, intermittent fasting, raw vegan, keto vegan, etc, etc. With such an overwhelming choice, how do you know what diet to follow?

The absolute best diet, without a shadow of a doubt, is the one YOU can adhere to, not the one Tom, Dick or Harry is following. You see the very definition of the word diet is to;

restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.

it’s this word “restrict” that causes most people to either bomb out of their diet with a binge OR lose weight, go back to how you were eating before and gain all the weight back!

This mindset of “dieting” and “restriction” will make you miserable, as someone who has battled with bulimia and obesity I know first hand that it’s a rabbit hole you can quickly get lost down.

What happens if I say to you “whatever you do, don’t think about an elephant”?..

elephant

..you’re going to start thinking about an elephant. The same goes for food, if someone tells you that you can no longer eat carbs, cake, chocolate, avacados, whatever it may be, guess what, eventually it’s all you will think about, you will crave it…obsess about it…beat yourself up and the BOOM the diet is over..failure 🙁

Unless you plan to step on a stage one day to compete in a physique competition, then no one should ever feel so restricted that it has a detrimental effect on your mind…and body.

How do I choose the best diet for me?

First, take a moment to consider your end goal, why is it you want to “diet” in the first place?

  • Are you unhappy with the way you look?
  • Do you feel tired and miserable and get sick often?
  • Perhaps, like me, you want to gain muscle and sculpt your physique?

Everyone wants to diet for a different reason, we are all individuals and it should only be our goal that determines the path we take to get there. Don’t prescribe to the idea that there is only 1 solution out there, a one size fits all. You can have your cake and eat it!

Someone looking to build muscle will require a different diet setup to someone that wants to run a marathon or just fit in the jeans from 2 years ago that are now gathering dust at the back of a wardrobe.

Whatever it is, decide what your destination looks like, in 1 years time, how do you want to look and feel about yourself? Visualise it, how will you feel when you reach that goal?

I encourage you to write it down, and stick it on your fridge! or make a note in your phone and save it as your background.

Once you have that goal and know what you want to achieve, you’re now ready to look at the different diet options to get you to your goal.

You can’t start a journey if you don’t know the destination.

The Basics

There are a few universal basics that should be considered with every diet.

  1. If you’re in a calorie deficit then you should increase your protein intake to reduce the amount of muscle loss. Remember, we never just want to lose weight…we want to lose and target FAT. An increase in protein during a calorie deficit has been shown to prevent muscle loss, aim for 2-3g protein per kg of body weight.[1]
  2. If you are at maintenance calories or surplus, then there is no benefit to eating more than 1.4-2g protein per kg of body weight, save your calories for something else. [2]
  3. Fats should make up no less than 10-15% of your diet, a single digit fat % of macros can inhibit Lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) and cause serious hormonal issues for women. [3]
  4. Carbs don’t make you fat…the ONLY thing that makes you fat is too many calories!
  5. Aim to get at least 25g fiber per day for gut health, cholesterol, glucose management.
  6. Spread your protein over at least 3 meals per day for maximum protein snythesis. I typically eat 4 times a day, breakfast, lunch, dinner and a mid afternoon snack.

Now you have the basics it should be fairly easy to work out your macro nutrients for the day. It does not matter if you eat high carb or low carb, the only thing that matters is covering the basics and hitting your total calorie intake.

Let’s run through an example.

First, work out your basic metabolic rate (BMR), this is the amount of calories you typically burn in a day without exercise.

Then add how active you are over a week, to determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

I could give you the long winded calculations for this, but it’s much easier to use an online calculator that does everything for you. Check out https://www.grenade-fit.com/tdee-calculator/ or https://tdeecalculator.net/ and enter your details.

tdee-calculator-vegan

The GrenadeFIT calculator will actually then do everything for you, but I’m going to run through how it works in more detail..

My TDEE is 2,666 and right now I am trying to reduce body fat, therefore I will aim for a calorie intake of 2,400, giving me a 10% deficit. I always recommend starting with a small deficit, this gives you room to remove calories when fat loss stalls.

Now all you need to do is workout your protein, fats and carbs. First up is protein..

88kg x 3g (remember, higher protein intake when dieting) = 264g protein

Protein has 4 kcal per gram, 264g protein = 1,056 kcal

I know my fat must be at least 15% of my diet, TDEE x 15% = 360 kcal

Fat has 9 kcal per gram, 360 kcal / 9 = 40g fat

That’s carbs and fat done, and so far I have used up 1,416 calories, leaving me with 984 kcal for carbohydrates. Like protein, carbs have 4 kcal per gram, 984 / 4 = 246g carbs.

There we have it

2,400kcal = 264g Protein | 246g Carbs | 40g Fat

I like to have 2 different days of macronutrients, so that I am never restricted in my food choices. I train every other day, so on training days I will have high carbs to help recovery and performance, as per the above.

..And for non training days I will have high fat and low carb…hey, who doesn’t like eating half a jar of peanut butter for no reason at all!

My macros for a non training day will be more like;

2,400kcal = 264g Protein | 111g Carbs | 100g Fat

By eating this way, I NEVER feel restricted in what I can have. On training days I can eat lots of delicious carbs to help fuel my workouts.

Fruit, oats, popcorn, pizza!

and non training days, lots of delicious fats like..

Avacado, peanut butter, houmus, dark chocolate! I love Green & Blacks Mint dark chocolate!

green-blacks-vegan

There is really no food off limits in this way of eating. Try it for yourself, write a list of all the favourite meals and food you enjoy, work out the macros for your high carb (training day) and low carb day (rest day), and then fit ANY foods you like within each day.

The less restriction you place on yourself, the easier it will be to adhere to a “diet”, and soon enough you will have everything running like clockwork, that it won’t ever feel like a “diet”, it will just be the way you naturally eat as part of your vegan lifestyle, for the rest of your life.

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19927027
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4022420/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11171592

Do Vegans Need BCAA Supplements?

You may have heard people claim that those who don’t eat meat, won’t be able to get all the required protein they need to build muscle.

They normally go on to express that plant based protein sources are not complete proteins and do not contain a full amino acid profile, which can be misleading.

In fact all plant protein sources are complete and do contain a full amino acid profile. The confusion I believe people come across is that although, yes, plant protein sources are complete proteins, most are deficient in at least one of the 9 essential amino acids and therefore are considered incomplete.

vegan leucineWhat’s an amino acid? 

Protein plays a crucial role in almost all biological processes and amino acids are the building blocks of it. When you digest protein, your body will break this down into amino acids to make proteins to help the body:

  • Break down food
  • Grow
  • Repair body tissue
  • Perform many other body functions

What is an essential amino acid?

Essential amino acids are those that cannot be made by the body on it’s own and as such must come from food.

There are 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Of all the amino acids, there is 1 that is considered king when it comes to building muscle, Leucine. Before we dive into the benefits of leucine in muscle growth, first lets cover some basics.

When you lift weights, your body enters a catabolic state, whereby skeletal muscle protein degradation is increased, the overall effect is a negative net protein balance.

Post workout when you consume protein, this flips the switch to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and begins the process of repairing and building new muscle.

Why is Leucine king?

It is the rise in blood concentrations of amino acids and particularly the level of Leucine in your blood that stimulates protein synthesis.

Leucine is the most abundant of the three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) in muscles (the other two are isoleucine and valine) and has a unique ability to stimulate skeletal muscle protein synthesis and activate major components of the muscle building pathway.

How much Leucine do you need to stimulate protein synthesis?

The ideal amount of Leucine is up for debate, but in studies using single doses, just 2.5g of Leucine stimulated protein snythesis. In long-term studies, the recommended outcome is to consume 8 or more grams of Leucine per day in divided doses of at least 2.5mg at each meal.

and THIS is where I believe the “complete” amino acid profile of plant based protein sources comes into question.

Most plant based protein sources are deficient in the no1 vital amino acid to trigger protein synthesis. It’s not to say that protein synthesis wont occur with plant based sources, but it’s probably not the most optimal if your goal is to build muscle.

Check out the Leucine content of these popular vegan protein sources, remember you likely need at least 2.5g of Leucine for the best results.

  • Mycoprotein (QUORN) 0.95g of Leucine per 100g
  • Chickpeas 0.63g of Leucine per 100g
  • Lentils 0.62g of Leucine per 100g
  • Quinoa 0.33g of Leucine per 100g
  • Tofu 0.73g of Leucine per 100g

Should you supplement with BCAA or Leucine?

Depending on how often you eat, it’s quite possible that over the course of a day you will hit the required 8g of Leucine, which is why there are many vegans out there who don’t supplement with BCAA that have great physiques, however you will unlikely be hitting the minimum requirement of Leucine per single dose (each meal), to maximally stimulate protein synthesis.

Personally, I do supplement, first and foremost I focus on whole foods across the day, but alongside each meal I will supplement with either 10g BCAA or 5g Leucine to ensure that I am exceeding that threshold and increasing my chances of building lean tissue.

Vegan Leucine Supplements

Be careful when choosing your BCAA or Leucine supplements, most that you will see come from animal sources. Instead look for “fermented” BCAA and if in doubt always contact the vendor.

My go to is MyProtein.com (use code MARKFOX10 at checkout for a discount) Fermented BCAA 4:1:1 or Fermented Leucine..whatever you do, DO NOT get the unflavoured Leucine, you will cringe and shudder every time you try to drink it.

NOTE: supplementing with just Leucine alone will not result in optimal effects if the your diet is low in protein. This is because other BCAAs (isoleucine and valine) will be preferentially oxidized and lead to a BCAA imbalance that compromises anabolism. Therefore, if total protein intake is low, supplement with all three BCAAs.

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References

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002222.htm

http://www.nutritionexpress.com/article+index/protein/showarticle.aspx?id=807

https://www.healthaliciousness.com