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;
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.