While it depends on your health goals, still anything whole-food and plant-based is great for your body. If you are consciously trying to lose weight, limit your intake from fats such as nuts, nut butter, and oils. Apart from this, increase your intake of proteins such as lentils, greens, pulses, beans etc. If you are just trying to main your body weight, indulge in extra fats and you will still be fine. Here is what my day looks like today (and this changes every day):
Breakfast: Stir-fried Mung beans (no oil used to fry) with wheat- bajra- methi thepla.
Midday snack: Tender coconut water.
Lunch: White rice with yellow daal along with a side of beetroot and radish salad.
Evening snack: Homemade dates and walnut energy balls with herbal tea (I used fresh-cut apple slices and peppercorn to make my tea).
Dinner: Vegan chilly soup with soybeans for some extra protein.
If you are on a plant-based diet, your energy levels should be high naturally! By consuming meat/ dairy, you are inviting a whole lot of chemicals, hormones, toxins, and preservatives into your digestive track. This slows down the body’s metabolism and makes you weaker. A plant-based diet brings with it a whole lot of micronutrients and vitamins which will actually make you more energized.
If however, you feel low on energy, this could be because of a few reasons.
Deficiency of vitamin D and B12 will make you feel low. This is not a ‘vegan diet’ problem, but more of an ‘in general’ problem. A good supplement is a quick fix to feel energized.
You are eating enough volume-wise, but maybe not enough calorie wise as per your body’s requirements. A giant bowl of salad is also 200 calories and 4 dates are also 200 calories. But its hard to eat a giant bowl of salad and you will stop after eating half of it thinking you are full. So, it’s a good volume but not enough calories. Think about eating more quality in comparison to quantity.
Your level of physical activity is too high compared to your rest and recovery period. I don’t really believe in the concept of ‘overtraining’. Athletes train for 8- 10 hours a day so a few extra sets in the gym will not really kill you. However, athletes also focus on good rest/ recovery. If you are not sleeping enough, have mental stress from work or family relationships, then you will feel exhausted from overtraining. You can cut back on training and maybe add in meditation.
There are plenty of options. Firstly, don’t worry about your protein intake unless you are trying to gain muscle mass and want to get a little lean and muscular. Protein is not a concern on a fat loss program or even a maintanance program. So, you don’t require any powders or meal replacement shakes when you are trying to lose weight; it’s just extra unwanted calories!
Now, on a muscle gain program also, you won’t need more than 1.2- 1.7 grams per kg body weight. And I mean 1.7 as the higher range! All the excess is extra load on the kidney to be flushed out of the body. Having said that, here are my top 5 favourite protein sources:
Plant-based proteins are also high in carbohydrates. For example, a chicken breast will have no carbs and just proteins but also no fiber, so it’s really not your best source. But something like lentils will have proteins and also carbohydrates. The top three of my list of five above are great low- carbohydrates/ high- protein type of options. I want to make it clear however, carbohydrates are not at all bad. In fact, I promote a high- carb/ low- fat type of diet. A mix and match of all five of the above will help!
Intermittent fasting itself is a diet! If your body works well with it and you are not grumpy from periods of not eating then great! Intermittent fasting has shown to have some benefits. Just make sure you do not weight train empty stomach since this could raise the bodies cortisol levels (stress hormones) and add to some belly fat.
Also, ensure you are still eating enough calories to avoid a dip in your metabolism. Starving the body of calories will not lead to permanent weight loss. Don’t think of food as punishment when on a fat loss program but instead as a fuel to build muscle fibers that will make you stronger and keep the weight off the scale.
Don't blame yourself for falling off the wagon you should not have got onto in the very first place. Fitness is important and not necessary weight training. Try zumba/ yoga/ sprints/ mountain climbing/ dancing etc. The possibilities are endless.
Healthy permanent fit body is a three-way approach. Right fitness, right nutrition, and lifestyle modification.
A plant-based diet is a great start, but you will still have to include physical activity for long-term fitness. Maybe start with just 4 days per week of
Empty calories are calories you get without any micronutrient value, vitamins or minerals such as oils and liquor. Yes, liquor calories add up just as calories from other macros. But more importantly, when you consume liquor, its considered as a toxin by the body and your body will try to do anything it can to get rid of what you consumed as fast as it can. This will dip your testosterone level and low testosterone has been linked with increased cortisol and drop in metabolism. So basically, liquor messes your hormonal balance and will take you two steps back from your fitness goals. Even a weekend drinking habit is enough to wash off all the hard work you put into the gym all week.
Maintain your nutrition and fitness level that got you there! But also take some steps to ensure you don’t stay bloated. Most of the ‘sudden belly fat’ is mostly water retention from a bad meal or hormonal changes within the body. Some anti-bloating tips are as follows:
You cannot go on a vegan- keto diet without processed foods or supplements. Let me explain for better understanding. All vegan fat/ protein sources also have carbohydrates or fibre. When on a keto diet, you are trying to stay on very low carbohydrates (sometimes macros of less than 10% per day) and high fat with moderate proteins. You could surely consume nuts, nut butters, and oils, but that not enough. Since you are not taking meat, eggs, fish, your fat sources are limited.
If you are going on a Keto Diet for fat-loss, then even a high- carb diet will help you lose weight as long as you are in a caloric deficit. A keto-‘diet’ is a temporary change to achieve results you want permanently. It's not possible to make a temporary change and expect it to stay permanently. Instead, make a lifestyle change that is permanent and will keep your weight off for good.
You will have to experiment with vegan ‘meat’ alternatives such as saitan, tofu, etc. But keep in mind these are too processed!
You are mostly getting enough iron in your diet. Start considering what foods help and hamper with the absorption of iron instead. Iron absorption in the body is reduced by foods high inphytic acids. Lentils, pulses and beans fall under this category. However, adding vitamin C to your food will counter this effect and instead help with the absorption of iron. So, sprinkle some lemon on top of these when you eat them.
Pre-soaking beans overnight and drain the water after boiling them will get rid of most of the phytic acid also. Tea/ coffee (caffeine) consumption around your food also will reduce the absorption of iron, thus best avoided around meals. Some other ways to get in your iron intake are as follows:
Blackstrape molasses drizzled instead of maple syrup/ honey, etc.
Hunger is a very good sign! It means your metabolism in on the track and your body is signaling you right! Depending on your health goal through your snacks will change. A good pro tip would be to prepare these snacks in advance and keep them around you so you don’t end up binge eating on samosa’s and pakodas (happens with a friend all the time!).
Snacks for fat loss:
Snacks for Muscle gain: