Hunger is a very good sign! It means your metabolism in on track and your body is signaling you right! Depending on your health goal though your snacks will change. A good pro tip would be to prep 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:
Makhana (lotus seeds)
Oven roasted pineapple slices coated in cinnamon
Snacks for Muscle gain:
Hummus and carrots
Dates/ banana/ almond mylk smoothie
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 in phytic 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 draining 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:
Cook in an iron skillet
Green smoothies 2-3 times per week for breakfast
Blackstrap molasses drizzled instead of maple syrup/ honey etc.
You cannot go on a vegan-keto diet without processed foods/ supplements. Let me explain for better understanding. All vegan fat/ protein sources also have carbs/ fibre. When on a keto diet, you are trying to stay on very low carbs (sometimes macros of less than 10% per day) and high fat with moderate proteins. Sure you could consume nuts, nut butter and oil, but that is not enough. Since you are not taking meat, eggs, fish etc, your fat sources are limited.
Why are you trying to go on a keto diet? If the answer is 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.
That being said, you will have have to experiment with vegan ‘meat’ alternatives such as saitan, tofu etc. But keep in mind these are too processed!
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:
Up your fiber, eat enough veggies/ fruits.
Homemade herbal infusions using herbs such as fennel seeds, cloves etc
60 minutes of empty stomach cardio at least per week (NOT high intensity, moderate to low intensity)
Empty calories are calories you get without any micro nutrient value, vitamins or minerals. Such as oils and liquor. Yes liquor calories add up just as caloried ones from other macros. But more importantly, when you consume liquor, it's 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. 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 as little as weekend drinking is enough to wash off all the hard work you put into the gym all week.
Don't blame yourself for falling off the wagon you should not have got onto in the very first place. Fitness is important and is not necessary only weight training and going to the gym. Try zumba/ yoga/ sprints mountain climbing/dancing etc. The possibilities are endless.
A healthy permanently fit body is a three-way approach. 1) Right fitness 2) Right nutrition and 3) 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
waking up and going for a 20 min walk while listening to your favorite music
Or a 20 min walk after dinner and before bedtime listening to a podcast or some ebook that will make you smile
Maybe a mid- day 20 min on the elliptical watching Netflix on your smartphone or iPad.
Couple fitness with something you like and you will slowly learn to love fitness and maybe even the gym
Intermittent fasting itself is a diet! If your body works well around 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 rise the body's 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 permanenet 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.
Oh there are so many! Ok 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 maintenance program. So no powders or meal replacement shakes when you are trying to lose weight please, its 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. That being said, here are my top 5 favourite go-to protein sources:
Unived Pea Protein powder
Pigeon peas (daal)
Plant- based proteins are also high in carbs. Eg, a chicken breast will have no carbs and just proteins but also no fibre so its really not your best source. But something like lentils will have proteins AND carbs. The top three of my list of five above are great low- carb/ high- protein type of options. I want to make it clear however, carbs are not 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!
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 energised.
If however you feel low on energy, this could be because of a few reasons.
Get your vitamin D and B12 levels checked! Deficiency of both 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 energised.
You are eating enough volume wise, but maybe not enough calorie wise as per your body's requirement. A giant bowl of salad is also 200 calories and 4 dates are also 200 calories. But it's hard to eat a giant bowl of salad and you will stop after eating half of it thinking you are full. So it's good volume but not enough calories. Think about eating more quality vs quantity.
Your level of physical activity is too high compared to your rest/ recovery period. I don’t really believe in the concept of ‘over-training’. 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 over training. Cut back on training and add in meditation maybe.
Anything whole-food and plant based is really great! Depends also on what your health goals are. If you are consciously trying to lose weight, limit your intake from fats such as nuts, nut butter, oils etc. and up your intake of proteins such as lentils, greens, pulses, beans etc. If you are just trying to maintain your body weight, indulge in a little bit of extra fats and you will still be fine. Here is what my day looks like today (and this changes everyday).
Breakfast: Stir fried Mung beans (no oil used to fry) with wheat- bajra- methi thepla.
Mid-day snack: Tender coconut water.
Lunch: White rice with yellow daal. Plus a side of beet root 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 chilli soup with soya beans for some extra protein.