Good day my friends!
About four months ago, I decided to switch over to the vegan diet. As a fitness and health coach, I always enjoy experimenting with my body to find the right food plan that works for my genetics.
During the vegan diet, I learned many things about myself. So I wanted to share my journey with you today.
Here are my findings and the reasons why I said goodbye to the vegan diet.
1. Meal Prep was a nightmare. I was always tough trying to hit my protein numbers on 'no carb' days while 'carb cycling' which has always worked well for me. Carb cycling: high carb/no fat on training days, no carbs/medium fat on off days. I did not have the time to prep every single meal and hit my numbers daily.
2. I began to eat much more fruit. It was fun trying all different types, but I found out that some fruits do not react well with me. Bananas make me bloated along with some other fruits. I realized quickly that I had to eliminate certain foods that are commonly considered 'healthy.'
3. Lack of energy: In the mornings I definitely had lower energy than usual. It seemed that I was not getting enough calories on the vegan diet to sustain my active lifestyle. I train about five days a week and ride my bike almost everywhere here in Shanghai. I would sometimes increase my one rep max, but not as often as I did while eating meat.
4. Social anxiety: I often felt anxiety at social events knowing that I would be the one to request a certain type of meal. There were times I found myself having a hard time finding something on the menu that was filling. Most of the time I would have to order a plate of vegetables. I did not enjoy going over to a friends house for dinner, knowing that they would have to specially cater to my dietary needs.
5. The evil vegans: Not all vegans are evil, but some can be cut throat. When I moved to Shanghai I joined a vegan social media group. Inside the group was a lot of judgmental individuals who criticized meat eaters extensively. There were a lot of people in there claiming to be experts, but in fact, many of them lacked the knowledge to give a proper response to a nutritionally based question.
6. Lack of strength: This happened mainly during high intensity circuits. I have been an athlete my whole life. I've always had organic meat in my diet and thrived on it. When I went vegan, I was still playing hockey. I noticed a change in my speed, agility and balance on the court. I was just 'off' so to speak.
7. Protein: On my rest days which involved no carbs and medium fat, I found it hard to hit my protein numbers. Most of the vegan protein sources are loaded with carbs. I had to use seeds a lot, but there is only so many times I can stuff hemp seeds down my throat in one day. I found myself overdoing it on the protein powder a lot.
8. Fasting > Vegan diet. I found that the benefits of fasting out-weighed the benefits from the vegan diet. I felt so much better when I fasted and then introduced meat on my post workout meal. Fasting while being a vegan left me with low energy. I get more benefits with a 24 hour fast than I do going 5 days on a vegan diet.
9. Morning grogginess: When I was eating 'Paleo,' I could wake up early without coffee and kick start the day. On a vegan diet, I would often wake up feeling like I had allergy problems. Foggy head, stopped up nose, low energy and other body fatigues were quite common.
10. Sleep was worse. My sleep was definitely affected. I had a tough time going to sleep and would often wake up a few times per night. This caused a lack of energy in the morning and crummy training sessions at the gym. The first meal with meat was only a few days ago. I had a salad with wild caught salmon. That night, I not only feel asleep easily but I did not wake up once during the night.
Overall it was a fun experiment. I learned quite a bit about my body, mind and soul.
I think the vegan diet can benefit some people while be a burden for others.
I have now switched back to the food plan that worked so well for me in the past. It will be 80% plants, organic meat, wild caught fish, nuts, berries, and seeds. Basically Paleo combined with intermittent fasting, carb cycling and vegan meals from time to time.
BOTTOM LINE: Get a meal plan that works for your DNA. Test out foods. Write down how you feel before and after you eat. Track your performance in the gym and record how you feel overall.
Thanks for reading!
Happy Eating My Friends!