We are a full week in to our Vegan vs. Meat challenge and my vegan protein diet is going strong. Some days I’ve even had to rein it in, as I could quite easily achieve, and even exceed, my daily intake of 70g of vegan protein goodness!
My breakfasts have continued along the oats, nuts and seeds route, with or without anti oxidising and low sugar/low GI berries. Around 10-15g protein to start the day off right.
Lunch and dinners have mostly consisted of rather brown concoctions – tofu satay, braised tofu satay (repetitive and unoriginal I know, but I have always loved satay, and the added protein from the peanuts is a pleasing & welcome bonus), soya chunk “chilli”, soya mince “cottage pie” (recipe on my next blog); made colourful by the addition of leafy green veg and deep red and purple beans – all rich sources of vegan protein in their own rights.
Before embarking on this dietary experiment, I had the rather naive belief that I would be able to continue consuming my regular vegan diet. Mostly fruit, veg, grains, nuts and seeds – maybe upping quantities just a little, to hit the 70g protein goal. Sadly this was not to be case. After some brief research the day before the experiment began (I like to leave things to the last minute, it’s a trait I’ve held on to from school, to employment, most aspects of my personal & professional life!), I realised I would have to consume a mountain of peas & beans, nuts & seeds etc, at each and every meal, to hit my protein goal. And so it was to processed and packaged vegan proteins, that I turned.
Perhaps I was a previously a vegan snob. And perhaps it was my decision not to include these nutrient rich protein sources in my vegan diet, that had led me to lose weight since embarking on my vegan journey, nearly 6 months ago. Not that my weight loss was that noticeable to anyone other than myself, and perhaps my concerned parents, who often comment on my bony and skinny frame – I am, by any stretch of the imagination, neither “skinny” nor “bony”, and at 9st and 5ft 5in, I am a perfectly acceptable and healthy weight. However, I have indeed lost weight, and may now have found the reason. It doesn’t appear to be down to excluding animal products alone (although high in saturated fats), but by cutting out high protein produce all together.
It is unfortunate that these nutritious (and delicious) vegan protein sources are mostly devoid of any exciting colour. Even my “Chocolate Smooth” soy protein shake, which I am partial to after a workout, is a rather slushy brown colour. And so I add green peas and broad beans, like juicy little emeralds, green broccoli – tenderstem and regular, green spinach, watercress and rocket to most lunches and dinners… So now there is a brown and green theme to many of my meals. I try make up for this with rich purple beetroot juices (I am still searching for the perfect recipe – suggestions welcome), crunchy orange carrots (with houmous – any chance for added protein jumped at), bruise-blue blueberries, green (yes, more green) and black olives – they’re loaded with antioxidants and a rich source of anti-inflammatories, don’t you know?!
And what affect has all this protein had on my body so far? Well DOMs are a thing of the past. I have experienced just 1 day of hobbling around from sore muscles, and that was the first day of the experiment, so the protein had hardly a chance to do its job – perhaps unfair to judge just yet. I could honestly workout every day, if time would allow it, my muscles would be happy with it. After starting off relatively cautiously with my weights, I have upped them already:
Squats – from 30kg to 35kg
Bench press – from 18kg to 20.5kg
Deadlift – from 25kg to 30kg
All modest increases so far, but increases none-the-less, and after only 1 week! I am excited to see where I can get to after 4 weeks. I am going to smash my previous PBs.
Here’s a reminder of where I started:
Height – 166cm
Weight – 58.7kg
1 rep max:
Squat – 40kg
Bench press – 40kg
Deadlift – 50kg
Plank hold – 3 mins
60 seconds press ups – 17
60 seconds chin ups – 0 (!!!)
Bleep test – 6.2
And where I have to get to:
Squat – 30kg * ALREADY EXCEEDING
Bench press – 30kg * not quite there just yet and not sure that I will get there, I find this the hardest
Deadlift – 37.5kg * confident I can get there in the next 3 months
* Diet is going well and I enjoy discovering delicious vegan offerings, working with new ingredients & being inventive with colours and hidden proteins
* I am surprised at just how valuable a high protein diet is, when trying to build, train and quickly recover my vegan muscles, and to some extent – maintain a healthy weight
* I’ve overcome my fear of the testosterone filled free weights area at the gym. I continue to front it out & eventually feel like I belong. I wasn’t the only girl there on one of my sessions this week – come on girls, more weights!!
Keep up to date with our workout and diet progress here, on my Instagram (@isitveganuk) and on the Training Temple Instagram (@trainingtemple) and blog (http://www.trainingtemple.co.uk/vegan-vs-meat/)