As a Health and Fitness professional, I am regularly asked what is the best diet for weight loss/ Optimal Health:
What do I think about the CrossFit diet – Paleo, or the 5-2 Diet, Atkins Diet and so on.
They all have a purpose, They all have their pro’s and con’s, and depending on your needs, and strengths they can all be wonderful.
But from time to time, people will follow a diet for Religious or Humanitarian reasons. Again, nothing wrong with this, I respect your choice … BUT please be educated before making any radical adjustments to your nutrition.
Just the other week, I had bumped into an old client. He was told me they had become vegan, for Humanitarian reasons. “Great to hear, Mate. Fight the cause”, I replied with.
But there was more to the story. The first few weeks he loved it and was feeling great for the change. The increase in veggies, and fruit will do any body good. But, he was an uneducated Vegan, and his body was craving protein. A few months in, and he was starting to struggle. His mind had slowed down, his joints where sore, and he was noticeably less muscular.
He had become catabolic.
Meaning, as his body craved protein, the muscles had begun to ‘eat themselves’. The body breaks down the muscle to use as a protein and energy source.
Veganism is a step deeper then Vegetarian. Choosing to abstain from all animal products, this would include wearing Leather, Make up tested on Animals, and even boycotting companies that have shown to harm animals in there course of business. eg a Paper making company that may be inhumane to the creatures that are living among the trees logged for paper.
Wiki defines Vegetarian as: the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat.
Veganism as: both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals
It is my job to support your choice of how you want to live, and educate you to live that way the healthiest way possible.
In fact I find it admirable if you choose to devote yourself to a cause, in a day and age when nothing really drives or inspires us, as a human race.
This being said, don’t let your choices to save another, negatively affect your own health. Which is often the case in what i call an ‘uneducated Vegetarian/ Vegan’.
You see the body needs protein. Its one of the primary building blocks to repair tissue damage from general wear and tear, not to mention a physical job, or active lifestyle. If you simply cut out all forms of meat from your diet, chances are, you haven’t thought to increase your protein from non animal products.
How Much Protein should you have per day:
For most people .5 – 1 gram of protein per kilo per day, is adequate. IF you have a particular active job, like a labourer you may want to up it to 2 grams. And for the purpose of weight lifting – body building, I have heard 3-4 grams helps pack on muscle.
EG. 100 grams of Tofu contains about 8 grams of Protein. Meaning a 65kg person would need to consume 800grams of Tofu per day. (thats not realistic)
The second thing to take in to consideration when sourcing non animal forms of protein, is a wide variety of sources.
Taking a step deeper into proteins is Amino Acids; and the body needs 9 essential aminos to function optimally.
As an example, lets say Tofu contains 4 of those nine. So eating 800 grams of Tofu, may give you your ‘protein intake’ for the day, but as its not complete, (science still argues this point) but its possible the body still thinks “I haven’t had my protein today”. Think of Baking a cake with only 4 of the nine ingredients.
So by eating a variety of sources between the lot, you should be able to create the whole 9 aminos to serve your body.
Below is a picture to represent what I am saying – NB this is not accurate figures, just a visual representation of what I am saying.
Common deficiencies of a Vegetarian, and more likely in a Vegan can be, but not limited to:
Vitamin B12 is a big one, as B12 is only found in animal products and absorption becomes less efficient as we age, so supplements may also be needed by older vegetarians
Mrs Flannery’s sells a Nutritional Yeast, which is very high in B12
Vitamin D is essential for optimal Health and found in fatty fish, eggs, liver and of course the sun.
Be sure to walk in a singlet or sunbake occasionally to keep up the Vit D.
Below are some great pictures i found on the web, with ideas to keep your protein up whilst avoiding animal products.
This awesome picture is from Vinchay Fit – Check out their intense foam rollers – https://vinchaylabs.com/shop/
Look like they would hurt so good 🙂