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How a Vegan Diet Keeps Me Energized, Mentally Sharp and Full of Drive

How a Vegan Diet Keeps Me Energized, Mentally Sharp and Full of Drive

‘But, where do you get your protein from?’. This is a question every vegan person hears nearly on a daily basis. And trust me, I had more than a couple of these discussions.

Somehow people believe that meat is a nutrient-rich super package. I might say something that shocks you now: It isn’t.

But let me explain: I feel energized, mentally sharp and full of drive living on a plant-based diet. I routinely work 60+ hour work weeks in a leadership position and manage to train nearly every day. In this article I want to share my secrets with you.

Six years ago I could’ve never predicted that I would ever write an article about veganism. I lived an unhealthy life. I smoked, I was totally physically inactive and I literally couldn’t have cared less about nutrition. I was a different being. Only in the recent past a full mind shift happened. After reading a book called Eating Animals from Jonathan Safran Foer. It opened my eyes and it helped me start my journey to a healthier, better life.

What a Vegan Diet Really Is

Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat. – Socrates

For a vegan diet to work, you need to develop a different perspective. The plant-based nutrition diet is full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, beans, plant-derived milks while containing no animal products along the way. I could’ve started with focusing on what the vegan diet doesn’t contain, but I’d rather focus on what it does contain. It’s about perspective.

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All these food options leaves you with a great pool of abundance on meal selection. Which leaves me to the key point: The one thing that you truly need for a vegan diet, is a mindset shift. Nutrition can be a stepping stone to get the most out of your life and fulfill your true potential, or it can be an annoying road block.

The Perks of Being a Vegan

If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people’, you’d better live real close to a real good hospital. – Neal Barnard

A Strong Heart and Powerful Body

If you’re reading this, chances are high that your heart disease is already in the making. Heart disease is the current leading cause of death in the United States. The cardiovascular disease is formed by a plaque-build up in your arteries mainly from cholesterol and can be traced back well into your teen-years. A heart attack leads to a temporary oxygen and nutrient loss of the affected tissue, which leads to cell death. The same mechanism can happen in your brain, just with different terminology. It’s called a stroke.

A vegan diet can increase the blood flow to key-areas of your body (e.g. brain, heart, muscles, digestive system, reproductive system). This can lead to more energy and a better well-being.

Become a Productive and Eco-Friendly Being

Eating animals is not energy efficient. Think about it. You’re using food (plants – mostly soy beans) to create food (animals. E.g. chicken, pork). Although the life expectancy of farm animals are drastically reduced due to modern farming practices, eating animals still uses a great amount of resources. For example a piece of beef in a hamburger needed over 3,000 litres of water.

As a vegan you only produce half of the CO2 compared to meat eaters. You also only use one eleventh of fossil fuels, one thirteenth of water and one eighteenth of land compared to meat eaters. (I recommend watching the documentary ‘Cowspiracy ‘.) You are being a productive well-being who consumes little from the world yet lives a powerful life.

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Contribution to the Globe

I try not to get too philosophical with this one. Humans have climbed the food chain in the last millions of years of your existence. The reason is not yet known. Maybe it was our larger brains with the dominant prefrontal cortex? The discovery of the advantageous effect of fire and cooking which made the consumption of food more effective? I cannot tell you.

The fact is: humans are in a position of power over countless of other species. Species, which are capable, according to numerous studies, to experience pain and suffering (the reason farmers install electric fences on their pasture areas). It’s better to use our power, gained through pure luck in the evolution, to benefit the lives of the sentient beings around us.

    Photo credit: Source

    What to Know Before Following a Vegan Diet

    If you need to use supplements to make a diet work, it is not natural. – Mike, 26 years old. Driving in a natural Toyota, on his way to his natural, climate-controlled office, working 9-5 on a natural, blue-light emitting computer device.

    1. Ask yourself why you want to become a vegan.

    Ask yourself this question and ask it critically. The why of your actions is very important.

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    Do you want to go along this plant-based journey because of one of the reasons I wrote down in this article? Or is it because you simply want to feel special and impress your friends? If it is the latter I might tell you something that may shock you: Don’t become a vegan.

    Becoming a vegan should not be something that you do to enhance your ego, because it isn’t sustainable.

    2. Avoid the vegan killers.

    Yes, in general vegans live healthier than non-vegans. Protein is not an issue, if your diet has enough calories you will have enough protein in your diet. But nonetheless you have to avoid certain ‘killers’ in your diet. These are:

    • Oil – has been shown to minimize one’s lifespan. Contains a lot of calories and fat.
    • Sugar – can create an addiction. Contains a lot of calories.
    • Salt – can lead to placque build up in your arteries. Similar to animal products.
    • Processed Foods – can contain a lot of trans and saturated fats. Can also lead to placque build up in your arteries.

    3. Eat as natural and wholesome as you can.

    I remember laughing at a friend who was buying organic fruits and vegetables for breakfast. ‘Why do you consume such expensive products?’, I asked him – while joyously eating my $2 donut. This was 5 years ago. Nowadays I see food as something that fuels my body, something that I do to treat myself. The change was worth it. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Invest in your well-being. Shop in the produce aisle more than you do in the snack section. Eat foods containing the ‘organic’-label, they’re lower on pesticides. Your body is worth it, trust me.

    Supplements – Supplements should be a tool to enhance your well-being. I’m not advising you to fill cupboards in your kitchen with pills only. I’m advising you to pick the ones that are capable of enhancing your performance. The ones I’m talking about are:

    • Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is made from microorganisms. It was originally found in our water supply and can still be found in natural spring water. Our water supply is purified nowadays that’s why it is absolutely crucial to supplement it on a vegan diet. It can be easily found on Amazon. Fun fact: Most farm animals need to get supplemented with Vitamin B12, that’s where the B12 stems from in a meat diet.
    • Vitamin D3 – Humans originated from the Equator area. In our past times we managed to get more sunlight in during the day that we do nowadays. That’s why I recommend Vitamin D3 supplementation. I’ve found it to dramatically improve my mental-, physical health and happiness.
    • Algae Derived Omega 3 – Fish Oil Omega 3 supplements are a hit nowadays because of their health benefits. I would recommend Algae Derived Omega 3 though, as fish has been shown to contain neurotoxins (bad for your brain).

    If you’re looking for some tasty vegan recipes, read my other article: The Fitness Coach’s Choice: 10+ Tasty and Easy-to-Make Vegan Recipes

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      Photo credit: Source

      The Easiest Way to Kickstart Vegan Diet

      We’ve all tried it: fully change my whole life in a single day.

      When I was younger I tried to start exercising, start eating healthy, start sleeping right – everything in a matter of hours. It worked great for the first week until I fell prey to my old, unhealthy habits again. You might have experienced this before too. You might have just read this post and you may be motivated to make a drastic change in your life. That’s cool, but nonetheless I recommend you to start small.

      Every coach knows that the key to long-term habit change is consistency and sustainability. If you’re currently eating meat two times per week, start with reducing meat to one time per week. Small changes will lead to big changes in the long run.

      Another key to habit change is starting immediately. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Are you heading out to dinner tonight? Maybe try something new and choose the vegetarian option. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. Always remember that your decisions have the impact of helping the animals, the planet and yourself.

      Read more about how I changed from a meat eater to a vegetarian: How to Go Vegan: From Meat Eating to Vegetarian

      Featured photo credit: Quality Gains via qualitygains.com

      More by this author

      Florian Wüest

      Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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      Last Updated on May 22, 2019

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

      One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

      In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

      Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

      1. Cat Camel Stretch

      Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

      Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

      Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

      Here’s a video to guide you through:

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      2. Go for a Walk or a Run

      This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

      Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

      The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

      Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

      Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

      3. Jumping Jacks

      Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

      Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

      4. Abductor Side Lifts

      Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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      Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

      5. Balancing Table Pose

      This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

      Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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        6. Leg Squats

        Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

        Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

        The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

        7. Push Ups

        You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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        An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

        Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

        This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

        8. Bicycle Crunches

        There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

        Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

        9. Lunges

        Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

        Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

        This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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        10. Bicep Curls

        You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

        Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

        Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

        Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

        Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

        These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

        You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

        Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

        More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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