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Last Updated on December 16, 2020

How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based

How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based

I remember when I cracked the code to fat loss.

It was in June 2015 and I was staring in the mirror. Traces of a sixpack had become visible. It was my first time I’d ever seen them. Ever.

Since that moment on, my friends asked me jealously over and over again: “How did you do it?”

I thanked them all. But they wouldn’t understand. Weight loss is simple, but not easy.

How I started the vegan bodybuilding diet

It was in the beginning of 2015 that I’d made the scary decision to stop eating animal products and started the vegan bodybuilding diet. I was a meat-head before.

Poultry and rice in a tupperware was the only thing that I’d known. Readily packaged in my lunch box every morning before I left the house. While I did gain muscles with that diet I’ve felt unfulfilled. I had a lethargic attitude, with little energy.

– “Is this what my life is going to be like?” I’d started to ask myself.

I didn’t feel I could reach any destination with the little drive and constant fatigue that I had. People called me “Aschess” way back in high school. It’s the swiss-german word for having no drive. No interest. No direction.

I didn’t have any direction. Nor did I feel I wanted to.

Only later did I realize that it could all be linked to my eating habits. I was eating poison, not fuel. In hindsight, I was a monkey.

The pleasure-chasing money

Farmers and hunters in third world countries have been catching monkeys for centuries. The way they do it is by setting up a trap. A container, filled with fruits.

The container contains two holes, one on the top, one on the bottom. The hole on the top is not big enough to get the food out, the fruits get sneaked in from the bottom by the trap-setters.

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Then they wait. Every once in a while a monkey approaches and tries desperately to retrieve the fruit through the top-hole. The farmers or hunters slowly move in but the monkey can’t let go of the fruit. It got competing demands.

The monkey wants to keep the fruit more than it wants to keep its freedom. At the moment of life or death, it couldn’t let go of the enticing promise.

If the monkey just surrendered what it was holding onto, it would be living a free life. At the sight of the dangerous humans, it could have dropped the food, pull out his limbs and flee the scene. Yet it didn’t. It couldn’t.

Monkeys get caught with pleasure traps.

Little did I know that I was also caught in a pleasure trap set up by the food industry.

Pleasure vs Motivation

I am not a big fan of Sigmund Freud and his theories. Yet what I agree with him on is that every human being deals with competing interests.

At 2am in the morning, we decide that we want to better our life in an instant. The next day we catch ourselves scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.

This phenomena can be explained by the motivational triad. Living beings are motivated by three things:

  1. Pleasure seeking
  2. Pain avoidance
  3. Energy conservation

These 3 motivators are omnipresent. We want to get in better shape because we seek the envious stares of our friends at the beach – we seek pleasure. Or because we hate seeing an unhealthy number on the weighing scale – pain avoidance.

But probably one of the strongest motivators is energy conservation. We want to spend as little energy as we possibly can.

If we expended energy like no tomorrow, we would’ve not be able to survive in scarce times.

Are you eating fuel or poison?

Our food choices are based on the motivational triad. We seek energy-dense, easy to eat food that give us maximum mouth pleasure. That’s why Nutella is so popular all around the world.

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Nutella is a snack, carefully formulated to appeal to our innate pleasure seeking and energy conservation factors. It’s perfectly manufactured to make us addictive.

If we want to live healthy, lose weight and keep hunger at bay while eating plant-based, we have to eat fuel, not poison.

Eat fuel: The 3 distinctive factors

Filter your foods through these 3 filters and they will help you keep hunger at bay and lose weight. This helps you avoid the pleasure trap.

Filter #1: It’s vegan.

“First, nutrition is the master key to human health. Second, what most of us think of as proper nutrition—isn’t.” — Dr. Colin Campbell

If there’s one thing we have to realize, it’s that meat and dairy is not a super package.

There is not a single gram of fiber to be found in animal products. Fiber helps us feel satiated and feeds our healthy gut microbiome. Also plant-based foods have up to 33 times more antioxidans than animal products.[1]

Filter #2: It’s unprocessed.

Mother Nature’s powers cannot be stuffed into a pill. — Dr. Michael Greger, MD

The food is not fancy packaged. Most of the best food choices can be found in the produce isle.

In processed foods we can often find added salt, sugar and other artifical sweeteners. Processed foods (even when vegan) also often contain less fiber. For example brown rice is to be preferred over white rice, because white rice is a processed product. It’s fiber content is greatly diminished.

I have seen great results just by switching white rice with brown rice in my clients’ diets.

Filter #3: It’s solid.

All our calories should always come in solid form. This increases our satiety and is way more healthy.

We should minimize our soda intake. Eliminating soda and smoothies out of our diets, for weight loss, can dramatically increase our progress.

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What to eat in a day

This is a sample meal plan of how your day could look like. This meal plan is not meant to be followed 1:1. Pick what works for you and disregard what doesn’t.

This day is taken out from my popular article:

7-Day Vegan Diet Plan: Eat Healthy with Under 2,000 Calories per Day

Total stats of this plan is:

1872 calories, 244g carbs (61%), 71g fat (18%), 85g protein (21%), 59g fiber

For the average women (5’4”, 126 pounds, moderately active, age: 26-45), this is a calorie deficit of about 100 calories.

For the average men (5’10”, 154 pounds, moderately active, age: 26-45), this is a calorie deficit of about 700.[2]

The goal deficit for sustainable weight loss is about 300 calories. For the most effective results, the average women should therefore eat a little bit less (minimize the nuts). And the average men should eat a little bit more (add handful of nuts and berries throughout the day).

Breakfast

Banana-Ginger-Pear-Bowl

(734 calories, 98g carbs, 27g fats, 32g protein, 20g fiber)

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 pear, stoned
  • 1 date, stoned
  • 3 tablespoons almonds
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon carob powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 250ml soy milk

Steps

  1. Cut the banana, pear, dates and almonds into pieces (size to your personal liking).
  2. Put all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the soy milk.

Lunch

Green Salad with Edamame and Beets[3]

(271 calories, 30g carbs, 8g fat, 21g protein, 12g fiber)

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    Ingredients

    • 2 cups mixed greens
    • 1 cup shelled edamame
    • 1/2 medium beet, shredded
    • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

    Steps

    1. Combine greens, edamame, beet and cilantro.
    2. Top with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

    Snack

    Handful of Pecan Nuts

    (301 calories, 6g carbs, 31g fat, 4g protein, 4g fiber)

    Ingredients

    • pecan nuts

    Steps

    1. Put a handful of antioxidant-rich nuts in your hands.
    2. Then eat it. Simple.

    Dinner

    Rice, Kale and Beans Combination

    (566 calories, 110 carbs, 5g fat, 28g protein, 23g fiber)

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup brown rice
    • 200g kale
    • 2 cups Kidney Beans

    Steps

    1. Cook the brown rice and the kale in a medium-sized pot.
    2. Add the kidney beans in a pan with a little bit of water.
    3. When the ingredients are ready: Drain the water.
    4. Add a tablespoon of flaxseeds (approx. 50 calories) for extra crunchiness and health.

    Conclusion

    We humans are caught up in pleasure traps in our dietary decisions. Too often we eat food that is silently poisoning us. It’s time to stop being a monkey.

    We need to fuel our precious engine instead of clogging it. Spare parts are few and there’s a waiting list. Repairing costs are expensive, especially in countries with no health coverage.

    Therefore we should pay special attention to where our food comes from, it’s level of manufacturing and consistency of substance.

    This way, we’re not only fueling our body, we’re also paving our way to our best shape ever.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Florian Wüest

    Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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    1 6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One) 2 Muscle Building Diet: How to Eat to Lose Fat and Build Muscle 3 10 Quick and Healthy Lunch Ideas That Fit Your Busy Schedule 4 How to Create a Delicious and Healthy Meal Plan for the Week 5 How to Lose 50 Pounds in 3 Months: 10 Unconventional Diet Tips

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    Published on April 8, 2021

    6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

    6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

    Beetroots are vegetables rich in nitrates, antioxidants, and polyphenol compounds that have a role in improved cardiovascular function and exercise performance.[1] However, beetroot juice has limitations with storage and taste preference, and so other more convenient forms have been investigated. One of these forms is beetroot powder.

    What Is Beetroot Powder?

    Beetroot powder is made by dehydrating or drying out thin slices of beetroot (to remove all the moisture) and then grinding them into a powder. If you don’t like the earthy taste of beetroot, then beetroot powder might be an alternative since it is more concentrated than fresh beetroot but with a relatively neutral taste. One fresh beetroot is the equivalent of approximately one teaspoon of beetroot powder.

    Powdered beetroot can be added to sauces, smoothies, pasta, gnocchi, curries, cakes, muffins, or anything you choose to add nutrients and color to. Watch out that your urine may change color too! Due to the natural sugars in beetroot, it can also be used as a natural sweetener. Beetroot powder is even used in natural cosmetics.

    Beetroot Powder VS. Other Beetroot Products

    One study looked at the total antioxidant potential, phenol compounds, sugars, and organic acids in beetroot juice, cooked beetroot, powder, and chips. They found higher amounts of total antioxidant potential and organic acids in the chips and powder compared with the juice and cooked beetroot.[2] However, it’s important to consider that it is a lot easier to take larger quantities of beetroot when powdered or juiced than just eating it and this means ingesting much more sugar.

    6 Health Benefits of Beetroot

    While beetroot may have potential health benefits, it’s not clear if these are temporary or have long-term effects. More research is needed to answer this question and what the optimal dose is. Most studies have focused on beetroot juice, with only a handful of studies investigating beetroot powder. There hasn’t been evidence so far to support the benefit of beetroot powder on blood flow.[3]

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    Despite that, beetroot contains several different compounds with different properties. Here are the six health benefits of beetroot powder.

    1. Beetroot Powder Is Rich in Nitrates

    Firstly, beetroot powder is rich in nitrates. Nitrates have important roles related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction.[4] By causing relaxation of the smooth muscles that encircle arteries and veins, nitrate leads to the dilation of these blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Nitrate medications are used for people with high blood pressure, angina, and heart disease to relax blood vessels, widening them to allow greater blood flow.[5]

    A meta-analysis that combined 22 different trials and analyzed the results together found that additional beetroot juice significantly decreased blood pressure.[6] However, there isn’t evidence to support the long-term effects.[7]

    2. Beetroot Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

    Secondly, beetroot contains antioxidant polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to neutralize free radicals and protect against cell damage that can lead to chronic diseases. Eating a diet high in antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.[8] Different polyphenol compounds are different colors, that’s why you will often hear about eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

    3. Beetroot Has Anti-Cancer Effects

    Beetroot also contains betalains that have been found to have anti-cancer effects in cellular models in the laboratory.[9] Clinical trials are now needed to assess if there are potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and the nature of these effects. While the anti-cancer effects of beetroot in humans aren’t known yet, including them in your diet may help and is unlikely to risk harm.

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    4. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Vitamins C and Folate

    Beetroots are also a great source of vitamins C and B9 (folate). Vitamin C and folate have many important roles in our bodies. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, which acts as a scaffold in the skin and ligaments. It is also has a role in wound healing and protein metabolism. Folic acid is vital for the production of healthy red blood cells, and cellular growth. Inadequate intake of vitamin C over a 3 month period can lead to scurvy, and smoking can further reduce the bioavailability.[10]

    5. Beetroot Contains Essential Minerals

    Beets also contain the minerals iron, manganese, and potassium. Iron has a vital role in the transportation of oxygen by healthy red blood cells. Over 40% of children worldwide have iron deficiency anemia and women of childbearing age are also at increased risk because of menstruation.[11] Potassium may actually prevent the harmful effects of eating excess salt (sodium chloride). Manganese has several roles including metabolism, bone formation, and the immune system. Beetroots are a great way of including all these micronutrients in your diet.

    6. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Fiber

    Fiber is such an important component of our diet, with most of us needing to eat much more to reach the recommended daily amount of 30g. For every 10g of fiber you eat a day, you may decrease your long-term risk of bowel cancer.[12]

    Fibre also acts as a pre-biotic, providing food for the friendly micro-organisms in your gut called the microbiota. There are trillions of micro-organisms in your gut that are now known to play a key role in inflammation and both mental and physical health. Eating beetroots can help to increase your fiber intake and support a healthy gut community.

    It’s clear that for relatively few calories, beetroot contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, nitrates, and antioxidants. For these reasons, beetroot is labeled as a “nutraceutical” and supplementation has become increasingly popular.[13] While most studies have looked at the effects of beetroot on blood vessel dilation, there are still many unanswered questions about other potential benefits.

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    How to Choose a Beetroot Powder

    Like all other supplements, there is very little regulation. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sure exactly what is included in the supplement or assess the quality. My recommendations for choosing a supplement are to check for a product license and always buy from a reputable company.

    There are, however, no agreed benchmarks for quality or efficacy. How much and how often are also unknown at this time. Try to avoid powders that have added preservatives, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Consider whether an organic powder is worth the extra money to you. I would avoid powders that have added silica to avoid clumping. Some supplements now use 3rd party companies to verify the contents.

    There isn’t an agreed dose of nitrate or beetroot powder, so while some powders do contain nitrate content, it is difficult to know exactly what this means in practice. The higher the nitrate content, the more likely it is to have a beneficial effect on raised blood pressure. But if you don’t have high blood pressure, it’s difficult to know if more nitrate is beneficial.

    In summary, look for:

    • organic beetroot powder
    • tested for quality by a 3rd party company
    • is free from preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings
    • avoid powders containing silica
    • buy from a reputable company
    • look at the nitrate content

    How to Make Your Own Beetroot Powder

    First, wash, peel, and grate your beetroots by hand or using a food processor. Then, place them on a tray, spread them out, and cover them with parchment or grease-proof paper to protect them from direct sunlight.

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    Leave to dry until there is no moisture left and shake intermittently so that it dries evenly. When it snaps instead of bending and feels dry, it is ready for the next stage.

    The drying stage can take up to four days depending on the air temperature. To speed up the drying process, you can do this on low heat in a saucepan for 15 to 25 minutes or in the oven at no higher than 180 degrees Celsius or in a dehydrator. If you use the oven or on the hob, just be careful not to burn the beetroot.

    The final step is to grind the dried beetroot using a grinder. It can then be stored in an airtight container, avoiding sun-light for up to one year.

    Should You Try Beetroot Powder?

    Beetroot is a great vegetable that contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nitrates, and fiber. The nitrates present in beets may lower your blood pressure in the short-term, but the long-term effects are not yet known. More research is needed to know about other potential benefits such as the effect on cancer.

    So, while beetroot powder may have health benefits unless taken in excess, it is unlikely to have significant side effects. Large doses of beetroot, however, are associated with an increased risk of kidney stones.

    If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking beetroot supplements is best avoided as there isn’t sufficient safety information. Beetroots do also contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols or FODMAPS for short. These are types of carbohydrates that are hard to digest and can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in some people. FODMAPS are thought to act as prebiotics, feeding the friendly micro-organisms that live in your gut (microbiota). So, for those people who can tolerate them, they are beneficial for a healthy gut.

    More Resources About Beetroot

    Featured photo credit: FOODISM360 via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] NCBI: Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway
    [2] SpringerLink: Comparison of total antioxidant potential, and total phenolic, nitrate, sugar, and organic acid contents in beetroot juice, chips, powder, and cooked beetroot
    [3] Maastricht University: Effects of Beetroot Powder with or without L-Arginine on Postprandial Vascular Endothelial Function: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial with Abdominally Obese Men
    [4] PubMed.gov: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
    [5] PubMed.gov: Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses
    [6] PubMed.gov: The Nitrate-Independent Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect of Beetroot Juice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
    [7] PubMed.gov: Medium-term effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
    [8] NCCIH: Antioxidants: In-Depth
    [9] NCBI: Red Beetroot and Betalains as Cancer Chemopreventative Agents
    [10] Healthline: Beetroot 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
    [11] NCBI: The impact of maternal iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on child’s health
    [12] Cancer Research UK: Does a high fibre diet reduce my risk of cancer?
    [13] PubMed.gov: The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease

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