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Published on August 31, 2018

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.

    Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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    Published on November 14, 2018

    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

    Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

    With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

    For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

    In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

    Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

    Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

    It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

    For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

    Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

    Symptoms of Fatigue

    Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

    • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
    • mental blocks
    • lack of motivation
    • headache
    • dizziness
    • muscle weakness
    • slowed reflexes and responses
    • impaired decision-making and judgement
    • moodiness, such as irritability
    • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
    • reduced immune system function
    • blurry vision
    • short-term memory problems
    • poor concentration
    • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

    Causes of Fatigue

    The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

    • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
    • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
    • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
    • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

    Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

    Medical Causes of Fatigue

    If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

    Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

    Anemia

    Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

    Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

    There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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    This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

    Diabetes

    Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

    Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

    Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

    Thyroid disease

    An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

    Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

    • Lack of sleep
    • Too much sleep 
    • Alcohol and drugs 
    • Sleep disturbances 
    • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
    • Poor diet 

    Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

    • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
    • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
    • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
    • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

    Psychological Causes of Fatigue

    Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

    • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
    • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
    • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

    How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

    Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

    1. Tell The Truth

    Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

    To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

    Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

    The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

    One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

    • How you feel
    • What time of day it is
    • What may have contributed to your fatigue
    • How your mind and body reacts

    This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

    2. Reduce Your Commitments

    When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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    If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

    When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

    Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

    3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

    If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

    Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

    If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

    Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

    Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

    4. Express More Gratitude

    Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

    It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

    Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

    5. Focus On Yourself

    Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

    There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

    But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

    We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

    6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

    Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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    Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

    The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

    Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

    7. Take a Power Nap

    When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

    Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

    This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

    8. Take More Exercise

    The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

    Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

    The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

    You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

    9. Get More Quality Sleep

    To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

    Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

    My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

    10. Improve Your Diet

    Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

    Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

    On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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    To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

    Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

    Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

    11. Manage Your Stress Levels

    Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

    When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

    Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

    My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

    12. Get Hydrated

    Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

    Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

    If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

    The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

    The Bottom Line

    These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

    If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

    Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
    [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
    [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
    [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
    [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
    [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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