One of the healthiest and compassionate things that you can do for yourself and our world is adopt a vegetarian diet. In addition to helping you lose fat and have a clearer mind, you will be able to sleep comfortably at night knowing that you did not contribute to the immense suffering that the meat industry causes for animals. When done properly, a vegetarian diet will increase your energy, improve your health, and enhance all of your fitness goals. Whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle, or increase your overall fitness level, a vegetarian diet can easily be tailored to fit all of your fitness goals.
This article will be split into three sections. The first section will go over what to eat and when to accelerate fat loss. The second session will go over what to eat to gain lean muscle, and finally I will go over what a sample day looks like for me and why I eat the way that I do.
What To Eat To Lose Weight
Although a vegetarian diet is much healthier than a diet based on animal products, many vegetarians make the mistake of over consuming low quality carbohydrates and starches. Low quality carbohydrates such as any overly refined product will drastically impede the progress of your fat loss program. They send your blood sugar levels through the roof, which causes your body to produce large amounts of insulin to stabilize your blood sugar levels. The end result is a great deal of stored body fat.
Starches such as bread, rice, and potatoes are fine in moderation. However, many people have a tendency to eat several servings of pasta or rice in one sitting which will result in rapid fat gain. For optimal results, the bulk of your carbohydrates should be derived from low glycemic vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, tomatoes, squash, spinach, and berries. These carbohydrates do not affect our blood sugar levels negatively and thus do not result in fat storage. Thus, cut out the junk food and increase your consumption of fruits and veggies for health and rapid fat loss.
Next get over your fat phobia. We need healthy fats in our diet and although it does not sound logical, healthy fats help our bodies use fat for energy and thus support fat loss. Also, healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds contain an enzyme called lipase that assists in breaking down and digesting fats. Furthermore, nuts and seeds such as walnuts and sunflower seeds are full of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that keep our immune systems and skin healthy.
Finally, although we do not need as much protein as some of the bodybuilding magazines state, we do need ample amounts of protein for several reasons. One, protein helps us recover from strenuous exercise. Two, protein contains the amino acid tyrosine that gives our brain a boost and elevates mood. Third, protein helps give us a sense of satisfaction from our meals. When was the last time that you got stuffed off a high carbohydrate meal and were ready to hit another meal an hour later? This used to happen to me all the time. However, it will not happen when you balance your meals with protein and fat.
Vegans can easily get enough protein from sources such as tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, navy beans, nuts, and seeds. If you have any doubt, by all means add a few soy and rice protein shakes to your diet. I am not a big believer in calorie counting as I feel that it results in stress and a poor mental attitude.
Instead, just cut out all the junk food for six days a weak and have one cheat day in which you eat whatever you want as a reward. The other six days have a serving of protein, carbs, and healthy fats with each meal and have as many raw salads as you desire.
If you do not think that you can go the entire week without junk food then at least wait until the end of your evening meal. Keep your diet clean during the day and reward yourself at night a few times a weak. Also, be sure to drink at least ten glasses of water a day. Failure to drink enough water will result in poor fat loss results.
Another product that will help speed of the fat burning process is green tea. In addition, to enhancing the immune system, green tea helps us use more calories and aids in digestion as well. It is inexpensive, so have a three servings of green tea a day. You will find that green tea gives you a nice lift, but does not stimulate you too much like coffee or black tea. Finally make sure to exercise on an empty stomach and wait one hour after exercising before consuming any calories.
What To Eat To Gain Weight
One of the biggest problems that people tell me about on a vegan diet is the difficulty in gaining muscle. They usually state that they could not find enough high calorie sources to consume to put on weight rapidly and got discouraged. The bottom line is that they were not consuming enough protein and fat. To gain weight rapidly, eat 1-1.5 grams of protein for each lb of lean bodyweight. Thus, if you weigh 200lbs and have 10% body fat, eat 190 to 285 grams of protein per day, every day. Start off on the lower end of the scale and work your way up.
Next, get an ample supply of quality fats in your diet. Almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and pistachios, are all high quality sources and are loaded with both protein and fat. Also, add a tablespoon of flaxseed oil to your salads and protein shakes. Next, unlike the weight loss advice, eat several servings of rice, potatoes, and bread. The key to gaining weight rapidly is an abundance of calories. Thus, do not hold back and have 6-7 high quality meals a day. Also consider having a protein shake before and after workout as well as before bedtime. When you go shopping load up on tofu, tempeh, lentils, avocados, nuts and seeds, and high calorie fruits such as bananas, tropical fruits, and try adding some coconut milk to your routine as well.
What I Do
I have tried many diets in the past that have all worked to some degree. For example, to lose weight, I once tried substituting a few meals with protein shakes and then having a few moderate meals throughout the day. Combined with an effective exercise regimen, this worked pretty well. However, I was not fond of the calorie counting and feeling like I needed to eat something every 2-3 hours. Also, to gain weight I have tried eating several moderate meals during the day, with protein shakes and bars in between meals and then a large meal at night. This worked very well for putting on size. However, again it was not convenient and I did not like having my whole day revolving around eating food.
Two years ago, I came across an interview at www.testosterone.net with Ori Hofmekler. Ori stated that he had been having great success with a concept that he called "The Warrior Diet." (For more information on the "warrior diet", go to dragondoor.com. The basic premise of the "warrior diet" revolves around putting your body through a period of undereating during the day and overeating at night. During the day you can have fresh veggie and fruit juices and at night you have your main meal. The main meal starts with a raw salad with low glycemic vegetables, followed by a high protein and fat meal, followed by a carbohydrate meal.
After that, if you are still hungry you can basically eat whatever you want. At first, I was very skeptical. However, I decided to give the diet a shot and adapted after a few days. The first thing that I noticed was that my energy went through the roof. I loved the freedom of waking up and going through the entire day without having to worry about food. Furthermore, when I did eat at night the food tasted better than ever.
In the beginning, I lost weight rapidly. However, my weight stabilized after a few weeks and I quickly got back up to a lean 195lbs. Now this diet is definitely not for everyone, especially for those of you that want to gain a lot of weight. However, it is an alternative weight loss program for busy people and it is also very effective at maintaining a certain weight. Moreover, it is great for getting rid of stubborn fat.
Here is what a typical day looks like for me.