2016 : A Reflection ( Diet )

Part Trois

Reduce the amount of processed food you eat and eat more vegetables. Try and fast often.

In my humble opinion what you eat along with what you expose your mind too can really influence the way you perform in various avenues of life. I cannot stress enough having a good diet as a foundation to everything you do, or better yet, are able to do. And the best part is that it is not rocket science. Yet it is the “area” where most of us are lacking. Why is that?

  • There is too much advice going around. Eat 6 times a day. Eat every 2 hours. Don’t eat before sleeping. Eat in the middle of the night ( yes you read that right ). Fats are good for you. Fats are bad for you.
  • Junk food is cheap and easy. It is not that hard to eat healthy but it is very very easy to eat crap and the barrier of entry is very low.
  • People associate eating healthy with eating bland food.
  • People don’t realise how what they put in their body positvely or negatively affects whatever they do in life right from their mood, to their productivty.

I have literally, I think, tried it all when it comes to various “diets”.

  • I grew up as a fat vegetarian kid who would eat loads of butter and cream and every freaking kind of junk imaginable.
  • Then I lost all that weight with extreme dieting where I avoided carbs like the plague for a whole year.
  • I have done eating those “traditional” bodybuilding meals of boiled chicken breast, brown rice and brocolli 6 times a day with lots of protein shakes and every supplement imaginable.
  • Done intermittent fasting, where you eat in a 8 hour window and fast for 16, while meticulously counting my calories.
  • I recently ( around 8 months ago ) became a vegan.
There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

After having a tumultuous relationship with food I think at this point in my life I have learned a few lessons and I eat pretty healthy, never starve myself, feel amazing and do not think too much about what I want to eat. I turned vegan in July due to some ethical reasons ( watched Earthlings ) and health reasons ( watched Forks over knives ). Another reason for turning vegan was that I had put on a shit tonne of weight and I had realised that I always am able to lose weight when I have a new goal in mind and am trying something new. So this time the goal was to lose weight on a vegan diet. My initial thoughts were that I will lose weight but I will probably lose a lot of muscle too, where will I get my protein from and that I will have just too many cravings for diary. The results were very different from my assumptions.

  • I lost 12 kgs over a course of 7 months and honestly it was very easy. I was not counting calories for the first time.
  • My strength objectively increased with my max squat and deadlift going up considerably.
  • I have not even once craved meat or more importantly diary ( any of my friends can attest how important a pizza was to me before )

I do realise that since all variables were not controlled there is bound to be some bias in the results and everything cannot be attributed to just turning vegan. All I am saying is that if these are some of the reasons that are stopping you from taking the leap then go ahead without any fear.

My current eating “protocol” so to speak is as follows. It does vary a little bit but more or less stays the same:

  • I never eat breakfast. Haven’t done in around 3 years now for the most part. In fact I have noticed that during my recent “weight-gain” period ( or bulking as I like to call it) I was eating as soon as I get up.
  • In the mornings I have a cup of coffee. Just plain old freshly grounded ( coffee snob alert) black coffee. I do suggest going off coffee for a week every 2 months or so if you do not want to get caught in the perennial cycle of wanting more and more. I found that one week was more than enough for my body’s sensitivity to coffee to be reset.
  • In the afternoon around 2–3 pm I will have a shake. Usually almond/coconut/rice/oats milk, chia seeds, flax seeds, cocoa nibs, creatine, two servings of vegan protein, spinach, hazelnut flavouring and some fruit. I vary the fruit for flavour but I love this concoction and it makes me quite full on most days.
  • After an hour or two I will have lunch. This can vary but usually contains lots of leafy greens, a source of carbs like bread/rice and a natural protein source like lentils.
  • In the evening I am off to the gym, I take 1 serving of pre workout before that. If I had just had coffee then I avoid it or take half the serving.
  • After gym I go for a run and then have a scoop of protein if I don’t feel like eating straight away. Soon after I have dinner which is is similar in macronutrients to lunch but something different.
  • I do supplement with Vitamin D and ZMA every day and Vitamin B12 every week. You can check out their usefullness or that of any other supplement on Examine.com .

This is what a “normal” day is for me but I do snack on chips, chocolates and have those days where I eat everything and site and feel like my stomach is a valley that can never be filled. Also wine is amazing. I enjoy those days because I love food. Also because I know that no one gains or no one looses weight in one day. I personally think that is the biggest change that has allowed me to loose weight while enjoying food. I eat a lot more mindfully. Enjoying it throughout and not just the start and the end of eating something like we usually do. And I am kind to myself.

Well, I got to cheer for me before anyone else can cheer for me. — Kanye West

I think the following hacks worked well for me :

  • I realised that if I go vegan I won’t be eating most of the food that was causing me to gain weight. And since being vegan was also due to ethical reasons I was able to stick to it without any effort.
  • Do not rely on willpower. If you have cookies in your house you will eat those cookies. So why buy those cookies? I christen this the Law of the Cookies.
  • It is fine to have some junk food here and there. If you are eating right 80% of the time then that 20% will not make or break you. But stick to 20%. In fact the 20% is encouraged. The more you enjoy the easier it will be for you to not dig a hole for yourself.
  • Try and have a rule that when you are eating you will just be eating. Not watching a show/movie, reading or anything else. You will be surprised how much less you need to eat to get full. The food required is directly proprtional to the IMDB rating of the show you are watching. So focus on your food and you will be eating mindfully.
  • A “bad” day of bingining is okay. A bad day that snowballs into a week is not. Forgive yourself and move on. Pay attention to how your body feels after eating all that crap. Yes more often than not it will be figuratively crying. Sometimes literally.
  • Educate yourself. Learn about how macro/micronutrients affect your phsyiolgy. You won’t become a surgeon without studying medicine right?

Regarding fasting I inadverantly follow the “intermittent fasting” protocol by skipping breakfast but I do plan to incorporate whole day fasts every two months from this year. I will write more about it when I actually get around to it. In the end I will say the need of the hour is for everyone to be conscious and mindful about what they are eating and if they have a “troubled” relationship with food to examine the underlying problem rather than just following a fad diet. Eat less processed food and you will feel amazing. It is really that simple. As it has been said life’s profound truths are often hidden behind the cliches. Feed your body well and it will love you.