In any long term health and weight loss journey, you’re going to hit points where you lose momentum. Any time you’re attempting to lose a significant amount of weight, 50, 100, 150 pounds, sometimes more, it is going to take a significant amount of time. If you lose a large amount of weight very quickly, like people do on shows like The Biggest Loser, you will likely gain it all back. Losing slowly, you have a better chance to keep it off but you are talking about doing this over years. It’s very easy to get lazy, cheat too much with food, not put your all into your workouts, especially after you’ve lost a lot of weight.
I hit a plateau and decided to try low carb
On a whim, after seeing it on a friend’s Instagram, I decided to try Bodybuilding.com’s “Still in it 17” challenge. I knew my eating had gotten lax, I wanted to kick the sugar and kick my own ass so I decided that I wanted to try a high protein diet. I have been a vegetarian or a pescatarian (eating seafood but no other meat) on and off for most of my life, and after a bad experience with some raw chicken 7 or 8 years ago I have been sickened by the thought of ever eating it again.
I knew that I did not want to add any animal proteins to my diet but I was sure that there was a way to do high protein without eating more meat.
I tried eating high protein without adding meat
Eating more things like peanut butter, tofu, and cheese had an unanticipated effect – when I looked at my macro breakdowns I found I was actually eating high FAT not high protein, so I decided to try the ketogenic diet (usually called keto), which is a high fat low carb diet since that is basically what I was doing anyway. While not counting macros I check my percentage breakdowns in SparkPeople (you can do the same thing in MyFitnessPal if you prefer it) to make sure that I was getting higher percentages of fat and protein that I am carbs. My goal is 50-60 grams of carbs maximum per day.
Vegetarian and vegan sources of protein
Because I found that eating eggs makes me nauseated, I decided to try tofu scrambles instead of eggs. Tofu is not carb free, but it is high in protein. I made a spicy Sriracha tofu jerky recipe from Pinterest and I highly recommend it for an easy to grab snack. If you are not concerned about consuming soy, edamame frozen in or out of pod is also a great source of protein.
I start every day with a spoonful of peanut butter and as a peanut butter addict I think this is the great thing ever. Because I am also lactose intolerant, I try to avoid milk products. In the past I used whey protein but my favorite protein shakes are the Vega One vegan All-In-One Nutritional Shakes. My favorite flavor is mocha because you can mix in coffee. I make them with almond milk but you could also make them with dairy if you don’t limit your dairy. As with the tofu, these do contain carbs but not huge amounts. When I first tried the Vega One I ordered the variety pack from Amazon so that I could try a couple different flavors without having to buy a big expensive jar. I do find that the prices on the Vega One are in line with most other protein shakes and powders but they have no added sugar. Sugar = carbs.
Keto helped me drop body fat very quickly
The point of the keto diet in a nutshell is that when you don’t consume enough carbohydrates to fuel your body, it will begin burning the fat that you currently have stored. Losing fat is what makes your body more attractive – we all want to lose belly fat but diet and exercise alone don’t necessarily reduce your body fat quickly. The combination of being in ketosis and lifting weights helped me lose almost 2% body fat in 2 months. As long as I stay in ketosis, which for me is around 50-60 grams of carbs max per day, I will notice the body fat percentage on my scale drops every day. I use a product that I bought on Amazon to identify when I am in ketosis, Nurse Hatty® – Ketone Strips 150ct they are $6 and it is good to make sure you get into and stay into ketosis when you are just starting out.
Vegetables contain carbs but that’s ok
Low carb is not no carb. It is unhealthy and dangerous to attempt to eat zero carbs. The best thing to do is to keep track of your carbs to make sure you stay within your target grams.What you want is for your carbs to come from vegetables and NOT from refined carbohydrates like oats, any bread including wheat bread, crackers, pastas (even gluten free pastas are high in carbs!), corn products, etc. I choose to eat some beans but I do it selectively. Make sure that you measure everything because it is very easy to go over on your portion sizes and end up consuming much more than you mean to!
If you are vegetarian, eggs and milk products are also good sources of protein, just make sure to go with full-fat not low fat. The point of keto is to consume high fat don’t forget! Eat the whole egg not just the egg whites. If you eat seafood, as I do, it’s easy to make sure to eat salmon or shrimp for one meal. It can be expensive though. Aside from frozen wild pacific salmon I mostly only eat seafood when I’m in a restaurant. It is very tough to eat low-carb and vegetarian at fast food restaurants but in general you should avoid fast food as much as possible.
My Daily diet – what i eat on a vegetarian keto diet
My average day of food is a spoonful of peanut butter with coffee; plain 2% Fage yogurt with liquid vanilla stevia and pumpkin seeds either before or after my workout depending on how hungry I am and my schedule. I typically have a Vega One protein shake after my workout. Snacks are peanuts or mixed nuts. Lunch is a tofu scramble with lots of fresh peppers, and I might have a morningstar farms veggie sausage or some frozen vegetables depending on what I have going on – if I know I am going to be eating out for dinner I might save carbs for that. I find that eating this way I do not get really hungry or have food cravings like I used to but if I want an afternoon snack it is usually some cheese, I might eat half an apple if I have those around. Because of my fructose allergy I cannot eat a lot of fruit whether I’m doing ketogenic or not. Dinner is baked salmon with salad dressing on it, or shrimp on a giant salad, if I’m eating out I tend to choose the same type of thing, grilled fish or shrimp. Be careful with sauces they almost always have sugar in them! Some days I plug everything into SparkPeople and find that I am under 1200 calories so I will eat some cheese or nuts to make sure my daily calories are not too low. If I want a treat often I will have a protein shake because they really are good but I might have some dark chocolate or some Halo Top ice cream.
My results so far pictures speak louder than words
I have lost a little weight but the body fat is what makes a huge difference in the way that I look and feel. In just four weeks of the Bodybuilding.com challenge I have had huge visible changes. I now wear a size medium t-shirt, something I have not done in years! It was hard for me to believe at first but after buying three different shirts in three different brands, including one on vacation in Canada, I have accepted I do wear a size medium shirt now!
The saying is true: Abs are made in the kitchen not the gym. Workouts are important but you CANNOT out-exercise a bad diet.
My Weekly workout plan
I work out for 30-45 minutes, 5-6 days a week alternating cardio and weight training. Upper body, cardio, lower body, cardio, active rest, core work + lower body. For this current challenge I have been doing the BodyBuilding.com Still In It 17 workouts. I am Not26Anymore on Bodyspace, feel free to add me!
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