Myself and my partner Dan, have recently decided to try out a vegetarian diet for 8 weeks. Not just for all the animals we would save by not eating KFC. But more for the perceived health benefits that come with a healthy vegetarian diet for two highly active individuals. We wanted to see for ourselves how the change in diet would affect our fatigue, recovery, and fitness. To see if we would permanently adopt this lifestyle.
On week 1 we started off strong with a completely plant based diet (vegan). Which was great but took some effort to change our normal meal plans from a predominantly high meat protein and low carb diet. I had to think of new recipes and research what foods we needed to stay healthy. To consume enough calories to maintain our body weight and muscle mass. Our basic daily meal plan consisted of:
Breakfast: Porridge with almond milk, maple syrup, banana, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Lunch: Grilled peri peri tofu, with quinoa salad.
Dinner: Bean chilli, with a jacket potato, or Tofu pad Thai noodles.
You can find more plant based recipes for athletes below:No Meat Athlete, Revised and Expanded: A Plant-Based Nutrition and Training Guide for Every Fitness Level_Beginner to Beyond [Includes More Than 60 Recipes!]
On the second week, I decided that being completely plant based was too difficult for me straight away. Although I felt great and the food tasted great. I researched into almond milk, and it isn’t the most earth friendly option within the production, and I didn’t really want to drink soya milk. So I changed back to organic cows milk, and started eating eggs again as I had a competition coming up, and wouldn’t recommend completely changing your diet beforehand. This week I felt good still and maybe because of the increase in carbohydrates, I didn’t feel tired after a day at work and I was ready for training.
By the third and fourth week, I felt as if I could tell that my recovery time was decreasing. I was going to bed aching from a hard BJJ comp training class, and waking up feeling fine. It was so strange not to ache so much in the morning. Although this could be due to a number of factors. I do believe my diet had a part to play in this. By this week we had done more research into plant based diets, and started taking multivitamin supplements which included B12. Which you predominantly get from eating meat. Just to make sure we are getting everything we needed. You can buy these for pretty cheap on amazon, and you only have to take one a day.Multivitamins & Minerals | 365 Vegan Multivitamin Tablets (1 Year Supply) with 26 Essential Active Vitamins & Minerals | Multivitamin Tablets for Men and Women | Made in the UK by Nutravita
By week six, I feel like this change in diet has effected my body. I felt as if i have trimmed up somehow and less bloated. However my gut was being sluggish and you can definitely tell something has changed by the amount your going to the bathroom!
At the moment I am trying to eat as healthily as possible, although it is the summer holidays, and I am staying at my mums for a few weeks so it is very difficult. Overall, I feel like when I’m back home I will continue to eat as plant based as possible, with minimal dairy products. As a benefit of being vegan is that it stops me from eating any chocolate or cakes, or lots of processed food. Which alone will make you healthier, but of course if you just sit at home eating chips, covered with vegan cheese, and vegan chocolates for dessert, then your not going to be a healthy plant based athlete.
It’s amazing what meat alternatives you get these days in supermarkets, and generally you can have your normal meals, just swap the meat for something else like tofu, or bean burgers etc. It gives you chance to experiment and get out of the food circle we all land in. Cooking the same meals each week because they are easy.
Overall, I feel like this has been a positive change and I haven’t missed eating meat. I’ve even attended BBQs and a birthday at a steak house, and kept to my new diet plan and felt great. I think everyone should try to mix it up now and again. Especially if your not seeing results on your current meal plan, or your stuck in a rut. Do some research, and try a new way of eating for a few months, try vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, sugar free, dairy free, or gluten free. To see what works best for you and your body. Just not all at the same time! Everyone is different meaning we should all eat differently to be the best version of ourselves. For me I have found eating vegetarian has helped increase my efficiency in the training sessions, by being less tired and having more energy.
Let me know what diet works best for you, or what your favourite vegetarian recipe is for me to try out. In the comments section below. Thanks for reading.