Posted on December 16 2019
So if you have been following my journey, you would have already heard me brag on and on about why animal protein is not important for the human body, and how we can not only sustain, but live better by only eating plant protein.
Coming from someone who at one point drank 4 Whey protein shakes a day (what non gym goers term as “steroids”. Its really just milk powder, much like cerelac for adults. Actually exactly like cerelac for adults except the sugar content.), I have seen both extremes and know what I am talking about here. Much like all of you, I was always told that proteins are very VERY important and all problems I had, such as bad recovery post workout, cramps during menstrual cycle, fat gain, muscle loss, bad sleep, no boyfriend, no stable income etc were because I did not have enough proteins in my diet. Every time a gym trainer would do my BCA or body measurements and not find a difference from last time, it was because I did not eat chicken and eggs. My ethics were very strong when it came to eating anything that could once walk, so I resorted to Whey protein shakes, the vegetarian alternative!
Was my recovery better? Heck no, but I did eat less though. I mean after drinking 4 shakes a day you really are not that hungry. I was taking 140-150 grams of protein per day on a 55 kg body weight. My digestive track was completely screwed up because I was unaware at that time that I was mildly lactose intolerant. Apart from Whey, I was taking lots of curds, cottage cheese and even tofu. I woke up ALWAYS feeling bloated and my otherwise good skin got bad (consequences of which I still face today. Studies shows it takes upto a year for the body to flush out toxins from dairy ;( ). It was not until a much later HongKong/ China trip where I binge ate pizza’s and ice creams that I started becoming conscious about going vegan. I am not sure what caused me to switch (maybe a desperate attempt to clear my skin), but I decided to go 8 weeks vegan and even switched my Whey for Sunwarrior vegan protein.
Off course, once you go vegan, there is no going back. My 8 weeks are not almost 5 months and I do not intend to go back again! Number 1, my digestion is better. I feel better about myself. I lost further fat and even gained muscle mass! I am currently consuming less than 90 grams of proteins per day (51kgs body weight), and eating SO MUCH carbs (65% of my total calories)! I around the same time came across the book “The China Study” which talks about how proteins have been over hyped and carcinogenic. The book talks about the importance carbs also! I decided to give this a try and was the best decision I made ever.
If you are a vegetarian and think about it, unless you eat a LOT of tofu (or soy alternatives) and whey, there is no way you you can be on a low carb, high protein diet without also consuming high fat. Sure soy has proteins, but so does it have fat. Sure beans are loaded in proteins, but so do they have carbs. This was one reason being high carb- whole foodie was my only way out as a vegan.
Giving up the fear of eating complex carbs was really not a lot, I loved my rice and wanted to really stay far far away from whey. I also started giving up supplements like multi- vitamins etc one by one. Cut short, all nice things started happening, my body fat dropped, I was lifting heavier (almost doing 220pounds on deadlifts and 130pounds on bench now!), sleeping better etc.
But was it expensive: Initially, yes. VERY. That was because I was again sold to marketing and buying fancy vegan products like nutritional yeast, Textured Vegetarian Proteins, Matcha tea’s, white asparagus and imported broccoli’s etc. The protein powders were not as expensive though, compared to Whey Isolates. But remaining was becoming a burden. But then I started getting better at planning.
Stick to basics of what is available around you! Rice and beans/ legumes/ pulses are huge in India and loaded with carbs and proteins! No you do not need chia seeds, alfa alfa seeds, adzuki beans, seatin, tempeh etc. I mean its awesome if you can afford it, plus requires less meal planning, but you do not really need it. Especially if you are consuming 15-20% calories coming from proteins per day (enough for fat loss). Even for muscle gain I consume no more than 25% currently. Protein powders are also not required, even vegan once. I love the taste and use them to make my post workout dessert though!
Spinach (Rs. 15/- for 200 grams) is excellent and better alternative to broccoli as it is easily available in India. Has almost as much proteins as 2 egg whites (I believe organic eggs are Rs. 100/- for only 6). Green peas are loaded in proteins, and so are sprouts! Having rice and one type of pulse/ beans for lunch with some boiled or raw veggies is enough protein for one meal. Either rajma and rice or chana and rice, Amaranth or wheat roti’s with soy bean sabzi or tur daal/ red lentil etc will give you close to 20 grams on proteins in one meal only.
A home made breakfast smoothie bowl with boiled madhira (himalayan millet, Available here ) blended fruits and topped with nuts, dry fruits, raisens or even banana’s will give you about 10-15 grams of proteins. Homemade nut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc will only add in more proteins. These also taste exceptionally good. I also enjoy besan pancakes and boiled mung beans for my breakfast!
Having Buckwheat, Ragi, Amaranth, Jowar, Bajra, Quinoa for dinner with tofu or more beans is a good way to end the day. Quinoa and buckwheat are a little expensive but still nothing compared to meat or protein powders. Also thinking on a long term go, all the cardio vascular and heart diseases you will catch from consuming meat and dairy will end up costing you much more than the money you spend on a vegan diet.Not to mention the time wasted in the hospital and more over you life!
I love to snack on veggies and banana’s (Oh banana’s!) but peanuts, roasted chickpeas, homemade oats cookies, black beans, rice crisps are all great to add some more proteins.
It is however very important to give up your fear of carbs. NO, RICE WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT! Lack of activity, late night binge eating rice, no exercise, sedentary lifestyle, too much sugar, dairy and dairy products however will. Have rice right after your workout/ time you are most physically active during the day. Its loaded with proteins and carbs that are easy to digest. Stick to brown over white rice (really does not change the flavour much) and eat in moderation. Listen to your body signals, eat when hungry and stop when you feel full. Exercise 45-60 minutes (literally anything but walking!) 4 times per week and avoid eating anything not cooked by you. That literally is the cheapest way to lose weight. Off course if you have competitive goals or want to get into a bikini you will have to measure your macros etc, but not otherwise.
I conclude this here as I am late for my cheat meal tonight ;).