Are you thinking of switching to a plant based meal plan? Just by adding more vegetables and whole foods you will naturally achieve a balanced health and fitness meal plan that sets you up with energy and vitality.
When following a plant based meal plan the following points should be considered:
• Balance macro nutrients to reach your goals (protein, carbohydrates and fat).
• Digestive issues if you cannot tolerate foods i.e. beans/pules/ legumes.
• Implement gradual changes over time e.g. go from part vegetarian to full vegan over time to adjust habits, or knowing your body enough, that you start with plant based days of your week, rather than making a strict adjustment immediately.
• Giving time to meal prep where each night you prepare fresh plant based meals for the following day.
My health journey from Fitness Model to Chronic Fatigue Recovery
I have enjoyed attending yoga retreats with purely plant based foods every day combined with yoga and meditation, where every meal was served with love and care harvested from the organic gardens at the retreat. Studying raw cuisine was also a highlight and opened my eyes to so many delicious recipes and ideas to get nutrients into my body.
My health journey has not been easy as a 2 x Champion Sports Model I have trained and put my body in extreme calorie deficit to achieve low body fat levels. I have also consistently trained with weights for over 15 years. This level of training, combined with a corporate role as a Marketing Manager for a Top 5 corporation, saw me battle Chronic Fatigue for two years. My healing came from balance, yoga, meditation and eating more plant based foods.
I eat all types of food and no longer have strict food rules, as I find joy in flexibility and choosing to fuel my body with fresh foods making me feel best. I do not follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, rather I have plant based foods as 70% of what I eat, I practise yoga and now in my second pregnancy, my focus is always on health and wellbeing for my growing family. Restrictive thinking, rigid rules and feelings of guilt associated with food are not part of my health and fitness lifestyle.
Plant based health and fitness for beginners
I see most people start a new vegan or vegetarian regime with enthusiasm and then cannot stick to it, or they create so many “food rules” they end up starving their body of important nutrients.
I customise vegan and plant based health programs. Some clients love it, other clients switch back to eating animal products. In the end, it was good life experience, as over the 12 and 20 week programs it gives them an array or recipes and ideas to prepare healthy plant based meals, regardless of if they wished to continue to exclude animal products completely.
My best girlfriend has been vegan for 15 years, so I am well versed on the reasons WHY she wishes to live this lifestyle and she looks AMAZING. She is extremely active and over the years has achieved a lot of athletic pursuits in cycling and also has kept up with a weight training regime when we train together.
In this blog I combine my knowledge of women’s hormone health, raw cuisine and also use examples of my friend who has now become Vegan successfully and lives this lifestyle lean, fit and healthy. We will look at an example meal plan and get some great tips for living this lifestyle.
“Cheese on Toast” Vegetarians – what to avoid!
This is designed to be funny, so please don’t take it too seriously!! Over 15 years in the health and fitness industry I have met quite a few of what are commonly labelled “cheese on toast” vegetarians and they can be characterised as:
• Being vegetarian but not actually eating many vegetables!
• Reliance on highly processed foods like processed meat alternatives, packaged bars and shakes with chemicals and fillers, extremely high fat raw desserts.
• When we break it down this leads to consuming very low nutrient levels.
These “cheese on toast vegetarians are typically of a body composition that is “skinny fat” where they don’t have much muscle and they carry a higher % body fat.
In contrast my friend, we will call her the “Model Vegan” eats:
• A huge amount of vegetables (organic where possible).
• A large amount of fresh fruit in season (organic where possible).
• A small amount of processed vegetarian products such as tofu, tempeh, legumes, beans, and the products I call “fake meat” that you can get from the frozen section of supermarkets (e.g. Linda McCartney range of products).
• Good quality grains such as quinoa, brown rice and wholemeal or sour dough breads.
• A moderate amount of quality fats including olive oil, nuts, seeds.
She spends a lot of time on food prep each week and drinks a lot of water, herbal tea and minimal coffee. Her meal sizes are large and EVERY meal has a large component of vegetables.
Successful Vegetarian Fitness
Vegetarians or vegans need to be organised and diligent with food prep. For example, take away lunch bars generally do not provide salads and options that include dark leafy greens or enough vegetables. This is gradually changing however many salad retailers mix in the largest quality of cheaper ingredients such as beetroot or corn and neglect the energy charged leafy greens, suck as kale, garden grown organic lettuce, sprouts, leaves from fragrant herbs and fresh seeds, nuts or oils.
Not eating enough nutrient dense foods often leads to cravings. For example some people are just so hungry they cannot get through the day so they eat lots of “Raw desserts” or “Raw chocolate” or “Health bars” which are calorie dense. I love these sweets and have posted many recipes on my blog, although delicious……… as an athlete you need to eat them sparingly to reach your body transformation goals.
By all means go ahead and try Vegetarianism or Veganism. If you do it properly (and eat minimal processed foods) you will be helping the world in many ways.
Don’t expect to be Superman or Superwoman
When you seek to change to a new dietary regime don’t be fooled into thinking that you will miraculously turn into a person with “Superpowers” and ridiculously high energy levels. I feel great most of the time and I would say high energy is “normal” for me because I eat, sleep and train well, plus drinks lots of water. But I do still have days when I am tired or days when I feel sick. My Vegan friend agrees!
Some web sites or books will have you believe that if you are “strictly” following their suggested regime, you will miraculously be feeling like jumping out of bed every single day of the year. Let’s get real and have realistic expectations – we all have low energy levels in time of hard work, stress or we simply are not 100% on our game with our meal prep. Perfection is boring and completely unrealistic.
- Be Yourself, Never Define Yourself by a Dietary Label
- Find what works for you, but make sure you truly believe in the reasons you are using a dietary regime.
- I have seen too many people tell the world they are vegan and then two months later they have gone off on a completely different dietary regime and then boast about being a meat eater/hunter gatherer (or whatever!).
- I truly respect my best friend as she goes about her own business, living Vegan, year after year, and making daily choices that she believes in and are authentic to her.
My journey to find Balance
As a Fitness Model Champion, year after year, I have many tough workouts in the gym and endured DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that almost made me cry, trying to get through the days after tough training sessions, week after week, when I was trying to build certain muscle groups. To build a muscle foundation you need consistent weight training and nutrition. If you’re not fueling the body adequately will get you nowhere fast – the nutrition and training need to work together.
I follow the principles of LOW FODMAPS which is a scientifically proven dietary regime founded by Dr Sue Shepherd. My stomach cannot digest or absorb certain foods including beans, pulses, legumes and I have an extremely sensitive digestive system. So, I cannot be vegetarian, as there are not enough options. I feel best when I eat (ethically sourced) meat, fish and poultry. I choose veggies at each of my 5 meals a day, moderate animal protein sources and endeavor to make most meals from scratch. I shop mostly organic or low spray. I shop with awareness: choosing ethically sourced animal products, local and seasonal produce.
Take home message
- Be authentic to your beliefs.
- FOREVER is a long time to eat in a way that you find hard to stick to.
- Don’t think you have to stick to ONE dietary regime – you can combine the best of several regimes and feel amazing.
- Your dietary choices do not define you – there is so much more to make a great personality than what you eat.
Simply live by your actions.
Plant Based Health and Fitness Meal plan
Bowl of mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) with activated almonds
Protein shake (plant based protein shake is my preferred option from The All Natural Company) Save 20% with the code AMELIA
Energy salad (Kidney beans, garbanzo beans, broccoli, spinach, snow peas, green beans, carrots, capsicum, romaine lettuce, beets).
Apple or Grapefruit and herbal tea
Large roasted vegetable and raw greens salad with beetroot hummus and raw flax crackers
Coconut yoghurt with protein.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and it gave you some insight into a Plant Based Fitness Meal Plan.