Castle Personal Training is a Corstorphine, Edinburgh based company who specialise in weightloss/toning and Pre and Post Natal exercise.
I have been incredibly busy recently with some new exciting projects (more on that in a few weeks) and, of course, with my Ultimate Nutrition Support package.
I have decided to delve into the world of Vegetarianism and Vegans for the next few articles, culminating in a “Vegetarian Christmas” article so keep an eye out over the next few months. I’ll still be posting about other stuff as well but my nutrition posts will deal with some of the myths out there regarding the kind of diet vegetarians should be following.
This is the first of those articles and it deals with weightloss and vegetarianism. I am not going to deal with the “Is being vegetarian healthier for than being a carnivore?” question in this article (The answer is “No, it’s not” BTW) but will come to that in a later piece.
I have done quite a bit of research into the wonderful world of weightloss advice for Vegetarians and have found that almost all of it is complete bunkum.
The advice ranges from the truly atrocious; “Follow an 80-10-10 split” to the pretty bad “all recommended meals are carb based because we have no idea what to do with you but this should keep you quiet”.
Let us go through some of the websites you come across if you google “Weightloss for vegetarians”
First in line; weightlossresource.com These guys are pretty much top of all Google searches to do with weightloss ..and they’re pretty bad with giving advice, but great at selling.
If you check out their meal plans for vegetarians you will immediately see that it’s almost all carb-based meals they are recommending.
I have spoken before about the importance of Macro nutrients and find that these are pretty much ignored by the Dietitian who does the meal plans for that website. Personally I really struggle taking a dietitian who does not take macro nutrients into account seriously. If you don’t list Macros with a meal you might as well not suggest the meal.
Tracking Macros is almost as important as tracking calories as you want to make sure you don’t lose muscle-mass rather than fat. This is why Myfitnesspal is such a great app, it will track your macros for you. This will also tell you that almost all meals suggested by Weightlossresource are a bad idea for most people trying to lose weight the right way.
The second link is Vegancoach Now to be fair this is a pretty good site for Vegans. There is a lot of info on there that makes sense and that you could pay attention to. Unfortunately there are also gems like “there is no diet in this world that will work if you don’t exercise regularly.” Really? This is nonsense. Don’t get me wrong; Exercise is important for your general health and I STRONGLY recommend everyone trains regularly but you can keep your weight down without exercise. To say otherwise is simply incorrect.
The NHS website is a stark example of how bad the general advice out there is. This is because the NHS still bases their advice on the “eat well plate”.
Now the thing about the “Eat well plate” is that it’s not ideal for weightloss but actually a maintenance-state kind of plate. So this goes out the window when you’re looking to lose weight/fat. Add to that a statement such as “Contrary to popular belief, most vegetarians usually have enough protein and calcium (found in dairy products) in their diet” again show that they are concerned with just keeping you alive rather than having you lose fat whilst preserving muscle mass.
The NHS essentially advocate a 60-20-20 split which is just terrible advice for those wanting to lose fat as you’re carb heavy. To be honest, it’s even terrible advice if you’re looking to maintain.
So what should I eat? I always advise aiming for at least 30% protein in any diet with a minimum of 1 gram of protein per Kg of musclemass.
For me the best source of protein is Quorn and what I would recommend is the Quorn Mince as it’s 50% protein per calorie which is right up there. (29grams of protein per 200 grams of mince) Mycoprotein is an interesting little thing so have a read about it if you’re that way inclined.
You can use it instead of normal mince and just have to learn how to cook with it, more on that in a later article where I’ll be sharing some recipes, but that’s easy as pie really.
You can go for other sources such as Quinoa, pulses etc but they come with a heavy dose of carbs attached so be aware of that.
Juicing is another great way to get some protein in; Spinach, Broccoli and Kale are prime examples of “high-protein” vegetables but you need an extraordinary amount of veg to hit your protein macro so it’s mainly a good idea as a form of supplementation.
Before you accuse me of missing out the obvious; Eggs are obviously always your friend. Eggs are amazing little things but I doubt you can eat 9-10 eggs each day so it shouldn’t be the main protein source for you.
You could also of course always go down the road of Proteinshakes but we’re sticking to real food here so I’m not including this as a realistic way of hitting your macro every day. If you’re struggling to get enough protein there is nothing wrong with having a little Choccie protein shake every day though and it’s definitely cost effective.
A little side note as a warning; Nuts are a TERRIBLE source of protein. I mean truly outrageously bad for those who are trying to lose weight. I know other websites, such as the cursed NHS site, list them as “potential sources of protein” but due to their calorie density they really are an extremely bad idea to try and hit your protein macro with. e.g. There are 26grams of protein per 100 grams of peanuts..but that comes with 576 amazing little Kcalories and that’s a lot!
In short; the same weight-loss rules apply to vegetarians as do to omnivores.
1; Make sure you operate a calorie deficit.
2; Make sure you hit at least 30% protein macro each day.
3; Don’t drink your calories.
4; Get your vitamins from vegetables not from fruit.
You just have to be a bit pickier with what you eat and make sure you don’t go down the carb-heavy route many vegetarians take as you might lose some weight but you’re likely to end up skinny-fat and unhealthy looking like everyone else on an 80-10-10 split who doesn’t take a tonne of supplements.