With so much media coverage and obsession with veganism lately, I had the idea back in December that I would undertake a little experiment in the new year to go vegetation (I couldn’t quite bring myself to get on the vegan political bandwagon…yet) and see if, or how, it affected my fitness.
I had been following a ketogenic diet for some time, not in a militant way, I still had the odd cheat days here and there but I found I had plateaued weight wise which is totally normally but I was very strong and energetic with this lifestyle. So my brain wanted to know if and how much this would change on a vegetarian diet…..so my meat dietfree January idea was conceived.
I made the decision to drop out of ketosis around mid December, as I didn’t want the results of this experiment to be marred by the transition phase of such a drastic change in eating, as obviously in ketosis I was consuming meat as the ketogenic diet is moderate protein, high fat and low to zero carbs and suddenly I’m flipping this totally. Just dropping out of ketosis had shocking results, so bare in mind I’m still eating meat at this point but I’ve reintroduced carbs and not eating as high fat, I put on 5lbs in under two weeks!! Now, the run up to Christmas may well have contributed to this, but I have no doubt at all it was pretty much solely down to increasing my carb intake! I also felt hungry a lot more (and still do)….along with feeling bloated again at times, my skin flaring up (I got spots!) and a general tiredness descended that I wasn’t used to. But despite this I didn’t actually feel too bad, just a bit “different” and certainly I noticed the weight gain as in I could physically feel it let alone see it. This side frustrated me.
However, I knew come January 1st I’d be going veggie and my theory was that I’d lose weight but my strength would be reduced. So as much as I was panicking as I didn’t want to gain more and more weight, even with Christmas and New Years Eve and a whole lot of booze I actually only gained another pound, making my weight on 1st January 10st 8lbs.
I should also point out that I decided to undertake this experiment without using any supplements. So no protein shakes etc. I am getting all my nutrients and vitamins from the food I am eating. In my head it isn’t an accurate reflection of the possible changes if I’m using supplements.
January 1st arrives. After an evening of way too much vodka and good times all I want is a bacon sandwich! Damn it, that’s not gonna happen! So I settled for toast, happy new year!
Upon returning home (I’d stayed with family) I start rifling through my cupboards and freezer and realise I’m really ill prepared for this vegetarian malarkey! What part of my brain thought it was a good idea to not bother going out before this day came and stock up on all things meat free?!? Idiot! Luckily for me I don’t like meat on pizza, so there was a vegetable pizza in the freezer….that was dinner. Straight away I’m thinking this is not a healthy way to start!
The next couple of days prove hectic with the wind down from Christmas and New Year, the sorting the house out, getting ready for school, last minute panic of washing PE kits and finding school bags, unpacking and trying to home all the extra possessions Christmas gave us, all the other painfully dull but necessary general life tasks and first world problems that seem to come once the festive period is over….still didn’t go food shopping though did I! Total and utter idiot!
So the next couple of days I find myself eating bland unappetising food that I’m trying to concoct from whatever meat free produce I have in the house….yeah my mood deteriorated and I found myself eating a lot of carb heavy foods. Jacket potato, baked beans, toast, well done me! Where are my vital nutrients vitamins and minerals coming from at this point?!? No supplements remember!
So I’ll fast forward a bit, Saturday 5th January, yeah it seemed like a few weeks had passed to me already too. At this point my mood has been generally grumpy, short fused, I’m tired constantly and my face is full of spots. I wasn’t enjoying my training, I felt unfit and felt like I was struggling. I just wanted to growl at people and hate the world. Yeah I know, same as usual then haha!
My online supermarket shop arrives…..full of lots of vegetarian yuminess! I’ve got Quorn in various forms, Linda McCartney sausages, loads of fresh veg etc now I can get cooking! Hallelujah! Bring on the flavour!
So my first meal was the sausages with mash, veg and vegetable gravy….shockingly good! Don’t get me wrong, the sausages aren’t the same, but this was the first meal I had actually properly enjoyed and felt full up and my daughter enjoyed the same. Don’t worry, I’m not inflicting my experiment on my six year old, but always happy to broaden her pallete by letting her try new things….next day a Teriyaki Quorn and Chinese vegetable stir fry with noodles, it was so bloody good I actually posted this news on Facebook! Finally I’m enjoying food again. I had homemade smoothies for breakfast for a couple of days, all full of fruit and veg, yoghurt, chia seeds, flax, and other things that got stuck in my teeth….they did keep me full though!
First lesson learnt so far…..next time I decide I’m going to try something, preparation is paramount! I’d spent the last 5 days like a bear with a sore head because I was too unorganised, uninterested, lazy, busy, ignorant….(you decide), to get myself ready for this challenge/experiment.
Tuesday 8th was my full on turning point. I woke up, I felt different, I had energy, I was in a surprisingly good mood, what was wrong with me?!? Oh it’s one week in…,got to check my weight, I’m 4lbs down! The extra inch I seemed to have layered up with had almost gone as well! Whoooop! I think my body had now got used to this change! I was ecstatic I’d dropped the post keto quitting weight, I won’t lie! I felt motivated again. Focused. I’m pretty sure those around me had a quick thank you Lord moment as well…..apologies for the growliness you lovely lot!
So now let’s fast forward through the remainder of the week to today. I’ve been sleeping well, like really well, an actual minimum of seven hours a night well!! (She says as she’s sat here at 4.25am writing this blog).
Wednesday I was out for lunch with Team Simply Fitt and three lovely clients, Turkish restaurant, inside initially I was dying as I love koftes but knew they were off the menu, but the most amazing vegetarian mousakka soon fixed that! Yep I really enjoyed a veggie option in the restaurant!!
Three training sessions….all of them much better than the week before, way more focused, way more energetic, far more enjoyable, definitely not as strong though. Yesterday was back day, lots and lots of lovely big heavy weights. My PB deadlifting 110kg, my best yesterday….75kg!!! Wtf?!? And trust me, that was a REAL struggle! The first set at that weight it took me three attempts to even get the bloody bar off the ground!! Interesting…… is my theory of losing weight losing strength proving right????
Honestly, I don’t know, it’s too early to say. Looking at this “experiment”, there are too many variables that could be causing the current results such as: over indulgence at Christmas, the Christmas hangover as I like to call it, the distinct lack of preparation and eating very badly the first five days, the general lethargy we are left with in January, the transition from keto to carbs to veggie, some very testing personal issues which may have contributed to my mental/psychological state which also then impacts training, just getting in the swing of things again.
In hindsight (ahhh such a wonderful thing) maybe I should have left this until February, so I was fully over Christmas and back on it in the gym 100%, but that ship sailed and I am where I am with it. I’ve still got another 20 days left to see what happens….will I be lifting 65kg or 85kg next week?! Will I be another 4lbs lighter?! I at least hope I’m one more pound lighter so I’m the same as I was before dropping out of keto!! But all I know is, I’ll stick to it until the end, so we’ll see. What next week brings who knows, but I’ll post some updates on social media so if you’re interested you can have a nose. But one thing I can definitely say, yes I’m missing meat but not as much as I thought I would…….