Hey everyone! It seems as if I have been away from you all for forever! School has been incredibly hectic with exams and assessments, but I had to make some time this morning to share a recent food journey with you all.
If you follow my food log on Instagram (tiffanydietetics), you have probably noticed that my meals include a lot of greens and fibrous veggies…this is nothing new. What has changed as of recent however, my protein sources. As of June 5th (my 36th birthday), I made the decision to cut out all meat from my diet with the exception of eggs. Although Veganism and Vegetarian diets are more popular now than ever, I know there are many of my fellow bodybuilding friends out there that are saying, “What the hell for?”
I made this decision after completing an assessment for school regarding the effects of a Vegan diet on muscle building. Not only was the information completely opposite of everything I thought I knew, but study after study in my opinion, showed a vegetarian diet to be the healthiest nutritional approach of all.
I would assume this transition would be hard for a lot people, but I can say in all honesty I haven’t had any struggles. I traded red meat and pork about a year ago for turkey and chicken, so I didn’t have those cravings to worry about. Becoming bored with eggs was a concern in the beginning, but that was never an issue either.
The main highlight of this trial for me has been the loads of energy. Granted, I have since been reverse dieting to increase my overall caloric intake for winter gains, but I noticed the energy increase immediately.
So, were there any downsides? There was something that I found to be really odd and random, and I will say that it almost made me pull the plug on the Vegetarian trial and call it a day…Cellulite!!! What?! Ok, slow down. Don’t let this be a determining factor if you are considering the Vegan road. Let me explain. When I decided to take on this journey I was mid-way through my summer shredding program, which meant a lower carb intake than usual. I knew that once changing to a vegetarian approach I would have to switch up my macros, which automatically meant an increase in carbohydrates to make up for the decrease in protein. Because I had been in a deficit, my carbohydrate intake was around 160 grams per day. When I made the switch, I increased those carbs immediately to 200 grams per day. For someone like myself that doesn’t eat a lot of processed foods to reach 200 grams a day, is a lot when you’ve been in a deficit; therefor, this meant adding in more grains. Don’t get me wrong, I love oats and brown rice, and these are staples in my diet year round; however, when Im doing a cut, I had rather fill my belly with loads of fibrous veggies. Well, keep in mind, I had been doing a cut for about 10 weeks, so my body hadn’t been accustomed to all the grains I was now packing in to make up for the carb increase. Am I saying that grains give you cellulite?! NO! I am saying that carbohydrates absorb water. When the body is not familiar with something, and then you throw something at it, out of the norm, it’s going to respond negatively. Just like most females, I hold any excess fat in my hips and butt. I manage to keep excess fat at bay, and stay relatively lean year round, which keeps cellulite to a minimum, but we all have a dimple here and there. But man, oh man…one week in and I was stressing. I felt heavy and fluffy, and a bit dimply all over. I was ready to call it quits. The best comparison I can give is that feeling when you have had way too much Chinese food and the next day you feel like a puffer fish. Thats how I felt for an entire week. Basically, the increase in carbs was causing me to retain loads of water, and my body wasn’t accustomed to that. To fix the problem, I simply increased my water intake. Although it sounds counter-active, an increase in water will keep you from retaining water, so that was my approach. I also coupled the increased water intake with an am HIIT session everyday for the following week, which forced me to sweat, A lot.
Week one was a hurdle, but by week two I felt great. I stuck to my Ovo-Vegetarian approach for just over 15-weeks. Week 16, I gorged on sushi with my fellow foodies following the Olympia. I have had chicken twice since my Vegetarian food journey, and have since cut it back out as well.
As of now, I will continue my vegetarian journey. Feel free to follow along as I share my thoughts on this approach to nutrition.