I remember when I cracked the code to fat loss.
It was in June 2015 and I was staring in the mirror. Traces of a sixpack had become visible. It was my first time I’d ever seen them. Ever.
Since that moment on, my friends asked me jealously over and over again: “How did you do it?”
I thanked them all. But they wouldn’t understand. Weight loss is simple, but not easy.
How I started the vegan bodybuilding diet
It was in the beginning of 2015 that I’d made the scary decision to stop eating animal products and started the vegan bodybuilding diet. I was a meat-head before.
Poultry and rice in a tupperware was the only thing that I’d known. Readily packaged in my lunch box every morning before I left the house. While I did gain muscles with that diet I’ve felt unfulfilled. I had a lethargic attitude, with little energy.
– “Is this what my life is going to be like?” I’d started to ask myself.
I didn’t feel I could reach any destination with the little drive and constant fatigue that I had. People called me “Aschess” way back in high school. It’s the swiss-german word for having no drive. No interest. No direction.
I didn’t have any direction. Nor did I feel I wanted to.
Only later did I realize that it could all be linked to my eating habits. I was eating poison, not fuel. In hindsight, I was a monkey.
The pleasure-chasing money
Farmers and hunters in third world countries have been catching monkeys for centuries. The way they do it is by setting up a trap. A container, filled with fruits.
The container contains two holes, one on the top, one on the bottom. The hole on the top is not big enough to get the food out, the fruits get sneaked in from the bottom by the trap-setters.
Then they wait. Every once in a while a monkey approaches and tries desperately to retrieve the fruit through the top-hole. The farmers or hunters slowly move in but the monkey can’t let go of the fruit. It got competing demands.
The monkey wants to keep the fruit more than it wants to keep its freedom. At the moment of life or death, it couldn’t let go of the enticing promise.
If the monkey just surrendered what it was holding onto, it would be living a free life. At the sight of the dangerous humans, it could have dropped the food, pull out his limbs and flee the scene. Yet it didn’t. It couldn’t.
Monkeys get caught with pleasure traps.
Little did I know that I was also caught in a pleasure trap set up by the food industry.
Pleasure vs Motivation
I am not a big fan of Sigmund Freud and his theories. Yet what I agree with him on is that every human being deals with competing interests.
At 2am in the morning, we decide that we want to better our life in an instant. The next day we catch ourselves scrolling mindlessly through Facebook.
This phenomena can be explained by the motivational triad. Living beings are motivated by three things:
- Pleasure seeking
- Pain avoidance
- Energy conservation
These 3 motivators are omnipresent. We want to get in better shape because we seek the envious stares of our friends at the beach – we seek pleasure. Or because we hate seeing an unhealthy number on the weighing scale – pain avoidance.
But probably one of the strongest motivators is energy conservation. We want to spend as little energy as we possibly can.
If we expended energy like no tomorrow, we would’ve not be able to survive in scarce times.
Are you eating fuel or poison?
Our food choices are based on the motivational triad. We seek energy-dense, easy to eat food that give us maximum mouth pleasure. That’s why Nutella is so popular all around the world.
Nutella is a snack, carefully formulated to appeal to our innate pleasure seeking and energy conservation factors. It’s perfectly manufactured to make us addictive.
If we want to live healthy, lose weight and keep hunger at bay while eating plant-based, we have to eat fuel, not poison.
Eat fuel: The 3 distinctive factors
Filter your foods through these 3 filters and they will help you keep hunger at bay and lose weight. This helps you avoid the pleasure trap.
Filter #1: It’s vegan.
“First, nutrition is the master key to human health. Second, what most of us think of as proper nutrition—isn’t.” — Dr. Colin Campbell
If there’s one thing we have to realize, it’s that meat and dairy is not a super package.
There is not a single gram of fiber to be found in animal products. Fiber helps us feel satiated and feeds our healthy gut microbiome. Also plant-based foods have up to 33 times more antioxidans than animal products.
Filter #2: It’s unprocessed.
Mother Nature’s powers cannot be stuffed into a pill. — Dr. Michael Greger, MD
The food is not fancy packaged. Most of the best food choices can be found in the produce isle.
In processed foods we can often find added salt, sugar and other artifical sweeteners. Processed foods (even when vegan) also often contain less fiber. For example brown rice is to be preferred over white rice, because white rice is a processed product. It’s fiber content is greatly diminished.
I have seen great results just by switching white rice with brown rice in my clients’ diets.
Filter #3: It’s solid.
All our calories should always come in solid form. This increases our satiety and is way more healthy.
We should minimize our soda intake. Eliminating soda and smoothies out of our diets, for weight loss, can dramatically increase our progress.
What to eat in a day
This is a sample meal plan of how your day could look like. This meal plan is not meant to be followed 1:1. Pick what works for you and disregard what doesn’t.
This day is taken out from my popular article:
Total stats of this plan is:
1872 calories, 244g carbs (61%), 71g fat (18%), 85g protein (21%), 59g fiber
For the average women (5’4”, 126 pounds, moderately active, age: 26-45), this is a calorie deficit of about 100 calories.
For the average men (5’10”, 154 pounds, moderately active, age: 26-45), this is a calorie deficit of about 700.
The goal deficit for sustainable weight loss is about 300 calories. For the most effective results, the average women should therefore eat a little bit less (minimize the nuts). And the average men should eat a little bit more (add handful of nuts and berries throughout the day).
(734 calories, 98g carbs, 27g fats, 32g protein, 20g fiber)
- 1 banana
- 1 pear, stoned
- 1 date, stoned
- 3 tablespoons almonds
- 1 tablespoon flaxseeds
- 1 tablespoon hemp flour
- 1/2 tablespoon carob powder
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 250ml soy milk
- Cut the banana, pear, dates and almonds into pieces (size to your personal liking).
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the soy milk.
Green Salad with Edamame and Beets
(271 calories, 30g carbs, 8g fat, 21g protein, 12g fiber)
- 2 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1/2 medium beet, shredded
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine greens, edamame, beet and cilantro.
- Top with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Handful of Pecan Nuts
(301 calories, 6g carbs, 31g fat, 4g protein, 4g fiber)
- Put a handful of antioxidant-rich nuts in your hands.
- Then eat it. Simple.
Rice, Kale and Beans Combination
(566 calories, 110 carbs, 5g fat, 28g protein, 23g fiber)
- 1 cup brown rice
- 200g kale
- 2 cups Kidney Beans
- Cook the brown rice and the kale in a medium-sized pot.
- Add the kidney beans in a pan with a little bit of water.
- When the ingredients are ready: Drain the water.
- Add a tablespoon of flaxseeds (approx. 50 calories) for extra crunchiness and health.
We humans are caught up in pleasure traps in our dietary decisions. Too often we eat food that is silently poisoning us. It’s time to stop being a monkey.
We need to fuel our precious engine instead of clogging it. Spare parts are few and there’s a waiting list. Repairing costs are expensive, especially in countries with no health coverage.
Therefore we should pay special attention to where our food comes from, it’s level of manufacturing and consistency of substance.
This way, we’re not only fueling our body, we’re also paving our way to our best shape ever.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com