I often get asked what my diet regime is, and while I'm happy to share tips, I always have to put a disclaimer on it that goes something like this:
This is what works for me: It helps me maintain the physique I have, which is 83 kg in weight and approximately 8% body fat. I never weigh food or count calories; I simply don't believe in that. Those are unnatural habits which, if obsessed over, can lead to psychological issues. Just train hard and regularly, and maintain a non-processed, plant-based food diet.
After 24 years of playing football, running, lifting weights, doing body-weight exercises, Wing Chun (it's a martial art) and various other sports, I instinctively know what my body needs and when. I know how it will respond to an increase in protein or carbs, and how I can lose that extra bit of belly fat if I need to.
I take a holistic, spiritual approach to fitness in that I feel my way through it. I listen to my body and Mother Nature. I suggest you do the same.
If you are a vegan athlete with specific fitness goals, then you need to consult a personal trainer or nutritionist to help you identify the plant-based foods that will help you achieve that.
I can't guarantee that eating like me will help you stack on muscle, or make you win that match or race, but I can give you an insight into healthy vegan eating that will put you on the right road to becoming a better athlete.
My Vegan Diet Plan
What you will notice about my diet is the balance of beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables, greens, whole grains and nuts and seeds. There are so many variations to vegan meals.
I keep mine pretty simple because I don't have a great deal of time for preparation, but as long as you incorporate these staple foods, you can experiment until your palette is content.
Breakfast – 7.30 AM:
Porridge or oatmeal, with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, almonds or peanuts, banana (or two).
Half a litre of water
Option 2 (in a hurry):
Green smoothie: Organic kale, spinach (try red sometimes too), acai berries/blueberries/whatever berries I have, a bananas, tablespoon of flax seed. You can add coconut milk too if you like. I really do experiment with whatever I have in the bowl/fridge.
Double helpings of nut butter on 4 slices of wholemeal toast. (Get 1kg of nut butter for crazy cheap here).
** Whatever breakfast option I eat, I always take my GHC B12 supplement.
Post Exercise – 10.30 AM:
Pea protein shake with a scoop of ground flax seed and whatever fruit is in the basket.
To buy awesome pea, soy, brown rice and vegan blend protein shakes, click here to check out myprotein.com
Homemade shake: Cashew nut milk blended with a scoop of flax seed and mango, guava, watermelon or whatever fruit you like.
Lunch – 12.30 PM:
Raw green beans and spirulina noodles, mixed with olives in a vegan tomato pasta sauce.
Lentils with brown rice and lemongrass sauce. On the side: organic, raw baby tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots, with humous as a dip.
Pack of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, possibly peanuts or other nuts, depending on what I've had earlier in the day.
If you work out in the afternoon, or you'd prefer not to have a shake in the morning, then you may want to have a vegan protein shake here.
Boiled spinach, morning glory, mushrooms (Cremini,Shiitake or Porcini) tofu or tempeh, sweet potatoes or yams. A sprinkle of turmeric to flavour.
Boiled broccoli or brussels sprouts, sometimes asparagus, pumpkin or butternut squash, beetroot as a side. I also throw in brown pasta – with herbs like parsley, thyme and oregano mixed in for flavour – once, sometimes twice, a week.
Pre-Bedtime Snack (if hungry):
Puffed wheat cereal with soy milk (fortified with vitamin B12)
Or a piece of fruit or two. Apples are good for staving off hunger without loading you with calories just before bed.
I have never considered myself a bodybuilder because I don't train to for size. I do enjoy weight training but I find it gets boring and I can't be doing with tracking macros (macronutrients), rest times between sets and that sort of thing. It's my personal opinion that people over focus on these things instead of learning to listen and understand their body.
I enjoy what I refer to as “primal training”, which in essence is responding to what your body is craving. Sometimes I want to just run around playing football for hours, other times I like to do a week of body weight exercises (calisthenics), and if I'm stressed I'll go to the gym and hit the weights hard and fast.
I'm not trying to be a body model; I don't have the stats, body, or the ego for it I just like exercising and eating healthy and where possible helping others do the same.
As we know, the way your body develops is largely based on genetics, unless you distort that with performance enhancing drugs, which I'm strongly against — not least because most aren't vegan!
Personally, I have always found my back and shoulders put on muscle very easily, as does my chest, so I tend not to over train it with weights. However, no matter how low my body fat my abs are genetically challenged, so to speak, and never develop much past what you see here. I tend to get a prominent 4-pack at best. This runs through the men in my family.
But what's more important than how you look is what's going on inside. As we all know, a person can be shredded but very unfit and unhealthy due to the amount of dairy, meat and processed sugary foods they eat. My advice is to focus on the inside, and then the outside will naturally take care of itself.
What does a typical vegan meal plan look like for you? Leave it in the comments section below.