Why does exercise cause you to lose weight? Everything that I have read up to this point has based it either on the the calories burned, the metabolism-raising effect of weight-lifting, or the HGH release of HIIT and its afterburn effect. However, today I came across this:
“…a study published in July by Paul MacLean and his colleagues at the University of Colorado at Denver revealed new insight into exercise and weight loss: Physical activity reduces weight by increasing the brain’s sensitivity to appetite-suppressing hormones like leptin and insulin more so than by burning calories. According to MacLean, it may make the brain ‘more receptive to what the leptin and insulin are trying to say.’”
It’s sad that the misconception that vegan diets do not contain enough protein, at least for large, muscular, athletic men, persists. At dinner over the weekend, a discussion began among a group of friends about vegetarian and vegan diets. Multiple friends expressed disbelief about the ability of a vegan diet to sustain heavily active individuals. One of the guys present, who was very well built and a personal trainer, challenged, “Could you design for me a vegan 4000 calorie diet that contained 250g of protein?” to which I emphatically replied, “Yes!”
There are countless examples of vegan athletes, ranging from bodybuilders to Ironman competitors and ultra-marathoners.
The most famous and notable example is Brendan Brazier, a professional Ironman triathlete, author of THRIVE: A guide to optimal health and performance through plant-based whole foods and The Thrive Diet, creator of the whole foods nutritional products company VEGA, and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. Although Brendan is just one shining example of athletic success on a plant-based diet, other examples abound. One such is Rich Roll, one of Men’s Fitness magazine’s “25 Fittest Guys in the World” in 2009 and the first vegan athlete to compete in the Ultraman World Championships. This article on CNN describes how he turned around his health and fitness at the age of 40 when he switched to a vegan diet, and two years later placed 11th in the Ultraman World Championships. Rich gives this advice about one’s diet: “[a diet of] plant-based foods and completely devoid of animal products is optimal. Conventional wisdom would say that an athlete cannot perform on plants alone. But I am living proof that this is false, and I have ample research to support this position… I cannot overemphasize the difference this has made in my own life, a secret weapon for enhanced athletic performance and overall long-term wellness. I realize, of course, that not everyone is ready to go 100 percent vegan, but a program built on a strong foundation of fresh organic vegetables, fruits and grains should be the focus… Eating whole fresh foods high in nutritional content will also stave off those unhealthy urges to binge.”
An answer to the age old question, “But how do you get your protein?” can be answered by many vegan bodybuilders on the website VeganBodybuilding.com. Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke explains, “I pay special attention to protein and my main protein sources come from hemp, soy, tempeh, nuts, beans, lentils, grains and a variety of powders and bars including complete meal replacements, adding up to 200-300 grams per day. Tofu, a soy product, typically has 10-20 grams of protein per serving. Soy also has a Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) of 1.0, which is the highest protein rating for a food to have, and it scores higher than beef protein. Hemp is one of the best sources of protein, period. It is alkalizing, packed full of nutrients, and is grown from the most sustainable methods, making it arguably the best resource. We often hear about protein combinations to make a complete protein. This is an accumulation of essential amino acids. Combining sources such as hemp, rice and pea provide a powerful amino acid profile for enhanced biomechanical efficiency.”
I personally do not eat very many grains as a protein source, but instead get my protein from vegan protein powders (such as brown rice and pea isolate), beans, tofu, nuts- especially almonds, soy milk, vegetables (yes, vegetables have protein!) and the occasional soy cheese. After analyzing my protein intake on a site such as FitDay.com, I have found that I have an approximate intake of 90g of protein (substantial).
There is protein present in a variety of fruits and vegetables. While fruits and vegetables do not contain as high of a percentage of protein as meats, they are less calorically dense and so more can be eaten to obtain more protein for the same amount of calories (in some, not all, cases). A comparison of percent protein in vegetables, fruits, and meat.
- Broccoli: 11 percent
- Spinach: 11 percent
- Peas: 7 percent
- Cucumbers: 6 percent
- Oranges: 7 percent
- Romaine lettuce: 7 percent
- Watermelon: 7 percent
- Artichoke: 7 percent
- Pork loin: 10 percent
- 80-20 Ground beef: 10 percent
- Boneless, skinless, chicken breast: 23 percent
Lastly, VeganAthlete.com provides a list of other no-meat world-class athletes, in both strength and endurance:
Olympic figure skating champion
Davis Cup winner and professional tennis star
Olympic wrestling champion
Six-time Ironwoman, USA track and field Master’s champion
World-champion middleweight boxer
Professional football star, Heisman trophy winner
European super heavy-weight boxing champion
Ultramarathoner, Course Record Holder at Badwater and Western States
World record holder, 24-hour triathlon
Cheryl Marek and Estelle Gray
World record holders, cross-country tandem cycling
U.S. Master’s marathon champion
World champion gymnast
Long-distance runner, winner of nine Olympic medals and 20 world records
Four-time Mr. Universe
World record-holding swimmer
World weightlifting record holder, bench press
Swimmer, winner of many Olympic gold medals and world records
Six-time winner of the Ironman triathlon
Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs MVP defensive end, Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame
U.S. National marathon champion
Charlene Wong Williams
Olympic champion figure skater
My beautiful birthday feast, vegan style:
From left to right, sliced red bell pepper, a huge salad, margarita glasses filled with toasted pecans, Trader Joe’s sparkling water, sautéed tofu with onions and garlic, and sauteed eggplant. It was deeeelicious. I love me some salad! And frankly, toasted pecans are as gourmet as they get. They’re like crack. Seriously, they are addictive. If you have never toasted pecans before, do it now. Go. It’s easy, and fast!
My all-time favorite salad topper and a staple in our house, these nuts will change your life. They are addictive!
Pecans, any amount
Preheat the oven to 400º. Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until fragrant. Check them at the 5 minute mark and watch them closely, because they burn quickly. Enjoy!
The tofu was also really delicious, and another very easy recipe.
This is my go-to method for preparing tofu, it’s quick and easy with zero prep time.
One package firm/extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive or sesame oil
Heat the oil in a skillet. Drain all of the water off the tofu, holding it over the sink and letting it drip for a minute. Some recipes recommend you press the tofu, but I do not find it necessary. Dice into cubes that are approximately 1/2″ thick. Add the tofu and the onions to the heated skillet and begin to sauté at medium heat, stirring or tossing the pan every few minutes to turn the tofu. After about 5 minutes, add the vinegar and soy sauce, continuing to stir. After another 5 minutes, add the garlic, being careful not to let it burn (garlic burns easily). Continue to cook another 5 minutes, or until the tofu is lightly browned on most sides. If you want, season the tofu however you prefer. Enjoy!
The lovely salad consisted of a blend of greens, including arugula and butter lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, bell peppers, and cauliflower. It was a rather easy, simple dinner and a great evening spent with friends. I hope everyone else had a nice Valentine’s Day as well. Even if you just curled up on the couch with a chocolate bar and watched the latest episode of New Girl!
Did you do anything fun yesterday, be it for Valentine’s Day or Single’s Awareness Day?
-Over and Out
Oh, Valentine’s Day. Some love you, some hate you, and some flat-out ignore you, generally depending on their relationship status. I happen to be single, for the 20th consecutive Valentines Day. It is hard not to be a little bitter, especially when today also marks my 20th consecutive year of being single on my birthday. However, I know that I am loved. In fact, my best friend just texted me to declare her undying love to me (love you too, SBF!). More than that, however, I believe every day is, or should be, Valentine’s Day.
Why does our society need Valentines Day to show love to each other? What is so spectacular about Februrary 14th that it results in millions of roses, chocolates, wine, dates (and possibly babies)? If you really love someone, you should be showing that love every day, and I believe that most do. Love does not need to be a big production, a fancy declaration accompanied by flowers and candies. Love doesn’t need to be a long-awaited reunion in the rain or a meeting at the top of the Empire State Building. Love is shown everyday, in the little ways we speak our love: our Love Language.
I was pretty certain that my Love Language was either Service or Quality Time. I was correct (it’s both), according to The Five Love Languages which explains Love Languages and has a quiz to help you determine yours. However, knowing your Love Language isn’t as important as recognizing the Love Language of others. We all have different Love Languages, and if we do not understand that others show their love in different ways than we do personally, we can miss or misunderstand their signs of love. For example, my family is not big on Giving Gifts. Our Love Languages tend to be Service and Quality Time, and Giving Gifts is not a language that we understand very well. However, Giving Gifts is my grandma’s primary Love Language. It baffles and even frustrates my family to be showered with clothes, money, food, and other presents that we do not think we need. We cannot understand why Grandma persists on giving us gifts and bringing us food when we have told her that it is not necessary. The explanation is simple: she is speaking her Love Language. That is how she shows her love, and it is the only way she knows.
I know that many women complain that their men are not romantic enough, or never show their love. I think that these men do, and their wives/girlfriends are missing their men’s Love Language. I have observed that men often show their love through small actions, not grandiose gestures. Did he unclog the toilet and fix the leaky faucet last week? Did he change the oil in your car? Did he rub your stinky feet last night? Did he fetch your wallet from your purse while you were shopping online? Did he listen while you complained about your co-workers? Did he feed your cat? These are all the little ways he shows his love. The same goes for women, who usually have different styles of Love Languages than men. The point is, every day, we engage in behaviors that show those around us that we love and care for them. Every day, we speak our individual Love Language. This is why every day is Valentine’s Day.
The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince. -Vince Lombardi