The health & fitness industry is riddled with half-baked information and pushy marketing, which is making it difficult for beginners to achieve their goals. This is especially true with weight loss where many experts claim to have trimmed their waistline by drinking “lemon tea” or eating “quinoa” taking special shakes, detoxing etc. This is a huge problem, one that we need to address in order for people to see the results they want to experience.
If your journey to a vegan or plant based lifestyle is about your health and or losing weight the same principals apply.
In this article, we’ll discuss two brutal truths that will eliminate the misconceptions and guide you towards your fitness journey from the perspective of the leading personal trainer in Bentleigh East.
How do I lose weight?
To lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you burn
Let’s get one thing straight; we all have different metabolic rates. It’s true that not all calories are created equal and some people have medical conditions that make weight loss quite difficult. But for the vast majority of us, the most well-known and scientifically-backed way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn. This is called the calorie deficit. Plain and simple. Starting a plant based diet is a really efficient way to enter a calorie deficit.
Still, that weight loss may not happen as quickly as you’d hope. If you undergo a strict calorie reduction plan, you may not lose weight for a week. That’s because restricting your calorie intake triggers an influx of cortisol in your body. This, in turn, increases the amount of fluid you retain. But everything evens out after a while (which is why some people will suddenly lose weight over the course of a few days).
Say your goal was to lose 2kg a month. To achieve that, on average you’ll need to reduce 300-500 calories to your daily intake. Depending on your current activity level, you can do this in two ways;
1. by eating 500 calories less, or
2. by burning 500 calories.
Some people use a combination of the two to make things easier.
Do that consistently for a month and you will lose 2kg. If you don’t lose 2kg, that means you calculated your calories wrong. Either you undercounted the number of calories you ate, or you overcounted the number of calories you burned.
Regardless of what type of diet you’re following, remember the weighing scale isn’t always going to go down. During your exercise schedule you may build some lean muscle. This is great, however it will effect weight loss.
How can I build muscles?
To build muscles, you need to progressively overload your muscles
If you are trying to building muscle, you should not eat at such a high calorie deficit or you should actually eat caloric neutral, calories in = calories out. To build muscle you'll also need to incorporate 2-3 weight training sessions per week. This is where progressive overload comes in. Progressive overload is about consistently challenging your muscles by either increasing the weight, volume, and or repetitions of your exercises.
In regards to diet, of importance is your consumption of protein. There are many plant based protein sources out there. The trick is to ensure that on a daily basis you get enough varied protein to make sure you cover the 9 essential amino acids found in protein rich foods to allow your body to use the protein correctly. Consuming all essential amino acids is a must for your body to use these proteins as nutrients to rebuild your muscles after your workout. The My Vegan Meal Plan program will ensure you receive a healthy amount and variation of proteins.
Your body is excellent at adapting to its environment. When you do 100 body weight squats for three weeks straight, your body will definitely see improvements. But do that for more than a month, and you’ll notice that the changes will be quite minimal at best. This is because your body has adapted to the stress you’ve been placing and it needs a new stimulus to further grow your muscles. To avoid plateauing, you need to apply progressive overload to your workouts. Say for example you’re doing squats at 3 sets of 6 reps at 40kg. To overload your muscles, you need to increase the number of reps per set. If you are looking for strength gains, not just building muscle, its advisable to keep the reps low and increase the weight (load). This is a topic we will cover at a later date.
There are many ways you can progressively overload your muscles and the key is to make the workouts more challenging. Of course, you need to feed your muscles in order for them to grow so it’s extremely crucial that you monitor your calories as well.
Utilising these two methods to reach your fitness goals
Given what we discussed, filtering the right information from the wrong information has certainly been made easier. Don’t get sucked into all the marketing and quick-fix proposals because it takes time, effort, consistency, and dedication to see meaningful changes in your body.
If your goal is to lose weight, then you need to be in a caloric deficit. What is a calorie deficit?
Simply put, you enter a caloric deficit by being under your daily calorie intake. Whether it be burning more calories or eating fewer foods, supplying your body with limited energy will trigger the weight loss response.
If your goal is to build muscle, then you may need to take in more calories than you normally do. By being in a caloric surplus, you’re encouraging your body to grow. Combine this with weight training and progressive overload, and you’ll be increasing your lean body mass sooner than later.
Keep in mind that these methods are not the be-all-end-all for weight loss and muscle building as there are plenty of other factors that need to be considered. But at the end of the day, for the vast majority of us that have a clear medical history and no lingering injuries, following these two methods will help maximise your results in terms of dieting and working out.