The Vegan Diet: An Introduction

The vegan diet is an entirely plant based diet, which in other words means that products that contain animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy are not consumed at all. Research suggests that people who are following vegan diet are tending to have a lower body mass index (BMI). This indicates that vegan diet aids with weight loss, also people who are vegan are more likely to make weight-conscious decisions.

Some studies have examined the effect of different diets such as vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and omnivorous diet on weight loss. The results concluded that the group of people on vegan diet lost the more weight compared to other diets and also their saturated fats consumption has decreased.  Another study examined vegan and vegetarian diets, which has shown that plant-based diets were more effective for weight loss accompanied with health improvements such as lower cholesterol and decreased risk of cancer, compared to omnivorous diets.

Following the vegetarian or vegan type of diet has been shown to boost metabolism, which means that more calories could be burned while at rest, making weight loss more effective. Therefore, following vegan diets has shown to have many health benefits. This means that people consume less processed or pre-packed food that contain animal products, which eventually allows them to consume fresh and whole foods instead.

The following of plant-based diet or vegan diet is associated with lower risk of cancer, reduced risk of stroke, reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol, lower risk of diabetes and lower blood glucose. On the other hand, it may also have its cons when adhering to vegan diet. Animal products naturally contain vitamin-B12, which means that it has to be supplemented or find other sources. There is potential for vegans to become deficient in iron, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin D, protein, and omega 3, if foods containing all these are not consumed.

It is important to mention that for every diet, the key to successful weight loss is to consume lesser calories than are burned when exercising or doing daily activities. People that want to lose weight using vegan diet should consume mainly fibre-rich fruits e.g. berries, apples, citruses and others; also fibre rich and leafy vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, sprouts, spinach, kale; fats coming from avocado, olive oil, nuts & seeds; protein sources should be mainly coming from tofu, soy, soy milk, beans, lentils, seitan, tempeh; whole grains such as oats, brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain bread.

On the other hand, people who want to be vegan and lose weight should avoid processed meat substitutes, vegan deserts, and processed snacks as some of them contain high amounts of sugar and saturated fats. Following plant-based diet has its positives from the perspective of consuming more plant foods, probiotics and fibres.

However, this can be healthy lifestyle diet and can be used for weight loss as well, but individuals taking this approach should be cautious of the deficits of some vitamins and minerals that are absent in vegan diet. Some nutritional deficits can be replenished by using vegan supplements, otherwise the lack of macronutrients and micronutrients may lead to disruptions in homeostasis.

Ibrahim

References:

Dinu, M., Abbate, R., Gensini, G. F., Casini, A., & Sofi, F. (2017). Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: a systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition57(17), 3640-3649.

Turner-McGrievy, G. M., Davidson, C. R., Wingard, E. E., Wilcox, S., & Frongillo, E. A. (2015). Comparative effectiveness of plant-based diets for weight loss: a randomized controlled trial of five different diets. Nutrition31(2), 350-358.

Paleo Diet: Genius or Fad?

What is it?

Paleo diet, also known as Paleolithic diet, caveman diet or stone-age diet is an approach to nutrition which mirrors the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors that inhabited the world between 2.5 million to 10.000 years ago.

Paleo diet typically consists of foods that could basically be either hunted or gathered in nature without the need of modern agriculture and farming. This includes lean meats, fish, eggs, fruits, some vegetables, nuts, and seeds. On the other hand the foods that are being avoided can be listed as , yet are not limited to, grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, salt, potatoes, and any highly processed food

Why go Paleo?

The main purpose of this diet is to get rid of all the processed foods that are the staples of our modern western diets.  The reasoning behind it all stems from the fact that processed foods are usually denser in calories which makes it easier to put on weight while making it harder to feel full & satisfied, they are lower in micronutrients which may lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long run, and they also usually tend to be higher on the glycemic-index (especially processed carbohydrates) that can cause unwanted fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

There is also a common belief that the “Paleo foods” are the foods that we are evolved to digest better and thrive on. Considering that our ancestors were following a more physically active lifestyles and diets consisting of whole foods, the occurrence of our modern lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease was much lower. Therefore the expected health benefits of their diet can be listed as:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved glucose tolerance
  • Better blood pressure control
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Better appetite management

 What is it not?

It is most certainly not a magical diet where all you need to pay attention to happens to be just a list of foods to lose weight, and live forever. What diets like these cunningly hide from their following is that the foods that they are eliminating usually tend to contribute a high amount of calories to their standard diets in the first place. And by cutting out those foods, the total caloric intake will almost always be reduced to significant degree.

While for example diets such as low-carb or Keto remove carbohydrates that make up to almost 60% of total caloric intake on average, Paleo diet revolves around eliminating highly processed foods that are a lot higher in calories than most of the foods nature has to offer. And through this clever distraction people end up eating less than they would otherwise.

Another problem with such diets is that they tend to take their roots from any beneficial minor findings on the field of obesity research, and quickly turn them into a be all – end all marketing miracles. With Paleo diet come the new wave of packaged Paleo products which are most of the time not much different than what is already on the market yet have double the price.

Last but not least as romantic as it feels to follow the footsteps of our ancestors we also have to remember that human evolution did not stop in Paleolithic times, and we are still going through various adaptations to our environment and diet. With that said I hope that we can learn from our past, while avoiding to become a zealot for a certain diet.

Aydin Parmaksizoglu

References:

Gunnars, K., 2018. The Paleo Diet — A Beginner’s Guide + Meal Plan. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/paleo-diet-meal-plan-and-menu#TOC_TITLE_HDR_12&gt; [Accessed 16 March 2021].

James, W., Johnson, R., Speakman, J., Wallace, D., Frühbeck, G., Iversen, P. and Stover, P., 2019. Nutrition and its role in human evolution. Journal of Internal Medicine, 285(5), pp.533-549.

McDonald, L., 2014. The Women’s Book: A Guide to Nutrition, Fat Loss, and Muscle Gain. 1st ed. Lyle McDonald.

Mayo Clinic. 2020. Paleo diet: Eat like a cave man and lose weight?. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182&gt; [Accessed 16 March 2021].

Importance of Post-Workout Nutrition

Many of us know how important the relationship between nutrition and sporting performance is. Usually the main goals of the post workout nutrition are to recover the body from the physiological stress that it went through and prepare it for upcoming activities. Post workout nutrition aims to replenish glycogen that was used during the workout, to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, reduce catabolic processes within the body, and reduce muscle fatigue and soreness.

Of course, the post workout nutrition consists mainly of protein, carbohydrates, and fats but also water, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and all these nutrients can be consumed in the form of whole foods or supplements. However, the post workout nutrition depends on the goals of an individual. Keep in mind that post workout nutrition of a person who wants to lose fat is significantly different than the person who wants to pack on muscle mass, also their training programs will be individual too.

The post workout meal is all about replenishing what was lost during workout in order to optimize recovery process. Providing the body with the right combination of nutrients is essential for maximizing recovery. Some people prefer to take nutritional supplements to optimize recovery. However, according to a study on using carbohydrate & fat for training and recovery the only people who need to really concern themselves with immediately re-fueling, replenishing glycogen, post workout are those who may have another hard training session within an 8-hour window.

As we know intense workouts can cause break down of muscle protein, and studies have shown that consuming a protein and carbohydrate combination right after an intensive workout, can raise the insulin levels and blunt the effects of muscle protein breakdown. Also it is mentioned that this effect can be achieved by consuming well balanced meal 60+ minutes post workout. On the other hand, muscle protein synthesis is highly desired by many sporting individuals.

Studies suggest that an increase in essential amino acids in the bloodstream has great results on improving the rate of muscle protein synthesis, but other studies have found no significant change. However, another study points to a greater response when protein/carbohydrate is consumed up to 1 hour before workout, which makes sense as we consider the digestion time and the float of amino acid in the blood stream.

Also, another factor is the muscle hypertrophy which is an enlargement of the muscle tissue. Researchers suggest that hypertrophy can be greatly stimulated by consuming pre and post workout supplements. So a question might arise, “Do you need supplements immediately after workout?, according to studies is NO, unless your goal is to “bulk up” or you have multiple workouts in less than 8 hours frame during the day in order to optimize recovery.

Researches seems to support that you would be better off eating a protein / carbohydrate-based meal PRE- workout in order to blunt the effects of muscle breakdown, and promote glycogen replenishment, protein synthesis, and probably hypertrophy. But hey, it really comes down to your individual goals and training, be creative and find what works best for your body and goals. If you see your desired results, keep going with what you are doing, if not make some another changes and find your balance.

By Ibrahim

References:

Burke, L., Kiens, B., & Ivy, J. (2004). Carbohydrates and fat for training recovery. Journal of Sport Sciences, 22, 15-30

Cribb, P., & Hayes, A. (2006). Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 06, 1918-1925.

Newton, P. J. Post Workout Nutrition.

Stark, M., Lukaszuk, J., Prawitz, A., & Salacinski, A. (2012). Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(54), 1-8.

Nutrition Strategies For Bodybuilding

Unlike most other sports that use resistance training as a part of their training routine, sports like bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting solely focus primarily on resistance training with very little accessory work. Among these sports bodybuilding’s primary goal is to induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy.

Bodybuilders follow a special type of training style, usually of a greater volume with higher numbers of repetitions and sets per each muscle group, with very little rest times in between. This leads to the fact that the sport of bodybuilding also requires a hypertrophy focused diet. Therefore it is widely accepted in literature that high carbohydrate and high protein intakes are crucial for bodybuilders in that they help fuel demanding workouts, whilst also boosting recovery, and maintaining anabolism. 

Helms, Aragon and Fitschen (2014) claim that most bodybuilding athletes would respond best to consuming 2.3-3.1g/kg of lean body mass per day of protein, about 15-30% of estimated energy intake from fat, and the rest of calories in the form of carbohydrates. On the other hand Lambert, Frank and Evans (2004) argue that bodybuilders should consume about 55-60% of their EEI (Estimated Energy Intake) in form of carbohydrates, about 25-30% in form of protein and the remaining 15-20% as fat, for both the off-season as well as the pre-contest phases (see table below).

Table 1. Comparison between recommended macronutrient breakdowns from literature

MacronutrientHelms, Aragon and FitschenLambert, Frank and Evans
Protein2.3-3.1g/kg BW25-30% EEI
CarbohydrateRest55-60% EEI
Fat15-30% EEI15-20% EEI

As pointed out earlier during both off-season and pre-contest phases 25-30% of calories should come in the form of protein. This is not only because of proteins contribution to optimal hypertrophy and prevention of muscle loss, but also due to its relatively large thermic effects which could assist in reducing or maintaining body fat levels. Antonio et al. (2015) also suggests that the consumption of a high protein diet (3.4g/kg/d) whilst following a resistance-training programme may aid with regards to body composition. Antonio et al. (2016) also denies the claims that a high protein diet might have negative health effects due to a lack of evidence in scientific literature.

The consumption of 55-60% of calories in form of carbohydrates in both off-season and pre-contest periods is considered to be beneficial in regards to maintenance of training intensity. Guidelines on this field suggest an intake of carbohydrates up to 6g/kg of body mass for male strength athletes.

When it comes to the third macronutrient that is fat it is important to find the optimal range for the individual athlete as excess dietary fat (especially saturated) can increase the occurrence of coronary artery disease whilst an intake below requirements can result in a reduction in circulating testosterone, which is extremely counter-productive. That is why Lambert, Frank and Evans (2004) recommends an intake of fat that would comprise 15-20% of the athletes’ off-season and pre-contest diet.

Finally the fluid consumption also requires close monitoring. Leiper, Carnie and Maughan (1996) express that the daily amount of fluid loss can exceed 3L in inactive populations, and this number in active populations can almost reach up to 5L.

Aydin Parmaksizoglu

IG: aydinpar

References:

(Slater and Phillips, 2011)

(Lambert and Flynn, 2002)

(Lambert, Frank and Evans, 2004)

Fresh Food is the Best Food!

Many people are aware of the relationship between food and our health. Through the choices we make every day we can change our physiological wellbeing in a positive or negative way. However, in this Covid-19 pandemic situation people tend to get more packed and processed foods, on the other hand fresh fruits, veggies and whole non-processed foods are left behind as a food choice. This might be because of the fresh foods short expiry dates or the opportunity for people to go out shopping every day, which led to stocking of long lasting products that fill up shelves in our homes.

All this can make daily food consumption monotonous and poor in macro and micro nutrients such as the quality protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, which in theory we know a lot about but we do not apply in practice. Therefore it is necessary to change the processed foods with foods rich in quality macro and micro nutrients as well as antioxidants.

Why we should do this? Well, here are some important reasons of why we should consume whole and fresh foods more frequently to boost our diet and therefore our health:

  • The modern diet is expensive for our immune systems – nearly 70% of our immune cells are present in our digestive system which ultimately makes these cells in direct contact with the food we consume on daily basis;
  • It makes a difference in our bodies of what food source we feed it with – processed food requires less energy to digest and absorb, while non-processed food not only gives the body with quality micro and macro nutrients, but it also take part in many important vital processes within the body;
  • Food is not just a fuel, and our body is not a machine that just requires it – many people understand the importance on the food choices, and for them is important only to have sources of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, but they do not look at the quality of them. This is a huge factor, and the better the quality of the food, the better the physiological response of our bodies will be when food is digested and absorbed. So here it is, food is not just fuel, but it is also information to our bodies.

It is commonly mentioned that eating healthy and well is expensive and takes a lot of time. This can be partially true and depends on factors such as; considering your budget that is for food only, getting to know the prices and the place you buy products, planning beforehand, also good organisation while shopping, and last but not least being creative when cooking in the kitchen.

So, to save some time for menu refreshing it is always good to put some effort in our habits such as planning, organised shopping, and creative imagination in the kitchen. Also it’s good always to involve members of your household in all this as you give everyone appropriate tasks to do, as it breaks the barrier of boredom whilst at home.

The importance of Vitamin D

Why do I need vitamin D?

Vitamin D is important to your body to help absorb calcium and promote bone growth  and keeping teeth strong. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. Too little vitamin D results in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia). Vitamin D plays an important role for other important body functions such as regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system. Vitamin D also plays major roles in the life cycle of human cells. Vitamin D is so important that your body makes it by itself but only after skin exposure to sufficient sunlight. This is a problem for people in northern climates.

Here are possible 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:

  • Getting Sick or Infected Often
  • Fatigue and Tiredness
  • Bone and Back Pain
  • Depression
  • Impaired Wound Healing
  • Bone Loss
  • Hair Loss
  • Muscle Pain

Good sources of vitamin D

From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors. But between October and early March we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods

Sources include:

  • oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel)
  • red meat
  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods
  • or dietary supplements.

Your body doesn’t make too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

If you have any questions about vitamin D, please speak to out Fitness Professionals at SportsDock.

 

written by Jelena

 

What is the scale telling us?

In this day and age, many people are concerned with the concept of weight. Many see having high weight on the scales or gaining weight as a bad thing, but what if it didn’t have to be.

Getting in shape doesn’t always mean losing weight when looking at a scale. Some people feel disheartened when they start going to the gym or attending exercise classes regularly and get on the scale only to see they are still the same weight. But this does not mean that you aren’t getting results; it’s all about knowing the difference between losing fat and losing weight.

Recently, I have seen posts on social media of people documenting how they managed to stay the same weight whilst achieving a body that they are happy with and this was by working hard to reduce body fat whilst gaining muscle which led to overall body toning. A lot of them also made conscious decisions to stop stepping on the scales and instead use transformation pictures to document their progress. The average scale cannot tell you which percentage of your body weight is fat or muscle and therefore you could be losing fat and gaining muscle and a scale would be unable to tell you that. That’s why transformation pictures are great concept because they allow you to compare your body to previous states and allow you to recognise they physical changes your body has undergone which can help highlight that your progress.

So if your next scale weigh-in has you feeling down, consider using transformation pictures to help minimise the effect the scale has on how you view your progress.

by Beverley Osei-Henewaa

A spoon full of protein

Protein Shakes; Why, when and what for? And should women drink them?

My understanding of protein is this, without it in our diets we are unable to maintain, build and repair the muscles we have. I don’t just mean the ones we have worked on tirelessly to hone and sculpt, I mean all of them. Even if you’ve never entered a gym in your life, without protein we would still not be able to build, repair and maintain our muscles. Protein is also essential to our immune system which helps us fight off disease and infection. It has also been said to help skin, hair, nails and eyes all stay healthy.

Why?

Protein can be found from many sources such as Animals (Meats like beef and chicken) or from other sources such as eggs, Nuts and Seeds, Legumes, Fruits and Cereals and Wheats. So with such a wide variety of protein sources why is it that in most gyms across the world will you see people chugging a pre or post workout protein shake? Well the answer is suggested that this is because when the protein is taken in shake form, it can be broken down quicker than when it is in a whole foods form and so it can get to work quicker.

So that answers the why a protein shake question quite easily. The answer to the when and what for questions however are slightly harder to answer. And the reason for this is because the what for will determine the when.

When?

It is widely debated that the consumption of protein post workout within a 20-60 minute window is the best way to get protein in to the system, and so help the growth and repair of the muscles that have been recently worked. I believe that it is from this stand point and assumption that the question “Should women take protein shakes?” come from.

The advertising and packaging of protein will often display a well-muscled male individual surrounded with buzz words such as growth, bulk and gain. Here they are only really highlighting one feature of the product and it is this that will probably dissuade a female consumer, as most often their goals are to reduce weight and size not increase it.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that high quality proteins are more satisfying than carbohydrates and fats and so can improve the body’s metabolism. An increase in metabolism will actually help with a fat loss target. Therefore if consumed before a workout the increase in metabolism will help the calorie burning effects during a workout.

It has also been suggested that consumption of a protein shake during a workout can also have fat loss benefits as well. This is because the protein consumed during the workout will replace the energy already expended and so you are able to push on with your workout for longer which will give you the opportunity to burn even more calories and improve fat loss.

So in conclusion, protein is an essential nutrient and so should be consumed by everyone no matter whether they are training or not. Yes a protein shake is helpful as the easily broken down protein can get to work quicker, however the when is dependent on your own personal why.

So, in short. Yes women should drink protein shakes. Yes they are more effective than protein in food and yes they can help you lose weight!

What are you on?

Fad diets… yes or no?

First things first, the word diet has been long associated with the cutting out and removal of often the ‘good’ foods we love that are often bad for us. We replace of them with something that is a real punishment for us, which is probably why like most people I have failed at sticking to a diet or twelve. But the thing is the word diet isn’t the dirty word we have made it. Diet is actually the word that describes the foot that we take in, in order to live and function and survive. A person can have either a healthy or an unhealthy diet but they can’t ever not be on a diet. When someone refers to being on a diet what they are most likely referring to is a conscious switch they have made between an unhealthy diet and a healthy diet. Our diets are made up of 3 essential Macro-nutrients called Fat, Protein and Carbohydrate and lots of Micro-nutrients such as Iron and Zinc.

Fats, Proteins and Carbohydrates are essential to our everyday living in the sense that they provide us with the energy to move and function as well as being important in the repair and protection of the body. Therefore it does not make any sense that we would follow a fad diet plan such as the Atkins Diet that totally abolishes the use of one of these sources of energy. Yes the Atkins diet has shown to have success in allowing people to lose weight, however it has also been shown that this weight loss is only in the short term and that long term benefits do not seem to be as readily achievable.

So if diet plans like Atkins isn’t our answer what is? Well it’s quite simple actually. If we put more energy in to our body than we are able to expend, then the excess energy is stored away to use at a later date, which is why we start to see fatty deposits appear on our body if this is repeated too often. Therefore, in order to reduce the excess energy stores we have built up it stands to reason that we should expend more energy than what we put in to our system. Therefore if we continue to eat as we do now but took up a lot of exercise it would be possible to increase expenditure above intake and allow us to lose weight.

However as we are looking at Diet it is also possible to do this by changing our intake. As previously stated, the food we eat is full of energy. This energy is normally called a calorie (Another word with a bad reputation). On average a man should consume about 2500 calories a day and a Woman should take in 2000. It has been found that in order to lose 1lb (≈0.5Kg) of body fat in a week we would need to reduce 500 calories a day. (It is recommended that you eat at least 1200 calories a day)

So now we know that a reduction in calorie intake can help us lose weight what is the best way to do this? After all, that’s all Atkins was really doing, he was reducing energy intake by removing the most common source of energy. Well the NHS Eatwell Plate lays out the required proportions of each food type that we need in order to have a healthy and balanced diet that will supply us with all the nourishment we need. If we combine the 500 a calorie a day reduction, increase our everyday activity and eat the different food types in the proportions suggested by the NHS, then we can safely reduce our weight, gain all the nutrients we need and maybe be able to say ‘Im on a balanced diet, I can have a little bit!

Chocoholics Anonymous

Like most of us, I didn’t believe I had willpower when it came to food.

In particular I’m talking about cake, biscuits and most of all; chocolate. Basically, I, like a lot of people, love everything we shouldn’t have too much of.

That is however, until I recently met up with a friend who had given them all up for a month…yes a month! So that inspired me to do the same.

Like most of us I love chocolate and would happily consume some form of it every day. My addiction is so bad that I can’t eat it in moderation. It had to be all or nothing if I was going to cut down.

At first it was really difficult…

My housemate (who shall remain anonymous) is a fellow chocoholic who has no want or need to give up chocolate. This doesn’t help. She has no consideration. She is always cooking brownies (are you serious? Chocolate and cake…together)

Left over chocolate cake was left on the side to remind me what I was missing out on. But I persevered!

With my need for chocolate trying to get the better of me and no substitute in sight I needed a deterrent. A constant thought that would prevent me from raiding the corner shop.

So, I decided to do some digging and this is what I found:

When you buy chocolate the brands tend to split the calories up into “per portion” which usually means a pitiful three squares or four chocolate buttons…a lot less than what anyone (Well me at least) would consider a portion.

Keeping this in mind a small bag of Cadbury’s chocolate buttons is 170 calories! And a standard 49g bar of Cadbury’s chocolate is 260. Out of all the popular chocolate bars the lowest I could find was Cadbury’s Fudge at 110, and that’s not going to satisfy any chocoholic!

Exercise helps me feel less guilty, but what’s the point in only burning off calories from chocolate when you could be burning off calories from meals?
What can we do to stop the damage? The number of calories we burn will depend on how much each of us weighs. An 11 stone woman, like me, would have to cycle at a moderate pace for 123 minutes for a 160g Thorntons Milk Chocolate Egg. That sounds like a lot of peddling!

It is said that you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound. If you don’t consume extra calories that bad foods possess, you don’t need to burn them off. The exercise you then do could be better used to burn off those problem areas.

So what happens after my month is over?

I’ve found that my sweet tooth is less dominant in my life, and after seeing those statistics I know that refusing chocolate is going to do me more good than bad. I know it sounds simple, but there is nothing like a few statistics to really grab your attention.

So, give it a go, find your inner will power, take control of your body and give up comfort foods for a month.