7-day vegan challenge (high-carb, low-fat, low-protein) - my experience.

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Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello all,

Apologies in advance because I'm gonna ramble a bit here, as I tend to keep relatively quiet about nutrition on this forum so I want to cover a fair bit of content/context/background.

So on Saturday (9/7/16) I decided to try going vegan for a week, taking an approach I doubt many on this forum would approve of (and I myself didn't see how it could possibly be a good idea - I was just intrigued to see how it might affect me), and that is eating lots of carbohydrates (unlimited in fact) while keeping fats and proteins low (basically an 80/10/10 approach - loads of fruit and starches, and not much else). I was intrigued to give it a try due to it being very popular among the YouTube vegan community, with many advocates (especially 'Durianrider' - check him out) claiming that carbs don't make you fat if the other two macronutrients are kept low, and in fact, you can eat as many carbs as you want, and your body will basically either burn them off, or excrete them. The popular slogan being 'CARB THE F*** UP!'. (Sorry for the foul language, I just think it's important that we're clear on how highly valued high-carb consumption is to some.)

Sounds magic right? Well, I don't believe in magic when it comes to diet, with the exception of one approach which I've mentioned a few times before on this forum, and that is following the Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler with a high consumption of nuts and veggies in the overeating phase and not much else. Eating like this has been the fastest way for me to get lean - almost magic (as in, dramatically noticeable differences on both the scales and in the mirror in just a couple of days).

So, regarding my experience so far on this high-carb vegan approach... Due to being used to the Warrior Diet way of eating, I've technically been following the basic undereating/overeating cycle without consciously trying to, in that I've eaten nothing but fruit (just more of it) during the day, followed by an evening meal consisting of things like rice, kidney beans, bread, cereal, and more fruit.

No doubt I've eaten a hell of a lot, and it's been fun, however, I'm on day 5, and have gone from 69.6kg to 71.1kg. More importantly (at least to me), I look a lot fatter (like, A LOT), and can pinch a good few more millimetres of fat off my belly with calipers, I'm starting to acquire a second chin, I'm losing my cheekbones (this makes me sad :( ) and my muscles aren't nearly as defined. Regarding how I actually feel... Meh... Not that much to write home about - my workouts haven't improved or suffered, although the one thing that has changed dramatically (as expected - due to high carb consumption being associated with increased serotonin), is that I'm sleeping WAY more and WAY deeper (we're talking 10 hours (plus lying in bed struggling to get up for ages) at least, as opposed to 8 like before), in that it's actually very difficult to wake up (and more importantly GET UP) at a respectable hour. While this isn't a problem for me right now due to not needing to wake up early (I work evenings), I wouldn't want to risk continuing this long term - I've always felt the ability to wake up and actually get up straight away at a reasonable hour to be very useful (duh!).

So, from here, I'm going to carry on vegan for another two and a half days, just to complete the '7-day challenge' (which hasn't really been a challenge, as I don't really eat much meat, etc. anyway), but I'm going to Warrior Diet-ify the hell out of it and go back to the nut-and-veggie approach as opposed to the high-carb route I've taken so far - to try to find my cheekbones again! ;) What I mean is that I'm going to undereat properly throughout the day(just a few bits of fruit here and there, as well as coffee to suppress hunger, as opposed to as much fruit as I want like I've done so far on this challenge), followed by an overeating phase of almonds and veggies.

Following completion of the vegan challenge, I doubt I'll stay vegan, despite the fact that I've been contemplating going vegan (or possibly vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian) for some time, purely for health and performance reasons and nothing to do with ethics (sorry if that offends anyone, I'd just rather not get into that discussion here), as I genuinely don't feel that meat is really a necessity when it comes to building strength and improving performance. Referring again to the Warrior Diet, I do respect Ori Hofmekler's opinions massively, as I've found many of his tips to help me, and I've read in various articles/interviews of his that he seems to think that a predominantly vegetarian approach to diet is generally the best all-round route for health and fat loss. He does however condemn the high-carb, low-fat, low-protein approach as unhealthy and prone to fat gain. His reasons make sense and it did make me a little uneasy to go against his advice, but I figured a few days to experiment couldn't hurt!


Anyways! Thanks to anyone who has read this whole post. I just wanted to share my experience of a dietary approach which I've not seen many talk about on this forum, and I'd love to hear any thoughts, opinions, etc. (especially from those who may be more well educated in diet and nutrition than myself - I've never studied it academically or anything, and only know what I know from my personal experience and reading)!

Thanks,

Harry.
 
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MikeMoran

Level 5 Valued Member
I think some people that can work. Everyone is different. I do much better on an IF lifestyle and with a heavier load of fats/proteins and veggies myself. When I high carb and not fast, that is how I use to live and I was 100lbs heavier.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Harry...
Thanks for sharing. I too, try to shy away from talking 'nutrition' on the forum. These days I eat lots of meat protein, fats, and veg, although for years I didn't eat any red meat at all. Some of those Forks over Knives people seem to have some amount of success with a vegan approach. I don't know too much about them however....
Keep us posted.
 

MattM

SFG1
Certified Instructor
I like the idea of being a vegan, usually the idea gets stronger everytime I have to cook meat.

But then I watch a doc like forks over knives and I think that even if those people say they are healthy, they look the furthest thing from healthy. Like hardcore distance runners.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
That reminds me of something...my Doc keeps trying to push the Forks Over Knives stuff on me, but he himself looks pretty darn far from fit or healthy
 

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
Hmm... Regarding the whole 'looking healthy' thing, I must admit, I believe this to be a very subjective thing... My mother for instance always thinks I'm starting to look 'ill' and 'too thin' whenever I drop down to between 64-67kg (for reference, in my profile picture, I weighed in at that fight at 65kg exactly), however, many might just think (including myself, as the one who has to live with it), that I simply look lean in my body and angular in my face. Granted I'm not a big guy at only 5'9, so sure, most would consider me on the skinny side at that weight, but still, I'm by no means unhealthy in walking around at that weight.

Nevertheless, I understand the sort of marathon-runner/POW look you guys are getting at... Not a great look in the eyes of most...

As for my temporary veganism... I gave up... After my workout this morning (ladders (3x(1,2,3)) of OAPUs supersetted with 16kg pistol squats) I had an unreal craving for protein, so just had to guzzle down a serving of whey (as opposed to 3 blended bananas that I've had the last few days)... Sorry for my moment of weakness :(... lol. So I guess it's back to the predominantly lacto-vegetarian Warrior Diet that I was following before (fruit and whey during the day; veggies, almonds and pistachios in the evening).

To state the obvious, if something (diet) is working for you, why change it? I guess I've learned my lesson.
 

MattM

SFG1
Certified Instructor
When I said unhealthy I didn't mean only "skinny". Some people just give off an aura of unhealthiness with their skin tone, mannerisms, gait, etc. Vice versa as well.
 

rickyw

Level 7 Valued Member
@Harry Westgate , that is a great experience you shared! I do well on a high fat, moderate protein moderate carb diet myself. Most of my fats are from olive oil, butter, nuts, and eggs. Most of my carbs are things like fruit, veggies, oats, or kamut. If I go high carb, I get irritable. Intermittent fasting gives me insomnia, but I love the concept. One of my favorite snacks is a tablespoon of olive oil straight from the spoon, a little whey protein, and an apple. I weigh 160lbs even.

I haven't met many healthy vegans and vegetarians, because most of them replace their meat intake with way too many sugars and processed grains.
 

ali

Level 7 Valued Member
You could argue the health benefits pros and cons of veganism 'til the cows come home. Veganism is a hot topic in our household, my older daughter, since being a vegan, bullies me with her higher morality. From a diet pov, try it and see if it works for you. There is an interesting take on why some people do better than others by not eating animal products....mthfr gene mutations. Worth doing some research on it?
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
You could argue the health benefits pros and cons of veganism 'til the cows come home
...And you still wouldn't know what to do with the cows when they got there. For anyone else looking to experiment, I've always wondered how a high fat vegan diet would work out. Never been willing to try it out myself, though...
 

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
@Snowman - high fat vegan; if we're talking high fat meaning lots of nuts, and relatively low carb (just veggies), then we're basically talking about the nut and veggie diet I described just excluding the whey protein that I personally use. If you're anything like me, you'll get very lean very quickly, obviously depending where your body comp is at now of course. I personally find it to be a very enjoyable way of eating as well. The high fat/protein content tends to be very satisfying.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
high fat vegan; if we're talking high fat meaning lots of nuts, and relatively low carb (just veggies), then we're basically talking about the nut and veggie diet I described just excluding the whey protein that I personally use
Interesting. Maybe some day I'll have to give it a shot for a week or two, just to see how it goes. I eat pretty high fat/moderate carb/moderate protein right now, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to drop the protein a little and cut out critter bits. I'd be more interested to see if I could still maintain my weight easily, though. I'm built similarly to you, so losing weight has never been a priority ;)
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Chinese say: "Hide meat in vegetables". I am on pretty strict Paleo diet, and I eat more veggies than most vegetarians/vegans I know.

Pavel says: "Meat for strength, vegetables = for health." It is good to be healthy and strong.
 

ali

Level 7 Valued Member
Going into my final week of the total tension complex next week. I've gravitated towards a high fat, high carb, high protein as the weeks have progressed. Made my evening meal yesterday and thought I had far too many veggies on my plate dwarving the small-ish lamb fillet and figured I would never get through it all. Went down like a smoothie. Room for some ice cream too. Win-win. Dietary needs change, I think and think it is more important to be in tune with what those needs are rather than adopting any specific dietary approach.

D-i-e-t-s and the diet/food industry is supported by and fueled by feelings of inadequacy, guilt, deprivation and self-esteem as much if not more than merely nutrition and energy. I'm a total foodie. Some vegan products - raw vegan snack nutty goodies are simply delicious, very healthy and moreish. As is creative vegan cooking. Bring it on. Then there is vegan frankenstein food products made to look like meat and made in a lab.....and I just don't get it. Vegan bacon, I mean....why? I had this bizarre and head spinning conversation a couple of weeks ago at a stall in a farmers market.....the product was meat looking vegan steaks. I didn't realise they were vegan at first glance, very steak-like and was eye-ing them up. Next to this stall was grass fed organic ethically raised and slaughtered proper meat with nutritional information about the benefits of their produce. I asked the vegan stall-holder, feeling a bit of a twat to be honest, "why are you providing vegans who are opposed to eating animal products, a product which looks exactly like an animal?". She replied, " our customers really like it, it reminds them of eating meat"........I really didn't know what to say, or think. I concluded that this stall-holder could not or would not see the irony here, I kind of giggled embarassingly and shook my head trying to convey a sense of mutual incredulity when she didn't appear to be on the same page. A would be customer then asked what was in this stuff as she tried a sample nibble...'soy and wheat gluten' was the reply, to which the ex-customer gagged and spat it out ...'I'm gluten free for god's sake' she gagged. She then.....and I'm not making this up.....asked 'where can I buy gluten free vegan meat'? I'm not sure I'm certain of anything, anymore.
 
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Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
@Pavel Macek if you don't mind my asking, what source of meat do you tend to find yourself gravitating towards? Chicken? Beef? Do you worry too much about lean-ness, or just getting the protein down you? Also I'm totally with you about veggies for health; I find without a shadow of a doubt that I'm at my most illness-resistant when I eat a lot of veggies, and I mean a lot; generally one medium-sized cold salad followed by two large plates of steamed or - when I want to treat myself - mixed veg. I think fruit throughout the day aids with this resilience as well. 'An apple a day...' I'm convinced there's some truth in that old saying.

@ali no disrespect intended, but isn't 'high carb, high fat, high protein', just another way of saying 'high calorie', given that no macronutrient is proportionately higher than the other? :p As for your story of the stall holder, I have no words... :O but I share your... Confusion? Amazement? I don't even know... Haha.
 

Harry Westgate

Level 6 Valued Member
@ali all I might add is that 'reminds them of meat' might have referred more to the fact that it helps new vegans transition more smoothly? Perhaps...
 

ali

Level 7 Valued Member
@Harry Westgate, yes, high calorie. I feel I need to. Like you are experimenting at the moment, I've tweaked, evaluated and adjusted what and how I eat over recent years to give the impression perhaps that I have a haphazard approach. In one sense I do.....I absolutely thoroughly enjoy good food and quite honestly have no idea of calorie content, macros and whatnot. On the other, it's all part of a process......there is somehow a method to my madness. It's bonkers mad out there.......
 
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