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Several things you should know about food, diets and overzealousness – Part 1 – Vegan

First, I must apologise to everyone – a long while ago, 6 months before, actually, I had an epiphany – why not try some different diets and write about my experience in the so-called “Diet Expedition“.

The idea failed, miserably, however, in a rather peculiar way. As I mentioned in the first post, I was looking for a way to be more productive, more energetic and simply more happy. As in a saying “in a healthy body, there is a healthy soul” (not trying to religious, but you get the point).

Disclaimer: I don’t have a medical degree so do not consider this as a medical advice, only as an non-professional opinion. If need be, consult your doctor before trying anything.

Vegan

I wanted to try something completely different than my normal diet at the time – the lithuanian diet – eating mostly home-cooked meals, but rarely thinking about how all the product groups interact with each other, which product groups are better, which worse. By chance I ended up watching an awful video, known by some as the vegan “propaganda” video.  Apart from being rather difficult to watch, some ideas, at the time, seemed quite plausible.

Here is the video, for those who are interested (if not, skip past the video).

I often think about the idea of veganism from this perspective – what is the greater reason to “go vegan” – the better suitably of vegan food for a humans body or the thought, that by going vegan, you might make a dent in the animal abuse problem (or at least, not participate in it)? In my case, the idea of a “Diet Expedition” was not meant for animal protection, but as I said – how to fuel my body better. So the next day (still conflicted by the terrible videos shown in the presentation), I decided to try vegan.

Basically, I have no real food preference/taste – I could mostly eat all types of foods. So I had no problem eating dishes that looked awful (for example, a discoloured pile of goo (or vegetables with something and something else)). 

What I ate followed several basic rules:

– no meats/fish (obvious one)

– pasta or any other supplements would never contain eggs

– no milk products

What I didn’t follow:

– refusing products that may in the slightest and smallest of parts contain some animal by-product; I could not be bothered to read each and every label for some minor non-vegan ingredients..

The easiest food group to remove from my diet were the milk products – I was never tolerant of lactose, so this was a no brainer (actually, in the video above, the guy says one thing true, no matter what: a cows milk is for the cows baby, the only milk you need is your moms).

Results

Although the first few weeks were great (not sure whether to account this to the diet or my general mood at the time (first few weeks of december were truly awesome)), later on everything went downhill. As I mentioned in the first post I am really physically active – I usually walk everywhere (20-25 min walk to the city center, so no biggy) and I often try to start doing the Insanity work out again. What is Insanity you might ask? Several years ago this uber difficult workout program surfaced in the Lithuanian lindy hop community with a question – “Are you committed enough to persevere through this god damn tough workout?” The workout program is surely not for everyone, but I’d still suggest challenging yourself. Dig deeper:D

I had done the program before several times and decided to redo it during this winter (little to do when its -20C outside..). Although feeling muscle fatigue was normal in the first days of Insanity (muscles you never knew you had would start hurting like mad), I had different problems – no energy to begin the workout; feeling awfully tired afterwards; started getting cramps all the time (especially in the night) and worst of all, my knees started hurting. My body showed me that I lack some elements/vitamins in my diet.

Was there something I could do differently? To look for products I lack just to feel better? Or should a diet, if it is balanced, work perfectly without cutting corners (such as food supplements or like eating bazillion of bananas (me in december))?

A tad later, when reading more, I saw a more professional opinion on the variety of diets – Best Overall Diets in the US. In amazing place #17 stands the Vegan diet. As stated in the article, vegan diet is considered to be very restrictive, with little choice of products. I envy western europeans / americans, because they have far more available products on the market (such as soy “chicken” nuggets , believe it or not), but in Lithuania – eating this way is rather pricy.

Conclusion

Whether you should try a vegan diet depends, in my honest opinion, on whether you intend to do a lot of sports. The amount of proteins you get while maintaining the vegan diet is on the lower end of the recommended amount, so it is possible to run in to certain problems. Most people I know who eat more fruity/vegetable based foods end up rather too lean. Of course you would be able to feel energetic while sitting in a chair, but after a 5 km run or an insanity workout.. You’d most likely end up with torn muscles and no sustenance to recuperate.

Do not take what I say for granted – perhaps your body will react better to such food, but mine didn’t and in this blog I’m simply expressing my personal experience. As I said to everyone I talked about diets – the best way to determine whether some diet is good for you.. try it out. If your intention is to try several diets and choose one – try to maintain other conditions as equal as possible (same level of physical activity, same sleeping pattern..). If something doesn’t work for you, go, choose the next one.

Intro into Part 2

Past the first vegan month, my friend Claudio, whom you might know from the interview I posted some time ago, suggested trying a completely different diet – the Paleo diet. Ranked even lower than the vegan diet, it ended.. the whole “Diet Expedition“.

One unrelated freebie

One of the goals I had was changing my sleeping patterns. At some point in autumn I would often go to bed at a rather hectic schedule, so I would feel rather tired on the morrow. I recommend skimming through a free ebook from Sleepwarrior, which describes some simple ways how to sleep better and feel more energetic.

My rule of thumb ended up to be like this: always go to sleep at a particular time and wake up at an exact time. Yes, I know, always going home at 11 pm sucks, but it works. Nowadays, I go to bed at around 1 am – 1:30 am, start waking up at 7:30am, at 8 am I’m already jogging in an Insanity workout. This way, I can both meet my friends for a while and enjoy a productive day afterwards.

One last thing is about micro napping. Did anyone else try micro napping at some point of your lives? How did you feel? I usually sleep for 15-20 mins at midday and god how that refreshes me. No more drowsiness after 4-5 pm for me:))

Ciao and see you in the next post, this time – sooner!