As promised, my new meal-plan is fiiiinally posted. I feel like I’ve been promising this blog post for waaay too long now that people must think I’m preparing some type of masterpiece but the truth is that I’ve been mad busy, and I didn’t have pictures of all the meals yet, so I’m only getting to it now. Oppsiesss. In any case, this is the new plan I’ve been following for the past 3 weeks, set to pair up with my current gym-plan (check it out HERE). This gym-plan focuses on weight lifting and building muscle so it was only fitting to have a meal-plan that also helps build muscle. Cuz you can spend hours stacking plate after plate on that barbell, but if what’s on your lunch plate ain’t fitting, you’ll never really recover from your workouts or make progress #TrueStory. I think what’s hard is for girls to be okay with eating more. Last year I tried to go on a mini “bulk” but my “bulk” was really just eating 1, 700 cal instead of 1, 400, which only made me less calorie deficient. And my lifting was interchanged with lots of HITT and plyometrics, great for burning fat, but not the best when you’re really trying to work on them gains. So this semester, I wanted to do something completely different. I wanted to say f*ck the cardio, lets do weights, weights, weights. Focus on HEAVY. Since I’ve never done this, this was a new opportunity to push myself and see what my body was capable of.
The meal-plan I set up is higher in calories, higher protein and lower in carbs. I also did a little “carb-cycling” which basically means alternating the % of calories from carbs you consume in a day. This meal plan actually has 3 different days: low-carb day (3/7), lower-carb day (2/7) and high-carb day (2/7). Whenever anyone mentions “cutting carbs” on Instagram I instantly see like 4 thousand comments from angry vegan girls saying OH MY GOD DON’T DO IT, CARBS ARE LIFE, CARBS ARE FUEL, CUT CARBS, CUT LIFE, YOU SHOULD EAT AT LEAST 20 BANANAS A DAY, TRY IT YOU’LL FEEL GREAT, EVEN BETTER IF YOU LIVE OFF DATES FOREVER like oooohhhkay gotcha girl calm down. First of all “cutting carbs” as a vegan really is just “slightly lowering carbs” to everyone else since in a vegan diet, if you want to eat a diverse well-rounded diet, you’ll be eating mostly carbs anyway. So in conclusion I try keep my carbs at about 35%, but even that is kinda hard.
Why cutting down on carbs?
Weeelll cutting down on carbs has been proven to make you more “lean” while helping you build more muscle (as you end up eating more protein). I did some carb-cutting before my photoshoot for FitReserve (check out the pictures HERE) and I found that even after only a few days, I was a bit less “fluffy”. Carbs don’t make you “fat” (at least unrefined, unprocessed, complex carbohydrates don’t), but they make you retain more water and therefore you tend to look more defined and toned if you eat less of them. Obviously I feel great when living off dates and sweet potatoes, but as much as I love focusing on health, nutrition and “feeling” my food, I’m also all about that gym life, and it’s true that these aren’t always in line with each other. Sometimes you have to be a little restrictive with yourself in order to get the results you want. For me this is all in good fun, this is what I love to do; make new plans, try new diet, new workouts, challenge myself, push myself, see how far I can go.
Well carb-cycling is sort of an “easier” approach to a low-carb diet, which allows you have a few high-carb days in the week to refuel and refill your glycogen stores. Following a strictly low-carb diet had me feeling tired and void of energy last summer, so I thought this time I’d try it out with a few sneaky eat-as-many-bananas-as-I-possibly-can days in there (just to make those angry super pro-carb vegans happy hehe).
Coordinating meals to workouts
If you’ve read my gym plan post you know that I’ve reduced my workouts to 5 times a week. This is mainly because of some doctor advice I received at the beginning of the year (full post about it HERE) but also because weight lifting can put serious strain of your body, so if you want you body to lift heavy for ya, gotta show it some luv and give it some rest & recoup time. I therefore paired my two lower-carb, lower-calorie days with my two rest days. My two high-carb days are naturally paired with my two hardest days at the gym, so I get a biiiggg kick in the ass of energy with my colossal breakfast bowl of banana oatmeal and absolutely slay it at the gym. I do this on leg day and full body/glutes focus day (I don’t really know what to call it tbh). Once a week I also get a little “treat meal” (don’t like calling it a “cheat meal” cuz I ain’t a cheater and I deserve dat raw vegan cheesecake). This allows me to go out for dinner with friends at some point in the week, or use my “treat meal” to do some recipe testing, or just sit at a my kitchen table with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and dig in #noshame. I usually have my “treat meal” on Sunday since it’s high carb day and it’s God’s day: two very good reasons to eat my body weight in cookies.
Nooooowww I’m gonna stop rambling, here is the full meal-plan and macros!
Low-carb day (Monday, Thursday, Friday) – total calories: 2, 048
So this the plan I follow most days (3 days a week). Below are the main ingredients, but obviously I can add any spices I want (I basically douse my porridge in cinnamon) and add lots of lemon juice on my salad etc. Just to make it clear this plan isn’t really the culinary experience of a life-time. Some of the meals are a little plain, but here the focus is the macros, and getting in all the nutrients that compliment my workout plan and will (hopefully) allow me to make some sick gains, all while staying (somewhat) lean. P.S. check out them micronutrients like DAMN look at me OWNING the calcium, iron, and vitamin game (“omg you’re vegan?! You must be lacking in so many nutrients” HA)
Breakfast (carrot/quinoa porridge) Snack 1 (protein shake)
– 1/2 cup cooked quinoa – 1 banana – 16g raw cacao
– 1/2 cup grated carrot – 35g vanilla protein powder – 1 cup spinach
– 2 tbsp chia seeds – 15g flax seeds – 1/2 tsp spirulina
– 1/2 cup soy milk – 100g soy yogurt – 32g peanut butter
– 10 almonds
Lunch (salad) Snack 2 (chia/protein pudding) Dinner
– 1 cup spinach – 2 tbsp chia seeds – 100g cooked lentils
– 1 cup chick peas – 35g chocolate protein powder – 1/2 eggplant (roasted)
– 1 medium tomato – 1/2 cup soy milk, 1 cup water – 1/2 avocado
– 5g nutritional yeast – 5 almonds – 10g nutritional yeast
Lower-carb day (Tuesday, Saturday) – total calories: 1, 864
So basically, this day is the exact same as the low-carb day but with a lower-carb, lower-calorie breakfast. On Tuesdays and Saturdays I have more time in the morning to cook up tofu scramble, and since it’s my day off the gym I don’t need as much energy so it’s perfect to have an even lower carb day. On this day I try be more conscious of the little “add ins” I add to my meals, and really stick to the meal plan entirely, without adding too much of anything that might increase the carb count.
Breakfast (tofu scramble) *lunch, dinner and snacks same as low-carb day
– 200g tofu
– 100g steamed zucchini
– 1/2 avocado
High-carb day (Wednesday, Sunday) – total calories: 2, 179
High-carb day is twice a week, and is like the best thing ever cuz it’s tons of food with lots of bananas and I like my bananas 🙂 They’re on the toughest gym days of the week so it gives me a nice lil energy-boost and also allows me to restore my glycogen stores after owning it at the squat rack. Only thing that is consistent is my protein shake cuz IT’S THE BEST THING EVER. For real I’ve had this protein shake daily for maybe like a year and a half and it’s still p much the highlight of my day (aaahhhh the sad life I lead). As I said before these are “main” ingredients, but of course I usually add cinnamon in my oatmeal and even garlic in my tomato sauce at dinner if I’m feeling extra wild.
Breakfast (oatmeal) Snack 1 (protein shake)
– 70g dry oats – 1 banana – 16g raw cacao
– 1 banana – 35g vanilla protein powder – 1 cup spinach
– 100g apple sauce – 15g flax seeds – 1 tsp spirulina
– 1/2 cup soy milk – 100g soy yogurt – 32g peanut butter
Lunch (salad) Snack 2 Dinner (pasta & tomato sauce)
– 1 cup spinach – Medium apple – 100g dry edamame “pasta”
– 1 cup chick peas – 100g canned tomato
– 1/2 red bell pepper -100g zucchini
– 30g hummus -1 cup kidney beans
– 1 cup chopped cucumber
So all in all, the meal-plan is preeeetty much amazing. I’m still in the “trial phase”; I wanted to do “4 perfect weeks”, where I stick to my meal-plan and gym plan to-the-dot for 4 weeks and reassess when the 4 weeks are done. I feel like I’m eating all the time on this plan, and most of the time I’m still full when it’s already time for my next meal, so I’m gonna have to look back over it at the end of next week (I’m currently at week 3) to check if this overeating thing is actually combining well with my workout plan to make some good muscle gains, or if I’m just getting fat. I’ll keep y’all up to date on the verdict;)
SIDE NOTE: this meal-plan is adapted to me, and to what works for me. Of course everyone is different so what works well for me might not work for you. If you wanna try it out go for it, but make sure you stay open to adapting it depending on how you feel etc!