Looking for a way to tone up à la vegan? Try these five vegan foods to sculpt your body.
I talk a lot about facing your fears and meeting every dream, passion, and desire that you have. I have always secretively wanted to compete in a natural bikini or body building competition. I recently decided on my 43rd birthday (February 3rd) that I am going to create the body to compete this year!
Because I know myself VERY WELL, I knew I needed to reach out to someone who also knows me for help. I love my friend Al (a vegan body builder) because when I asked him for his help, he easily agreed to coach me but also said he was not surprised at my goal and was very proud of me. This was calming, but he quickly followed up with me and said he was going to first and foremost be my coach, and he would not let me whine out of compliance. He reminded me that this is going to take the same–if not more–mental and physical strength and persistence as it did when I lost 80 pounds. In a very nice way, he told me that to have the sculpted body I wanted I really need to be mentally prepared for the amount of food I would have to eat, the new workout plan that includes a lot of weight training, the variety of supplements I would have to take, and the need to have rest days. Even as I write this I cringe; however, I am writing this because I want to take this journey publicly and invite any of our readers to take it with me. Every month I am committed to write about my progress. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have succeeded at learning how to become lean and how to perform as a vegan athlete. I have successfully helped clients lose weight, improve their health, and become better athletes and power lifters through Clean Eating individualized meal plans and herbal supplements. So how hard can this be? Below is a list of 5 foods and supplements I will be increasing and/or including in my plan.
1. POWER GRAINS (carbs): Teff, Quinoa, Aramanth, and Millet : There are many reasons why these grains should be the foundation of your diet. They are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. They are also high in protein and low in fat. These grains are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals as well as useful plant compounds called phytochemicals. The whole grain is the entire edible part of these grains. It is the seed from which other plants grow. Bran makes up the outer layer. It is rich in B vitamins, trace minerals, and fiber. The inner part of the grain, the endosperm, contains most of the protein and carbohydrates, but only a small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The germ is the very small part of the whole grain that sprouts a new plant. It is loaded with B vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids.
2. BCAAs: BCAAs are critical for muscle growth and help with soreness and recovery. The BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are critical and fall into the category of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are amino acids that the body cannot synthesize on its own and, therefore, must get adequate amounts through dietary sources. Though there are about 20 amino acids that the muscles use for growth, the BCAAs comprise roughly a third of the amino acids within muscle tissue. Also, note some vegan protein powders have good sources of BCAAs
3. HEALTHY FATS: Healthy fats are essential to health, wellness, weight loss, and muscle gain. Foods rich in Omega 3 and 6 Fatty acids are the best food sources. Examples include walnuts, almonds, almond butter, peanut butter, coconut oil, avocado, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.
4. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): DHEA is your body’s most abundant circulating hormone. DHEA production peaks in one’s twenties but steadily declines thereafter. This leads to age-related hormonal imbalances that can affect quality of life. It also plays a major role in regulating thyroid function by boosting the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3). DHEA helps increase the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins by accelerating the rate at which mitochondrial cells produce more ATP, the body’s fundamental energy molecule.
5. PROTEIN: No one can deny the importance of protein. It seems this can cause a riot amongst vegans/vegetarians and omnivores. Plant-based eaters must be conscious of their plant-based protein sources. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on protein powders as that is what I am going to use to increase my protein intake while focusing on this goal. I do not eat soy products or whey protein isolate. The protein powders that I find work best for me are PowerRootz, Garden Of Life, SunWarrior, and Vega. I will alternate these during my process.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian and you are also interested in sculpting your body, I invite you to commit and take the plunge with me. If you are interested in supporting each other, or if you want my assistance in creating a meal plan to help you reach your goal, email me at [email protected]
What are your favorite body-sculpting vegan foods?
Also by EnJunaya: How I Got Over My Fear of Long-Distance Running
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Photos: Kevin Schmitz via Unsplash, Peaceful Dumpling, Vega