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Sunday, 29 November 2015

80:20 diet

 Evil soup? Not exactly. It is vegan :-)
For many people finding a good balance with their diet is hard.  They go super-strict, then after a while they slip up and suddenly they go to the opposite extreme with a real binge session.  This is a recipe for dietary disaster.  You will fail to ever make constant improvements if you do not have some control over your food, however the idea of super-strict dieting will doom most people to complete failure. A way around this issue is to include some flexibility into the dietary plan.  For most people the aim of 80% healthy food and 20% of things that aren’t ideal is a good approach.  Imagine you are craving a slice or 2 of vegan pizza.  With normal dieting you would never plan on pizza, so that craving would go unfulfilled.  For many people the temptation is to eventually crack.  However when they do crack all thoughts of moderation go out of the window they will binge and all that deprivation will be wasted.
There is another option though.  You can allow yourself a little leeway in your diet.  Let’s look at the 2 scenarios:

Scenario 1

You diet 100% healthy food.  You do well for a few days, then you are out, or at a party, or just really craving something.  You have resisted loads of foods already this week, but this time you just crack.  After the first failure you think “What the hell.  I have failed anyway, so I might as well eat whatever I like.”.  You binge, you drink too much alcohol as well.  The next day you are hung-over and feel terrible, you don’t get in that days exercise session.  Before you know it you find you have completely derailed your diet and training momentum, it is 6 weeks later and you have added extra pounds of fat and lost muscle.  You start again, but soon afterwards repeat the same disastrous cycle.

Scenario 2
Your diet has planned allowances for less healthier options.  After a while of pretty good eating you get a desire for a slice or 2 of pizza.  It is Monday.  You think to yourself “OK, I won’t have that pzza tonight, but on Thursday I am going out with friends we can split a pizza.  I will even have a glass of wine.”.  You know the plan for Thursday, so when you go out you split that pizza, have a couple of slices with friends, a glass of wine and even a small dessert.  It is ok, it is in the plan, you do not binge and the next day you get the training session in and the diet is back on-track.  6 weeks later you are really starting to see the changes and everyone is noticing how good you are looking.

The odd treat may actually help keep you ontrack, as long as they are planned

That is 2 of the possible outcomes. I know which one I prefer. Scenario 2 allows for real world living and gives you some enjoyment, it doesn’t force 100% obedience to a dietary plan.  If you are out, or suddenly caught without any options you can give yourself a little leeway without the diet collapsing completely.  A dietary goal is usually to be able to look good, but it should also improve your entire life.  Ignoring the fact that you enjoy some foods that aren’t 100% healthy will not enhance your life.  If your goal is to hit the bodybuilding stage, then yes, you will need to deprive yourself, but for the average person who wants a flat stomach, a little abdominal definition, but also enjoy life allowing a little indulgence is vital for success.

So, you may ask, assuming I use this system what do I do if I am gaining unwanted fat? I would look at several things.  Firstly, I would look at portion sizes of your everyday meals and food choices for your ‘healthy eating’ phase.  Are you either eating too much, or not actually eating as healthily as you could be?  Secondly I would look at your less healthy eating choices. A few slices of pizza, a glass of wine and a small dessert is fine, but downing a dozen beers, eating a whole pizza, cramming some fried food followed by a tub of vegan ice cream will more than off-set any healthy eating done that week. Practice moderate eating of the less healthy foods. Thirdly look at your training.  You have to be working out reasonably hard to create muscle.  Muscle can make you look more toned, tighter, and getting better physically will allow you to accomplish more. Look at sleep and stress.  Sleep and stress are somewhat related, keep stress as low as possible and try to get enough sleep to feel refreshed.
If you consider all of the above you should soon find the reasons for any unwanted fat increase or muscle loss you can then make the necessary corrections if you notice you are slightly off-track.
So, to sum up.  Eat mainly healthy whole vegan foods, supplement that with a few treats a time or 2 a week. Have the odd dessert or the odd less healthy option.  Train hard, recover fully and keep stress low. If you can keep that up consistently most people will do exceptionally well, find the programme easy to stick to and make the most progress over the long term.

 Purezza a 100% vegan pizza place in Brighton. Useful to know of you are visiting!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Pulsin' Protein extravaganza

Pulsin’ have been slowly building up a following in the protein market for a while.  The reason being that they offer a unique selection of unflavoured proteins that can be used on their own or mixed up with fruit, in cooking or other ways to create exciting new drinks that are nutritious and tasty.

The flavours available

Pulsin’ have a few types of plant protein for you to try. With 5 vegan varieties to try you should find one you like. Also you can buy them in smaller serving sizes if you like, so test them all out by buying a small pouch, then buy the bigger size once you have found the one you prefer (or buy a couple of varieties for different situations).


Soya is the old man of the vegan protein world. Soya is an ideal protein for those dieting as it has a particularly good amino acid profile. It isn’t one I use that often as I eat foods made from soya, so I tend to vary my protein sources, this is so I vary the amino acid profile I am taking in.  However if you are looking for a superior post-workout protein, soya is the one. Pulsin’ only uses GM-Free soya, so that is excellent. It is 90% protein with a tiny hint of carbs and fat.  For the record soya does not feminise males, that has been debunked for a while now (If you want more information about that feel free to email me). Soya mixes well and has a somewhat nutty taste.  I find it ideal for post-workout, a snack between meals.  Adding it to the milk alternative of your choice and/or with bananas peanut butter etc can make the taste variations virtually endless.


This was my favourite flavour of protein powder (or maybe the sunflower see below).  The hemp is a concentrate, not an isolate, so the amount of protein per 100g is 47g (47% protein).  It has more fat and carbs than soya however the fat is virtually all EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) these are what the body needs to build new cells and create hormones, so the fat is used in the natural bodily processes, not stored as fat unless you eat way more than you could reasonably do in a protein powder.  Hemp is a slightly slower protein to assimilate than soya (or pea – see below). For me the obvious times to use this are for a breakfast as the slower assimilation will mean you hold hunger at bay for longer or in the evenings if you are intent on muscle gains as it will slow the bodies descent into catabolism during the night. It could also be part of a meal replacement drink (add in fruit to make an amazing smoothie). I really liked the taste, however I have met people who cannot stand it, so buy a small pouch, test it out.  If you like it then invest in a larger supply. Hemp is generally considered hypoallergenic, so if you have a delicate tummy hemp or rice (see below), are the two options I would consider.

Organic Sunflower

I hadn’t heard of sunflower protein before I tried this packed. Like Hemp, sunflower protein is a concentrate, not an isolate, so it is 45% protein.  Mixed quite thickly this tasted a little like tahini and might work well being used in a soup or similar or possibly as a pudding with other ingredients When mixed to the normal consistency it tasted great.  I personally preferred hemp, but only by a small amount, either was good for me.  I would use this similar to hemp or try to create some unique dishes (I intend to experiment in the future with this protein, so stay tuned).


Pea is somewhat similar to soya.  The nutritional profile is slightly different, but in most ways I would use this in the same way as soya.  The one benefit it has is that it is very heat stable, so if you intend to use in baking or in soups or added to gravies, then pea is the ideal protein powder for you. It is hypoallergenic and is 80% protein. It is not quite as complete a protein as soya so mixing it with rice gives it an extra boost (although not normally necessary as you eat other protein containing foods throughout the day). Again post-workout or as a snack are good uses for this one.


Rice is hypoallergenic, so is good for most people, at 80% protein it is a good choice for an all-round protein that you can enjoy anytime. It has a very close amino acid profile to human breast milk (98% identical).  It is not quite a complete protein on its own, so you can mix it with another protein if you like although if you eat another protein source during the course of the day it isn’t really a concern. Anyone with tummy issues might do well to choose rice as their main supplementary protein source as many people tolerate it well. As usually always buy a small amount first, then buy more if you like the flavour and texture of the shake. Some people have said they found rice protein a little gritty.  I have no issues with it though.

A word about proteins

There are a few things to remember when you look at these proteins.  The first is that everyone’s tastes are different.  You may love one flavour, but I may hate it.  As you have a big selection here I expect there will be at least one flavour you can enjoy.  Also remember these are unflavoured products.  This opens up a world of options.  You can add fruits and berries, things like peanut butter or cocoa powder, you can mix them into foods or during baking.  You can even mix them into mash potato (I’ve never tried that, it just came into my head, so do not blame me if that doesn’t work!).
If you have any ideas for using protein powders, any favourite flavours of those mentioned above or any questions post below.
If you want to buy Pulsin’ protein or any other Pulsin’ products (remember to check the labels as not all of the Pulsin’ range is vegan) pop over to

Monday, 16 November 2015

Adventures with Vegan Runners

October 31st is the day before World vegan Day and so it was nice to get involved with Vegan Runners for the day and help out at a free food giveaway at a Park Run in Hove Park.  The date coincided with the 8th anniversary of the Hove Park Run, so it was a good excuse to give some free stuff away. There was support from Vegusto, Koko, the Level Loving Hut and others to help make the event something a little bit special.
If you aren’t familiar with Park Run, they hold 5Km races all over the UK every Saturday Morning.  The idea is to encourage people to get a little fitter and it is open to everyone, from the serious athlete to the fun runner, or even walker if running isn’t yet an option for you.

There were a lot of Vegans at the event.  I am not sure if Vegan Runners was the biggest group at the event, but they were certainly wearing the most team shirts of any running team at the event.
The race started at 9AM and most people are finished by 9.30.  As people passed the finish line we passed out food and drinks, including a vast array of cakes, chocolate coconut milk, fake cheeses and a host of other goodies.  I was encouraged to see the amount of interest the stall had with people actually interested in modifying their lifestyles, not just grabbing free stuff.
So whether you are fast, slow or middling. If you enjoy running and are considering a move to plant-based eating you may want to pop over to Vegan Runners and see how they can help you out.
I enjoyed meeting everybody and had a fun time out with the VR gang.  It is always fun to meet other people into fitness especially if they share your concern for animals, the environment and their own health.