If you don’t know what a HCLF vegan diet/lifestyle is, it’s where most of your calories, about 80%, come from carbs eg. fruits, veg, rice, potatoes, ect. then 10% protein which all plant based foods contain and then 10% healthy fats eg. avocados, nuts, coconut & seeds. This means eating carbohydrates in abundance with no calorie resrtricting, just listening to your body & eating when you’re hungry & stopping when you’re satisfied. It also recommends not using any salt as the body retains water when salt is consumed making you hold water weight. But doesn’t the body need salt? It infact needs sodium, not processed salt. It also involves not cooking in oil, which may sound strange but infact when making vegan food you’ll be surprised it cooks fine in a non stick pan with just water!
Since having my instagram account started to incorporate a vegetarian diet which turned mostly plant based/vegan. I started focusing more on a high carb vegan diet a few months ago when I got my knee injury & stopped working out. I wanted to keep my figure and make sure i kept any extra weight off because before my injury I was really strict with my gym routine. I would go to the gym 6-7 days a week for about an hour each session. I did this because I loved it and it made me feel good, but it also meant I would sometimes get overwhelmed and stressed out trying to maintain other aspects of my life. I would also feel bad if I didn’t go to the gym thinking that I’d lose progress or something.. yeah pretty stupid right!? I guess you could say that I had a light exercise obsession, which wasn’t good for my mental health.
At the time of my injury, my IBS (stomach problems) were having major flare ups. I was down because I felt like crap everyday while being annoyed about my injury and having anxiety over food and my lack of exercise.
I wasn’t sure of the cause of this flare up so I was looking into trigger foods & seeing my doctor for advice. So in my process of starting the high carb diet, I was also incorporporating a Low FODMAP diet which my doctor had suggested to me & I had researched about. I wont go into the fine detail of what this diet involves as it’s not what this blog post is about, but if you’re curious I’d recommend you give it a quick google. But this diet left me very limited with foods I could eat as you have to elimate so many fruits & vegetables, which was what majority of my diet involved! This caused me to stress more, worrying what I could eat, what I couldn’t, if i was going to be affected by what i just ate. I honestly think the low FODMAP diet made my stomach problems worse because of the constant stress over food and my stomach. I felt it was all I could think about! I no longer follow that diet but still limit my intake of legumes, onion, garlic & brocolli most of the time as I find they still affect me as well as try to stick to the correct fruit combining (google “fruit combining charts” to see what I am referring too).
Another struggle beginning HCLF in the time of my injury was knowing how much I should eat and I was curious as to how many nutrients I was getting also, so I used cronometer – a calorie and macro counting site & app. I found it pretty helpful and informative but then I got addicted with keeping my calorie count as low as I could because you know.. I wasn’t exercising and worried I was going to gain weight! I weighed everything I ate and entered it onto the site, trying keep my calories at 1200 – 1500 which is VERY low! (I’ve never had any kind of eating disorder either, so this was very odd behaviour for me!)
It took me a few weeks before I realised where my headspace was at and where my relationship with food was going and I started to feel like a hyprocryte – running a health instagram account when I was so lost myself and doing the wrong thing! Not to mention I felt like a stick figure as I had lost all the muscle I had gained prior, my weight had decreased and was extra cold all the time!
More recently I’ve been watching Youtube videos from some wonderful High Carb vegans such as @fruitarianelle, @freeleethebananagirl, @durianrider, @mangosandmantras, @whyoweyou, @dateswithlove & @drewlikesrice – If you are interested in this lifestyle, I recommend you check them out.
But basically I’m learning how the body processes macros (carbs, proteins & fats) and just trying to get my head around how much and what I should & need to be eating and building a healthier relationship with both food and exercise. This will all come with time, research & practice. Every body is different, we all need different amounts of food which is determined by our height, metabolism, past dieting styles & activity levels. But the main message is to eat when you are hungry & stop when you are feeling satisfied (which can be hard for me has my digestive system is quite slow!)
I like this lifestyle as the idea of it is to eat all the plant based foods you love and eat it in abundance! I cannot think of a better lifestyle where you get to eat as much of what you want, as you want, where you nourish your cells at the same time while doing good for the environment.
It’s not expensive or inconvenient. I’m 22, work fulltime and have a house mortage and my shopping bill is cheaper than if I was to be incorporating animal products and processed food into my diet.
Just buy the fruit and veggies you can afford, for example, I don’t often purchase blueberries, mangoes or avocadoes and most of the time, even strawberries, as they are quite expensive so I’d rather spend my money on cheaper options and come home with an abundance of produce.
Shopping at markets and fresh fruit grocers are cheapest and buy rice in bulk! I normally just keep my eyes out on sales of the big 5kg bags they stock at coles.
The food doesn’t take long to prepare whether you’re making your breakfast or packing lunch for school or work. If you’re short on time, packing food to go can be as simple as blending up a smoothie, grabbing a bunch of grapes or bananas or pack few apples and some cinnamon! I used to spend hours on a Sunday prepping my breakfast, lunch & snacks. Now all I do is have a smoothie for breakfast, take fruit for snacks and prep sushi and salad the night before because that’s what i’ve been loving and it fills me up.
Everyone always questions vegans and often vegetarians about their vitamin levels but the truth is: plant foods do provide eveything the body needs. B12 is a complicated one though as the fresh fruit and veg is farmed and processed in a way that the B12 is then lost. But the only reason animals contain B12 is because most of the time they are injected with it. I take a spirulina capsule before breakfast & dinner & a B12 capsule after each meal. I’ve one blood test on this diet when i first started and all my levels where fine, except my B12 but i wasn’t taking supplements at that point. My iron levels were low for pretty much the first time in my life! I am due for another blood test in the next month as even though I hate them, I believe it’s important for ANYONE to get them regularly to make sure their body is running well & to keep you feeling your best.
Being on this diet & upping what I eat has already made me feel and look better. I’ve gained some needed weight which i’m accepting of because quite frankly, I needed it.
I’m also back at the gym, not as frequently or training as intense as I was but I’m gaining my muscle back and getting some more shape, which my boyfriend is liking haha. His support helps alot!
Follow this lifestyle the right way by fueling your body with enough quality, real food carbs, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water & moving your body regularly and you’ll feel more energised, be healthier & your insides, the animals and the world will love you for it.