26 Jul, 2018

How to make a vegetarian or vegan diet work for you

Mel Oliech

Are you thinking of going vegetarian/vegan to improve your body, health and wellbeing or are you currently following this lifestyle and want to achieve optimal performance, health and body shape?

Is vegetarian/vegan eating better? Better for what. That is the importance of the question.

Some main reasons to follow a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle are:



-Adverse reaction with animal protein


-Attempt to lose weight (if this is the case, going vegetarian/vegan is not necessarily the answer and we must make sure of the person’s relationship with food, self esteem and body image.

The aspects of vegan/vegetarian that improve health is the increase in plant based foods and habits that come with the lifestyle, but it is to be noted that this can also be done with still incorporating meat as protein.

So what do we actually have to consider when eating vegetarian/vegan for a body transformation that provides optimal health, performance and function.

There are 5 key things to consider.
  1. The importance of the Metabolic Window and keeping high energy carbs in the window, especially in their first 12 week program.
  2. Omega 3 intake
  3. Intense resistance exercise is very important.
  4. Being aware of the metabolic slow down.
  5. Supplementing with creatine

The importance of the Metabolic Window and keeping high energy carbs in the window, especially in their first 12 week program.

Unfortunately, none of us are exempt to the biochemical response high energy carbs play on our body. Many vegans rely on high energy carbs to get their protein intake up. For body transformation we need to optimise the metabolic window and aim to keep our high energy carbs within the window. When eating outside the metabolic vegans/ vegetarians need to focus on increasing their low energy carbohydrate choices including all veggies, legumes and using nuts and seeds to add texture and supplement their food.

The right carbohydrates at the right time will make a lean, healthy and optimally functioning person whilst the wrong choices at the wrong time will have the biggest impact on results.

Why do we want metabolic precise meals? Because we want to build muscles and we want a revving metabolism because that is where the optimal health, body shape results come from.

Omega 3 intake

If you want to achieve optimal health, performance and body, improving your omega 3 must not be overlooked.

Because of the higher intake of nuts, seeds and fats, reversing the omega 3: omega 6 ratio can be challenging.

A focus needs to be on eating foods that are higher in omega 3 including flax oil, ground flax seeds, chia, winter squash, seaweed and green leafy veggies.

Most of the omega 3 will come from plant sources which is great for the ALA but as this is not easily converted to EPA and DHA (from marine sources) which is required to improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation.

A vegan omega 3 supplement from Algae is recommended.

When we improve our omega 3 to omega 6 ratio, the structure of our cells will improve and we will feel a huge improvement in mental health and cognitive function.

Muscle mass matters

To achieve metabolic precision, we need a consistent supply of Essential Amino Acids (EAA) to promote protein synthesis. They are also important for an array of chemical reactions in the body that improves the immune system and metabolism.

Without a consistent supply of EAAs it is impossible to build a high functioning body, just like you can’t build a house without the materials.

This is probably the most different aspect for vegetarian/ vegan eating.

Metabolic Precise meals need to contain first class proteins. So we need to get as close to this as we possibly can as consistently as possible.

Soy and quinoa (best for inside the window) are sources of complete proteins.

Combining one or more incomplete proteins is a common method for vegetarians and vegans to create a complete protein.

Legumes and seeds

Legumes and nuts

Legumes and grains.

Leucine is the most important BCAA for protein synthesis.

Lifting weights and making intense resistance exercise a big part of their lifestyle is imperative for transformational results.

Beware of the Metabolic Slowdown

The metabolic slowdown is what we all want to avoid. It is where our intake of calories is much lower than our expenditure for too long (under eating or over training).

It’s easy going to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle to reduce calorie intake.

Optimal functioning occurs when the gap between input and output is very small. This is when our body wants to build muscle and burn fat.

Oxalates & Phytates

Are organic molecules with negative charges, because of their negative charge they can combine to positively charged ions such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. This can make this compounds unavailable to the body and cause kidney stones.

A vegetarian/vegan diet will undoubtedly be higher in oxalates and phytates due to the increased consumption of foods that have high concentrations.

It is recommended that vegans consume low oxalate, high bioavailable sources of calcium such as cabbage, kale and spring greens.

Oxalates: chocolate, cocoa, coffee, most berries, most nuts, beans, bell peppers, black pepper, parsley, spinach, swiss chard, sweet potatoes, tea, buckwheat, star fruit, purslane, poppy seeds, rhubarb, plantains, ginger, mustard greens, soybeans, beets and beet greens, oats, pumpkin, cabbage, green beans, mango, eggplant, tomatoes, lentils, parsnip.

Phytates: bran, wholegrain cereals, pulses and nuts. Grinding an baking of grains destroys physic acid.

Being aware of nutritional deficiencies and supplementing/ modifying where possible is important for metabolic precision to occur.


Often found in lower amounts in vegetarians/vegans as creatine is found naturally in animal products, creatine not only improves strength and muscular gains, but also fantastic for brain and heart function.

Creatine is a FEON (foods essential for optimal nutrition.

If possible it is highly recommended to supplement with creatine.

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