I just finished up 90 days of very strict vegan eating at the first of January. I ate a whole food plant based diet (WFPB) with no meat, dairy, or eggs. (PICS AT BOTTOM)
My only supplement was Shakeology. I took no creatine, no pre-workout, and my recovery drink was not the Results/Recovery formula. It was a natural shake made of banana, blueberries, coconut water, maca, chia, and plant protein powder.
I ate a rather simple diet most days, with the main variable being what I ate for dinner (one of the MANY vegan dishes my wife learned to make from all the great recipes on our Facebook Vegan Challenge group — click here if you want to join). I didn’t track calories or percentages.
What do you think happened? I was very curious myself, and I felt a little “out of control” since I wasn’t tracking anything. I was very tempted to go back to what I was used to (calorie tracking) in order to tighten things up, but I committed to sticking it out the full 90 days so that I could get some accurate information. Would I lose muscle on a WFPB diet that is inherently low protein? (I probably ate about 15% of my calories from protein, and 75% from carbs). What would happen to my strength and body fat? What would happen to my weight?
Well, after 90 days I got my answers =
Weight = On Oct. 1st, when I started a WFPB diet, I was 212. As I finished my P90X round with the Misfits on Jan 8th, I weighed …… wait for it ….. 222 lbs! HOLY COW! I never would have guessed I would gain 10 lbs on a WFPB diet with no processed foods. How in the heck did that happen?
I honestly didn’t WANT to gain 10 lbs. I liked the way I looked at 212. My diet was hard to dial in since I wasn’t tracking calories. The theory behind a WFPB diet is that when you cut out the processed junk, artificial stuff, and chemicals, your body will learn to talk to you about what it needs and when it needs it. Thus, you don’t have to count calories. You just eat when hungry and stop when full. This has clearly worked great for many.
For me, I think that I have a predisposition to overeat. Even when doing all the “right” things to detox myself, I am hard wired to want food when I get bored or stressed. I like to eat! And since I wasn’t tracking everything I ate, I think I had a tendency to overeat (extra fruit, second helpings at dinner, bigger portions, etc.). There is just something about me that when I can look at my Tap and Track and see how much I’ve eaten, my logic can override my appetite. Without a way to satisfy the logical side of me, my appetite took a little too much liberty! LOL Luckily, though, since it was all clean whole food and since I was bringing it hard on the workouts, a lot of the added weight was muscle mass (more on that in a minute …)
Body Fat = I had calculated my body fat at 6.6% on October 1st when I started a WFPB diet (when I weighed 212). That’s a lean body weight of 198. When I finished, my body fat was up to 8%. And with my weight of 222, that’s a lean body weight of 204. This means that although I gained some body fat, I also gained 6 pounds of muscle! That’s nuts! For someone who’s been doing these workouts for nearly 2 years, I wouldn’t expect big changes in muscle mass, especially while doing a round of straight P90X Classic which I’ve already been doing a long time. And with NO MUSCLE BUILDING SUPPLEMENTS (no creatine, no pre-workouts, etc.) But the diet sure did it! Now I just need to melt off this annoying new layer of body fat over my abs and I’ll be looking good! As I go into P90X2, this will give me a goal to shoot for (get the body fat real low again for spring/summer).
Strength = On my initial fit test, I had some great numbers. I knew I was getting stronger during this round, but how would I stack up on the final fit test? Here’s the Day 1 to Day 90 fit test results =
Resting HR = 46 beats per min. ————– 44 beats per min.
Pullups = 28 reps (wide grip) ————– 30 reps (wide grip)
Vert Jump = 26″ ———————— 28″
Pushups = 76 reps (standard width) ———————- 82 reps (standard width)
Toe Touch = 0 (my flexibility stinks!! Gotta work on that!) ———————- + 2″ (woo hoo, I improved slightly LOL)
Wall Squat = 5:11 ————————- 5:12 (held on to beat my old mark LOL)
Bicep Curls = 17 reps @ 50 lbs. ——————— 20 reps @ 50 lbs.
In & Outs = 106 reps ————————— 120 reps
HR Maximizer = 176 bpm, 127 bpm, 114 bpm, 98 bpm, 89 bpm (at Time 0, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, and 4 min) ————–
180 bpm, 125 bpm, 110 bpm, 92 bpm, 81 bpm (at Time 1, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, and 4 min)
I am pretty pleased to see the improvements, especially considering I did MORE pullups and pushups despite weighing 10 more pounds.
Here’s what I looked like on Day 90 of my WFPB diet, weighing 222 lbs =
A WFPB diet is a great long term diet. I haven’t used it for a “fat shredder” plan, so I hate to speculate about how that would work. I gained body fat on it, but I was already very low body fat. If I had been over 20% body fat when I started, I may have seen a big drop in body fat — who knows. Like I said I can’t speculate on something I haven’t done. I do know this — many people have used a vegan diet and found that they lost a lot of body fat.
A WFPB diet is great for building muscle. (at least it was for me since I can only speak for myself). I was really, really surprised that I not only maintained muscle, but GAINED a good amount of muscle, without any supplements other than Shakeology, while on this WFPB diet. I haven’t seen this amount of muscle mass gain in myself during a single round other than during the mass building round I did for Round 4 when I was taking creatine, pre-workouts, and R/R formula. This was quite a nice surprise. More hard-gainers should try the WFPB approach — they might see big gains compared to the traditional “high protein” approach.
Not everyone can trust their body completely LOL! Some vegans do fine by just eating when hungry and stopping when full, They naturally reach a point of balance at a very lean, low body fat level. I don’t think I can trust my body that well! I like to keep my brain in charge of the process, not my tummy. So if you are like me, you may find that you need to go back to tracking calories (even though the % will be skewed toward higher carbs).
Results will vary! I am speaking from what I learned about how MY body functions on a WFPB diet. I encourage everyone to experiment with it. It may be the perfect fit to help you reach your goals either now or at some point depending on your goals and how they change over the course of your fitness journey. I know some who did the vegan diet at the exact same time as me in our challenge group and lost body fat and weight. Some questioned their strength levels. Just because these were my results, they may not be yours. But you won’t know unless you try. One thing I do know — eating healthy food straight from nature IS GOOD FOR YOU! There is no arguing with that!
What are my plans from here?
As I go on from here, I will continue to eat a 90% vegan diet. I am not going to be as strict as I was during the challenge, mostly for convenience sake. It’s nice to have the flexibility to order a grilled chicken dinner if I’m at a restaurant, or to pack a couple protein bars for snacks on the go. It’s also easier (and cheaper) to get whey protein for mixing in my shakes than plant protein powders. And I’ve been dying to go back on my Results/Recovery formula and some Kre-Alkalyn just because I love the way the R/R tastes and recharges me. So I will make those adjustments, but my typical daily diet will continue to look much like my sample vegan diet.
I am also going to go back to tracking my calories. While my % will inherently stay lopsided in favor of carbs (that’s what happens on a WFPB diet), I just like the control of being able to see at any given time where I’m at for the day. I know many vegans don’t need to track calories, but I also know for myself after 90 days that if I don’t have the accountability of tracking everything, my body likes to tell my brain it’s hungry!! LOL! While some are good at listening to their bodies and only eating when hungry, my body is just wired to think it’s hungry any time I’m bored or stressed. That’s something that even 2 years of clean eating hasn’t changed. So I will continue to keep myself accountable.
As I go through the P90X2 Challenge with our teamRIPPED X2 Crew, I plan to go with 2400 cals per day (a safe but not extreme 600 calorie deficit) until I am happy with my body fat, which may be 6, 7, or 8 weeks. At the point I reach my ideal b.f. %, I will transition up to 3,000 to really enhance my performance gains for the remainder of the X2 Challenge.
And I believe that with those minor changes (adding back some flexibility and going back to my tried and true calorie counting) I can fine tune my WFPB diet to get my body fat back down where I really want it for spring and summer. I love the strength and stamina I have from the WFPB diet, and I love how muscle building seemed to happen faster even without any supplements. Now I just want to get the body fat dialed in and I anticipate to look better than I EVER HAVE at the end of P90X2 :-)
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