A lot of people have asked me how I stay in shape, so I thought I’d talk about what a plant-based diet has helped me achieve naturally, without excessive cardio or fad diets. Disclaimer: I have always been a relatively small person my whole life with a somewhat fast metabolism, so my experience will not be the same for everyone. However, I do believe that diet accounts for 80% of anyone’s individual results. If someone is working out regularly but eating poorly, then they won’t be able to see results as quickly as they would if they followed a balanced, nutrient-dense diet.
Though my natural body shape has been consistently on the smaller side, in the last year or so my body has become more toned and visibly leaner. My stomach had always been flat, but noticeable abs which I did not know I even had started peeking through. My skin looked more toned and taut, and though I do not own a scale, nor weigh myself – I felt lighter. The craziest part was that I hadn’t even owned a gym membership in 3 years, yet I looked like I had been working out religiously.
This odd transformation came during a summer where I was eating mostly vegan, unprocessed, whole foods. I was not counting calories. I was not restricting myself in any way. I ate carbs, healthy fats, and consumed a diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Add in an occasional home workout or two and my body transformed right in front of me. Going vegetarian over 6 years ago did wonders for me already, but slowly decreasing my dairy intake made a significant impact. My skin got clearer, I felt less bloated, my body looked leaner. I wish I could go back in time and change my diet when I was younger, instead of wasting all of those unnecessary hours on the dreaded elliptical.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting lean from the food you eat:
Ditch the meat and dairy: Animal products contribute to excess weight gain, excess fat and cholesterol, digestion problems, etc. Meat and dairy cause the body to swell and bloat, so if you cut these out slowly, you can expect to feel lighter and leaner. Try doing a vegan challenge for just a week and see how much better you’ll feel – if you do it right, your body will thank you. Trust me on this.
Incorporate more whole grains in your diet: Whole grains are high in fiber, keep you full longer, and are easy for the body to digest. Eating oatmeal in the morning or having quinoa instead of pasta or white rice for dinner are two examples of adding whole grains into your diet.
Eat your fruit: Be sure to keep fresh fruit in your house for guilt-free snacking when you have a sweet tooth. My go-to’s are a banana in the morning and apples with peanut butter or strawberries at night. Replacing fruits for other snacks like chips or cookies will keep your body in check, plus the vitamins and minerals, fiber, and water content from the fruit feed your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
Don’t forget the veggies: Eat a colourful variety of vegetables throughout the day (similar to the pyramid above). And no, this doesn’t just mean just salad. Do not be afraid of carbs and healthy fats: roasted sweet potatoes with avocado are my favs!
Fuel up on plant-protein: Tofu has a bad rep due to the soy content, but it’s okay to consume occasionally because it’s a low-calorie, high protein source. Legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas are packed with plant protein and fiber, so try to incorporate them into your meals as well. Fuel your body with vegan protein shakes made from pea protein or hemp protein powder, almond milk, and berries or nut butter.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day: Water keeps the body hydrated and helps flush out toxins. It also clears our skin and keeps us full. Dehydration is commonly mistaken for hunger, which is why most people eat a big meal first thing in the morning. Instead, I like to drink a full glass of water before I eat anything, and then have every meal with tons of water. This helps keep you full and also prevents bloating. It helps to carry a water bottle with you wherever you go too, so you’re subconsciously grabbing for it and have access to water with each meal.
Listen to your body: Eat only when you are hungry and stop when you feel yourself getting full. Over-eating can cause our bodies to swell and upset the stomach. If you’re still hungry after eating, drink a glass of water and wait to see if you get full. Indulge in cheat meals every once in a while (I know I do!), but keep portions minimal unless you have a heavy workout that day.
If I eat like this, will I look like you? 🙂
You look amazing! Model material!
Aw shucks! You are so sweet. Thank you <3