Six Tips for Macro Counting to Plant Based Eating

So as you all know, this has been something that my husband and I have transitioned into over the past year. It's not been a big ordeal, but we have just slowly made changes. It's important to note that macro counting can be done with plant based eating, but that is just not the route that I took. I keep hearing phrases like, "Macros didn't work for me" and the truth is that every single eating pattern that you will ever do is going to be a breakdown of macros (carbs, fat, protein) and it's just finding what you think is best for you.

1. REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU STARTED THIS JOURNEY

I'm not someone that easily gets rid of habits, so it took me a long time to really get into plant based eating and figure out which meals to make. The thing that I did to continue to encourage myself (and still do) is that I follow tons of vegan youtubers. {{Side note: Vegan youtubers have a lot of drama within their community if you watch them! haha! I'm so thankful the running online community is not like that}} I also follow tons of plant based people on instagram and I hit up www.nutritionfacts.org daily to see the new information that he has provided and it keeps me motivated. It reminds me why I started.

You'll hear a lot of people say this and it's SO true. The plant based eating itself is not the problem. It's society, and how weird people think that you are, and how to go about different situations of deciding whether you want to eat meat here and there because if we ate it everywhere it was provided, we wouldn't really be plant based. We don't get crazy and we still eat meat/dairy/cheese when provided but if we can get something else, we do.

For me personally, I was also tired of living a life just about the way that my body looked. I knew that there was the risk that without as much protein that my body would change. I decided that for me, my body composition meant next to nothing compared to my health, animal cruelty, starving children, and environmental conservation. Everyone has their reasoning for why something finally strikes a cord, and for me, it was all of the above, but mostly for health and starving people around the world due to the lack of resources because too much grain is being fed to animals so they can be killed for us to eat. I couldn't un-see what I had seen. As much as I would love for the world to go vegan, I do not care if anyone around me makes that decision. It's simply a personal one.

2. CHANGING PROTEIN SOURCES

This is the most frequently asked question, and not just for me but every single person that chooses this lifestyle.

Remember how I said that I was afraid of my body composition changing? Well, it didn't. haha! I have found through much research that in order to maintain our weight and body composition as long as continue to lift, the amount of protein that we need is right around 10% which is naturally found in plants and very easy to hit. That doesn't mean that you can't aim for more than that, but I've found that the longer and longer that we do this, the more that we find it's not really necessary to get crazy with trying to force protein sources in all these different areas. As I've said before, if you decide to go plant based, there are no special tricks up my sleeve for protein choices, but they are what they are, and I'll list some of what we do below.

My husband who has a really solid muscle mass base has done the same as me, and he has actually had muscle gains in the past year. This is not to say that it's from the diet. I think that it's just the combo of continuation of a good diet with adequate calories, and a good lifting program.

The typical route to plant based eating to make it easier is to replace the meat in your meals with something that is plant based protein. The three most common are tofu, tempeh, and seitan. They have made these products in 1000 different ways to make it exciting. You can get hot dogs, burgers, bacon, etc but they are just made by these vegan companies. As Tanner and I talk about, these products don't have that much flavor, and neither does meat. In our culture, we grill, fry, saute, and marinate our meat to make it edible, so the same amount of effort goes for tofu. You wouldn't just eat plain chicken breast with no salt or flavoring. It would be disgusting, so don't judge these products until you've prepared them the same way! ;)

Tanner uses a vegan protein powder (but I don't even do that because #vomit). He searches around the internet when he runs out for a new company that has popped up to 1)support them 2) it's always cheaper because they are trying to get their feet off the ground. However I know that the big dogs in the protein powder industry have started making vegan products, and from what I hear, they are pretty good. Here are some of the ones that we use the most!

  • Gardein Beef Crumbles
  • Aldi brand Veggie burgers
  • Every kind of bean
  • Tempeh/Tofu/Seitan in all forms and variations
  • Buckwheat
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Vegetables with high amounts of protein per gram: spinach, brussel sprouts, artichoke, peas

3. EXPLORE NEW FOODS

I have never had such an appreciation for the beautiful fruits and veggies that the Lord has given us until I went plant based. It has been so fun to find, and then try in new recipes. I feel as if so many turn their nose up at quinoa, eggplant, kale or hummus in our society. It's quite funny actually. I'm like "Have you ever even tried this?!" The answer is typically no! Coming from a VERY southern culture, I promise these foods are good, yall. No fear! Here are some new ones:

  • Cavistel
  • Cucamelon
  • Jicama (starchy type vegetable)
  • Kumquat (similar to orange)
  • Pitaya (dragonfruit)
  • Romanescu (similar to cauliflower)

HOW FUN RIGHT?! haha! Just me?

DID YOU KNOW OREOS ARE VEGAN? Fun fact! lol! There's TONS of comfort foods that are vegan, and I'm thankful for my husband who jumped on board!

DID YOU KNOW OREOS ARE VEGAN? Fun fact! lol! There's TONS of comfort foods that are vegan, and I'm thankful for my husband who jumped on board!

4. DON'T BE EMBARRASSED

This lifestyle is actually very hard to get into. I'm only writing about it honestly because I was asked by a few clients to talk about this transition a little more. I feel as if it's not readily accepted. I think that people almost believe that you are judging them if they do otherwise, and that is so far from the truth. I think that my family was shell shocked when I first told them, and I wasn't even going to tell but it just became obvious. Everywhere that we go, it's very heavily meat focused, and that's okay. I have made a personal decision for myself, and that doesn't mean that I need to convince everyone to jump on board. I know that some people are hardcore advocates but I'm not one of those people. I'm just going to share my journey and if it encourages someone, then that's amazing.

However, when I first started this journey, I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed that it was going to look like yet another phase when I felt led (honestly spiritually) to do so. We all have callings in different direction and feel purposeful in different directions, and I felt it in this way, but I knew that everyone else would think that I was ridiculous. It has taken time but just like anything, no one gives a dang about anyone but themselves. HA!! So, they might make jokes at you and they might pick on you but don't be embarrassed. You are doing something that you believe to be good for you and for many other reasons I'm sure that are much deeper than just what's on your plate. You know that. There is no reason to have to shove that down someone's throat, or to persuade them, but you can do what feels right for YOU!

5. YOUR RATIOS WILL BE DIFFERENT

If you are going from macros to plant based eating, then your ratios are going to be different. You aren't going to have as much protein in your diet, and you want to replace that with carbs. You'll ask yourself and me: Well then why was I doing these macros to begin with? 

When you macro count, you are given numbers based on your goals, but also based on your lifestyle. The things that we know is that our bodies need different ratios of macronutrients in a balance of some sort, and that we need the different macronutrients for different things. If you have all of the macros represented and an adequate amount of calories (or a deficit of calories if you are trying to lose) then you are going to see results with them. Macros are not meant to be a set in stone kind of thing if your lifestyle changes. The numbers CAN change, and they aren't golden tablets of numbers. Many different ratios will work for you. You have to find what is going to be sustainable for you in the long term, and if you are switching to plant based eating, then 140g of protein per day is going to be pretty unrealistic unless you want to be pounding all kinds of fake powders and soy protein which isn't good for you.

The first step in change should be that you are keeping calories the same, reduce your protein to around 90g-100g and then add those calories back to carbs. You could change your calories entirely, but I wouldn't recommend it.

As time went on though, I just started counting calories. I didn't worry about protein and I started getting 60-70g and my body wasn't changing, so I just kept going with it. Eventually, this morphed into just not counting at all with it. Everyone's journey is different. I'm not saying this is the one that you should take, but it's the one that I did.

6. PREPARE IN ADVANCE

You aren't going to be able to make the switch without some thoughtful planning ahead of time. No matter what kind of diet (and by diet I just simply mean the way in which you are eating not cutting calories), you are going to have to make changes if you are changing your diet and that takes thoughtful processing.

I always prep 3 different 9x13 dishes of veggies on Sunday, and just put them in big Tupperware dishes for us to grab each morning. Those include: mushrooms, carrots, brussels, zucchini, squash, green and red peppers and asparagus. I season them typically with garlic salt and throw tinfoil over them and bake for 30-45 minutes.

Each day we eat things like tofu, rice, and veggies which is just the same structure of meals that we would have had just instead of chicken, we might put tofu or beef crumbles. We make tacos with crumbles instead of lean beef. We make pizza with dairy free cheese. There is a substitute for every single thing. It just takes planning. Macro counting in general takes planning so you just do the same thing, but with plant based options.

I think I've talked long enough, and hopefully given you some insight into the way that we approach this. I totally am not saying that our way is the only way or the right way but just what works for us!

 

 

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