My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment — Week 1 Recap

I’ve just com­plet­ed the first 7 days of my veg­an diet exper­i­ment. I thought it would be use­ful to share some of my expe­ri­ences with you. (Here’s why I’m under­tak­ing this veg­an diet exper­i­ment)

To begin, let’s bench­mark where I think I was at the start of the exper­i­ment. In terms of ener­gy, mood, eat­ing well & con­sis­tent­ly exer­cis­ing then I would have scored myself a C or a C+. The ingre­di­ents were all there but because I was let­ting myself off the hook on a reg­u­lar basis (i.e. I ate well yes­ter­day so I can pig out a bit today or I’m going to the gym only 2–3 times per week instead of my desired 5+ times), I nev­er seemed to devel­op suf­fi­cient momen­tum & thus felt that I was rely­ing pri­mar­i­ly on willpow­er to dri­ve me for­ward. Lack­ing hard edges to my diet in terms of what I would eat or not eat also made it easy to break the rules.

In the space of 7 days, I would say that I’ve moved up a grade to a B or a B+. The com­mit­ment that I’ve made to this exper­i­ment (both pub­lic & pri­vate) has had, I believe, pow­er­ful knock-on effects across the board.

Over­all, I would rate it as a pret­ty suc­cess­ful week. I’ve stuck to the eat­ing plan. Eat­ing in this way does require some plan­ning and some exper­i­men­ta­tion but I have not found it par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult. The biggest chal­lenge has prob­a­bly been the con­stant track­ing of a vari­ety of items (ener­gy lev­els, mood, phys­i­cal activ­i­ties etc.) includ­ing all the foods I’ve eat­en. If you’re curi­ous about this data, you can view & down­load the data here.

What’s different?

Ener­gy lev­els
I was curi­ous to dis­cov­er whether I would expe­ri­ence an obvi­ous increase in ener­gy. I have not noticed this. What I have noticed (apart from 1 or 2 blips) is a very con­sis­tent lev­el of ener­gy through­out the day (my typ­i­cal day runs from 6am to 10pm). I was most aware of the increased ener­gy that I had in the evenings.

An obvi­ous impact of this sus­tained ener­gy was that over the 7 days, I walked at least 10,000 steps each day (approx. 4.5 miles walk­ing for me) main­ly though tak­ing a series of walks through­out the day.

I did not expe­ri­ence any slug­gish­ness after eat­ing & find that I am now stop­ping eat­ing just before I become full.

On a 14 mile hike in warm weath­er on Sat­ur­day, I felt ener­getic through­out the hike while eat­ing less food than is typ­i­cal for me on a hike of this dura­tion & I felt less tired at the end than usu­al w/no joint pain.

I watched TV less and played music more. I found it more desir­able to start or stay mov­ing than to sit down for extend­ed peri­ods. I’m excit­ed about this and curi­ous to see what hap­pens over the com­ing weeks

Sleep­ing
I’m typ­i­cal­ly get 7–8 hours of sleep per night (prob­a­bly out­side the norm in this sleep-deprived soci­ety we inhab­it). Over the past week, I’m aver­ag­ing a lit­tle over 6 hours sleep per night. It is almost mid-June so this may be due to the ear­ly morn­ing light and not the changes I’ve made. I sus­pect how­ev­er, that it is due to a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors.

I don’t feel more alert than typ­i­cal when I wake up & I find that frus­trat­ing. So, I may exper­i­ment with increas­ing the inten­si­ty of my car­dio work­outs to see what if any impact that does have (now, I pri­mar­i­ly walk as my pre­ferred car­dio).

Mood
My mood has been con­sis­tent­ly good. On a self-rat­ed scale of 1–10 (10 being opti­mal), I’ve aver­aged 7.5 through­out the week.

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ties
As not­ed above, I’ve tak­en at least 10,000 steps dai­ly. I’ve been to the gym 5 times and tak­en a long hike on one of the oth­er days. My work­outs have been good and I’ve felt strong most of the time.

Focus
I’ve read that some folks have expe­ri­enced increased men­tal focus or clar­i­ty as they shift­ed to a veg­an diet. I’ve not (yet) expe­ri­enced this, although I have expe­ri­enced gains in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

Weight
I’ve been a lit­tle sur­prised (& some­what grat­i­fied) that I’ve gained weight (0.25kg/0.5lbs) over the past week. I’m not sure why this has occurred. Per­haps my bath­room scales are not 100% accu­rate or I replaced some fat with mus­cle? Or per­haps I’m now at or around my ide­al weight or per­haps I’m under­es­ti­mat­ing my calo­rie intake?

I’m not look­ing to lose any more weight & with my BMI being right in the mid­dle of the ‘nor­mal’ range for my height and age then I’m con­tent with stay­ing in my cur­rent weight range. My fear at the begin­ning of this veg­an diet exper­i­ment was that I would con­tin­ue to lose weight & begin to look thin & unhealthy. I’m glad that at this point, this does not seem to be hap­pen­ing.

My sur­prise at the increase in weight comes from the fact that I had read that folks who switch to a veg­an diet can typ­i­cal­ly lose quite a bit of weight over the first week. Per­haps, my diet was already in bet­ter shape than I gave it cred­it for.

This will be inter­est­ing to track over the com­ing weeks.

Observations/cravings/triggers
+ Crav­ings: I did not expe­ri­ence any crav­ings this past week. Apart from a fruit and nut (Nak’d) bar dai­ly & some Ste­via in my hot drinks, my main sources of sweet­ness has been fresh whole fruit & dried fruit in mues­li. I did not have any desserts or cakes. I believe that both fol­low­ing the 5:2 diet and the sub­se­quent reduc­tion in my processed food intake over the past year has real­ly helped me unhook from the ‘addic­tion’ of sug­ar.

I think this point is high­ly sig­nif­i­cant for folks try­ing to make bet­ter food choic­es. Ignor­ing tempt­ing food is so much eas­i­er when you’re not crav­ing those very foods. Many of us do very well with this ear­ly in the day. How­ev­er, as the day pro­ceeds and we suf­fer an increase in stress, tired­ness and essen­tial­ly use up our willpow­er sup­plies, then we increas­ing­ly lose that bat­tle. (Yes, some stud­ies show that willpow­er is a finite resource and can and does run out through­out the day). So, I’m becom­ing increas­ing­ly con­vinced that elim­i­nat­ing the crav­ings for ‘unhealthy foods’ is essen­tial for long-term suc­cess with weight man­age­ment.

* One of my early observations while on the 5:2 diet relates to this. On my fast days, I would feel more hungry after eating certain foods than before consuming them. On one level this makes no sense. However, my experience demonstrated that the number of calories was only 1 factor to consider when choosing certain foods to eat. For the most part, I learned to steer clear of foods that were high in refined carbohydrates, high in starches or essentially high in sugar. Eating those foods on a fast day left me hungrier. My go-to foods on those days became a whole grain cracker with some no-sugar nut butter. These left me satisfied with no negative side-effects.

There were a cou­ple of times dur­ing the week where due to the avail­abil­i­ty (& vis­i­bil­i­ty) of crisps/potato chips, I went ahead and ate some & there was one time where I saw them and because I had just become frus­trat­ed with some­thing else I went ahead & ate a hand­ful. 🙁

+ I’ve tak­en on more tasks this week (includ­ing writ­ing this update and track­ing all my data). This has some­what increased my stress lev­els, although I’ve expe­ri­enced this main­ly in a pos­i­tive way.

+ I’m more inclined to reach out to more peo­ple.

+ I’ve been more moti­vat­ed to tack­le some items on my someday/maybe list or even those items that I should be doing on a reg­u­lar basis but don’t because I now have more con­fi­dence that I’ve dis­cov­ered a bet­ter recipe to main­tain momen­tum once the ini­tial burst of enthu­si­asm has worn off and willpow­er has been drained.

+ I’m glad that a lot of wines are Veg­an 🙂

+ On day 2, I was sur­prised to make the fol­low­ing obser­va­tion. In advance of this tri­al, I was very con­scious of the lim­its this diet places on food choic­es. Sur­pris­ing­ly, going into my local super­mar­ket I felt relief at being able to com­fort­ably ignore 90% of the items on the shelves. This is inter­est­ing to me. As the chief cook in this house­hold, it prob­a­bly speaks to the con­stant allo­ca­tion of brain pow­er that I devote to mak­ing choic­es around food pur­chas­ing and that I sus­pect, comes at a price.

+ I have not been count­ing calo­ries. If I’m hun­gry, I eat with­in my range of accept­able foods. Hav­ing said that, I’ve rarely found myself need­ing to snack much between meals & I’ve learned over the past year to be quite com­fort­able feel­ing a lit­tle hun­gry.

+ I was not sure whether I would con­tin­ue to fast (1 day per week), dur­ing this exper­i­ment. My fast­ing day involves lim­it­ing my caloric intake to 600 over a peri­od of approx­i­mate­ly 36 hours. I did fast on day 5. This  went fine (details on what I ate are here).

+ Plan­ning ahead is essen­tial. When I was tired or busy, I was more like­ly to grab some­thing in easy reach. There were a cou­ple of times where I had left it too late to cook my meal and felt unmo­ti­vat­ed to do so after work­ing all day. Luck­i­ly, I had some frozen meat­less ‘burg­ers’ as back­up.

+ As I ease into this new way of eat­ing, I’ve kept some of my meals con­sis­tent­ly the same (break­fast). Going for­ward, I’ll retain some of this to lim­it the choic­es that I need to make but will also attempt to expand the vari­ety of foods that I eat.

A note of cau­tion
While I have been very hap­py with the progress that I’ve made over the past week, I’m also aware of the fact that pub­licly shar­ing this infor­ma­tion does poten­tial­ly impact how I rate myself across a vari­ety of areas & the choic­es that I make through­out the week. So, I may decide not have that 2nd glass of wine because I need to report it or I may score myself an 8 in ener­gy when in fact under dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances that may be a 7 or a 7.5.

We see this phe­nom­e­non play out in the area of weight-loss pro­grammes. The require­ment of main­tain­ing a food diary & record­ing every­thing that we eat does impact our choic­es. (Do I real­ly want to eat that left­over cake if I have to record it? 😉 )

I don’t believe that this plays a big role, but I do think that it is good to keep in mind. Thus, fol­low­ing up in 3 or 6 months is always essen­tial to ver­i­fy that behav­iour change is being sus­tained.

Going forward on my vegan diet experiment:

My goals for the next week are to:
1. Expand the vari­ety of foods that I eat, be a bit more adven­tur­ous
2. Take a gym class to chal­lenge myself phys­i­cal­ly (I have not tak­en a gym class in many years, typ­i­cal­ly pre­fer­ring to exer­cise by myself)
3. Ensure that I’m tak­ing any sup­ple­ments that I need to take

As always, I’d love to hear any com­ments that you have.

Original Post: My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment

My 30 Day Veg­an Diet Exper­i­ment — Week 2 & 3 Recap

My 30 Day Veg­an Diet Exper­i­ment — Final Report

 

3 thoughts on “My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment — Week 1 Recap”

  1. Pingback: My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment | MoreTime4Play MoreTime4Play

  2. Pingback: My 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment - Recap Week 2 & 3

  3. Pingback: 30 Day Vegan Diet Experiment - Final Report | MoreTime4Play

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