Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Day in the Life of my Belly

By request, here's a glimpse at a full day of meals for me.  Remember, I am NOT a nutritionist, and this is a plan that works for my body, size, and exertion.  Feel free to use this as a tool as you plan your own meals, but you should not copy my calories and macros.  Talk to a nutritionist or trainer if you need assistance in determining how much you should eat!  And this is a contest-prep diet for me.....outside of prep I would eat a LOT more!

Meal 1 - Tofu scramble with sweet curry, onion and spinach + ezekial toast topped with orange-rice-protein paste.  (Paste is 1 TBSP Nutribiotic Rice Protein + a few drops of orange extract + a bit of stevia + water to desired thickness.)

Meal 2 - Vega Berry Sport Protein mixed with water + rice cake + 1/2 cucumber + PB2.

Meal 3 - Taco salad: Lettuce and spinach + boca burger + brown rice topped with hemp-nooch-salsa.  (Salsa is 2 TBSP Hemp Protein + 1 TBSP Nutritional Yeast + 2 TBSP Salsa)

Meal 4 - Seitan topped with hummus + almonds and dates.

Meal 5 - Chocolate Vega Sport Protein blended with spinach and water (plus a few nibbles of tofu from my toddlers dinner).

Meal 6 - Sautéed beet greens, kale and onion + seitan topped with dijon.

Plus 1.5 gallons of water throughout the day.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Homemade Seitan: My High-Protein Staple

Everyone always wants to know where I get my protein.  One of my favorite sources is seitan: a dough-like meat-replacement, sometimes known as "wheat meat".  Made from vital wheat gluten, seitan won't work for anyone with gluten sensitivities, but it packs 31 grams of protein per serving for those who can tolerate it!

You can purchase packaged seitan at most natural grocers (Upton Naturals and West Soy both are great brands).  However I prefer to make mine at home to control the sodium content, flavoring, and also to save on costs.  Each serving of homemade seitan costs only about 50 cents!

Seitan can be baked, steamed or boiled.  This post focuses on boiling, which I think

produces the most versatile seitan.  You can slice and dice it, add it to salads and stir-frys, or simply top with your favorite condiments or sauces and serve on its own.

To get started, you'll need:
- 2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten (I prefer Bob's Red Mill.  Find this with the flours at any natural grocer.)
- 1/4 cup Seasonings (my favorite options are Italian Seasoning, Nutritional Yeast, or low-sodium Garlic & Herb)
- 3/4 cup water (or optional vegetable broth)
- Soy Sauce or Tamari (optional)
- Food scale (optional)

1) Put a 12-qt pot of water on the stove; bring to a boil.  (*Optional: for additional flavor, you can use vegetable broth rather than water.  To keep sodium low, I opt for water.)

Dough begins to form

2) In a mixing bowl, stir:

      2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
     1/4 cup seasoning (more to taste)

Raw dough

3) Slowly add water to mixture until dough begins to form (for additional flavor, replace water with soy or tamari). Seitan is very sticky and you may need to mix with your hands rather than a spoon.  Aim for a moist ball of firm dough.  Knead thoroughly (about 3-4 minutes) to make sure that there is no dry flour left in the mixture.


4) Divide dough into 6 equal pieces.  I generally use my food scale to ensure equal portions.  Form each piece into a patty.

5) Drop each patty into boiling water; stir occasionally and cook for 40 minutes.   Seitan will expand tremendously and rise to the surface; push pieces back to the bottom when stirring (if a piece stays out of the water, it will get very dense and dry.)

6) After 40 minutes, place seitan in a colander and drain; gently squeeze the water out of each piece by pressing with a spoon or spatula. 

7) Once cooled, refrigerate.

Per serving:
160 calories
31 g protein
5 g carbs
1 g fat

Serving suggestion: slice patty lengthwise, crisp in a toaster oven and top with organic mustard.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Protein Cupcakes

Competitors, trainers and athletes with a sweet tooth: fear no more!  I have created the perfect easy-to-bake sweet treat, chock full of protein with 16g per serving!

  • 1/4 cup (1 scoop) Vega Sport Protein Powder - Chocolate
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking power
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid stevia
  • 5 tablespoons water
Bake 20-25 minutes at 350.  Makes 2 cupcakes.
Get creative, and add in diced dried fruit, berries, grated zucchini or carrots, or chopped nuts.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

So You Want To Start Competing?

So, You Want to Start Competing?

Heck yes!  Good for you!  Motivation to compete in bodybuilding comes in numerous forms: some have a drive to win, others are fighting to achieve a better physique than they've ever been close to, while others are competing to overcome a fear.  Regardless of your reasons, there is no better time to start preparation than right now.  

(Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, coach, or personal trainer.  I am a hobbyist and am happy to share what has worked well for me.  However, I highly recommend that you consult a trainer to develop an appropriate exercise plan and diet customized for your own goals and body.)

Here's how to begin:

1) Decide what division and organization you want to compete in, and set a goal for a specific show date. 

     There are a number of organizations that host competitions; has a great list of the organizations.  I compete in, and therefore am most familiar with the NPC (National Physique Committee).  Below is a top-line overview of the NPC divisions, however most groups have very similar structure.  Most vegans compete in INBF events (International Natural Bodybuilding Federation), which I'll be exploring soon too.

Within the NPC, the women's divisions are Bikini (sassy, sexy, flirty and somewhat muscular), Figure (that's me), Fitness (which incorporates a dance/gymnastics routine), Physique (pretty damn muscular), and Bodybuilding (these ladies pack some serious muscle!).  YouTube 'bikini npc competition' and 'figure npc competition' to see the physiques, posing styles and attitudes.  This is also a good link to get to know the divisions.  When deciding what division to enter, you should desire the physique that is recommended for that division, and also be comfortable with the stage presence and posing that the particular division requires.  

2)  Start working out, even if you don't have a trainer.  

If you’re competing in bikini or figure (which I am most familiar with), you will want to develop a V-taper, which means having a wide back and well-developed shoulders, and a tight core, to give the illusion of a tiny waist (and you actually do end up with a tiny little waist!).   

Lift heavy weights!  You will not build muscle by lifting light weights.  You have to challenge yourself, push harder, and do more than you did before.  Your last rep of every set should be incredibly hard!  If it’s not, then increase the weight.  
Focus on particular muscle groups each day.  Shoulders, Back and Legs are my primary muscle targets, and I also work in the secondary focus groups.  I aim for 5-6 exercises on my primary muscle groups, and 1-2 exercises on secondary.  I generally do 4 sets of 20 reps on each exercise, and try to increase my weight with each set.  Often times my last set is a drop-set (where I have to switch to a lower weight part-way through), but I always strive to lift more.  Again, you won’t build muscle lifting light weights!  A typical week of lifting for me looks like:
Day 1: Shoulders & Triceps
Day 2: Back & Abs
Day 3: Legs & Chest
Day 4: Shoulders & Abs
Day 5: Back & Biceps
Day 6: Legs & Abs

Start doing cardio, and do what you can.  You can opt for steady state cardio (where you maintain a constant heart rate around 65% of your max) or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where you maintain a heart rate around 65% of your max and increase for short time periods up to about 80% of your max. 

Try doing your cardio sessions on a steep incline treadmill, a spin bike at very high resistance, or a stair stepper.

I currently do fasted HIIT 5 days a week on a stair stepper. This means that I am doing cardio before I have any food in my stomach for the day (I got to the gym from 5-6 am, Monday thru Friday).  Fasted cardio works very well for me, and my body pulls energy directly from fat stores rather than burning through food that’s in my belly).  I love the morning energy jolt that I get from fasted cardio, and it jump starts my day.  Other people hate fasted cardio….you will have to decide what is right for your body, and right for your schedule.  

My HIIT routine on the stepper is generally 5 minutes at Level 9 followed by 2 minutes at Level 13, repeated for an hour.  I also do an additional hour of cardio one day on the weekend.

 2) Start eating better, NOW!

My main tips are:

  • Eat 5-6 meals a day, every 2-3 hours.  This keep your metabolism high, and keeps you full.  I eat about 300 calories at 7 am, 10 am, 12:30 pm, 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm.  Eat lots of green veggies, lots of lean protein, and some complex carbohydrates.  Eliminate all processed foods, and cut down on sugars and added sodium.

  • Drink 1 gallon of water every day (yes, you're going to pee like crazy at first!). 

  • Track your food using an online food diary.  I use religiously to log my food; it's a little tedious at first, but after you enter things for about a week, it gets really quick and easy.  (They have a good mobile app too!).  If you don’t log your food, then how do you really know how much you’re eating?

  • Build yourself a nutrition plan, based on realistic calorie and the macro-nutrient targets.  Refer to the article on my earlier blog for tips on setting target weight, calorie goals, and determining your appropriate macronutrient intake.

4)  Track your progress.

  • Have your body fat percentage calculated by a professional.  Most gyms or city
    recreation centers will offer this service for free, or for a nominal fee ($5-$10).  If you are beginning a weight training program, you will likely add muscle (weight) to your frame while shedding body fat, but the scale will not reflect this change.  An accurate body fat calculation every few months will let you see your progress, and will show you how much fat you’ve lost and how much lean muscle you’ve gained (in pounds).  

  • Start taking selfies.  Take them all the time!  Take them of your whole body, and of
    specific body parts (legs, arms, back, stomach, booty, etc.).  Try to wear similar attire, and take them in the same lighting and stance, if possible.  Remember, it takes 4 weeks for you to see change, 8 weeks for friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.  I find nothing more rewarding than looking at progress pictures.
 5)  Stay Sane.

I love bodybuilding, because it provides me a healthy outlet for my OCD, but I have to keep it in check!  It’s easy to get obsessive with this sport, by calculating macros, tracking food, monitoring workouts, and checking weight & body fat stats.  Remember that skipping a workout or overeating one meal, are not going to derail all of your efforts.  Get back on track the next day or meal….one small slip is not an excuse to throw in the towel.

Good luck!  As always, please feel free to reach out with questions or feedback via the comments section here, or you can find me on Facebook or Instagram under PlantPoweredHauser.

Lift Heavy, Eat Clean, and Be Kind.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sample Meal Plan - 4 Weeks Out!

I've received a number of requests for my meal plans recently, so here goes! See below for a typical day....I eat every 2-3 hours (generally at 7, 10, 12:30, 3, 5 & 7), and drink 1+ gallon of water per day.  I am 4 weeks out from my next NPC Figure Competition, so my goal now is to gain as much muscle as possible in the next month.  I am 5'2", 120 lbs, and about 12-13% body fat, so I don't need to drop much fat (if any) before competing again.

Please also note that I am NOT a dietician or nutritionist.  Competing and eating a clean vegan diet are hobbies for me, and I'm happy to share what has worked, but I recommend that you work with a nutritionist or trainer to develop the best plan for you.

My current daily macronutrient goals are:
  • 1,600 calories
    • 50% from PROTEIN = 800 calories = 200 grams
    • 35% from COMPLEX CARBS = 560 calories = 140 grams
    • 15% from HEALTHY FATS = 240 calories = 26 grams

My carbs were a little high today, but overall I was pretty close to goal!

MEAL 1: Tofu-veggie scramble on gluten-free (GF) toast, topped with a salsa/hemp protein combo.
MEAL 2: Quinoa mixed with steamed asparagus and seitan
MEAL 3: Protein shake with veggies and hemp-dip
MEAL 4: Spinach topped with Mexican Lightlife
MEAL 5: Protein shake with rice cakes topped with PB2
MEAL 6: Spaghetti Squash Delight (recipe coming soon!)

I'll post a few more over the upcoming days!