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  1. First off: Brava for setting yourself measurable goals, that's the hardest part! Fair warning, you may find that more than 0.5lb/week ends up being too aggressive for long term weight loss - you may start out strong, but fatigue early. That's a very individualistic response though, so just listen to your body and respect it's messages. This is 100% correct, but there's a long difference between a piece of cake and a baked white potato. Using the paired examples I used above (eg. chickpea vs wheat pasta, rice vs soba noodle, etc), there isn't a massive difference in the glycemic index between them though. Some folks will argue that one is more nutritious than the other, but it all comes down to what metric you're using: are we talking about vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, etc? Bear in mind that I'm neither a nutritionist nor dietician, nor a health professional of any kind - I just read too much. But IMO, there's not a sufficiently quantifiable advantage between one or the other. Also remember that NerdFitness is pro-Paleo, which is VERY animal product heavy - not hugely compatible with vegan lifestyles. That being said, reducing your overall refined sugars and alcohol is a GREAT idea. Not sure which numbers you're looking at - on the packages maybe? Looking at for cooked noodles: Soba, 1c cooked (114g): 5.8g protein, 24.4g carbs, 0.1g fat, 113kcal Rice noodles, 1c cooked (176g): 3.2g protein, 42.3g carbs, 0.4g fat, 190.1kcal Somen (wheat) noodles, 1c cooked (176g): 7.0g protein, 48.5g carbs, 0.3g fat, 230.6kcal Remember that the two noodle kinds will absorb different amounts of water, changing their cooked numbers vs dry. Obviously it may vary some, depending on brand and if there are other ingredients (soba is often more than half wheat, not just buckwheat) - but this speaks again to how imprecise calorie counts actually are; lots of margin for error. My takeaway is really just how close they are, so changing it should matter very little (unless you want the lower kcal that soba offers) - at least until you're at the point in your journey where very small tweaks really matter. Spaghetti squash and zuchinni noodles are perfect options, for sure - but in terms of pasta vs buckwheat? Again, in my opinion, it's all a wash. Many folks will suggest nixing noodles altogether, and just eating whole cereal grains. But I think it's important to have foods that you enjoy in your meal planning, and it sounds like noodles are a staple for you - so I'd just focus on portion control. Using measuring cups rather than eyeballing can make a huge difference to help you still enjoy the foods you love, while not going overboard. Rice is the least nutritious of the options we've been discussing, since it's mostly just straight up starch - but even then, if you cook it and refrigerate, and then reheat, it also provides resistant starch! (a prebiotic, food for happy tummy bugs) Pulses and legumes ARE good sources of protein - they just aren't as high as animal proteins, so you need more (and ideally a greater variety). Replacing rice with beans is a perfect example, and I commend you for doing it! You may decide you'd like to invest in a pressure cooker to cook them from dry though - it's cheaper, tastes better, and avoids the extra sodium/preservatives often added to canned. Tofu and tempeh are also good choices, but they're both soy based which I typically like to limit to only one portion a day. Mycoprotein matches up to beans in terms of protein content, though I'd double check the ingredients list since many quorn products are NOT vegan. Seitan is also a good option, and one of your best choices for more concentrated protein - I tend to only have it occasionally though, mostly because I personally think the production is quite wasteful (it's pretty much just washed flour dough, where the starch has been rinsed away). Miso is just a seasoning really, not a source of any substantial nutrients save for it's prebiotic potential. Totally. Sorry, didn't meant to scare you, I just have a numbers brain. The best solution to this would be, again just in my opinion, to find a staple 10-12 recipes that you'll use on a regular basis, and just calculate out ONCE what the rough numbers would be. From there, you can put together a two week meal plan that will see you hit your weekly averages, without having to figure out individual meals. Some day to day variability is absolutely ok, so weekly goals may work better for your flexible eating style. Adding the occasional new ingredient here and there shouldn't affect things enough to warrant new tracking, unless you're adding 3TBSP of coconut oil or something. I like this tool (I just recently discovered it), if you need meal ideas with more protein: I set it to 1,800kcal for that link, but obviously you should change it to whatever suits your goals. Honestly, no one can answer this but you, for yourself. It will take some experimentation, to find YOUR balance between nutritional goals and personal values. I respect where you're coming from, and understand why you don't want animal proteins - long term, you may decide that ethically produced non-kill options (eg. pastured eggs & dairy) are something you'd like to explore. And if not, THAT'S OK TOO! There are loads of ripped vegan athletes out there, so please don't see it as a limiting factor - you just need to find your own groove. Vegan protein powder could be a good tool, they're ususally based on peas, hemp, or rice. Personally, I've found that focusing on my protein intake has had the most measurable, positive influence on my diet and feeling of wellbeing out of all the different dietary experiments I've undertaken (eg. macrobiotic vegan, mediterranean, FODMAP, etc.). Higher protein levels are clinically proven to favour fat loss over muscle, keep you full for longer, speed weight loss, and in some cases allow for building muscle even in a caloric deficit. As a vegetarian, it forces you to prioritise the most effective of your food sources (pulses, legumes, vegetables) over less nutritionally dense options (puddings, BIG pasta portions, bowls and bowls of rice). Which is not to say that you can't have those 'junkier' options, you just end up eating less of them. Which is kind of the point - I like this focus because it's sustainable long term: you're not restricting what you can have you're just changing the proportions. It's not a 'diet', it's a lifestyle change - you're not 'losing weight', you're changing how you eat to a new meal plan/mentality that will result in changes in your body. That is to say, the body recomposition is a byproduct of changing your food choices to more nutritious options, rather than being the goal itself. This mindset shift is helpful both in setting actionable measureable goals (eg. eating at least 3c of beans or lentils every day, minimum 4 servings of vegetables a day, no more than 2 servings of starchy options a day, etc.) that are based on your behaviour - rather than setting goals based on outcomes that you have no control over (eg. "I want to lose 15lbs"). You can't control how your body loses weight - but you CAN control what you choose to eat. Focusing on habit goals, rather than outcome goals, is understood to be more effective long term, and easier to stick with. But again, that's just me. The beauty of forums is that you can take on the advice & info that is useful to you, and just ignore the rest.
  2. So....ok. I might sound like a bit of an asshole, and I apologise in advance. But: you are worrying about the wrong stuff. There's nothing wrong with white potatoes, or even wheat pasta. Same as there's nothing wrong with sweet potatoes, soba, or your beloved rice noodles. You are not really trading stuff out for less carbs - in a sense, some of the slightly higher fiber options may digest slower, but they are still starches with very similar carb numbers (and sometimes higher calories due to fat content, eg. chickpea pasta). Each plant source has their own micronutrient profile that can be beneficial, in moderation. So feel free to eat whatever variety you like, so long as it's not the same thing every day! But everything you've mentioned is a 'high carb' food. Again, there's NOTHING WRONG with carbs, or liking to eat them - but that's in direct contradiction to your first sentence: If you want to reduce carbs, unfortunately the only way to really do that is, eat less carbs. As a vegetarian, you may or may not be using protein sources like fish, eggs, and dairy - excluding these options, your protein intake is almost entirely dependent on legumes. And legumes, while they have excellent fiber, are still moderate carbohydrate foods unto themselves. IE. as a vegetarian, you'll automatically need to eat a fair amount of carbs just to hit your protein numbers. Let's take an example scenario: a 5'4" 150lb woman who is 25% BF, and wants to lose some fat to get to 20% BF. Her TDEE is ~1,750kcal/day, she should be aiming for a minimum of 150g of protein each day, with a daily goal of 1,500kcal for a 250 calorie deficit (1/2lb of fat loss a week, it'll take her about 5 months to reach her goal, assuming linear progress). That might look like: 2c edemame (boiled/raw soybeans) - 34g protein, 30g carbs (16 fiber), 16g fat, 378kcal 2c sprouted lentils - 14g protein, 34g carbs (12 fiber) , 1g fat, 164kcal 1c chickpeas - 15g protein, 45g carbs (12 fiber), 4.2g fat, 269kcal 3.5oz of wild sockeye salmon (assuming you eat fish) - 27g protein, 0 carbs, 11g fat, 220kcal 2 large eggs - 12g protein, 1.2g carbs, 10g fat, 156kcal 1 scoop whey protein powder - 28g protein, 0.5g carbs, 0.5g fat, 120kcal That gives her 130g of protein, and the remaining 20g should come from the vegetables she eats. But: 130g protein, 111g carbs (40 fiber, net ~71g carbs), 43g fat = 1,307kcal So, this woman is probably going to go over her kcal goal if she wants to lose fat and retain lean body mass on a pescatarian diet; she only has 200 calories left for sauces/seasoning and vegetables, for a daily total of 1,500kcal. That's not really realistic, because even accounting for fiber, 4-6 servings of vegetables a day usually amounts to a minimum of 200-300kcal/day, plus you NEED to have some flavour in your life to make those beans palatable. She'll more likely end up eating 1,600-1,650kcal/day, resulting in it taking closer to 8 months for her to lose that fat - but, in regards to total carb intake, probably only hitting about 100g net a day. This is because she uses protein supplements and included some animal protein. If you were to exclude the fish, eggs, and whey powder, she'd be eating even more calories to still hit that 150g of protein (incidental kcal & carbs from beans). Plus, that's over 4c of beans a day - enough to keep anyone full; and no noodles yet! Once she adds in the carbs from vegetables (~45-100g per day), it's still not super high numbers - but that's more a function of the restricted calories. Vegetables are not calorically dense, but there is some variation, for example: 1c green peas - 9g protein, 21 carbs (7 fiber), 0.6g fat, 118kcal vs 1 head romaine lettuce (~630g) - 8g protein, 21g carbs (13 fiber), 1.9g fat, 108kcal vs 3c green beans - 5.4g protein, 21g carbs (8 fiber), 0.8g fat, 93kcal (I know the numbers don't add up, I've just been taking the macros from online databases; there is often as much as a 20% margin of error in calorie counts) But let's say that this woman is happy at 150lbs and 25% BF, and only wants to eat at maintenance. She decides that means she only needs to aim for ~100-120g of protein; so she can skip the edemame. 1,750 (TDE) - 930 (kcal required, as illustrated above, to hit protein numbers net edemame) - 300 (vegetables) = 520kcal 'left over' to still eat in a day NOW, she has plenty of 'room' left over for noodles and other starches, a selection between some examples: 1c soba - 24g carbs (1 fiber), 113kcal 1c rice noodles - 44g carbs (1.8 fiber), 192kcal 1 portion of chickpea pasta - 54g carbs (11 fiber), 330kcal 1c wheat pasta - 43g carbs (2.5 fiber), 221kcal ~150g sweet potato - 30g carbs (5 fiber), 136kcal 1 small potato (~150g) - 37g carbs (3.8 fiber), 161kcal As you can see above, swapping around your starches & noodles can cause SOME difference, but nothing drastic. Personally, after being vegetarian/vegan for over 12 years, I started to reintegrate animal proteins into my diet in order to facilitate fat loss and the ability to build muscle with more wiggle room in my diet. That being said, I probably only eat meat/poultry once week (mostly because it's $$, since I choose to only use free range/grass&seed fed varieties) - I do eat fish 2-3/week, and dairy is pretty much a daily addition in my diet. Protein powders make a huge difference in my ability to hit my protein goals without ill effects on my digestive system - and I do prioritise protein because it aids in my recovery after workout, it helps me feel more energetic, and it allows me to improve/maintain my strength while in a caloric deficit. You may choose to not eat as much protein, but I'd urge you not to drop below 0.7g per lb of bodyweight - and to aim for at least 1g/lb if you are exercising regularly and/or trying to lose weight. TL:DR - eat what you like, it's all close enough that it doesn't really matter. IMO, you should double check your protein intake, but that all depends on your personal goals. Sorry for the rant, hope some of that helps!
  3. Defining

    Knee Friendly Quad/Glute Exercises?

    Are your knees caving in? That's a pretty common squat issue, especially with beginners - fixes include strengthening your posterior chain, improving ankle mobility, lifting lighter weight until you can maintain proper form, etc. This is a cool video on one way to see what your 'natural' squat stance is, which could help prevent you from too narrow or wide a stance: On the same topic: You could also use a resistance band just above the knees, as a physical reminder to drive your knees out. Depending on where your weakness is, even your shoes can help prevent some of that knee pain. Between the shoulder and knee twinges you've mentioned recently and your preexisting condition, you may want to schedule a few appointments with a physio with strength training background or trainer with a physio background - to help troubleshoot form and prevent you from damaging anything long term!
  4. Breathe. OK, now that that's out of the way: for beginners, it's often easiest to use a programme that's already put together FOR you. I can make suggestions, but I'm not a trainer, just a stranger on the internet - take any advice with a grain of salt. Or you can compare several different internet recommended starting routines, and decide if maybe one of those would work for you. To help you understand the differences between exercises, I generally like to think of them as pulling and pushing for upper body (both vertical ie. overhead and horizontal ie. arms in front of you), knee dominant or hip dominant for your lower body (the two major joints for your lower body, AKA squat v deadlift), and some folks also like to add some core specific and isolation exercises for areas that need some extra attention. But that's pretty much it. Find some safe/fun lifts, and you're away to the races. Some more info: The other movement I'd add to the list would be loaded carries - which is to say, picking up something heavy and walking a distance with it - mostly because that mimics the most common day-to-day strength we need in real life! For beginners, full body workouts (rather than focusing on different body parts on different days) give you the chance to exercise each muscle group 3-4 times a week, which helps improve movement patterns and initial strength gains. Essentially, beginners aren't strong enough to stress out their muscles to the point that they need to split things up, at least to start with. I also like to err on the side of less technical movements, especially when you're working out alone at home - the fewer things that can be done incorrectly, the better! To that end, here are my favourite beginner movements: WARM UP: 5-10min of skip rope, burpees, or jumping jacks AND 2 sets of Sun Salutation for EACH SIDE (4 total, lots of variations around, I prefer the ones that include a lunge movement/stretch for your hips) Goblet squat or Split Squat (lower body; knee dominant) - kettlebells are NOT essential, you can start with just bodyweight and/or dumbbells & similar Hip Thrust or Practice the Hinge (lower body; hip dominant) - add weight when you can do at least 15 bodyweight reps in a row; don't deadlift until you have a good hinge Inverted Row or Dumbbell Row (upper horizontal pull; pick one per workout) - keep your back straight, don't let your shoulders cave in! Pull Downs with bands or pulley weights (upper vertical pull; pick one per workout) - lighter weights to start with, you should focus on feeling it in your back, not your arms (this movement will eventually progress to pull-ups, but those are really hard for most of us) Pushups or Dumbbell Bench Press (upper horizontal push; pick one per workout) - regress as needed to keep good form Headstand Pushups (upper vertical push) - DB presses are another option, but DON'T do any overhead pressing with weights if you have poor thoracic (upper back) mobility or shoulder stability RKC Plank or Auxillary Core Movements (core) - time and reps don't matter if you're not doing them properly; slow & good form for 15sec is better than bad form for 60s Farmer's Walk or Similar Variations (loaded carries) - also acts as a 'finisher' for the workout COOL DOWN: Walk for 15min, 2 more Sun Salutations (one per side) Do 3 sets of 8 reps (that's lifting the weight 8 times, and then doing that 3 times each) per: one each of the upper body push/pulls & one or both of each of the lower body movements. That's your workout! Do it 3-4 times a week, and get at least 45min of walking (ideally outside) on days that you're not working out. Go slow, be safe, have fun, do your own research to decide what will work best for you! Ask advice from experts, if you have access to any. Welcome to the wonderful world of weight lifting.
  5. Digestive flare-up, going liquid for a few weeks until things level out. I'd love to hear from you guys what your favourite smoothies look like! Bonus points for veggie additions that don't taste disgusting (I like wheatgrass & greens, which are my usual additions).