Ask Me Anything: 21 Listener Questions
Transcript of the No-Bullshit Vegan podcast, episode 71
Ask Me Anything: 21 Listener Questions answered about fitness, nutrition and veganism
You're listening to the No-Bullshit Vegan Podcast, episode 71. Today I'm answering 21 questions I got from awesome listeners, on everything from post-workout protein options, to sweating, to bullshit nutritionists, to more philosophical questions about lifestyle, fitness and veganism.
I'm Karina, your go-to vegan fitness and nutrition coach. Today I've compiled 21 questions I received from listeners via email, Facebook and Instagram, and I'm answering them with no preparations. I apologize in advance if I sound even less coherent than usual, as I'm answering these on the fly. Now, I just want to let you know if you haven't downloaded it yet, my ebook Sprouted Gains is on sale right now for over 50% off. It's $19 instead of $39, and you can get your hands on it at sproutedgains.com. It's essentially a vegan athletes’ starter kit, giving you everything you need to make sure that your plant based nutrition is supporting your fitness and your physique goals. It's got things like high protein meal samples, calorie and macro information, the nuts and bolts of vegan food prep, a little bit of debunking some myths, and there's also a companion guide with food log samples, interviews with vegan experts, and more. Again; you can check that out at sproutedgains.com.
Let’s get cracking with my ask-me anything episode. The first question I have is from Marlise, and she says, “what is the best way to lose belly fat?” It’s actually similar to a question that Christina wrote in, which is “ while I understand we can't change our body type, what recommendations do you have to achieve the best results for the most stubborn fat deposited body parts: hips, thighs, and women, especially the quote ‘saddlebags’ “. These two questions are basically how do I lose fat in the area that I want to lose it in, right? Unfortunately, you've probably heard me say this before on the show, but if not: you can't lose fat just from an area where you want to lose it. You have to lose fat everywhere, and you do that by being in a calorie deficit, first of all.
There’s more to it. The basic idea is you want to focus on eating fewer calories than you use in a day. You can do that just by lowering your calorie intake with your food. You can do that by increasing the calories that you burn in a day from exercise, or ideally you would do a combination of both of those things. The second piece is you have to strength train. Sure, you can lose fat doing cardio and being in a calorie deficit. If you really want to improve your metabolism long-term, and also add some shape to areas or some muscle tone, then you have to strength train. People who are generally saying “how do I lose fat from my belly or from my thighs or from my hips?”; they have to lose fat everywhere.
You need to make sure that you're doing a full body strength training routine. Now of course now being May 2020, we are in a situation where most of our gyms have been closed for at least two months. In some areas they're opening up again now, but a lot of us are going to continue working out at home. I would recommend doing some body weight training, getting some resistance bands (side note: my new book that just came out is all about strength training with resistance bands, but you can also find a lot of resources online for free.)
Kathy says, “I love these episodes. What shampoo and bath soap or wash do you recommend? Don't tell me you make your own, overachiever”. Kathy, that's hilarious because I actually do make my own soap. That's not entirely true. I have for the past three years, maybe a little bit over three years, used exclusively soap that I've made myself with olive oil, or made from olive oil.
I made this soap with my friend, Maggie in Vancouver regularly, and we actually shared equipment. We didn't each have the equipment we needed; we each had certain things. Then we got together and made soap in batches maybe twice a year, and it lasts for a really long time. Since for the past two years, I've lived in Powell River and Maggie is six hours away from me, I have not made my own soap in that time. So I have used up my stash. I think I'm actually on my very last bar of homemade soap right now. I don't know what I'm going to do after that. But here's the thing: you're talking to the person who doesn't even know what brand of shampoo she uses. If you offered me a million bucks right now to tell you, without looking, what brand of shampoo I have in the shower, I would not be able to tell you. I have no clue.
I just make sure that it's vegan, and not tested on animals. Honestly, I have no idea what is in my shower right now. So I can't be super useful to you. I will tell you one thing though, which is so underrated. People who wear makeup: coconut oil is the absolute, best makeup remover that I have ever experienced in my life. Sometimes I wear mascara and then when I wash my face, there's a little black line under your eye from where the mascara is, or was. I just use coconut oil (a tiny little bit), and it gets rid of it in two seconds. That is my very gratuitous makeup related tip for you.
The next question we have is from Ella. She says, “What foods have helped you gain energy and boost your metabolism?”
That's a very good question because I tend not to think about specific foods. I tend to think about my diet as a whole. I don't use terms like good food or bad food, or clean food or super food. It's just food. Now can what we eat actually increase our metabolism in the first place? Well kind of: there's something called the thermic effect of food, which is basically the energy our bodies require to digest certain types of foods. If you eat protein rich foods, you can slightly boost your metabolism for a few hours, because it takes our bodies more energy to process protein, but even foods that do have a really high thermic effect, won't do a whole lot (if anything) long term for your metabolism or for your body composition. I think the most effective way to boost your metabolism long term is not with food; it's to gain more muscle.
I guess in that sense, foods that have helped me to gain muscle are things like tofu and seitan, hemp hearts, tempeh, edamame, basically anything that's really high in protein. For foods that boost my energy, again, I don't really have any specifics. I just think of food as food or fuel, rather than really thinking about each individual, energy boosting item. You know, I do like my dark chocolate though. I'm not eating it specifically to boost my energy, but I think just because it's a really nice treat, and it may actually have some energy boosting effects, maybe my brain is just kind of used to it. Or it's been told that “ hey! Dark chocolate is an energizing treat.” I eat it literally every day, so I could not tell you if there's any difference there.
The next question is from Terrell and he says, Hey, I just listened to your PETA episode and thought it was pretty killer. My roommate, a woman in her early fifties, physically active, has been vegan in the past, but has in the last few years gone back to consuming milk and meat products for dietary reasons. She mentions her body needs a higher than average amount of protein for her to feel satiated, and to prevent overeating or weight gain. She says her gut doesn't tolerate tofu, grains and legumes in large amounts. Any nutritional advice I can give her? She agrees with the ethical and environmental reasons for being more plant-based or vegan.
Well, that's a great question, Terrell. I would honestly say she should see a registered dietician. She needs to figure out why she can't tolerate tofu, grains and legumes. Has she tried seitan? It's still grain-based, but it is kind of only part of the food, not the whole grain. Has she tried plant based protein powders or fermented, high protein options like tempeh?
I feel like she needs to figure out what the underlying issue is here, and a registered dietician would be definitely the place to go. I also feel like protein isn't the only satiating nutrient out there. I mean, fiber and healthy fats are equally important. She should make sure to get lots of soluble fiber from things like oats and nuts and seeds, and insoluble fiber from things like root vegetables and whole grain foods. Then of course, healthy fats too, from avocados and nuts and seeds. She should definitely see a registered dietician. It's not within my scope of practice to say, “Hey, this is what somebody should do to fix one of their nutritional problems”, if that makes sense. She needs to talk to someone who knows what they're doing and is plant based ideally, and can look at her individual food sensitivities.
Overall, there are definitely a lot of options. I'm somebody who has been vegan for 17 years with serious food allergies. I am deathly allergic to all raw fruit and all tree nuts, and additional things like raw carrots, corn, and some random things like chamomile tea and valerian root tea. I've had reactions to a lot of things. There are things that I know that I can't eat at all, which are vegan staples, like nuts. I can't have any nuts at all, except for peanuts, which are actually a legume. I kind of feel like if you work with somebody who knows their shit, like a registered dietician, you can figure out how to get the nutrients you need on a plant based diet.
The next two questions are about a similar topic. One is from Pat and she says, “if I'm working out in just ordinary circumstances, for example, an air conditioned gym and I'm sweating a lot, and the person next to me doing an equivalently hard workout is barely sweating at all, does this mean the other person is in better physical condition than me? Or does it mean that I am in better physical condition? Or is it just an individual difference that has nothing to do with fitness level?
Ella says, “ I've just heard from a talk that unfit people, sweat less and fit people sweat more. I have always an issue with not sweating enough, during high intensity exercise, but I wouldn't categorize myself as unfit. What else plays a role in sweat production?
These are great questions. I feel like this area is kind of in the same zone as “holy crap. I felt so sore. That must have been a good workout, right?” It's kind of the same, “Oh man, I'm sweating so much. That must have been an awesome workout.” When it comes down to it, sweat is not a good indicator of whether your workout was useful or effective, but it is true that if your body's cooling response is working effectively, you will start sweating sooner.
If you're more fit, that's generally what happens. That’s kind of like a baseline, one size, all one size fits all approach: generally the fitter you are the faster you're going to start sweating, but you have to keep in mind that there's major individual differences here. If you were really going to be testing this, you would have to control for the intensity level of an exercise or a workout. For example, somebody who does 10 squats with a hundred pounds and is somebody who has been training for years and years, will find that to be super easy and is not going to sweat at all. But you somebody who's just starting out and that's their 10 rep max, they're probably going to be feeling it near the end. I feel like if you really were to test this, it would be very difficult to control for workout intensity level. The basic idea is yes: your cooling response (i.e. sweating) is going to work more effectively the more fit you are, but there are so many individual differences that I don't think you can use that as a gauge.
Next, we have a question from Amanda who says “I've been a vegan for quite some time. What foods do you think are most important for a woman over 40?” That's a really good question. Again; I don't tend to think about specific foods. I tend to think about diet as a whole. You do want to make sure that you're getting B12. This is across the board, regardless of gender, regardless of age, everybody who is plant-based should be taking a B12 supplement across the board. Then there's two things I can think of that would be specific to being over 40, just kind of thinking about healthy aging.
One of those things is protein, especially if you're strength training. This is not going to be an issue until you get maybe to your seventies, where some studies have shown that we don't absorb protein as much. You may need to think about boosting your protein, especially if you strength train, but that's a few decades away, so don't worry about that at this point. The other thing is calcium. We want to make sure that you are supporting bone health. This is where some specific foods like sesame seeds or tofu or dark leafy greens, tahini (which is basically sesame seed paste); those things are very high in calcium. Sure, you can think about individual high calcium foods, but overall, if you're eating a varied plant based diet, that is mostly whole foods, and you're taking a B12 supplement, then you're fine.
Now we've got a question from Melanie who writes, “I have so many questions, any vegan into fitness is so much motivation for me. What natural foods have you found help with your energy level? Do you have any favorites for before and after workouts, or recommendations? Trying to gain muscle has been hard for me. I'm naturally small boned. Any advice for that? “ Well, I think I've touched on the energy level issue before, where I just think about my diet as a whole, and not individual foods. When it comes to before and after workouts, you want to make sure that you are eating something before your workout that's going to fuel you. Generally slow digesting carbs, like oatmeal, are a good choice. I should back up a little bit here: before and after workout nutrition is less important than most people think. Assuming that your 24 hour period of nutrition is on point (and on point is different for everybody on point means in line with your specific goals) then pre and post workout nutrition is not that important.
The caveat here is if you are training for multiple hours at a time, if you're training for a marathon or something, then pre and post workout nutrition becomes more important. For regular workouts that are an hour “ish” or shorter, you can do some slow digesting carbs pre-workout like oatmeal, which is what I normally do. After workouts, I regularly just eat a normal meal. I will have my lunch or my dinner. I've been working out a lot lately at all times of the day, so just a regular meal works. If you're not going to have a meal within an hour of finishing your workout, then I would have a snack that includes protein. Some people like to have a protein shake after their workout, just because it's convenient, and it keeps them going until they have a meal. That’s important.
Another piece here that you mentioned is trying to gain muscle, and it's been difficult for you. I can 100% relate to that. Your diet plan when you're trying to gain muscle, and it's been hard for you in the past, is to stuff your face at every opportunity you need to be in calorie excess. What that means is you need to eat more calories than you burn in a day. When I was working with clients in person, before I went completely online, demonstrating exercises all day, just training clients at a gym, walking around for eight hours, I was eating between 3300 and 3500 calories a day, just to maintain. This is not a muscle gain type situation. If was trying to gain muscle at that point I probably would have had to eat close to 4,000 calories a day.
This is not the case for everybody. Now that I work online and I'm not walking around and demonstrating exercises all day, I'm now eating closer to 2000, maybe 2,500 calories a day. You need to figure out where you're at, what your maintenance goal or what your maintenance level is for calories, and then eat more than that. You got your avocados; you got your 700-calorie smoothies with peanut butter, and hemp hearts and chia seeds. You've got your big meals, which you can make in batches and then eat throughout the week. You basically just need to make sure that you're stuffing your face.
Susie asks, “do you think a person can maintain strength and cardio without lifting insane amounts of weight? So, sticking with weight we can hold onto with hands or bands, et cetera?” This is a really good question, and because I know Susie, I know that she was working out in a gym with barbell work and things like pull ups, just really intense high level weight moves. With the pandemic, with gyms being closed, she's been at home with dumbbells and resistance bands.
I think the answer here, as it usually is in fitness, is it depends. Is this sort of training going to maintain muscle and overall physique? Yeah, probably if you're training at a relatively high intensity, or a relatively high difficulty level, with body weight moves and dumbbells and resistance bands and things like. Now, is that style of training going to carry over into lifts like deadlifts and your one-rep max squat and bench press? No, unfortunately. It kind of depends if you're coming at it from a pure strength and performance perspective, in which case no: if you're not training specifically for those things, unfortunately training with bands and body weight and dumbbells for higher reps, no; it's not going to support that kind of sheer strength. If you are going for overall muscle development, endurance and body composition, and strength on some level, then yes: training with bands actually is way more effective than most people think and body weight and dumbbells. That is all perfect.
The next question I have is from Joe. He writes, “Love the podcast and guests you have on. I have shared a lot of the information I've learned from your podcast with my friends and family here in Florida. (Well, that's awesome. Thank you, Joe. Thanks for being an awesome listener and supporting my work and I). Here is what Joe writes: “my question is a three part question. What is the one action or tip you would give for fitness, diet/nutrition, and lifestyle? Looking forward to the podcast. Thanks for being there for our like-minded community. Oh, damn! Okay: this is a really good question. My one action or tip that I would give for fitness, this one's easy for me: don't rely on motivation. That is my one main tip for fitness. If you are going to rely on motivation, you are setting yourself up for failure.
I kind of feel like we have seen in the media and on social media that you have to be super pumped, and super motivated for every single workout, which is not realistic. That does not happen. What you need to do instead is basically teach yourself how to maintain a fitness routine consistently, without relying on motivation. For me, it involves having four different training buddies. Lately, I've been working out eight or nine times a week, it might actually be 10. It's a lot of workouts, but every single one of those sessions involves accountability to someone else. With a pandemic of course, these have been on Zoom, other than my husband. Three of those sessions are in the garage gym with my husband and then everything else is based on other training buddies. That’s just my way of making sure that I'm not relying on motivation, but there are a whole bunch of other ways you can do that.
Then you're wondering about diet and nutrition. I think I would have to choose a mindset of abundance versus a mindset of avoidance. This can actually apply to a whole bunch of things; it can apply to veganism itself. This is especially useful for new vegans, or people who are just making the transition right now. If you focus on all the foods you cannot eat, all the foods you have to avoid, “ oh I can’t eat this, I have to stay away from that”, that's a mindset of avoidance. Whereas a mindset of abundance is: “what are all the awesome new plant based foods I can try? How much plant based food can I cram onto my plate? “ The mindset of abundance in general to your nutrition, when it's not specifically related to veganism, might be “how many whole foods can I eat in a day? What are some new ingredients that I can try?” You're thinking about adding things, you're not thinking about subtracting things.
Then the last area is lifestyle, which is a really good one cause it's nebulous, right? I think I would say: engineer your environment. This is kind of going along with what I was mentioning around not relying on motivation, but engineering your environment means you're setting things up, so that you're outsmarting your own brain, so you don't have to change how your brain works. You're just outsmarting it. Things for me include getting my husband to hide treat foods in the house. I have no idea where they are, because I know if I did know where they are, I would eat them all. Now, of course, we don't usually have treat foods in the house in the first place, which is another way you can engineer your environment. It’s what happens when we do have treat foods in the house. Things like putting your alarm or your phone on the opposite end of the room, so that when you hear it in the morning, you have to get out of bed and walk across the room. It could be any of these smaller engineer-your-environment kinds of habits, but they add up to long-term habits, sticking to your goals and getting results.
The next question I have is from Monique. She writes, “Here's what I wonder about. I know people who are now in their sixties who have exercised hard, most of their lives, they have lifted heavy weights, run marathons, or done some kind of boot camp type of fitness activity. They always seem to be in pain. Can you wear down your body faster by training hard?
That's a really good question. I feel like you can wear down your body by training wrong. Most of my clients, whether they're older or not, do have a few issues that we need to work around, but the point is to make them more bulletproof; not to wear them down. That said, though, I think most competitive sports do have a time limit, if that's the right word. I feel like activities where the outcome, which is basically your physical performance, is more important than how you feel; those activities are likely to result in injury. People whose livelihoods depend on their physical performance are the people who usually get injured, or at least the people who get injured more often. That said, though, any repetitive stimulus is going to compound over time. Long term marathon training, for example, is notorious for being extremely hard on the body. If you're someone who isn't earning a living from a sport, then I would suggest finding a qualified fitness professional to make a program for you, that has long-term health and performance in mind, not just short term results.
There are a lot of facets to this. I feel like if you train incorrectly, you're going to wear your body down. If you're making a living from your physical activity and your physical performance, where the end result (i.e. your performance) is more important than how you feel; those things are definitely going to wear down your body and cause pain long term. If you're training in a way that's smart and that works within your own individual situation like for me: I've got scoliosis and a low back issue. I work very specifically around that. I don't run. For cardio, I do jump rope and swimming, and it's all specific to my specific situation. Find someone you can work with, to make a program that has long term health in mind.
Now I have a question from Cecil in Denmark. I'm sorry: I probably completely butchered your name. I apologize, but here is the question: “ after a workout, I like to eat something with a bit of protein to help my body build up muscle. I have a vegan protein powder that I use. It's mainly pea protein. I mix that with pure brown rice protein. I believe that combo should give me a complete amino acid composition, but sometimes I instead just eat a can of sardines and some fruit. I know that's not vegan. I'm not vegan, but I eat plant-based with fish once in a while, no meat or dairy though. Other times I make a mash out of one banana, and a big spoon of pure cocoa powder. Cocoa has high protein content, so I guess that works too. My question is, are those three different ways equally efficient as after workout foods? Or is it better to just use the protein powder for workout purposes? Maybe it's more efficient or something. I just liked the idea better of eating actual food instead of powders. Thanks!”
This is a great question. I'm going to tell you right off the bat, that those three things are not equally effective, unless you control for exact protein content, maybe. Your protein powder is pure protein (hopefully if you're using pea and brown rice), that's a great combo by the way. It’s not going to give you carbs and it's not going to give you fats. It's also convenient, so there’s that. The sardines are going to give you actually.…I have no idea how much protein sardines are going to give you because I haven’t eaten sardines in more than two decades. Let me look it up though. (I don't have any prep here, so you can join me on a little Google search here: protein content in can of sardines.)
25 grams in a 100 gram can of sardines. 25 grams is generally what you're going to get from a vegan protein shake. What I'm interested in is how many calories are you getting for this? I'm going to put in ‘calories in can of sardines’, and what does Google tell me? 208 calories. That’s not as effective as protein powder because in protein powder, you're going to get the same amount of protein for half the calories. I don't know what your specific situation is. If you're somebody who is not worried about total volume of food, or you're currently bulking, or it's been difficult for you to eat enough calories, this is a moot point. If you're somebody who is working on leaning down, or making sure that your calories are within a certain zone, you're getting 208 calories and 25 grams of protein or 25 grams of protein for your protein shake, and half the calories. It’s usually around 100; maybe 120 calories max, for pea and brown rice protein powder. That would be more effective. The thing with the cocoa powder is sure: maybe cocoa powder is a really high protein food, but it doesn't weigh very much. For you to get 25 grams of protein from cocoa powder, you'd have to eat a whole container, which I assume is not what you're doing. You said a big spoon; so let's take a look on Google. I'm going to put in ‘protein content in tablespoon of cocoa powder’.
Ok: in one tablespoon of cocoa powder, you have one gram of protein (that is not very much it's because the whole tablespoon only weighs five grams), so there’s only so much you can get, right? Here's what I think: when you're going purely by numbers, and looking at the bang for your buck, protein content -the vegan protein powder- is going to win. The thing is there's no rule that you have to get this protein from powder. It's just convenient. You can get the same amount of protein from eating tofu scramble, or from eating some edamame in trail mix. There are a lot of other vegan options that aren't fish based. There’s no rule that says you have to do protein shakes; it's just convenient.
The next question is from Kira; this is a bit of a philosophical one. “ How do you personally balance being understanding of other people and their obstacles to going vegan, versus sticking up for animals? I started this journey being very understanding of others and where they are. But then when I think about what happens to animals, I start to wonder if by not having these hard conversations, I'm protecting myself over animals. I'd love to hear how you handle this.”
That's a really good question. I'm going to attempt to not go on and on about this for 15 minutes. I actually just had a conversation about this, with one of my training buddies this morning on Zoom. She's not vegan, but she's mostly vegan. We had a conversation about how different people are approaching veganism, and how it's actually more likely for some people to come over to the vegan side when they don't feel like they've been bashed over the head with it, you know?
Here’s the deal. The end goal for all of us is to help the animals, right? The way we do that is to get humans to eat fewer animal products. You have heard me say this before on the show, I'm sure; I really think that in-your-face activism tactics usually do more harm than good. I'm pretty sure they alienate way more people from the vegan message than they convert. I realize you're not talking about activism per se, but I do think that it depends on the context these conversations are happening in. Do I go up to people out of the blue in line at the grocery store and start talking to them about veganism? No, but if something comes up in a conversation where I feel like it would be appropriate to mention eating fewer animal products, then I will.
In the interest of our mutual end goal, which is people eating fewer animal products, then I think being understanding is going to go a lot further, than being confrontational. I also think that you can be understanding in a way that makes it clear that you think eating animal products is ethically wrong, and that you're also happy to support someone in making a change. I think it really depends on the context, but I'm not afraid to bring up certain issues within a conversation. That said, I'm not (out of the blue) going to start talking about them with somebody who hasn't brought it up himself or herself.
Now we've got a question from Aino, who says: “greetings from Scotland. Thanks so much for your podcast. I love it, and I'm in the process of listening to every single episode. I have a question as a vegan. Is there any point of supplementing with creatine daily, if I'm mostly doing body weight exercises at home and not in the gym lifting weights at this time? I fallen a bit out of my exercise and nutrition programs during the quarantine period, exercising with less intensity at the moment, and wonder if it is helpful, continuing with creatine supplementation.”
That’s a good question, Aino. I'm going to assume from what you're writing that you were taking creatine before, and you're now wondering if it’s still useful now that your training intensity is a little bit lower? I would say yes. I would say keep going. For people who are listening and haven't taken creatine before, it's so low risk, and it's so cheap, that you might as well. I mean, honestly, there's nothing bad that's going to happen. You can’t OD on creatine.
Make sure you get one that is a powder. You don't want to get one that's already in capsules because they usually have gelatin in them, and that is not vegan. I feel like there's enough research support out there for creatine in general, not just for really intense strength training, that I would just say keep going, especially because we as vegans don't get creatine from our diets, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't mean that we're deficient in creatine. It just means we're not getting it from our diet. Why not continue supplementing to basically give your muscles that energy store? Creatine just hangs out and is an energy storage unit basically, for high intensity short duration exercise. Even if you're doing body weight moves, if you're doing an all out really difficult move, where the max number of reps you can do is 10 for example, creatine would be useful for that. If you're doing sprints outside, creatine would be useful for that as well.
Then, there's some pretty promising research, although we need more, on the cognitive effects of creatine. There has been some really interesting research showing that it can help to decrease the cognitive decline that people naturally experience when they age, so it slows down that decline. I would say there's enough research out there to keep taking it, even if you're not doing your usual training.
Now we've got a question from Anna that she emailed me. She writes, “my name is Anna, and I'm a newer listener to your podcast. I love how you just totally debunk the myths that we get fed from the meat and dairy industry. I'm slowly transitioning into a plant based diet myself. As I found my overall wellbeing, emotional stability, health and athletic performance have greatly improved.
I had a question that I'm hoping you might be able to clarify for me. One of my good friends has hired a nutritionist to help get her diet in check and regulate her hormones, emotions, et cetera. She really struggles with anxiety, depression, low energy, but mostly her misophonia. It’s at an all time high: extreme anxiety or fear of certain sounds. Her nutritionist said that plants carry a high amount of heavy toxics, and she should limit what she eats from them as she's reporting high in cobalt levels and other metals. Her nutritionist is putting her on a regime where she should eat grass fed beef, pork cut out dairy grain, and all legumes. For protein shakes, she's recommending beef collagen rather than a pea protein. I suppose my questions would be the following.
Number one. Is it true that plants contain high levels of heavy metals? If so, does it mean that eating grass fed beef would be better for some people who might be high with certain metal toxicities? Number two, why would a nutritionist recommend grass fed beef and meat, but not recommend dairy? This seems a little contradictory to me, but I might be missing a piece here. And number three, do you have any connections or insight on a plant based nutritionist who would help combat my friend's ailments that would not include any animal based products? I am very much looking forward to your insight on all of this. I'm not sure the best way to respond to my friend about her new diet regime, because I'm not an expert in nutrition, but it does seem odd to me that an animal based diet would be recommended to her. It could possibly be that certain ailments and conditions are better met with a grass fed beef diet. I am not sure. Thanks in advance for your time and insight on this matter.”
All right, Anna, this is a great question. The first thing I would tell your friend is to get a new nutritionist or better yet, get a plant based registered dietician. I've had a ton of them on my podcast. Any nutritionist that tells you to eat fewer plants is pretty much out of their mind. I realized there are probably very specific cases where someone like my grandma, for instance, who had Crohn's disease and a whole bunch of major allergies; there might be some instances where those people actually cannot be fully plant-based. Honestly, the fact that your friend is being tested for metals in her body, that's a huge red flag to me.
I just want our listeners to know that the term nutritionist is not regulated, so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. There's no across the board certification or qualification that you need. This is why seeing a registered dietician is important, because that is something that is highly regulated. You asked about heavy metals in plants, and sure, plants can contain heavy metals that they've absorbed from the soil, for example. If they did contain heavy metals, then animal products usually would contain even more, right, because they would bio accumulate? Things like dairy and meat, even if it's coming from grass fed sources, is as far as I understand, going to contain more heavy metals than just plants. It takes something like nine or 10 pounds of plants to create one pound of meat. I don't think heavy metal toxicity is a legitimate thing to be concerned about when it comes to our everyday diets. The fact that she's being tested for these things is a huge red flag. I would recommend seeing a plant based registered dietician, and I've had a lot on the show: Dr. Pamela Ferguson, Sharon Palmer, Vesanto Melina, there are more. Make sure you get this sorted with somebody who is legitimately qualified.
So the last few questions are from Instagram, so I'm using peoples’ screen names here or Instagram handles. And the first question is from @bobby_und_sophie: “what is your opinion on alternate day fasting?”
Well, that's a great question. I don't really have an opinion on alternate day fasting, or any kind of fasting for that matter. Generally, fasting is used when people want to be in a calorie deficit. People who are trying to lose fat will often use fasts, in an effort to lose fat or to lean out. If being in a calorie deficit is your goal, then fasting is just one of many ways of doing that. Some people do find it useful.
However, I would say that if you're somebody who's strength trains, or otherwise exercises regularly, having days where you fast is not going to promote muscle recovery, and it's not going to give you enough energy for your workouts. I have no issues with things like intermittent fasting; people can make up their own schedules around that. Alternate day fasting on a regular basis is probably not a great idea, if you're an active person. If you're doing this short term, for or a week or something in an effort to be in a calorie deficit, I could see how that could be useful. I don't think I would physically survive doing alternate day fasting myself. I know that there's some research out there about potential benefits of fasting, but nothing has been definitively shown in humans. I don't think the research on fasting itself is robust enough. (It's basically just another way of putting yourself into a calorie deficit.)
@leannebarr writes, “what is your go to savory crunchy snack? Anything you make rather than buy? “ Ooh, that's a really good question. One of my absolute favorite crunchy savory snacks is Japanese rice crackers. Those little ones, they're all different shapes and they're a little bit spicy. I could eat those things all day. My husband actually jokes that they're called “ Karina chow”, because I'm basically just like sitting there with a feedbag attached to my face. I do buy those. What I make though, which I love, is nutritional yeast crackers. They taste like a better version of Goldfish crackers. They're cheesy, they're crunchy. I can link the recipe that I use in our show notes, which will be nobullshitvegan.com/071.
I have been using this recipe since 2012. It came out a long time ago. It's called Cheesy Quackers, and it's from a blog called Have Cake Will Travel. I don't even know if the blog is still running, but the website is still live. It's a nutritional yeast cracker, and you can put in other seasonings if you want. I usually make them really plain, and they are delicious!
Question from @veganconsistencyqueen, who is my amazing client Dom. She says, “Do you think you will ever adopt a canine workout buddy? “ That’s a good question, and kind of funny timing, because we just adopted a new family member exactly a week ago, but it's not a canine. It's a 10-month-old cat. We named her Ripley. We wanted to go with like a badass female protagonist. We now have two kitties. We did have two cats before. I don't actually know if I mentioned on this show, that we had to say goodbye to my 13-year-old cat Ned at the beginning of March, who had cancer. Yoshimi, our other cat was just not acting herself. She was very needy and just very different. So we thought she needed a buddy. We adopted from the SPCA a week ago, an adorable Siamese looking, tiny little five-pound cat. So she's going to be the new workout buddy. Honestly, I'm a cat person, so I don't see a canine workout buddy in my future. I mean, if my husband was a canine person and like really wanted one, we've got the space; we've got a huge yard. It would be perfect. I'd probably be cool with it, but neither of us are dog people.
The next question is from (what I think is) @neringate, but might actually be Neringa TE, because I think your name is Neringa. I'm pretty sure we had a question from you on our show before, and I said @neringate, so I apologize if it's actually Neringa TE. I'm in luck, just when I had a new question: ”do you think vegans need to take glucosamine supplements? My joints have been making a lot of noises lately when exercising. This is after I increased the frequency three to five times per week. I do take an Omega three DHA and EPA supplement and eat mostly whole foods. Should this be cause of worry?” Well, that's a really good question. It sounds like it's not a pain issue, right? It's basically just that your joints are kind of creaky, which could be your joints just getting used to an increased frequency of training.
Generally, it's our tendons and it's our joints that take the longest to adapt, versus our muscles. Some of it could just be giving your joints the time to adapt. The fact that you don't have pain is a good sign. I have a lot of clients who have joints that click or creek or otherwise make noises; it's not usually a big deal, but pain is what you want to be careful of though. For Glucosamine, I don't actually know a lot about Glucosamine. I know that it's generally a supplement derived from shellfish, but you can get vegan (I assume synthetically made) options, but I haven't really looked into it. Why don't we do a quick search together again? My go-to resource for all things, supplementation and nutrition is examined.com. Let me pull up ‘examined.com glucosamine’, and see what they have to say.
What I like about examined.com is that they amalgamate all the research that's been done on a certain topic. I would usually go to Google Scholar as well and look at individual articles. The nice thing about examine.com is that they have already put together a large body of evidence, and they show you basically what it says all at once.
I'm on the Glucosamine page on examine.com and they say: glucosamine is a supplement derived from shellfish that can provide minor pain relief. Glucosamine sulfate slightly delays the progression of knee osteoarthritis. Let me see here. They don't have a huge database here. They have what they call the human effect matrix and the way they describe what that is: the human effect matrix looks at human studies, to tell you what effects glucosamine has on your body and how strong these effects are.
The awesome thing is that they amalgamate all the research that's been done. If you look at the human effect matrix, and I will link to this article in the show notes, there's not a lot of evidence that glucosamine does anything. One of the columns here is magnitude of effect, and it's minor, it's minor, it’s nothing, and again, another nothing. This means very minor magnitude of effect. If it does anything at all, it doesn't do a whole lot, so it looks like it might be most useful in cases of osteoarthritis.
Last but not least, we have a question from @trailhunter105, who is my awesome client, Jeff. He says, “Hey Karina, I need help with increasing flexibility and range of motion. Any suggestions on preferred regiments: yoga, Tai Chi foam rollers, et cetera. And are there go to sites or YouTube channels you might recommend? I’m happy to pay a little money, but free is nice.”
Jeff, that's a really great question. I think out of the things you mentioned, yoga is probably going to be your best bet, specifically for range of motion and flexibility. The websites that I have coming to my brain right now are glo.com (of my awesome clients, Rhonda, actually suggested that to me), and the other one is gaia.com. Now the thing is for me with yoga, I feel like there's just so freaking much ‘woo’ out there, that I find it really hard to find a yoga instructor that I connect with, and that I'm not just laughing at the whole time. I feel like you might have to look around a little bit, to find someone who really focuses on just what's going on in your body, and the poses, and not like the “yoga woo” bullshit.
Someone I have found that I like is Rodney Yi, his “ woo” level is pretty low. Then someone who has flows and routines I really like is Eoin Finn, but he is next level with the ‘woo’. I basically just put it on and laughed for the entire 25-minute session. I'm trying to do that every week, by the way. I'm basically just making fun of it the entire time, which I realize is not the point of doing yoga. I think yoga is going to be fantastic for flexibility and range of motion. I will link to those two websites in my show notes, which you can access at nobullshitvegan.com/071.
That's what I have for you today, for my AMA episode. Thanks so much for joining me. You can access our show notes at nobullshitvegan.com/071. Don’t forget that my Sprouted Gains ebook right now is on sale for over 50% off. I'll link to it in our show notes, but you can also go to sproutedgains.com. Thanks so much for listening, and I will see you in our next episode!