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NBSV 153


Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 153

Q&A with Coach K and Coach Zoe – fitness, nutrition, and veganism

Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 153. Coach Zoe and I answer as many listener questions about veganism, nutrition, and fitness as we can in one episode.

Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your go-to no BS vegan fitness and nutrition coach.

We asked our audience on social media and via my email list for questions they wanted Coach Zoe and I to answer on the show. And we got so many excellent ones that unfortunately we can't get to them all in one episode, but we'll get to as many as we can and we'll have to do part two at some point.

And I did want to make sure that you know about our group coaching program, which is a relatively new addition to our fitness coaching services. You can check that out at Our regular coaching programs include a workout plan made from scratch for each client, ongoing nutrition coaching, private communication with us coaches, exercise form checks via video, and a whole bunch of other things. And our group coaching program includes none of these things, so I'm really selling it here, right?

But to make this program a lower-cost option for folks who want a workout plan, accountability and coach and group support, we're keeping it simple. You're going to choose whether you want to work out at home or at the gym, and for home workouts, all you need is a set of resistance bands. And then our programs are designed for either three or four strength training workouts per week. And then for full-on accountability, Coach Zoe and I get notified every time you complete a workout.

Other awesome things you get in this program include access to our voyages in Vegan Vittles group. As you can tell, we are huge fans of alliteration, which focuses on vegan nutrition, meal prep, and fueling strength training on a plant-based diet, unlimited in-app text messaging with myself and Coach Zoe in a group with other members for support, coaching and answers to your questions, new workout programs every six weeks, and progress tracking so you can make sure that you're making strength gains. If you want to learn more, head to

Since I'm speaking with Coach Zoe Peled on the show today, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce her to new listeners. She's been on the show before, but it has been a while. So Zoe is on the KI team as Coach Mastermind behind our client and community events and creator of content shared with our social media audiences. Zoe is a fitness coach and marketing and community engagement professional based in Vancouver BC. In addition to her PT certification, Coach Zoe has done additional studies in kettlebell training, accessibility and inclusion within the fitness industry, and is taking classes with Queer ASL to further broaden her ability to support a wide range of clients. Her athletic background spans a wide range of endeavours, including three professional boxing matches, half-marathons, Muay Thai, multi-day endurance hiking, and distance swimming.

In addition to her coaching, Zoe works with Griffin's Boxing as community engagement coordinator, developing partnerships and community initiatives. She received her BFA in photography from Emily Carr University with additional studies in critical theory examining the positioning and terminology around animals. Her personal studies continue to examine animal-human relationships, which has led her to both speaking engagements and internationally published work, including in the Antennae Journal of Nature in Visual Culture UK. Coach Zoe is the co-founder of Ban Fur Farms BC, a Vancouver march to close all slaughterhouses co-organizer, and she facilitates events and community relations for numerous local vegan businesses. In 2018, she founded the Vancouver Vegan Resource Center. Zoe has been vegan for almost 14 years, and an animal rights activist for almost the same duration of time.

And for those folks who are new around here or who need a quick refresher on who this Karina Inkster character is, a little about me, I'm a fitness and nutrition coach, author of five books, 20-year vegan and magazine writer. I'm the founder of KI Health and Fitness where I and my team lead award-winning coaching programs that help vegans worldwide get super strong and build health habits that they will still hold at the age of 96. I hold a master's degree in gerontology specializing in health and aging. And of course, I host the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast available on all major podcast platforms and syndicated on radio in my city of Powell River, BC. My work has been profiled by CNBC, HuffPost, Healthline, Bustle, Livestrong, and the Instagram stories of vegans across the globe who are tired of hearing about diet culture and transformation bootcamps and want to share evidence-based, weight neutral inclusive information instead. When I'm not eating dark chocolate or doing a ridiculous number of chin-ups, I play and perform accordion, including co-directing my city's annual accordion fest, piano and didgeridoo.

So here are the questions that Coach Zoe and I could answer in one podcast episode. Coach Zoe on the podcast again, I'm looking forward to this.

Zoe Peled: Welcome home. Welcome home.

Karina Inkster: That's right. Are you stoked as I am?

Zoe Peled: I'm stoked. We have some BS busting to do, so staying on brand and also very appreciative of the selection of questions that came in and all of the different subjects that are covered.

Karina Inkster: Exactly. Well, I have done no prep for the questions, so this is just going to be off the cuff, but I've got our list. Let's jump right in. We will check them off. Unfortunately, we can't go into too much detail because we've got a ton of questions to go through and we might not even make it through all of them, so we'll see.

Zoe Peled: Part two. We can do another one.

Karina Inkster: That's right, part two.

Zoe Peled: Exactly, we have options.

Karina Inkster: And by the way, most of these questions are around fitness, nutrition, veganism. There's maybe one or two that are kind of outside that realm, but we've tried to group them so that they're all in the same realm pretty much.

Zoe Peled: Same constellation.

Karina Inkster: Exactly. So let's start with Eve's question. So Eve asks, "At the age of 63, can I get great muscle tone in my arms and core?" Such a good question. And I have to say, it reminds me of my mom who's 71 and absolutely crushing it.

Zoe Peled: And such a badass.

Karina Inkster: Right? So my answer is yes, of course.

Zoe Peled: Absolutely.

Karina Inkster: But I'm sure Eve wants a little more detail. So what would you say, Coach Zoe, to someone in their sixties? Not entirely sure - I know Eve, but I'm not sure what her training regime is. What would you say generally, if this were a new client coming in?

Zoe Peled: I would say the answer is yes. There is no reason that infers that any individual at a particular age can or cannot do something that they could at another age. And I think the most important thing as we do with our clients is at the beginning of this strength training process, you have a very detailed conversation to gauge what that individual's goals are, how many days a week they have to strength train, how long they want to strength train for, how long a session is, and then gauge and build out a program based on that. Because folks are going to have success with strength training for the long term when it's been formatted in a way that works for them and is conducive with their lifestyle and also things that they enjoy doing.

Karina Inkster: That's an important piece that I think we fitness nuts forget very often the enjoyment, the fun.

Zoe Peled: Everyone does.

Karina Inkster: For sure.

Zoe Peled: Everyone does.

Karina Inkster: Well, when it comes to concrete advice, I mean, again, we can't really say, "Well, you're going to have to train for 28 minutes, four and a half days a week." We don't have that information because you could do 10 minutes a day, you could do 30 minutes three days a week, you could do 40 minutes four days a week. There's so many options. But I think if we're looking at guidelines from major organizations and government health organizations, for example, two half an hour strength training sessions per week is the minimum. And it's also enough to see results from muscle gain, bone density, body composition, all that stuff. So I mean, I'd probably bump it up to three sessions or some other combination, like 10 minutes a day, six days a week, or something like that. Being on a program that makes sense.

So it's progressive. You're able to add resistance, whether it's from bands or from weights. You're doing 

the six fundamental training movements, which we've talked about in other podcast episodes. So if you've got those fundamental movements, if you're training regularly, then the answer is yes. Isn't that exciting? Let's move on. I'm very curious about this one. Andy is wondering, "Are Zoe's tattoos vegan?"

Zoe Peled: All right. So it is not a surprise. So for folks who don't know me or have not seen my body, I have a significant percentage of my body that is covered by tattoos. So this is a question that has come up several times before. And before I answer it, I would like to preface with the fact that I've been getting tattooed for over 20 years, somehow.

And as is the case for many, at the beginning of my tattoo time, number one, I wasn't vegan. And number two, I think it's safe to say that I wasn't making choices around where I got my tattoos done in the same way that I do now. So I have some old tattoos, I cannot speak to those, but I can speak to my more recent ones and the ones that I'm currently acquiring. So when we think about tattoos, it's obviously important to remember that we're not just talking about tattoos once they're on the body. We are talking about the ink, we're talking about the transfer paper, razors, and then also aftercare, of course. So for folks who aren't familiar with the process, aftercare refers to soap and lotion that you're using to help heal. Something I've heard a lot, and Coach K, you've probably heard this as well as a tattooed human, is this statement around tattoo ink has bone char. Tattoo ink has bones in it.

Karina Inkster: I've heard that.

Zoe Peled: And it's painting this picture as if large volumes of bone char are being arbitrarily dumped into vats of ink, when in actuality it's a lot more complex than that. So it is accurate, bone char is used as an intensifier in some darker pigments, but we also have to consider things like animal-based glycerin, which acts as the stabilizer. Gelatin, which is made from connective tissue of pigs and cows, folks who don't know. And also shellac. So when you have a non-vegan shellac, it's been made from shells of beetles, essentially. So all of those things are used in the process to bind ink. Whereas when we talk about vegan inks, binders used are something called logwood, which is used in black ink specifically. And then we also have vegetable-based glycerin, which can be used in any place of the animal-based one.

So it's definitely safe to say that a couple of years ago there was a more significant prevalence of bone char in ink, but it's much more common for mainstream tattoo ink brands to use vegan ink. So we have Eternal, we have StarBrite, Skin Candy, Stable Color, World Famous Tattoo Ink, et cetera. There are a lot of shifts happening in the industry. There is a company called Spirit Suppliers. They're out of the states, and they used to have vegan transfer paper as an option, but the demand was so high that they actually switched all transfer paper to a vegan option.

Karina Inkster: So why is transfer paper not vegan in some cases?

Zoe Peled: Gelatin.

Karina Inkster: Gelatin. Got it.

Zoe Peled: The last point, because we could definitely do an entire episode about this basically, is aftercare. So obviously a lot of cosmetic and body products are tested on animals or have animal byproducts. So my two go-tos for soap, it is from a local company called K'Pure, and they make an unscented soap called Washed Up. And then there is also a line called Unscented, and it is self-explanatory, and that is available at Real Canadian Superstore. So long story short, aside from a couple of tattoos that I got in my teenage years, to which I cannot speak to details around, I can confirm that all of my newer tattoos are vegan from start.

Karina Inkster: Brilliant. And you've been vegan for 14 years, is it?

Zoe Peled: 14 years this December.

Karina Inkster: Awesome. Very cool. Well, this is useful intel for any other human here who is interested in vegan ink or considering switching to vegan ink at some point, or not just ink, but vegan tattooing process.

Zoe Peled: In general.

Karina Inkster: Very cool. Let's jump to Shanley's question, and I feel like I have a lot of thoughts on this, so if you don't mind I might jump into this one. So Shanley is asking, "What are your thoughts on taking supplements to round out a vegan diet rather than eating foods that contain them naturally?" And the example is meat and fish. So I think I get where this is coming from. I mean, this is on Facebook, so there's not a lot of nuance, and Shanley didn't write us an essay, although I'm sure we could have that conversation.

Zoe Peled: We definitely could.

Karina Inkster: So I'm thinking about things like B12 and omega-3s and things like that, creatine. These are kind of the ones that are coming to mind. I'm not sure exactly if those are the ones that Shanley is thinking about, maybe. But here's what I'm thinking. So I didn't go vegan for health reasons. I didn't go vegan because I thought it was the "natural thing to do." I didn't go vegan because I thought people used to eat this way tens of thousands of years ago. I went vegan because I don't want to harm animals. That's it. So all of these conversations around athletic performance and nutrients and blah, blah, blah, they're secondary to me. Now, I'm not saying we should disregard those because a lot of folks go vegan for those reasons, and there is a lot of research here in all of those areas. But for me personally, I don't really care about is it healthier, even though I'm a fitness coach. I'm doing it for ethical reasons. That's the main point. So that's one piece of it. The other piece is nothing we're eating is natural.

Zoe Peled: Love it.

Karina Inkster: I don't even know what the term natural means. If you eat artichokes or grapefruit, these are very, very new in the scheme of what humans or human-like animals have been eating over tens of thousands of years. So I don't think natural is really better. It's kind of this natural fallacy, right? Well, because it exists in nature, it must be better. Not necessarily. So there's that piece. Then I'm also thinking about things like B12. A lot of folks seem to think that meat and eggs are "natural sources of B12," but that's because those animals themselves have been supplemented with B12. We're just getting it because they were supplemented. And fish have omega-3s because they ate algae. Why don't we just eat it straight from the source and get our spirulina? So there's a lot of supplements in quotes that we can take that were not actually naturally in animal products to begin with.

So I think that's part of the story. And just going back to that whole idea of nothing we eat is natural anymore. I mean, who here is growing a hundred percent of their food and/or eating food that's only been grown within a five-kilometer radius of their house? No one eats like that anymore.

Zoe Peled: I mean, you and I have spoken about this many times before, the word natural, the word healthy, the word processed, who defines what that actually means and what it does not mean? Hugely subjective.

Karina Inkster: It's so true. So I think things like creatine, we as vegans can take that as a supplement. We don't have to because our bodies make it, but we don't get it from our diets. And something like that is easy enough to get as a supplement. A lot of the foods that are considered whole foods and healthy foods like nutritional yeast, for example, are made in a lab. So is that natural? Anyways, we could do a whole episode on this, and I actually really would like to do a whole episode on processed foods, which is not really the same subject here. But anyway, some thoughts. Any last-minute additions?

Zoe Peled: Yes, I have too many additions, and these actually came to mind kind of inspired by what you said. So number one, I think it's very interesting. I mean, I also have a few other words to describe it, but let's stick with interesting, that speaking in general terms, whenever someone who is vegan takes supplements, the automatic response to that, again, generally speaking, is they're demonized or their diet is lacking. Why do you need to take supplements? Can't you just get it from food? But when non-vegan folks take supplements and incorporate them into their diet, they are seen as responsible, being mindful, healthy, et cetera, et cetera. So I think that's an interesting parallel. And number two, when it comes to discussions about meat and animal products, and again, this would be appropriate for a whole other episode, I think that it's important when we hear messages and when we see messages like, "You need to eat meat. You need to have meat to get this, this, this, this. You cannot get it from anything else." I think the first critical thing that needs to happen is you need to look at who is delivering that message to you.

Karina Inkster: That's a good point. Absolutely.

Zoe Peled: And a lot of the time, because with the rise and the growth of animal agriculture industries, we've also seen a rise and growth in the marketing from them. And not all, but a lot of that messaging around why we "need animal products" is being filtered to us by them.

Karina Inkster: Such a great point. Love that. Good additions. Next question from Vince. "Thoughts on intermittent fasting and calorie deficit. Do we eat too much in general?" Immediate thoughts, Coach Zoe.

Zoe Peled: Well number one, also appropriate question for a standalone episode. I will offer a response to the question about intermittent fasting first. So basically loose definition for folks who are not aware. Intermittent fasting, Intermittent re-fasting? Haha!

Karina Inkster: Interesting, I think it just invented something new.

Zoe Peled: Intermittent fasting refers to the process of consuming all of your calories for the day in a shortened window, and then having nothing else but water for all those remaining hours of the day. So in a lot of circles, we see it being touted as a strategy for weight loss. Obviously, there are some problematic factors with that, which we do not have time to dive into. So this is a client question that comes up every once in a while as well. And our response is always the same. Our response is, we have no thoughts across the board on why intermittent fasting should or should not be used or is good for you or bad for you. We will offer that to your body and your body systems and how your body responds to food.

It makes no difference whether or not you eat all your calories spread throughout the day or in a five-hour window, or perhaps all at once, even though that may be challenging. So a lot of the time when this question comes up, it comes down to what's feeling good for that person. And perhaps they have a digestive system that's happier when it has a couple of hours to rest. If that's the case, go for it. But intermittent fasting being used strategically especially to encourage a rapid body change or weight loss that's when I start to get my back up about it.

Karina Inkster: Those are all great points. I think it's a fancy term for a calorie deficit, which is how any sort of weight loss plan works. And so it does help folks who like structure if their goal is to put themselves into a calorie deficit. So there's a certain subset of the population that relates to a time window or a little bit more structure about when they take in their calories. If the goal is calorie deficit, but the goal is not always calorie deficit. So you have to look at the context. What about someone who's very active? What about someone who has an active job? What about someone who's running after kids all day? Don't know about the intermittent fasting thing. I mean, it probably works for some folks, but for someone who trains, you have to then think about are you fueling your workout and are you recovering after your workout?

And what time are you doing your workout? Around the time that you eat? So there's other factors, but it's basically a fancy word for putting yourself in a calorie deficit. And that's not everyone's goal. It is for some folks. Vince is also asking, "Do we eat too much in general?" And I think, again, that depends. The answer is always, it depends. We could just have a stock answer. Everyone's answer is, it depends, right? Except for, are Zoe's tattoos vegan?

Zoe Peled: Yes. That is the exception. We need to kind of shift that question a bit and say everyone will answer it for themselves because there are so many factors. There are too many factors to list that inform how much food I eat in a day versus how much food you eat in a day versus how much food this person or this person. So I think we can't arbitrarily say that we're eating too much or too little. Rather, it needs to be explored on a case-by-case basis based on how that person is feeling.

Karina Inkster: I do think maybe Vince is getting at a larger systemic kind of question perhaps. There are really calorie-dense foods available now compared to, let's say, a hundred years ago. A lot of us don’t harvest things and make your own flour in a lot of cases. So I think that could be part of it. There's a lot of high-calorie density foods available now, which may or may not work for someone's goals. It might, depends. See, the answer is always, it depends.

Zoe Peled: Exactly. That has been a consistent response in every question thus far.

Karina Inkster: Exactly. So lots more questions. There's one here from Alisa. I think it's Alisa and not Alissa because it's only one 's', but apologies if I'm saying your name wrong. So Alisa is asking, "How do I stop counting calories? I cannot stick to my calories and macros without counting. I tend to overeat. But meanwhile, being tied to MyFitnessPal makes me unhappy. I've been counting since 2017." That's a long time. "And only had success in maintaining my body weight during the periods I used the app." So that's the first part of the question. Then there's the second part of the question. So maybe I'll just do a little bit of this first question here. I see a lot of things happening here, and I'm going to preface it by saying that we are all allowed to have physique goals for ourselves. There's nothing inherently wrong with us as humans having physique goals for ourselves.

Now here's the thing. Somehow we have been completely okay with the fact that some people have brown eyes, some people have green eyes, some people have blonde hair, some people have black hair. Some people have longer torsos compared to their legs. Some people have the opposite. No one seems to care about that. But as soon as you bring up the fact that hey, maybe people have different body types naturally. Everyone's just like, "I want this one type of body that I see on Instagram that supposedly is the face of fitness and health and all the other things." So I want to make sure there's not that going on. Are you trying to fit yourself into a box that is not a healthy place to be? And by healthy, I mean something that feels good to you where you're not unhappy tracking your food. You use the word unhappy here, that's telling. So anyway, that one piece is like, let's make sure you're not trying to force yourself into something here that for the long term is going to make you unhappy.

But also the calorie counting thing, I think there's a couple different options here. One is you could use a different method of looking at your food portions. So for example, we have a vegan-specific portion guide on our website that you can download. Doesn't involve any sort of calorie counting. And it involves using your hand as a gauge for portions and different types of things like your grains and your proteins and your fats. Because your hand is proportional to your body. You always have it with you. You don't have to do any math. So that's one piece if overall food volume is important, but the other thing is calorie counting is not accurate anyways. So I think what calorie counting is doing is just making you super aware of your foods. The labels, I've mentioned this so many times on the show, you're probably tired of hearing me say it.

Zoe Peled: Say it again. It's important.

Karina Inkster: The nutrition labels that you see on commercially labeled products are legally allowed to be off by 20% in either direction, 20% lower, 20% higher than what's labeled as the calorie count on the package. So even when you have a package, it's not accurate. So the reason that some folks might do calorie counting is generally to look at their macro trends over time and to have more mindfulness about their food. It's not necessarily about the actual calorie number. So if there's another way that you can do this, for example, in our coaching, we use photos. So clients are taking photos of their meals and not tracking their calories and not tracking their macros. But we can see generally what they're up to during the day. Maybe that's an option because my guess is it's more about the mindfulness and the, "Oh, right, I have to put this in the app." Extra little second of decision-making there versus the actual calories that you're eating.

Zoe Peled: I always forget that I can't be seen. So I'm nodding. Well, I think that was beautifully said. And I think when you read that out, and you already mentioned this, that the note that I took was... The part where she indicated that it made her unhappy. I think that's so important because I think that something that we're already well aware of is very pervasive in fitness, nutrition, athletic spaces, is kind of this notion that pushing really hard and maybe having a bit of a struggle and getting through. I mean, essentially if you are suffering in some capacity, it's almost praised and it's seen having more value in some circumstances. And I think it's really important to call that out and just say that folks can have physique goals and they can want to engage with certain processes of tracking or accountability or the like. And you can find ones that make you feel good and make you feel happy.

Karina Inkster: A hundred percent.

Zoe Peled: It's just a matter of finding the support, the coaches, the program that are going to help you discover what that is.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. Well, I think you're on the right track here too, because the second part to Alisa's question is, "I suppose my body got used to functioning on 1500 calories,” which is pretty low. I mean, I don't know what the activity levels are, although I think she does mention it a little later. "...functioning on 1500 calories because of the long-term dieting. So whenever I start to eat more, I rapidly gain fat." Here's the important thing. "But at 1500, I'm always depressive, tired and obsessed with food. How do I get back to normal calories? Would reverse dieting be something for me? If yes, should I start when I'm at 1500 calories and my comfort weight. At the moment, I do not count calories, eat too much healthy food and gain seven extra kilos." Now here's the part that's interesting. "I'm sedentary, but with daily 30-minute yoga sessions and occasional bike rides." Excellent.

"I've been plant-based for six years and cook almost all the foods I eat myself." Nice. So here we have a little bit more context. Again, we're going into depressive, tired and obsessed with food. So that is a sign this calorie deficit is taking its toll and not supporting long-term, not just physical health, but mental health too with depression and food obsessions. So yes, you could slowly increase your calories. Again, calorie counting is not accurate though. So I'm not sure whether that's actually going to be a useful exercise. One thing I'm thinking is though, what about strength training? What about adding in some resistance training, which over time will build muscle, will build strength, will build bone density and will increase your metabolism so that you're burning more fuel when you're sitting around doing nothing. I mean, that's a bonus.

Zoe Peled: Very big bonus.

Karina Inkster: And it'll allow you to eat more than 1500 calories a day, which is pretty low again.

Zoe Peled: It is. And something I'd like to mention, and I will offer as a disclaimer for anyone who maybe doesn't want to hear a lot of detailed talk about calories, skip ahead a bit. I'll talk about this. I also think it's important to remind folks that sometimes if the area of focus is weight loss or a shift in body composition, it can very well be possible that if you are under-eating or eating a lower volume, that actually has the opposite effect than you want it to. So we talk about a basal metabolic rate with a lot of our clients, aka BMR, and that is essentially the volume of food that your body requires to sustain purely its basic function. So this is you and I lying on a couch. We are doing nothing at all. So sometimes folks may eat a volume of food that is very close to that or even below it.

Karina Inkster: Their body's not even getting what it needs to exist, nevermind also train and do their work and all this stuff. That's a good point. You see a lot of these 1200-calorie diets in magazines and stuff, that's not most people's BMR even.

Zoe Peled: I would be a shell of a human. No thank you.

Karina Inkster: Me too.

Zoe Peled: No thank you.

Karina Inkster: That's a good point. That is a good point. So you’ve got to think about BMR and we have a link to a calorie calculator in the macros and food tracking ebook that we have on the website. So if you go to the resources section, there's an ebook there about tracking your food and looking at macros and stuff. And that has a link to the calorie calculator that we use with our clients. Let's move on because we have tons more questions. There were a few that came in from Jim, but I'm going to do some of them and then unfortunately we'll have to leave a couple others. So Jim asks, "What are your thoughts on protein smoothies or protein shakes? I personally don't like the Stevia in them, usually the sweetener." What do you think about that?

Zoe Peled: Number 1, 2, 3, in no particular order, here's why I'm going to say heck yes to protein shakes and smoothies. Number one, for folks who are maybe adjusting to the concept of getting a higher volume of protein in their day on a regular basis, that is kind of a, don't have to think about a way to do it. With most vegan protein powder you have maybe 20 to 25 grams of protein in one scoop. Number two, you can pack a lot into a smoothie. So for folks who may have a busy schedule, they don't necessarily have time to sit down and make a full meal. You can put a lot of fruit, you can have veggies, you can have oats in there. You can really, really, really make it something exceptional. And then number three, and this is kind of a merging of the two points from before, really, really accessible for folks who are on the go and traveling.

So if you don't know what kind of cooking supplies or setup you're going to have access to carrying a baggie of protein powder, I know Coach K does this, I do. It means that you will at least be able to get protein in that way. So those are kind of my three glorious points. And then on the Stevia front, I would say there is such a fantastic selection of protein powders out there and also smoothie recipes. So if something like Stevia doesn't taste good or it doesn't sit well with you, you can definitely find unsweetened alternatives or a product that has been sweetened with something else.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely. There's one brand called Naked Protein that makes literally one ingredient, protein powder. So you get the brown rice protein powder or the pea protein powder and that's it. There's one ingredient. No stevia involved. Just so folks know, my current favorite brand is Planta because I have an insane sweet tooth and I do like the flavours like peanut buttercup and chocolate bar and whatnot.

Zoe Peled: That is fantastic!

Karina Inkster: But I also have a giant five-pound tub of the brown rice by itself, totally plain because you can hide it in things, you can put it in baking. So there's different uses for things, but you don't have to do the Stevia.

Zoe Peled: Options.

Karina Inkster: Here's an interesting question that we both are connected to in a way. Jim is also wondering about alcohol. "I know alcohol is basically a toxin, but wondering if you had thoughts on its effects while trying to stay healthy?" Now we both are non-alcohol consumers, which is why I thought that was kind of an interesting question. Don't know if Jim knows that, maybe, maybe. Now for different reasons, mine are that I have insane food allergies and alcohol can make reactions worse, which are already potentially life-threatening so no thanks. Another reason is I just don't like it. Not my thing. Don't like how it makes me feel. Another reason is I would rather use my treat calories, if that's what you want to call it, my treat foods toward chocolate and Twizzlers and Oreos.

Zoe Peled: Smart Sweets.

Karina Inkster: Smart Sweets! Don't really care about the alcohol piece. And then I think there's a little bit around, at least for a while, medication interactions. So for a couple of years I was on anti-anxiety medication and you're not supposed to mix those with alcohol. So there were all these reasons. I decided it's not for me. It's been 12 years. I don't miss it at all. That's my own decision. A lot of people when they hear that I haven't had a drink in 12 years, assume that I've been sober for 12 years, but I've never been drunk. So I've had alcohol, but it was not a problem substance for me. I just decided it's not really worth it.

So here's the thing. I was thinking about this before a little bit in a conversation with another client who was cutting down slash minimizing alcohol consumption. We're not abolitionists here as long as the food is vegan because most of our clients are vegan. We're not going to say you can't eat it. We don't have a list of foods you're not allowed to eat on the Coach Zoe and the Coach K diet plan. I mean, we don't even have a diet plan.

Zoe Peled: We don’t have that!

Karina Inkster: So there's no foods that are off the menu if it's something you enjoy, if it's a social thing, because food is not just fuel, it's culture, it's social interactions. It's a lot of things. Now here's the thing though, I'm kind of thinking I'm not there yet, but I might make an exception for alcohol and say, you know what? You're probably better off not consuming it. Maybe, I'm not there yet because it is important to a lot of folks. And I do think that there is a way to consume it within context of a healthy lifestyle. But given the research that's coming out and potential carcinogen status and all this stuff… I mean, I don't know, I'm not a hundred percent abolitionist on alcohol yet, but I feel like I could go that direction and it would probably be the only thing that I would say that about. Because it doesn't really work super well for folks who do have pretty intense performance goals.

We had a client who also didn't have a problem relationship with alcohol, but noticed, and this is a very advanced lifter, noticed a huge change in athletic performance when they went off alcohol as an experiment. Like, "Oh my god, I never knew." So there's pros and cons. Our bodies see it as a preferred fuel source. So if you drink, your body will first break down the alcohol and it will not break down other things like fats and carbs in your system. So there's that. If your goal is to be in a calorie deficit, I don't know. I feel like, again, we could go on a whole episode just on-

Zoe Peled: That's an episode.

Karina Inkster: Where are you at?

Zoe Peled: I mean, as is the case for many things, I echo a lot of what you just mentioned. I mean, I can share from a performance perspective in my pre non-drinking years, I have done high-intensity boxing training. So this was preparing for fights. As someone who consumed alcohol and as someone who did not consume alcohol, I can 100% say that as someone who did not consume alcohol, my training sessions were more effective, I was more focused, I had better recovery. And when you're doing something like sparring, you want to make sure that you are setting yourself up to be very focused and attentive and high performing for obvious reasons. For me, and again, I reiterate this as my take and my opinion, throughout my whole life, I have been aware and am still aware of wanting to make choices that prioritize my health and well-being, both for short-term and long-term. And for me, investing in alcohol in any capacity does not support that focus.

And the last one, just to echo what you touched on, alcohol is a carcinogen and especially for folks who can develop breast cancer. Every time you have a drink, that increases your risk for breast cancer specifically. So for me, all of those things combined, it is simply not worth it. There is a myriad of non-alcoholic drink options out there, and there are new ones coming out every day and they're absolutely amazing.

Karina Inkster: See, this could be a whole episode. We can give folks all the options and you've tested them. Great question from Jim though. So thank you for that.

Zoe Peled: Very important question.

Karina Inkster: For sure. Here's one for Coach Zoe. Kathy is asking, "What do you suggest to eat pre and post when doing an intense hike?" I.e. the Grouse Grind, which is your neck of the woods. And we know Kathy and we know that she lives in North Van, which is where you are.

Zoe Peled: This is always one of my favourite practices is how to describe the Grouse Grind to someone who isn't familiar with it.

Karina Inkster: Good point.

Zoe Peled: The Grouse Grind is a 2.5-kilometer hike up a mountain in North Vancouver.

Karina Inkster: Straight up.

Zoe Peled: Straight up. Most of it is stairs. I think there are perhaps 10 minutes of flat surface. They have several large disclaimer signs at the beginning of the height that remind folks if they have any heart conditions or concerns, they do not assume liability. So we're talking about a pretty intense hike here. So before I answer this, I will say, as is the case when it comes to food, especially before and after a workout, I think a big part of this is going to come down to personal preference. So if I do the Grouse Grind in the morning, I always have coffee. I cannot function without that. And then I will have a lighter snack.

So maybe a piece of toast or banana and a protein bar because if there's a pretty small window in between me having that and then going to do the hike, I can't eat a full meal because I'll be uncomfortable when hiking. But I do make it a priority if that has been the case, to make sure that I eat a really, really good nutrient-dense, high-protein meal afterward. And usually after the Grouse Grind, you will have no issues doing that whatsoever.

Karina Inkster: Absolutely not. Good point. I do not do the Grouse Grind, mostly because I don't live there. But also I don't do... I do hike, but not to that extent. I ocean swim and I have to say our last one, we almost didn't go because it was so windy and it felt like three times the work to go half the distance. But I was so hungry afterward. I mean swimming already, I feel super ravenous afterward, but this is a whole other level of being in the ocean, leading a group. So I'm always waiting for other folks and making sure they're all good. And it's kind of like an extra level of exertion and it was windy and wavy and waves are breaking onto our heads as we're doing our swim. It was pretty intense. So after that, I made a giant hash with potatoes and vegan sausages.

And so you've got your carbs and you've got your protein and then a whole crap load of vegetables. So just as an example of a post-intense exercise session, you want to have both the carbs and the protein. And what I did before that was oatmeal, but it was quite a ways before the swim. So I think if I had oatmeal and then 15 minutes later hit the ocean, probably wouldn't have gone super well.

Zoe Peled: Not good.

Karina Inkster: So I got to give a little window to digest there, but protein shake, if that's easy to digest, you can do that afterward. What's your go-to, do you do the banana peanut butter thing?

Zoe Peled: My go-to snack? I mean, I also need to give the disclaimer for this, as we always do, I do not have an affiliation with SimplyProtein bars for any kind of perk. I just love them. I love them because they taste good. The texture is amazing. They're light. I basically lived off of them on the West Coast Trail. We weren't stopping a lot. You can eat that as you're moving. So that's usually my go-to in the morning with a banana if I want something lighter. And then if it's a longer hike, so maybe not necessarily Grouse Grind, but if it's something longer, that's also my go-to for a snack that can be eaten while moving, if you're not stopping or taking breaks.

Karina Inkster: Smart. Love it. So couple of questions from someone who wants to remain anonymous. So this person, maybe we should make a pseudonym, but anyways. What's your favourite name currently?

Zoe Peled: Well, my favorite name today is Maggie, because Maggie is my dog niece and it's her 14th birthday.

Karina Inkster: 14th birthday. Well we have to use Maggie in celebration of that.

Zoe Peled: She will be honoured.

Karina Inkster: So this person/Maggie is asking, "What can be done to avoid abdominal muscle spasms after training one's core?" Now we don't have additional info here. It's a very interesting question. I think I know what this person's talking about because after doing a really intense ab session, sometimes it feels like your abs just aren't going to unclench. So something I would say is if this is happening regularly, if this is a thing that happens every time you train your core, I'm going to guess that you're doing a lot of core work all in one go. Maybe it's five minutes, maybe it's 10 minutes, maybe it's four moves strung together, one after the other. I would divide that shit up into your workouts. So you're doing squats, and then a core move and then you're doing a bench press and a core move. So that would be one option. Any random thoughts on this one?

Zoe Peled: No. My first response when you said that though, I know we cannot know this answer right now. If a client shared that with us, my first question will be, well, what are you doing?

Karina Inkster: Of course. What does your core training look like right now?

Zoe Peled: Let's look at how that can be reassessed. I would also probably say it's worth considering. If Maggie notices muscle spasms or the same sensation happening in any other muscle groups after they finish an intense period of strength training, because I think that's an important one to consider as well.

Karina Inkster: That's a good point. That one we need a little more info on, but generally I would break up the core training.

Zoe Peled: Definitely.

Karina Inkster: So Maggie has another question which I will condense. I think this would work really well actually for an article or something where we can visually show workout programs like day one, day two. Not really conducive to a podcast to say, "Well, here's the seven moves for day one. Here's the seven moves for day two." It's more like a PDF kind of thing. Anyways, so the general question is, let's say I lift weights every day with a regular rotation of three different full-body workouts. And then there's examples of three full body workouts, things like bench press, deadlifts, pull-ups, farmers carry, Bulgarian squats. I see all of the six movement patterns in here, by the way. So who knows, very nice. And then oscillate between two different intensity levels from day to day. Such that on heavy days, where applicable, fewer reps per set are done with heavier weights. And on voluminous days, more reps are done per set with lighter weights, doing negatives to get enough volume where necessary.

So basically, is this effective? Is there any reason that I should not be oscillating between these two different forms of full-body workouts? And so then there's a six-day example. So day one is workout one heavy. Day two is workout two volume. Day three is workout three heavy. Day four is workout one volume. So you're alternating heavy, volume, heavy, volume, which I think is smart, actually. Here's the thing though, dude, if you're going to be training six days a week, why not break it up into upper and lower so that you get more recovery for your muscles, which might be why you're spasming, potentially. Here's the disclaimer though. I myself train full body six days a week. Is that my preferred split? No, actually not. If I had my preferred split, it would be two upper, two lower, and maybe two full-body somewhere in there. But it works out to full body a lot of times per week because I have four different training buddies.

Zoe Peled: Buddies, that's what I was going to say.

Karina Inkster: Being accountable. And so they're all in the schedule and I am doing a lot of their workouts. We're doing workouts together and they are not doing upper and lower, so we're compromising a little bit. But I think in an ideal world, if you have six days to train pretty hard, and by the way, I'm not doing a hard, really high-intensity workout every time. Some of them are, but not every single one of those probably between six and eight sessions are really intense. So I'm going for volume more than intensity, but in this case it sounds pretty intense, especially if you're doing negatives to get more reps in. I'd probably do two upper, two lower, and two full. And within that you can do your heavy day, lower reps, higher weight and your volume day. But I don't see why you wouldn't want to split it up into lower, upper unless you really, really, really like full body or you're on some schedule like me where you have other humans to take into account and you have to deal with their training schedules as well.

Zoe Peled: I think I am in agreement with everything. I think that anytime - I really liked this individual indicated that they're incorporating a lot of variety into training -I think that anytime that we're challenging the muscles in different ways, I think that that is great benefit and it also gives you the opportunity to have some rest and have those lower intensity days because I think there's perhaps a perception that we always need to be doing an 11 out of 10 intensity workout, and that's just not a realistic standard to set for ourselves when we're strength training or when we're training in any capacity.

Karina Inkster: A hundred percent. Love it. I think we have time for one last question from Sam. "What do you think of mini-cut cycles?" Now for folks who don't know a cut cycle or just a cut. It's a bodybuilding term, it comes from that world. It means being in a calorie deficit. That's it. So it comes from the world of folks who bulk and cut in a cyclical manner. So bulking, they're eating in a calorie excess. They are gaining as much muscle as humanly possible, and then in a cut, they're in a calorie deficit and they're trying to essentially change their body composition and decrease their overall body fat as much as possible. 

Now, there's arguments here about is this healthy? Is training for the stage, which is where this all comes from, a health pursuit? We're not going to go into that because we have lots of thoughts and other episodes about those things.

But basically what it means is a cycle of being in a calorie deficit and then a cycle of being probably in maintenance. For most humans who aren't competing in bodybuilding, they're going to be in maintenance calories and then they're going to be in a calorie deficit. So any thoughts on this, Coach Zoe?

Zoe Peled: My thoughts? Well, how much time do we have? My thoughts are there is, again, wanting to kind of echo what you said previously about the fact that having body goals is not bad. If someone wants to lose weight or have a shift in body composition and that is what you want to do. No shame. I think aligned with that sentiment, if that is your area of focus, there is nothing inherently wrong with exploring how a deficit could contribute to that. The thing that flags for me is when we are bringing in something like a deficit in a really, really extreme way with the intent of getting extreme results in a very short period of time.

Karina Inkster: That's the world that this type of terminology comes from.

Zoe Peled: Exactly. I mean, calorie deficits as an entity when used safely and correctly and in the right circumstances, yes. When we're using them to try and encourage really dramatic, unrealistic changes in the body. I mean, that is very unhealthy and can also lead to dangerous places sometimes.

Karina Inkster: Excellent points. I think, again, the it depends factors in here because how much of a deficit are we talking about? Is a cut cutting half your food? That's a red flag. Is a cut subtracting 15% of your overall fuel?

Zoe Peled: Not so much.

Karina Inkster: That's pretty manageable. So again, it comes back to it depends.

Zoe Peled: Hashtag it depends.

Karina Inkster: Right? Anyways, unfortunately, we didn't get to all the questions, but we did what we could. We'll have to do part two at some point.

Zoe Peled: We will. I think we got good coverage in.

Karina Inkster: I think so. So as always, awesome to chat and I will be seeing you very soon.

Zoe Peled: See you soon.

Karina Inkster: Those are the questions we could get to today. Hope you enjoyed our responses. We're always happy to chat if you have questions or just want to say hi, get in touch at You can access our show notes with links to our social channels at Thanks so much for tuning in.

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