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NBSV 176

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Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 176

Vegan powerlifter Katya Gorbacheva on strength training, challenging societal body ideals, our protein requirements, and more

This transcript is AI-generated and [lightly] edited by a human.


Karina Inkster:

You're listening to the No Bullshit Vegan Podcast, episode 176. Vegan powerlifter and Coach Katya Gorbacheva joins me to discuss strength training, challenging societal body ideals and everyone's favorite vegan subject: protein.


Karina Inkster:

Hey, welcome to the show. I'm Karina, your go-to no BS vegan fitness and nutrition coach. Today's episode topics really hit home for me because my coaching team and I are always working to question and dismantle very harmful myths within the fitness industry, and societal body ideals or standards are very much in that category. As you might know, we don't use before and after photos anywhere in our marketing for our coaching business. We are anti-diet culture, and we operate a weight-neutral coaching practice, which in case you don't know, the term means working outside the confines of fat loss or a smaller body size as the main goal of fitness, and it also rejects weight size or BMI as accurate measures of health. So among other topics that we're covering today, we will be talking about dismantling some societal ideals of what women are supposed to look like or how they're supposed to act, especially on social media.


If you're looking for no bullshit weight neutral anti-diet culture coaches, check out our coaching programs at karinainkster.com/coaching, and make sure you apply for a spot ASAP as we only have a few available at the moment. 


Introducing my guest today, Katya Gorbacheva. She's a vegan powerlifter and one of the strongest vegans in the world. She's an elite powerlifter with a total of 1025 pounds at a body weight of 165 pounds, and she has a DOTs score of 453. And for those not in the powerlifting world, that's a ratio of weight lifted to body weight, and that is a very impressive high score. Katya has been vegan for almost eight years and is a proud member of the Vegan Strong PlantBuilt team. She goes to protests against fois gras and marches against animal cruelty and is a frequent speaker at vegan festivals around the world. Her favorite meal is her boyfriend's vegan ramen with Korean steak, which I assume is also vegan. Here's our conversation. 


Hey Katya, thank you so much for coming on the show and speaking with me today. Great to have you here.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Hey, Karina, thank you for having me. Yes, we're talking again within a period of one week. I'm lucky.


Karina Inkster:

I know. Imagine that. So we basically just met last week. We've been chatting on Instagram a little before then. So for our listeners, I was to your Instagram live on your channel, so thank you for that. That was super fun. We had kind of like a coach's corner chat about things, people asking questions and that kind of thing. So that was very fun. And then I'm like, well, this human is awesome and needs to be on the podcast. So now we're here. Okay, so tell our listeners a little bit about what you do. You are a vegan powerlifter. You've been vegan for about eight years. You're on the Vegan Strong PlantBuilt team. But tell us about your vegan powerlifting superpowers and what you do with your coaching.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yeah, so that's funny. I don't think I have any superpowers because I've been an engineer and a nerd for most of my life, and I just wanted to be skinny because I'm from Russia, I was born there and the stereotype, I guess the tradition in Eastern Europe is just for women to be smaller, skinnier, more feminine, and even if you lift weights, don't get too big, don't get too bulky kind of thing. And I've always wanted to do that. And that's not my genetics. My genetics is to be a little bit bulkier, a little bit stronger, stockier. So when I started lifting weights, we can talk about that later, I realized my prerogative is not to be super lean and be a bodybuilder, but to be super strong and be a powerlifter. And when I realized that I relatively quickly became an elite powerlifter with USAPL, the biggest American Natural Federation from drug tested at every competition. I just won best lifter, you can see the flag hanging over there and all the medals in the back wall. So yeah, if I show up to any powerlifting competition, I usually win. Or some other champion, world champion shows up, I guess, to get qualified. I'll get a second, and it's kind of been my therapy and my sport of choice for the last couple of years.


Karina Inkster:

So you've climbed the ranks of powerlifting pretty quickly in terms of the longevity of your sport and how relatively recently you came to it, huh?


Katya Gorvacheva:

That’s probably true, and I didn't want to compete at all because I've always thought my clients love to ask me this question. They were like, yeah, I think I'm not ready to compete. I think I'm too weak, and I've always thought that I'm too weak. So when one of my clients was going to compete, I was like, all right, I'm going to come watch and maybe be your handler if you want. And he was like, no, you should compete. And I'm like, nah, I'm not going to win. And I got second. Wow. And the girl who beat me, I think she got an All American record as they do. So I was like, okay, I guess that's not bad. It was a pretty big meet. There were at least 200 athletes. So anyways, I felt inspired to continue competing. So I knew I wasn't very weak, but I just thought it wasn't worthwhile to do a sanctioned event. And now I do see that it is worthwhile, that it is super fun to have a date and a goal to get super strong by and then go and crush it. You see other women there competing and super inspiring even if you go and you don't compete, and super inspiring. So I enjoy competing a couple of times a year.


Karina Inkster:

That's brilliant. Well, congrats on your recent win. Super amazing.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Thank you so much.


Karina Inkster:

Was that with the PlantBuilt team? Can you tell us a little bit about what the team entails?


Katya Gorvacheva:

No, I can tell you about the PlantBuilt Team, but the recent meet that I did, it was just a month ago here in North Carolina. It was a North Carolina States powerlifting competition. So I won Best Lifter and I won first in my weight category 75 kilo with a 1025 pounds on a bar or 465 kilos, I think Kilo people…


Karina Inkster:

Right? The kilo people.


Katya Gorvacheva:

And what do you use in Canada?


Karina Inkster:

We're very confused in Canada. So technically we're the metric system, but no one ever talks about kilos when they talk about weight on the bar or body weight, it's always in pounds.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Oh shit, why? That's annoying.


Karina Inkster:

It's so weird. But then when you start talking about distance, it's all in kilometers. So we're very confused and it depends on the thing that we're measuring. 


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yeah, so I just calculated 465 kilos. Yeah. And my next meat is at Mr. America with Team PlantBuilt, which is I think the largest vegan athletic team in the world. We finally, I think today or yesterday, we've been released, and this is recorded before this comes out. So basically as of April, yes, mid-April, we have been allowed to release the names of our athletes. So you can ask me who's on the team, who's not on the team. I do not know some of the new people, but I think the team is one of the biggest that it's ever been. It's not just bodybuilders, it's bodybuilders, powerlifters, CrossFitters, strong men and strong women and kettlebell sport. And I don't think we have an Olympic lifting team because I think that's not an event there, but we do have Olympic lifting athletes that compete in CrossFit with us. So huge team. Extremely exciting. It's basically a nonprofit and activism to show you can be strong on plants and not hurt animals.


Karina Inkster:

That's brilliant. What a unique form of activism. I mean, we always talk about wearing our vegan gear to the gym and making insanely good vegan food to share with all our training buddies and our colleagues and stuff. And that's all a form of very effective activism, I would say. But kicking ass, taking names, winning championships in all the strength sports and all the different disciplines that are involved with PlantBuilt. That's pretty cool. Very different.


Katya Gorvacheva:

It is pretty cool, and I'm incredibly honored to be one of their athletes.


Karina Inkster:

That's so awesome. So let's talk about the strength training piece a little bit. Okay. I mean, we're kind of in the same world of coaching people. You are doing more power lifting specific coaching than I am. I work with general population, usually folks over the age of 55, everyone's vegan. So we work with folks who are plant-based, or at least somewhere on the plant-based spectrum. If there's no interest in being plant-based, we're going to refer 'em to someone else. But it's pretty obvious from our website that we're all about the vegan training anyways, the strength training piece and how it relates to women is one side of the coin, and then there's a strength training piece and how it relates to the age old topic of protein. That still comes up many times, even though it's 2024 and we've just like, oh my God. So which one do you want to talk about first? Protein or strength training and women?


Katya Gorvacheva:

Let’s start with the protein. People are probably going to want for us to talk about that first protein, because I keep asking before every podcast and before every talk that I do, I ask, Hey, any specific questions for this speaker or this time? And it's always protein. What do you eat for protein? How much protein do you eat? Where do you get your protein? And it kind of doesn't matter. Vegans, non-vegan. And I'm like, really? I have articles and videos on top of videos on top of a whole book that is free to download on the topic. Will you please read the shit and stop asking? No, apparently not. We can talk about it again because people are going to Google that. This is the most researched topic, so let's feed the algorithm.


Karina Inkster:

Well and also let's feed the algorithm. And also it is a different situation for strength athletes than either folks who are sedentary or folks who do endurance sports. Yes, I would say, I mean, it kind of depends on the individual, but the average person who has a sedentary job at an office and then maybe goes to the gym twice a week for half an hour, their protein needs are going to be different than yours. Who is an elite power powerlifter getting ready for a competition. So I think there's also individual differences in what people's training looks like, but one of the main things we hear is you can't get enough protein as a vegan. So there's something about the vegan diet that means you're not getting enough amino acids or you're not getting enough protein from plants. And I mean, we can bust that myth in probably about 30 seconds.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yeah, it was funny at the competition, it was pretty clear that I was going to win. And there's some chick that comes up and she's like, I see your bag says vegan. It says vegan strong. And I'm like, yeah, but what's up? And I brought a whole, the bag was full of brochures with vegan recipes, and I was just giving them away to people who asked me questions. They had a protein scorecard, it had information about our vegan athletes, so love it. I was going to do some vegan activism while competing.


Katya Gorvacheva:

So I gave her the thing and I was like, and then I looked at her, she probably weighed about as much as one of my legs and still looked me in the eye and asked where I get the protein given I was about to win. And I was like, Hmm. Very interesting. Very interesting.


Karina Inkster:

That is interesting. So what do you say to people when they come up to you and they're like, so where'd you get your protein from?


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yes. I say, soy, seitan, TVP, nutritional yeast. And usually they're like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. What did you say? So I'll say, I eat fake meats. I do drink protein like every normal athlete. Usually we take a protein supplement, not because I won't get enough without it, but because it's convenient and it's nice after I drive home from the gym is very easy. Or when I travel, no, not from beans. Beans are mainly carbs. So is quinoa. And don't make me a carrot hot dog, please. That is very rude. Do not replace my protein with a freaking carrot.


My friend Dan Austin, the author of Vegan Meathead, he made stickers and I have a bunch of stickers all over my water bottles and everything.


Karina Inkster:

He's been on the show, he's awesome.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Amazing. Yeah, I love Dan. So I have a stickers that say, make jackfruit fruit again, and I have a stickers that say, quinoa is not a real protein source or something like that. So yeah, I'm on board with that. I read his book. I completely agree with the majority of the things he says. So for those vegan or not, just let me promise that based on multiple research and meta-analysis, the theoretical gap between the vegan and non-vegan protein requirements or protein bioavailability, maybe it disappears at 0.725 grams per pound of body weight. Okay, and I'm going to say body weight, assuming you're not super obese, assuming you're like plus minus 20 to 30% body fat, you can recalculate that into lean muscle mass if you're super cautious. But in my book, I list that number and I list body weight because otherwise people get too crazy with lean muscle mass and all that stuff.


So let's take me as an example and let's bump it to, let's say I'm 25% body fat. Okay, so I'm 165 pounds, and if I'm 25% body fat, that means I'm 75% lean muscle mass. That includes bones, nerves, muscles, everything except for fat, right? That's lean muscle mass for those who don't know. So we're going to take that and multiply by 1.25 because I'm an athlete and let's say I'll eat a little bit more and I'm going to get 155 grams of protein, and that's it. That's not very much. I was eating more when I was bodybuilding even on a cut, but now I'm not on a cut and I'm pretty happy eating between one to 1.25 and I'm good per pound of lean muscle mass.


Karina Inkster:

I feel like there's also the added variable here with folks who need more protein because of training like yourself generally are also consuming a higher volume of food. So I mean, there are exceptions. If you're doing a cut in a weight-based sport, for example, there are exceptions, but generally super active folks are expending a lot of energy in their training in their, and they're eating more. I mean, I remember when I was working in gyms, so when I was coaching people in person before I went completely online, even just walking around a gym demonstrating exercises, spotting people just to maintain my weight, I was doing 3,300 calories a day. So my own training plus walking around all day, that's a shitload of vegan food, man. That's a lot of food. So it's really not hard to get something like a hundred fifty, a hundred fifty five grams of protein on that. You kind of get it by default. If you're eating decently whole foods and you're seitan and all those things...


Katya Gorvacheva:

Unless you eat fries and Coca-Cola, then yeah.


Karina Inkster:

Sure. Right?


Katya Gorvacheva:

If you don't avoid tofu, and if you don't only rely on beans, you do get it by default. If you try to make your plate, such as we talked about the Canadian meal suggestions, the very great meal suggestions released by your health organization, right? The government, they listed protein. They didn't list fish or meat or dairy or none of that stuff. They had greens and starches or greens and fruits and nuts and seeds and the proteins. So about a quarter of that plate was protein. So if you're not actively avoiding your protein in each of your meals, taking about a quarter of your plate, in my case, I guess it's about half of my plate, but then I'll have dessert on top. I have different plates from my dessert, my savory, etc.


Katya Gorvacheva:

So you get your protein. It's extremely hard to be deficient.


Karina Inkster:

Let's take this person who asked you about where do you get your protein from at the competition? And you're like, well, seitan, nutritional yeast, tempeh. And they're like, wait, wait, hold on. What the fuck are you talking about? Right? They have no idea. I think that's part of the deal. My coach colleague Zoe, who works with our clients, always says, if you are a strength athlete and you're an omnivore, you have five protein options. And not actually, but they believe they have five protein options like your chicken breast and your fish, and there's a couple, if you're vegan, you have five protein options for each of those. You have your nutritional yeast and your Tempe and your Seitan. You can make your own fake meat. There's so many options. You have fava bean tofu, which is a hundred percent protein by calorie, which is insane. There's so many options, but most folks just haven't heard about this. If they're not actively looking at plant-based options, they just have no idea.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Right? Right. Yeah, I agree. It's kind of sad that we grew up in a society that does not have the education pieces, but now you and I come in, people who follow us come in, they see what we eat, they see what we do. So they might potentially try what we eat and not be as uneducated. And when we say nutritional yeast, they could be like, I know what this is. Oh my gosh, I know what this is.


Karina Inkster:

Exactly.


Katya Gorvacheva:

And actually try that stuff. So I don't only train vegans. And what makes me hopeful and happy is that my non-vegan clients enjoy trying out my vegan recipes. They know what all of those vegan things are. They can, if we have any in-person meetings or hangouts, we usually have sauna Saturdays at my German friends' house and people bring whatever the foods, the majority of the people there are vegan. So whoever's not vegan is going to come and try those things. And they learn. So they're not opposed. If they're opposed, I guess maybe they don't say it, but so far nobody has rebelled and everybody's been very understanding and appreciative. And sometimes they make or bring their own vegan stuff and be like, well, I like this. How about you? Did I cook tofu? Right? And I'm like, wow, you don't really eat tofu.


Karina Inkster:

Well, this is the thing. I mean, that's one of the bonuses actually of working with folks who aren't vegan. We're talking, we're preaching to the choir, let's put it that way. Our marketing is all about vegan coaching. We have all the people who are fed up with their previous coaches having said, oh, you need to have your whey protein shakes and your chicken breasts and blah, blah, blah. And they had no idea how to make vegan meal plans. And so we're definitely fulfilling a specific niche, but we don't get to work with folks who are completely new. I mean, we do work with some people who are currently making the transition to veganism, and they hired us for help, but they've already made that decision. We're not really working with folks who may not have considered veganism before, and now we're planting the seeds. So that's pretty cool that you get to do that part as part of your work.


Katya Gorvacheva:

I do do that because I wouldn't have enough clientele otherwise because I do like to do strength clients. And even though the majority of my folks are 50 plus, and all they care about is maintaining long-term health and not injuring themselves and maintaining healthy spine and bones, and I'll write them their PT programs. Some of my other folks and younger folks are, they can be vegetarian or they could be none of the vegan, vegetarian, none those things at all. And I still enjoy writing their lifting programs because to put it bluntly, there's not enough vegans who are interested in strength training yet.


Karina Inkster:

I wonder why that is. What's the deal?


Katya Gorvacheva:

Everybody's fucking bodybuilding. Everybody's bodybuilding because bodybuilding's pretty and sexy. You're shredded, it sells. Then you can be a coach and you can make a lot of money and post your abs and your ass on Instagram. And I don't do that. I post my heavy deadlift and how I did it, I'm so happy that I didn't pee myself while doing it. And it may not be as attractive to women. It may not be as attractive to people in general. And I guess, what do you see in the vegan world? Everybody's like all of the doctors, they're like, oh, make sure you don't eat too much protein. Too much protein is bad for your liver. It's bad for this. It's bad for that. Don't eat fat. Don't eat protein. Eat fucking whole foods. Organic, only local, all of those. All of the restrictions on top of restrictions. And no fat, no oil, no protein, no sulfites. 


And I'm like, bro, that's fine. If you are dying from some disease and you are super dying, but if you're just trying to lose weight, there's other things. But I guess they're doctors with PhDs with books, and they're credible and they have large networks and people listen to them, and that's great. But maybe if you're young and you're not there yet, you can be vegan and still eat fun foods, some processed foods, every once in a while, you're going to go out. Every once in a while, somebody's going to have a wedding. Your relative is going to cook some fatty-ass vegan French toast drizzled with maple syrup, and you're going to eat it. Maybe you can strength train and just work on your metabolism. Maybe you can focus on becoming a more athletic human being rather than being a couch potato who just is afraid to eat protein and fat and easy products because this is what you have to resort to now that you've done nothing for 50 years and you're sick. So I have a different view on this. It just makes me really sad. I wish people were more athletic and maybe cheated or I guess ate some processed stuff, cheated on their whole food plant based diets.


Karina Inkster:

Every once while treated themselves. Yeah, we don't want to instill guilt.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Sure, yeah. I mean, yeah, exactly. Have your refeeds and you don't have to be super shredded. That's not super healthy. But if you be more athletic, I don't think you'll have to resort to these drastic vegan restrictions promoted by every other health professional. You could kind of do something in the middle, but you're probably not going to really talk about it because you're going to be kind of healthy, kind of fit, kind of fat, kind of like me. I'm not super lean. I'm very strong.


Karina Inkster:

But your life expectancy is probably better than most bodybuilders who do that. I mean, that's not a health pursuit.


Katya Gorvacheva:

But we don't know how to measure that.


Karina Inkster:

That's true.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Not going to claim anything like that. And it's a questionable sell to the audience. You know what I mean? Just lift a lot, run, do your endurance sport, whatever, swim, just get an athletic plan and pursue that. And on top of that, you can eat more. You can have less restrictions and more fun, but that somehow is not as sellable as get rid of all the sulfites.


Karina Inkster:

A hundred percent agreed. I fully agree. I think Dr. Greger comes to mind. Forks Over Knives come to mind. All these super low-fat, whole food only, demonize any sort of processed, and I'm using air quotes here, processed foods. There really is no definition of that, but that's a whole other topic.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Oh my god, we can talk about that next time.


Karina Inkster:

They're not specifically speaking to an audience that strength trains. They're like you said, potentially speaking to an audience that's sick. Or about to have a heart attack, or they reference all the work that's been done on reversing heart disease and all these things. And then they apply that to the general population, which is also not necessarily super accurate or effective. Just because someone else was helped to reverse their heart disease with a certain diet doesn't mean the general population should adopt said diet if they don't have heart disease. But anyways, I think I'm fully on board with what you're saying. It's like extra restriction and it's unnecessary. I feel like it alienates people who would otherwise be interested in veganism, like, oh, wait, I have to not eat all these animal products and also not eat any processed food and no oil and no sugar, and oh my God, that's a lot. That's a lot for people, right?


Katya Gorvacheva:

It’s a lot. It's too much. I don't think if somebody was telling about veganism with those restrictions, to me, I don't think I'd be very excited unless I was orthorexic actually, which I was for a very long time. So maybe I would've been on board for a while and then would've crashed.


That's another problem is too many restrictions make people crash, make athletes crash. And we do not want that to happen. We want for people to live their fulfilling lives and be balanced and chill and not go to the gym when they're on vacation, for example, or whenever they choose. Take a break. Take a break from their diet if it's like a weight loss diet or a bulking diet or whatever their purposeful nutrition plan is, and just do whatever for a little bit. Right now, I've just competed. I haven't been to the gym for three days, and that's a long time for me, four days, including today. So just took a bunch of hikes, going to bike with my boyfriend and do some sauna. That's okay. And I'm still an athlete, so if you go and eat some processed vegan food, you're still vegan. Don't worry. You're still a good vegan. Pat yourself on the head. Can we talk about fat consumption in food? We talked about protein.


Karina Inkster:

Yes, absolutely. Yes. Let's get into it.


Katya Gorvacheva:

So people think strength athletes, they argue what kind of fat consumption should there be? Like in Daniel's book, you'll see he'll say up to 30 or even 40% of fat, and that strongest people, they eat more fat. Strongest vegan athletes eat more fat in their diets. I've recently had a live with Bradie Crandall, the author of the Vegan Machine. Bradie thinks not as much fat is necessary and that, well, he's also a bigger guy, so if he eats 30%, that's different 30% than Daniel, because Daniel is half the size as Bradie, and so am I as a woman. So I also, I've tried higher fat. I've tried lower fat. I think it depends on your genetics, it depends on where you're from. So depending on where you're from and what your genetics is, I think you could allow less or more fat in your diet. If you're a strength athlete, I'm more predisposed to heart conditions and high blood cholesterol, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, all of that. It's just up there. So if I eat a higher fat diet, that's kind of what tends to happen.


And I would probably lean towards Bradie’s recommendations here on keeping fat towards 20%, especially for smaller people. I guess you'll have to do the minimum of threshold that is required for your hormone balance. If I'm a woman and I'm bodybuilding, I will not drop it down to below 35 grams a day. Ideally, I would like to keep my fat not below 60, but then if it's closer there, up and over 80 grams, we're starting to get into not good for the heart territory. So your fat needs to be enough for your hormones and for your strength training. And so you can have enough protein with the fat and stay full, but also not too little so that you're like, no matter how many more carbs I add, it's just not fulfilling anymore.


Karina Inkster:

Yes. And well, what you're also saying is there's some individual factors to keep in mind. So folks who might be predisposed to certain things like higher cholesterol and such, there fat percentage of total calories is what we're talking about. So just for listeners, if they're not sure when we're talking about percentages, like 20% fat, 30% fat, it's percentage of your overall calories coming from fat as the macronutrient. Exactly. I mean for me, I don't have things like that. I get my blood tested regularly. There's no warning signs, so my fat is usually closer to 30% of my total calories. Depends. I mean, it changes, but your point is you don't want it to go too low either. You see a lot of these vegan diets that are like 10% fat. That's not enough to absorb fat soluble vitamins and to make hormones and to support your brain.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Exactly.


Karina Inkster:

So that's a problem too. The 80 10 10 diet, don't even get me started on that. It's still around, the raw vegan thing.


Katya Gorvacheva:

I know people who do that. I know people who have lost weight on it, and they're more than excited and they told me about it, and I'm just sitting there…


Karina Inkster:

How long is this going to last?


Katya Gorvacheva:

They're like, yeah, I lost blah, blah, blah weight. I got off of my medication. This vegan doctor, their stuff works. And I'm like, oh god.


Karina Inkster:

Yeah. It's not a long-term solution. I mean, great for them. If they've increased their health, that's cool. But a year and a half from now, they're not going to be raw vegan anymore.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Well, they're not raw vegan, but they do not eat any processed foods.


Karina Inkster:

Right.


Katya Gorvacheva:

They try to eat not just 10% fats, but minimum amount of fats. If it's less than 10, still fine kind of thing. Okay. Yeah. Yikes. They don't care about proteins, so proteins, wherever it lands.


Karina Inkster:

Yeah, that's pretty intense.


Katya Gorvacheva:

I have issues with that. I also have issues with vegans who refuse to take vitamins and do vaccines. So vaccines are not vegan, but I'll still do my vaccines.


Karina Inkster:

Yeah, I'm with you on that a hundred percent. Me too. And I will take my B12. We all should.


Katya Gorvacheva:

We all should. There's not enough in nutritional yeast. There's not enough in orange juice and cereal and whatever they fortify for pregnant women. Not enough. Sorry. Got to take your B12. Most vegans have to take vitamin D. I take vitamin D, I'm low on it. Every blood work of mine shows it. Don't know what it is. I'm in the sun a lot. But yeah, multivitamin. Absolutely.


Karina Inkster:

Yeah, genetics. Individual differences. Yeah.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Right.


Karina Inkster:

Well, let's talk about women and strength training. So there's a lot of myths still that float around, including something you mentioned in our conversation earlier, which was like, oh, don't want to get too bulky. That was kind of the background too, your cultural background and beliefs about what a woman is supposed to, and that's in quotes, look like. Yeah. So what's the deal? I mean, do you work with women clients who come in who have fears like that? What's the deal?


Katya Gorvacheva:

Oh yeah. I take clients who are like, Hey, Katya, I need to lose weight and maybe build some muscle, but I don't want to look like you. Not as much as you please. Yesterday I saw a friend of mine, she's Russian, and we were at the sauna. So we're standing naked in front of the mirror and she's like, yeah, I really like your workout. I'm sore here. And I am like, yeah, your back looks great. I don't see anything quite yet. You just started, but keep going, girl. She's like, yeah, I'm afraid to do more weight on the back. I don't want to have back like yours. And I'm like, what the fuck is wrong with my back dear? She's like, yeah, I just need a smaller waist dear. And I'm like, well, go find a plastic surgeon, man. I mean, she's like, no, and you'd like to lose the fat. It's easier to lose the fat than build the muscle. And I'm like, probably. But with the amount of sedentary stuff that you do, probably not.


I don't know. So she hasn't lost the weight for two years, no matter how hard she tried to go and fat loss diets and whatever, the supplements and whatever, the magic pills. So I was like, all right, why don't you just do my, it's my signature bodybuilding program. You can buy for 25 bucks on my website or 29 bucks. I don't remember. It's just a monthly subscription that keeps rolling until you're sick of my thing and you unsubscribe. So I was like, why don't you just do this? It's not custom doesn't have nutrition. Since you don't want me to do your nutrition anymore and go enjoy your workouts, you'll maybe build some muscle and maybe burn more fat. So yeah, she's enjoying it. She's terrified. And another comment she also made, she's like, yeah, Katya, so how do I do the deadlift without using my back?


And I'm like, what do you mean? Deadlift is a posterior chain exercise. So you use your traps, your erectors, your back, I guess those are parts of back, yes, your butt, your hamstrings, your calves, your whole muscles on the back of your body, you're called posterior chain. She's like, no, no, no. I just want to grow my glutes and maybe get some definition of my hamstrings. My back doesn't need any work. It's fine. I'm going to compress the nerves in between the vertebra if I put load on my back. And that's also the reason why she doesn't do squats with weight on the back. She'll hold the dumbbells in front of her, and I'm like, okay, so you want to mess up your elbows because the weight goes into your elbows or pull your chest forward because if you hold the weight in front of you, it's more interior based. Anyways, I try to break it down. It doesn't work. I guess those people who don't really know much about training, they kind of lose themselves in the answers when I try asking them questions. So yeah, women and strength training, Eastern European women, I don't know how to get through to them. I really don't. Whatever they say, still, I just want this, whatever you say doesn't work for me. So how do I do what I want? But my answer is not sufficient, so I'm lost. I'll keep trying until I die, but I'm a little lost.


Karina Inkster:

That's so interesting. I mean, look, we're not coaches that are against having aesthetic goals. I mean, most folks come to us because they want at least some level of change with their physique. Sometimes that is gaining muscle and gaining weight, including females, but most of the time it is a smaller body size. Now, once they start strength training and they're like, oh shit, look at this awesome stuff I can do. Look how much I'm lifting. Very often that changes and there's a complete 180. They're like, you know what? I'm throwing all of these aesthetic goals out the window. I'm going to focus on getting strong as fuck.


That's cool. That doesn't happen all the time. It's also cool to have physique goals. We're all human. We want to look awesome. We want to feel comfortable. That is allowed. But what we are not into is smaller body size at all costs, or smaller body size at the cost of health. That's where it gets into potential orthorexia, bikini, competitor, bodybuilding territory where fat on your body is bad, and there's only one type of physique that signifies being a fit human, which is not the case, as we all know. So I dunno. I guess what I'm saying is we're not anti-weight loss or anti-changing your physique, but you can do that alongside some mindset work and alongside strength training and learning about what your body can do.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Exactly. I would prioritize strength training, and then usually with most people, if they prioritize performance and focus on that weight loss, if they have extra body fat is a side effect. It's a pleasant side effect that just kind of happens. Exactly. And if you focus on, oh my gosh, my weight is this, my weight is this. I ask most of my clients to weigh in the morning just to make sure stuff is okay, and they're tracking okay, and there's no fluctuations. But for some people it really messes with them. They're like, oh, I lost two pounds today, then I gained three pounds today. And I'm like, you didn't gain anything. Can you please take the lowest and highest number of the week and throw them out and then take an average of the rest of your weigh-ins and that is your true weight and just live with that number if you need a number.


But that number is for me, that number's not for you. Your progress pictures are not for you. That's for me. So just do your stuff and we can adjust the goals. We can talk about how you feel about them, but it's really hard for women who've been told how they should be their whole lives to lose the sense of control over their appearance and over their weight, and to UNT attach their value of their body weight or their amount of body fat, whether their abs are visible or whether their stomach is flat. It's hard. So I get it, but damn, kind of not our job. Kind of a therapist's job.


Karina Inkster:

Yes, it is. It is. I'm on board with that. I think there's a lot to unpack and we as female-presenting people in the world have been inundated. We have been brainwashed. We have been just completely just bombarded with these messages about what we're supposed to look like and what health looks like and what strength looks like. Remember this whole thing back, I dunno, five years ago or whatever, that was like strong is the new skinny.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Oh my god, what health and strength looks like.


Karina Inkster:

It's all the same shit. It's still telling people what they should look like.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Everybody thinks bodybuilder is what strong looks like though, don't you think?


Karina Inkster:

Very true. That is very true. Yes.


Karina Inkster:

That's what we see in magazines.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yes. And I have a folder with photos that whatever the magazines or newspapers who interview me, they can select from. And every time they select a bodybuilding photo. I have photos with a barbell, just photo shoots when I'm like, now when I'm 25 to 20 to 25% body fat and I do not have visible abs and muscles and things popping up, I'm just like a normal looking woman. And those pictures don't get selected because they're not eye catching. Eye catching is like, oh my gosh, this is a 12-pack.


Karina Inkster:

Damn, you have a point.


Katya Gorvacheva:

I want that. How do I get that? What do I need to buy? What kind of a course and what is it? Special challenge? What was popular a year ago? There were challenges.


Karina Inkster:

There were a lot of challenges. Challenges or bootcamps or 30 day, whatever the hell. Yes, all that stuff. I mean, this is a lot BS around what bodybuilding physiques look like. I mean, we see them on social media, we see them in magazines, whatever, not realizing that this person actually only looks like that for two weeks out of the year. They do a photo shoot and get like 200 photos and then they just post them throughout the year. They don't look like that all the time.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Correct, correct. Well, some do. There are genetic freaks who do, but most don't. And we like to pick this extra gifted person no matter in what brains strength looks, and just be like, well, if they can, then why can't I? Well, lots of reasons. You're probably gifted in something else. Okay, relax, accept it.


Karina Inkster:

That's a fair point.


Katya Gorvacheva:

And also I think, so I went to Duke and ever since I came to the US and I went to college here and I was working, I've never lost this feeling of everybody's doing amazing things and the only way I can also do amazing things is just to grind and buckle down and work all day. Oh my God. And then maybe I'll get it and I'll get as good as whatever other people are doing. And maybe the American dream teaches that, or people are like, yeah, don't work hard enough. So some of us think like, okay. And I used to, that's what I used to think when I was bodybuilding. I used to think, okay, I just need to work harder and I'll look like this 365, 24/7, and I got there. I was so miserable. And now I'm happy, just strong, but normal looking. So some goals may not be super fitting to whatever you are, wherever your lifestyle is, whatever your genetic predispositions are and your environment. We just need to accept that there's nothing wrong with it. Doesn't mean you're weak. It doesn't mean you're not hardworking. Those are different things.


Karina Inkster:

That's a very good point. And look, you can't fake, what is it, 125? No wait, not 125, 1,025 on the bar. You can't just walk into a gym and do that. This is dedication, this is work. That's consistency. It's not over the top killing yourself and doing a cut for however long and having 0% body fat and feeling like shit, hopefully. But you can't fake that. I mean, that's a performance-based sport, and it takes a lot of work.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Right? That's true. That's true. And so is bodybuilding. It's just not fulfilling for me at the moment. It's fulfilling for other people, but I switched paths because this fits me better at this time. And that's okay.


Karina Inkster:

Amazing. Well, so tell me about your vegan powerlifting starter guide. So it's free to download at this point on your website. Folks can grab it. We're going to have show notes so people can go there, but tell me about it.


Katya Gorvacheva:

It's free to download. You just go to totalbodylab.com/guide. And by the time this podcast comes out, dear editor, please ask Karina if this is the right website because right now I'm working on the new website, that's veganpowerlifter.com. So most likely this is going to be a popup on veganpowerlifter.com that is currently in the works. We're designing the logos, we're designing everything. It's going to be launched within the next two weeks, most likely by the time this podcast comes out, you'll be able to buy my one-on-one coaching and my non-custom coaching that is very affordable, bodybuilding or aesthetics or power lifting or strength. And to download this Badass 90 page free book that has basically everything you can get with a one-on-one or with a non-custom if you just read the damn thing and apply it to yourself. But to the people who are impatient, they can buy things, and the people who want to talk to me, they can buy things I guess.


So yeah, anyways, the book is a work of a few years. This is edition number two. The edition number one was not really a book, it was like an 18 page pamphlet with the suggestions on my equipment. Mainly it was vegan equipment because I was like, all right, I'm not going to tell people what my program is because they're just going to copy it dumbly and either get injured or not get results and then be like, so I was like, all right, clearly people know what powerlifting is, right? Squat bench dead. So I just had pictures of me in my squat bench and that equipment and breaking down what vegan pieces of equipment I wear, whether I wear heeled shoes or flat shoes, what belt where from, what considerations you need to have in purchasing this equipment. Guide. Number two has a lot more topics.


It has everything you need to know on nutrition, strength training, recovery equipment, of course, supplements and mentality. So it has a shit ton of information. It starts with who I am and why you should listen to me, some of my maxes. What's the difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting? And if you thought of bodybuilding, but now you're reading this powerlifting guide and you're like, oh, I guess it's the wrong thing, keep reading because it's probably going to have information very applicable to you as well, because I've done both. So it has pictures of me at both weights, 130 pounds, 8% body fat, and I'm five six and 163 pounds, 22% body fat last year, because this book was started to be edited last year. And what's the difference? What do we consider two bulky for a woman? Why? That's all bs. Why being afraid of soy is BS.


What you should eat, why you should worry about lysine. What is lysine? Why should vegans worry about lysine or not worry? I guess? How to make sure you get enough in your diet because when somebody is like, ah, I mean the acids, ah, protein, it has formulas on how to calculate how much protein you eat based on your lifestyle, whether you're an endurance athlete or a bodybuilder, power lifter, a couch potato as a vegan, again, lysine, supplements, recovery wise, what I personally do, which is sauna, a little bit of cardio, sleep, cupping, guha, massage. What else? Supplements wise does not have a big section because I'm not a nutritionist, I'm not a doctor, and I did not prescribe anything to anybody. But I have some really nice disclaimers on dosage, how to pick things that are not right. And I guess by the method of elimination, get what you need.


And mentality is my favorite section. So how to get of the guilt circle of doom of like, oh, I tried this online stuff and this doesn't work. Maybe more restriction. Okay, more restriction didn't work. Well, then I'm going to Google some other thing and then I'm going to try it again. And you just keep doing it. And a lot of women do it. They go on some forum and they're like, oh, everybody's doing this challenge, this 30 day challenge. Or they're doing the fit body or body by, I don't know, what's the machine tonal? It's a little mirror looking thing on the wall. And I mean, good job you guys, or a Peloton, you are marketing wizards, but Karina, you have books that literally say, you can buy this $50 band set and just have a blast and work your ass off. So I'm basically in the mentality section saying like, yeah, you don't need a lot. You need to focus on other things. Making sure you understand looking healthy and looking like a bodybuilder are different things. And being at the top of your performance as a strength person is also different things. It's not necessarily healthy. Elite athletes are not necessarily the healthiest people. They take their bodies and put them into extreme conditions to get into peak shape for their event. That is their job. So if that's not your job, don't expect of your body to do that. If you're a programmer or something, your job is different. This is your hobby. And if you're doing it for health, you don't need to look like a bodybuilder or perform like a powerlifter. You need to chill. Choose the right life partners.


Karina Inkster:

I love that.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Choose your right environment so I can shut up. The book has all of those things and more and scientific literature listed and resources recommendations and book recommendations at the end. It doesn't have any ads except for buy my coaching. And this book is free.


Karina Inkster:

Well, tell me about your coaching. Is it going to be at veganpowerlifter.com?


Katya Gorvacheva:

It's going to be at veganpowerlifter.com. You can fill a survey and say, Hey, I need to get stronger. Hey, I'm about to compete bodybuilding. I can coach for bodybuilding as well, even though I don't compete in it currently. I have that's easier to coach for actually to write programs for. And it's harder to deal with the athletes. Powerlifters are pretty easy to deal with unless they need to cut weight, which I can also write a gut cut and water cut regimens. So regardless what you're competing in, I can probably help you out. And if you are an elite athlete, I have my coach who can also programs for you. He's a five times classic cup champion. I think Olympia is bodybuilding. Yes.


Katya Gorvacheva:

So it's the same event at the Arnold Olympia for bodybuilding, classic cup for power lifting. So he's a very decorated athlete, and if you think my experience is not enough for you and go into the worlds or something, I'll hook you up with the Lexie because he, he's never failed me. So yeah, I basically program nutrition and macros. I'll give you a meal plan recommendations, not strict. If you tell me you hate something, we're going to replace it with else that works and continue updating your training every week or every other week until you're sick of me.


Karina Inkster:

That's brilliant.


Katya Gorvacheva:

And I write PT as well.


Karina Inkster:

Oh, right. Yeah, you did mention that. Yes. That's huge actually. That would be super helpful for a lot of folks.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yeah. I don't sell PT anymore because nobody buys it, but I'll write it and I'll stick it in every program.


Karina Inkster:

It's not sexy, it's not exciting, but it's so fricking important to do. Folks. Do your physical therapy. This is your official PSA to do your PT.


Katya Gorvacheva:

I think ankle mobility is pretty sexy. It's pretty hot.


Karina Inkster:

Oh, okay. Well, we all have our things. Hey.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Yeah. It means because if you have it, it means you can squat really low. 


Right? Good. Squat ass to grass.

Who wants an under squatter? Who wants a quarter squatter? No one.


Karina Inkster:

No, thanks. Full ROM every time.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Exactly. ROM is hot in case you didn't know.


Karina Inkster:

Love that. Well, on that note, thank you so much, Katya, for coming on the show. Thanks so much for the chat. It's been great.


Katya Gorvacheva:

Thank you so much for having me. I had a blast.


Karina Inkster:

Katya, thanks again for speaking with me. Make sure you check out our show notes at nobullshitvegan.com/176 to connect with Katya and to get your hands on her vegan powerlifting starter guide. Thanks for tuning in.





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