The Challenge: Week One

Last week I wrote about a challenge a friend of mine and I have going. We are comparing the high protein, low carb (Atkins) type diet to a vegan diet to see which provides muscular development, stamina and strength while working out. My friend will be doing Crossfit workouts while I will be doing P90X. His theory is that cellular growth and repair is only possibly with a high protein diet. I disagree and believe a well rounded diet, such as the vegan diet, is the healthier alternative and will provide the energy and cellular growth needed to continue to improve in your workouts.

His diet: (High protein, Low/No Carb)
Eggs, meat(chicken, red meat, bacon, etc), fish a couple times a day
Leafy greens

My diet: (Vegan)
Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, couscous, Ezekial bread or whole grain bread, whole wheat or brown rice pasta)
Tofu, tempeh, Seitan
Lots of vegetables
Nuts, beans, lentils

We both completed a benchmark exercise to track progress. My friend will be basing his muscular development and stamina with box jumps, while I will be using pushups. We will be completing these exercises on a weekly basis to determine improvements in strength.

24 pushups in 1 minute, 16 in one set, then 5, then another3


3 thoughts on “The Challenge: Week One

  1. Sorry Tre, haven’t had a chance to catch up on your postings this week until now. Great stuff. You are an amazing writer!

    Glad to see you are taking the challenge. That’s great!

    Just to be clear though, this is not Aktin vs. Veganism.

    I’m only using the Atkins induction phase right now because I have excess body fat to shed that has been hanging around a long time. This is merely to take the body from the cycle of feast into the cycle of famine (pseudo hibernation, really) to shed those stubborn pounds. This is a totally natural cycle that has occurred since the beginning of mankind (every winter). (Side note on Atkins: If you read Atkins, you’ll realize that after you’ve lost the weight you add back lot’s of carbs. Most people do not really understand Aktins. It was a cure for obesity, and then a very reasonable plan for keeping it off. Most people do the induction phase, loose the weight, then jump right back into old habits. It’s no surprise what happens to them. I’ve read every study I can, and there is absolutely zero health risk involved in this diet. I cannot recommend it enough for obese people who desperately need to shed weight to stay healthy — or in my case, carb addicts who need to break the cycle. Think of it as drug rehab — once you are clean, you have to live differently to stay clean!)

    In general, however, I’m eating Paleo — Atkins is not how I eat for strength gain — it’s for fat loss. I use the induction phase to break my carb addiction, so I can eat Paleo and (hopefully) cheat less. (I tend to cheat a lot. Carbs are crack for me.)

    Honestly, there is no debate whether or not you can gain and sustain muscle growth, power, stamina, etc using Paleo. No debate at all. Meat, fish, nuts, seeds, tubers, leafy greens, etc. – it’s perfectly balanced, and has a lot of protein to support muscle growth.

    I’m still very skeptical that a diet lacking in animal proteins can sustain constant strength, so I’m leaving it up to you to make me change my tune — which I’m happy to do πŸ™‚

    As far as Vegan professional Athletes go, that doesn’t convince me that the average person who works all day, and only finds 3-6 hours per week to exercise will find the same results. Compare them to the Tarahumara Indians. People were initially confused that they could be so healthy while consuming massive amounts of beer and live on a diet high in carbs (corn and beans). It’s all about how much of the carbs you burn off in daily activity. The Tarahumara, much like a Professional Athlete, probably spend 5-8 hours per day with highly strenuous physical activity. The insulin spikes are not a problem for them. They are constantly burning blood glucose. In fact, they need it to sustain that constant activity. They can eat copious amounts of rice and beans and benefit from the protein while still burning all those excess carbs.

    From everything I’ve read on nutrition (I’m no expert, but I’ve been reading diligently for many plus years now), I don’t think it’s possible to get enough protein from a well-rounded non-meat diet and still be able to show constant growth in strength on a normal persons schedule (where you have maybe one hour per day to exercise, 3-6 times per week). So, I don’t disagree that there are Vegan Athletes, I just don’t think most of us have that kind of time (or interest) in exercising all day — nor do we have the will to down that much rice and beans! You’d need a lifetime supply of Beano πŸ˜‰

    Our bodies adapt amazingly well. Humans can survive on all sorts of diets. I’m not saying you can’t stay healthy as a Vegan, nor am I judging your choices! Really! I’m talking about muscle growth. I just don’t see how you can eat enough protein to grow stronger and keep muscle mass, without consuming far too many carbs. I heard a great term to describe some people recently — “the skinny fat.” I immediately understood that term — being slim, but with no muscle tone or development.

    If you plan to exercise like a pro, and consume enough veggies to get 100 grams or more per day, you can probably make it work. Looks like you are hitting your P90x hard. Good for you.

    Short of that, I’m still taking the stance of waiting and watching your results πŸ™‚

    Good luck. I hope you are successful!

    -The Friend

    (BTW, you mentioned again that I’m not eating low/no carb. That’s not the case. I’m eating high fat, high protein, low carb right now while exercising less. Trying to kick start the metabolism. I’ll eat plenty of carbs with my meat when I’m training hard in another week or two.)

    • Hey! Glad to see you are back! I have been waiting for your updates….
      Thanks for the comments and the corrections on what I said about your diet. Also, I’m glad you mentioned Paleo. That was going to be one of my next posts πŸ™‚ I don’t disagree with the Paleo way of eating, I think it can be done in a very healthy way.
      I’m excited to show you my success with building strength over the coming weeks, while not eating any animal proteins!! I know it can be done. I’ll be posting my week two updates tomorrow.
      As a side note, I have dealt with digestion problems my whole life and since becoming vegan and incorporating more grains and vegetables into my diet, the problems have ceased!

      I’ll keep you updated and I look forward to hearing your successes as well πŸ™‚

      • Awesome, I’m excited to see your results. I’m keeping an open mind and trying to see all sides of this.

        Funny, I’ve also had stomach problem my whole life. I could never make it through a meal without “the burps” – and I always had reflux later.

        After I started experimenting with diet, my problems went away, too. I think it’s all about finding what works for you. I bet a lot of people have undiagnosed food allergies. When I removed dairy and wheat, my world got a lot better. I LOVE ice cream, but I love my Lactaid even more πŸ˜‰

        Interesting how two people with a life time of Agita spend so much time learning about food πŸ™‚

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