40 Day Intermittent Fasting Plus More Wholefoods Plus Exercise Results

For the past forty days I’ve been following an intermittent fasting (IF) eating routine. IF itself is not a diet, it’s more a schedule of when to eat. What you eat is up to you. I’ve found IF to be quite liberating and I’m definitely sticking with it  (more on that below).

You eat your daily calories within your eating window rather than spread out over the whole day. It’s certainly not starvation. There are loads of YouTube videos on IF that explain it well, particularly with regard to the whole insulin-body fat loss relationship, so I won’t get in to it here. IF has been getting some attention in the medical and nutrition fields for a while it seems. A heads up that quite a few IF videos on YouTube seem to be linked to the ketogenic diet or encouraging it. I don’t do keto and have no desire to do it, ever. I would say I am doing a lowER carb diet rather than a deliberate low carb diet, simply because I eliminated my usual high carb favourites like sourdough bread, loads of white rice and pasta.

Remember, IF is a schedule, not a diet so don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a keto thing as it isn’t. Lots of people doing IF following HCLF (high carb low fat) and getting great results still eating a ton of potatoes!

For the IF, I followed a combination of 16:8 and a handful of 20:4, which means that for the 16:8 days I fast for sixteen hours (including sleep time overnight) then eat within an eight hour window. For the 16:8, I chose to eat at 10am, 2pm and 6pm (finishing by 6:30) with no snacks between those times, though as it’s your eating window you can if you want. I preferred to make my meals filling so I wouldn’t need snacks. Nothing apart from water outside those eight hours though I could have plain herbal tea no milk no sweetener. Ditto for the 20:4 where I fasted for 20 hours then ate within a four hour window. I kept the 20:4 for days like Christmas and New Years, where a 1pm lunch was big enough not to need dinner, or the day where I went out to lunch.

For me, the key is to make my meals nutrient dense and filling. Not just a rabbit food diet salad or plain watery cabbage soup! Again, you can eat what you like and people have lost weight doing IF with no exercise and eating what is often considered unhealthy deep fried and fatty foods and alcohol, but I figured if I was going to this effort of IF I’d go all out and do wholefoods/healthier eating all the way, or as close to all the way as possible, for my overall health.

I decided to add a few more elements to this plan:

  • Minimum or no added salt, sugar or oil however it wasn’t purely SOS-free because I was eating say canned beans and legumes which have salt (I realised my canned beans have sugar!), and every now and then Braggs or soy sauce. For oil, I cooked some tofu in a little pure sesame oil for flavour now and then or maybe a very small amount of truffle oil but rarely. For sugar, the only sugar I consumed is what naturally comes in fruits and veg, I never added sugar or maple syrup to foods. I had a dessert on the special days like New Years.
  • Cutting out carbs in the form of pasta (waaaah!), white bready products and white rice. Any rice was brown rice, often one of those brown rice-quinoa or rice-lentil blends. I have no off switch when it comes to regular pasta, white rice and sourdough, so that’s my reason for cutting these out. I needed to get control over eating those foods.
  • Aiming to eat 7 to 10 cups of veggies a day, with a lot of green veg.
  • Daily exercise for physical and mental health.


I didn’t do much in the first week, only a couple of days. I bought a secondhand set of TurboFire by Beachbody HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout DVDs, where the program is working out six days a week. The program I have is 20 weeks long. I committed myself to doing the program 100% and never skipping a day. I have 16 weeks to go. Once the TurboFire program is done, I’ll move to Beachbody’s Insanity DVDs which is a 60 day program. Hurrah for eBay bargains!

I always make a point to exercise in the morning in the fasted state, i.e. before breaking my fast at 10am. This is believed to be the best for reducing body fat as your body taps in to your fat storage for fuel.


The Overall Results so far

No photos as they’re for my eyes only but here are the results after 40 days (ha, that’s not some religious 40 day fast thing, it just worked out to be 40!). After the first week my jeans and loungey summery pants felt more comfy, so there was a definite drop of bloat or whatever people like to call it, like ‘water weight’. By the fourth week I was noticing visible changes such as better fitting jeans, looking slimmer in some parts and my flabby tummy pouch looking different composition wise. In my sixth week, a pair of smaller sized shorts that came nowhere near buttoning up at the start buttoned up (juuust). I had anticipated not fitting in to those shorts for 12 weeks, so being able to do it at week 6 was a nice surprise. I’m very happy with the results and I absolutely credit the IF above my other measures, such as the exercise and healthier eating.


Losing body fat and centimetres, not a number on the scale

I don’t place much emphasis on scale weight, I don’t own any and was only weighing when visiting my parents. I prefer to go by the tape measure and how my clothes fit. In the first week I dropped 1.3kg (2.9lb)… then about a kilo (2.2lb) over 26 days! This was pretty surprising given how much I’d lost in terms of visible fat and by the tape measure, like 5.5cm off the waist and in other areas. But this is nothing new for me, in the past when I’ve dropped two dress sizes, the scale hardly moved down to reflect the obvious body fat loss. So let that be a lesson to you: scale weight isn’t the whole picture! 


How did I feel?
For the first five days I started feeling pretty tired around 2:30pm and by bedtime I was really tired. I don’t know how much of this is due to IF, as the food I was eating was super healthy and nutritious. There was also the weather, hot and humid some days, which always makes me feel crap. I definitely wasn’t feeling energetic enough in the morning to go and exercise. Even in to the second week I was feeling more tired in the evenings, but I was sleeping okay and had enough energy to start the HIIT DVDs. At the end of the third week I had enough energy to do a 20 minute high HIIT workout at 9:45pm, after having done the same workout that morning. So my energy levels have mostly been pretty good, if I get my proper amount of sleep.

Yes, the hungry feeling takes some getting used to. But I promise, you do get used to it. IF has helped me get over the hangries. I like the sense of discipline and control I have now over my eating habits, in that if I am feeling hungry I just deal with it far more easily now. This is the liberating part because previously I was extremely hung up on needing to eat if I felt the slightest hunger sensation (or even when I didn’t).

I’m pretty blown up after my meals, but not a painful bloat, more like “I just ate a big meal” round belly. No pain or discomfort and it goes away after a while.

I’m surprised at how little food it takes to feel pretty full now, compared to before. But I do take care to get all my daily calories in so even if I am starting to feel full, I will eat what I can to make sure I’m not undereating.

This may be a coincidence but since dropping a bit of weight I haven’t had any of those episodes where I wake up overnight needing to choke-cough, like I have stopped breathing in my sleep. Sometimes I even dream I am suffocating and that wakes me up coughing and gasping for breath (I notice it more if I have rolled heavily on to my side, perhaps my lungs get all squished!). I hope I don’t jinx myself here, but it’s been great not having to deal with that!


What did I eat?

We’ll start with apple cider vinegar. You’ve probably heard people touting it as fantastic for weight loss. My brief google research stuff mostly showed articles where ACV doesn’t really have any kind of super power when it comes to weight loss despite the miracle claims. I was having two teaspoons of ACV and a squeeze of lemon in a big glass of water twice a day before two of my meals for the first week. It tasted horrible and I would force it down, until I read a number of the ACV-isn’t-magic articles and decided to stop. But then I started it up again for the fourth week going in to the fifth to see if I would lose a bit more in terms of measurements. Drinking it again for weeks four and five didn’t seem to give me better results in terms of tape measuring.


On to the food.

A breakfast meal was sometimes steel cut oats soaked overnight in unsweetened almond milk with chia seeds, with the fruits, LSA mix and seeds added before eating. I once made pancakes from buckwheat, quinoa and blueberries and served them with fresh fruit (recipe from Thrive by Brendan Brazier). However I mostly had what I call my breakfast pudding: oats, almond milk or soy, water, banana, Prana On protein and chia seeds (plus some kind of flavour like PB2 powdered peanut butter or chai spices). I make this the evening before and by breakfast time it thickens up to a nice puddingy consistency. Having this nice cold pudding straight from the fridge after the high intensity workout is a nice treat and feels like dessert.

Lunch and dinners: I would make the lunch meal the one with the higher carbs, such as the brown rice mix or potatoes. I kept dinner lower carb with a protein source like tofu and a bunch of veg. Fats were in the form of avocado, nuts and seeds (no oil).

I’ll be posting another update for my 60 days with proper foods photos as I’ve been using my phone in bad lighting as a record, and the photos don’t exactly make IF look appetising!

I enjoy making bowls, so for a Mexican style bowl I chopped up veg and made some black beans. That would go in a bowl with a brown rice-quinoa blend, a bunch of veg, tomatoes, and avocado.

Tofu stir fries were easy, I used a lot of veg like bok choy and spinach.

A simple low carb dinner was just pan-fried tofu slices (in a non-stick pan) with a bunch of veg and nooch. Great for the days where I couldn’t be bothered being creative and I didn’t want to think.

Another meal was a Japanese style curry stew, with tofu and veg and a grated apple. I used a Japanese curry powder but skipped making a roux for thickening like most recipes have. This was so chunky with the veg that it was more of a stew, and really good too.

I made a ‘meat’ from roasted cauliflower and walnuts and this worked great as a bolognese style topping on zucchini noodles, with tomatoes, broccoli and avocado.

I also made a lentil loaf, Greek beans and falafel eaten with salad and a load of oil free hummus.

Another bowl was Japanese style, with brown rice, edamame, nori sheets, veg and avocado.

I had one ‘special’ lunch which was buckwheat pasta and veg done as a huge salad and eaten straight out of a mixing bowl because of all the veg.

Here’s my lunch at a family event:

Was it tough?

The IF component was not tough at all, though I’m used to eating certain ways when I have to. I knew I had to do this so it wasn’t hard. I didn’t feel like I was suffering, though it did make me realise I think about food A LOT and have a big problem with eating when I simply don’t need to, like late night snacks.

I thought I would be ravenous all the time but I wasn’t really, and as cliche as it sounds, I got used to any feelings of hunger or they’d go away with a glass of water. Around 10pm I’d get a bit of a rumble in my belly but in the morning I wouldn’t be hungry for a while.

Yes there were times when I was really hungry in the evening and the next day would be a 20:4 day, so I’d be eating say at 1pm rather than 10am. But I can handle the hunger easily enough now. Remember, it’s not starvation because when you do eat, you’re eating your daily calories, it’s just that you’re eating them in a shortened period of time. I kept the hunger at bay with water and plain tea. Honestly, I really did just get used to it. It didn’t stop me from wishing I could stuff my face with pizza, but it was easy to deal with after a while.

One hard thing was social media, I had to ease off Instagram because of all the fabulous food pics. Same with looking through cookbooks, I had to do that right after a meal when it was easier mentally!

There were many times when I got really sick of eating the same healthy meal four days in a row. For some meals I was well and truly over it on the third day of a prepared meal and was not looking forward to the same meal the next day. One time I couldn’t stand the thought of more boiled sweet potato and broccoli as part of my dinner so I blended it in the next breakfast smoothie.

Some evenings were a bit tough because I had to consciously find stuff to keep me occupied because previously, I would have had post-dinner snacksies. My mind drifted to food a lot at the start, so I distracted myself with those fitness and weight loss before-after videos on YouTube. Ha!


Eating out

I put a eating-out ban on myself. You don’t need to do this if you’re doing IF– remember IF itself is not a diet. If I was to eat out I would simply factor that meal in to my eating window. I did have one meal out so I made that a 20:4 day (maybe closer to 19:5). My sister and I are planning a future big blowout lunch out around my 60 days and I’ve got a lunch date with my son coming up to use up some two-for-one meal vouchers. I have no reservations about this whatsoever somehow messing up my progress or anything.


What really helped?

Preparing meals in advance is something I find useful all the time, not just for IF or a ‘diet’. I prepared meals to see me through the next four days of lunch and dinner. Such a relief to just grab something out of the fridge.

IF is helpful to me because I don’t have to think about food or preparing food, or the whole “what will I eat?” when it’s outside my eating window times. So I didn’t have to think about breakfast if my first meal was around 10am, and I knew I had something prepared for then. Some IF advocates stress that you shouldn’t eat by the clock because you get fixated on times. But I find that having set eating times works really well for me.

For the first three or four weeks I weighed all my food and record everything in the My Fitness Pal app and website. I stopped in week 4 as some of my meals and recipes were a pain to plug in to MFP and by then I was very confident with my meals and not needing the caloric amounts, as I was eating the same way regardless of using MFP. When I do use MFP, I do so because I want a rough idea of what I’m eating. It’s a personal thing, some people like it, others find it a chore or stressful. I’m a numbers geek so I enjoy it but I didn’t stress or anything if my fats or whatever were too high. I use it as a rough guide but can take it or leave it now though I do think it was important for me at the start to get a handle on everything.


What about One Meal A Day (OMAD)?

As the name suggests, you have one meal a day and eat all your calories in that one meal. People who do it swear by it for things like weight loss and maintenance, or feeling better mentally and physically overall. This includes highly active people. But after looking at loads of testimonial types videos and posts, I don’t think it’s for me. The people who do OMAD seem to have a pretty massive single meal (because you want to fill yourself up and be satiated) and I get so easily full now that there’s no way I think I could eat enough to last 24 hours without force feeding myself. I get full on less food now, and I don’t see how I could eat my daily calories in one meal without feeling totally sick, particularly when I’m eating way more veg.


Will I continue with IF?

Hell yeah, as it’s now a lifestyle change and not really an experiment anymore and my results have been great. I have health goals to reach too so I’ll stick with the IF and exercise. I don’t have a problem with the sensation of hunger anymore. IF has given me a great sense of control over my past little demons like boredom eating or feeling compelled to eat a late snack, or not having an off switch with certain foods which impacted my health.

IF still allows me to eat whatever I want, it’s just the time period of *when* I eat that has changed.  I’m still eating my daily calories within my windows, no different to if I was eating them spread throughout the day. However for me, I’m not eating or snacking throughout the day or eating when I’m not really hungry, which was my big issue and so that means I am naturally eating much less calories than before while still having a healthy amount of calories/nutrient dense food.

So yes, I can still go out to eat and if I eat something high fat high sodium high carb high blahblah then fine whatever, I’ll plan it within my eating window. Nothing is completely off limits, I’m just changing the way I prepare my own food and the times I eat. I had a big family lunch the other day with some vegan shortbread and not once did I have the whole thought process of “oh no will this mess up my diet?” then the later-guilts. Instead I’d quite happily planned to have that big lunch and a few pieces of shortbread and made that a 20:4 day.


A great thing about IF is that it’s do-nothing. So if you are turned off lifestyle changes like exercise or having to follow meal plans, there’s none of that with IF. This might sound ridiculous, but you simply don’t eat– that’s your ‘do nothing’. And when that eating window comes, you do what you want to do with your food. During the fasting period, you do nothing. And I love the freedom this gives me from the whole stressing out about what I was going to eat.

Now I’m looking forward to my 60, then 90 day results and finishing the next 16 weeks of the HIIT program. I’ll write more then.


Do you have experiences with intermittent fasting? Leave a comment!


Twelve Days On A SOS Free Whole Foods Plant Based Diet

SOS free = salt/oil/sugar free

Today is the last day of the eating plan experiment where I cut out all oil, added sugar (not including fresh fruit), salt, and processed foods (well, highly processed I guess, I was eating canned beans and had some tofu). I did this for twelve days, though for two weeks before that I had already gone zero oil and avoiding sugar loosely. I don’t drink alcohol, so that wasn’t in there either. The single biggest change though was the no added salt. Of course, I eat a plant based/vegan diet but not solely whole foods so since roughly the start of the month, I’ve been close to 100% wholefoods.

My plan was based on Chef AJ’s program which involves eating starches to fill up, similar to The Starch Solution by John McDougall. As well as following a whole foods plant based diet free of processed foods, Chef AJ’s program also involves eating a big (and I mean big) serve of greens (cauliflower is also acceptable) before you tuck in to your meal. And your meal is a mix of veggies, legumes and starches. Yes this means POTATOES! Without salt, butter, sour cream and all those toppings of course. I wasn’t following a paid for program or anything like that, I just read a bunch of stuff and watched a heap of Chef AJ and other videos (like High Carb Hannah) to get the idea of what to do. I ended up going with it because it was pretty much what I’d been thinking about, with going totally zero oil and eating way more whole foods. My friend is also doing the same thing and so I was inspired by her and what she was doing.

The reason I did this diet change was because I have been having tummy troubles for quite a long time (mostly full on massive bloating) and also to lose some extra weight to alleviate pressure on my feet injuries. I put on a lot of weight in five months which I couldn’t explain (more info further down). Also, I have always had high cholesterol and since dropping my oil consumption for the past nearly-two years, my cholesterol dropped significantly but was still high. Yes, vegans can still have high cholesterol! In my case, it was cutting waaaay down on oils (and omitting wherever possible) that, I believe (as does science) saw the decrease in my cholesterol. The main oils I had been consuming were olive oil (I’m Greek!) and to a lesser extent coconut oil.

The day before I started this plan, I had various blood and stool tests done to check stuff that could be related to what has been going on. Results were all good. So it was really was all about my health first and foremost, not a “I just want to lose weight” thing. I will continue to monitor my health with more blood tests in the future. Coeliac Disease was ruled out as I tested negative for the genes.

The plan was to do this for almost-two weeks before I saw a plant based dietitian. It wasn’t a prerequisite or anything for the dietitian, it was more just me trying to kickstart a diet richer in wholefoods, getting in more veg, and just getting in to the mindset of being able to deal with the restrictive six week low FODMAP supervised diet.

That plan changed however after seeing the dietitian today. We agreed that a low FODMAP diet wasn’t necessary and discussed changing my diet a little to make sure I was really covering my RDIs of things like calcium, iodine and such. I’m very happy with this plan and will implement the changes on Monday, because tomorrow is World Vegan Day 😉

Why was the low FODMAP diet considered unnecessary when I’ve been having huge bloating issues? Read on!

The Challenges

No oil was easy, no wheat was easy, no sugar (like coconut sugar or maple syrup) was easy. But you guys, the no salt was tough! Especially the first few days. The meals I made had to be salt free and despite all the flavours and seasonings, like the Mexican style red lentil chili, oh mannn was it blergh without the salt. To have these beautiful dishes full of lovely ingredients like smoked paprika and garlic. Aaaaand no salt. Urgh! But it got easier each day. Maybe because I only ate when I was hungry and not by the clock!

Another big challenge was eating the non-starchy veggies before my meals. I stopped it halfway through, though I had some veg before meals here and there. The idea here is that you start filling up on those greens (or cauliflower) then your main meal has the starchy stuff that leaves you feeling fully satiated. I quite literally had to force down bowls of veg this way and even with a little balsamic vinegar or herbs, it was still a trial. Honestly I felt like I would rather give up and just go hungry. Because I usually struggle to sit there eating plain steamed veg like that I tend to throw it in to my smoothies at breakfast so I end up with an extra two servings of veg in liquid form because I feel blergh eating them whole. But Chef AJ advises you eat your wholefoods instead of drinking them because you feel more satiated eating them whole and that if you blend, you end up eating more to feel satiated. I tried, but because I was taking so long to eat the veg, I ended up blending it with the smoothie or just having a smoothie and keeping the veg for a snack.

Another huge challenge was social media. I love food, I love going out to eat, I love the tastes and textures and details in food photography, especially of places I’ve been wanting to try. So looking at photos on social media of food and such was hard! And so many places do vegan degustations and special events this time of year and I will have to sit a lot of them out. Other places are switching over menus to spring/summer and I missed out on going out to eat a favourite from the autumn/winter menus. Oh the drama!

The blog has been another bummer. I feel that because a lot of what I blog about involves food or places to eat that I then share in the vegan community and elsewhere, that the blog may kinda go nowhere if I’m not including that content.


The Good Stuff

Serious bloating has long been a problem for me, more so this year. It was pretty common for my stomach to just blow up to the point where I couldn’t wear my jeans as they were just too painful. On this plan, I didn’t experience any bloating apart from eating a meal with salt (more info further down, leading to why the FODMAP diet wasn’t necessary after all… I’m getting to it, promise).

I LOVE meal prepping. This simply means preparing a meal that will last you days, so you don’t have to fuss around making something every day. I’ve been doing meal prepping now roughly for years but this time I was very disciplined about it so that I was never caught without a ready made meal. For me, this is a big component of eating healthier (as is meal planning beforehand). I have always found that I eat more wholefoods when I meal plan and prepare in advance. Meal prep is also fantastic when you are feeling totally crap and can’t be bothered, or a last minute or stressful situation comes up. You just go to the fridge or freezer and whammo your food is ready! The downside (if it bothers you) is eating the same thing for four or five days in a row.


Weight Loss

I don’t know if I’ve lost weight on the scales because I don’t own a set (horrid things), I was last weighed a month or so ago at my doctor’s clinic and I see her again in mid January. But I can say my new jeggings (which I’ve only just bought due to my long refusal to wear anything with such a cringey name and now I think jeggings RULE) had to keep being hoisted up when I was talking down the street.


The What-The-Hell-Has-Been-Going-On-With-My-Guts Part

Now, another big reason why I have switched my diet is because since April or May (until end of September), I put on 5kg (11lbs) and 4.5cm around the waist and about 4cm around the biggest part of my tummy pouch. This freaked me the hell out because I had stopped exercising in April because I had intense pain in both feet (injuries made worse by doing daily HIIT/impact work). Because I wasn’t exercising I was extra mindful of my meals and where I did have a meal out or something considered a ‘cheat’ meal, I was careful with my other meals in the week. So when I weighed in five kilograms heavier at my doctor’s clinic and no longer able to wear my comfiest jeans, I spoke to her about getting tests for this and that because there’s no way in hell I ate to the tune of 4.5cm fat gain and 5kg weight gain in five or so months! Fortunately all the tests we could do came back with mostly good results.

So in my first week of the SOS free eating, I watched this High Carb Hannah video where she was SOS free for thirty days. Like me, she was already a high carb low fat vegan with no oil (I was low to no oil) and no added sugar. After thirty days of no salt, which was the only thing she really changed in her diet, she lost 8lbs (3.6kg), four inches off her waist, an inch off her arms and inches off her tummy. She was already quite lean to begin with. So that got me thinking, could my rapid weight gain somehow be salt related?

Another interesting video (in a series of videos on the subject) was The Salt Experiment by Cayley. Cayley, I believe, eats (or ate) a similar diet to me with lots of whole foods, plant based, no oil and so on though she was also salt free. She conducted an experiment where for seven days she consumed the US daily average of sodium. Her results were stunning, in that she completely blew up, felt awful and sluggish with exercise as well as gaining 11lbs (about 5kg) in that week, plus recording larger tape measurements.

Well, on the morning of the eighth day of my SOS free (remember, the single most biggest change I made was no salt) I measured myself and my waist and thickest part of my tummy are down 2cm each, with a little bit off the hips as well. I was stunned. Weight loss for me has always been painfully slow even after many weeks of good eating and exercise and then poooffff it goes nowhere despite having lots of body fat left to lose.

I couldn’t help but wonder, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, if I was seeing this salt-bloat relationship in myself. I’ve never, ever lost 2cm in a week and during my salt free week, I had zero bloating. It was very, very odd.


So What Happened When I Ate Salt On Day 6 Of SOS Free?

On Day 6, I was clearing out the freezer because I needed to make space. I found a meal I’d made before I started SOS free, which I knew was no oil. I figured that will be fine to eat. While it was heating I was all oh crap, I forgot about the salt. I decided to eat it anyway and instantly it tasted so salty, even though I don’t salt my food much anyway. My mindset went a bit strange too, even though I was all wowww this tastes salty, I began to want more salty food by the end of it.

By the time I had finished dinner, my stomach was blown up so much it went rock hard. I hadn’t had any bloating for six days. The difference was startling and I also felt slightly queasy. The ingredients in my dinner were things I’d been eating that week anyway, without the added salt.

Because of this seemingly salt-related bloating thing plus my own short elimination diet experiments during the year, where I cut out soy, mushrooms and wheat for quite a while then reintroduced them without any bloating or noticeable change, the dietitian and I agreed that it would be okay for me to continue on being SOS free at home, though having a meal out now and then isn’t a big deal because we have to enjoy life’s pleasures! Fine with me! So the low FODMAP diet wasn’t considered necessary, because when I had initially arranged my appointment I firmly believed I had a food or some foods which were causing me to blow up (and I blow up by the end of the meal or when I’ve finished, not hours later). So overall it appeared that we didn’t need to go the low FODMAP route, but I am hoping to do a thirty day experiment in the future, or at least 14 days salt free, then see what happens. Pictures and measurements will be taken!


Will I Stay SOS Free?

For when I cook for myself, yes most likely. I’ll do some research in to vegetable sources of sodium but when I say salt free I mean the stuff you add to your food. Sure, I’m still getting used to the bland taste of food when there’s no salt, but given how badly I bloated with just one salted meal and how I dropped about 4.5cm in a week on my waist and stomach areas, I want to continue to see what happens next. I feel fine, don’t feel crappy and I’m happy to use myself as an experiment to see if my rapid weight gain can be reversed.

But I’ll still go out to eat now and then. Being vegan in Melbourne is just too damn exciting to miss out on the pleasures of new dishes or menus or all-vegan places opening up! I love the experience of going out to eat and trying new things and can’t imagine cutting that out of my life.

I’ll also continue to get regular blood tests and monitoring with my doctor, to make sure all is well. I don’t want to say my problems are all because of salt, just because I bloated and because some YouTubers had the same thing happen. It’s something I’m going to look in to as I have some other concerns as well like low/dropping iron (which was present long before I went vegan) despite supplements, ditto for Vitamin D. All other results are fine. But I think it’s interesting enough for me, especially dropping 2cm off my tummy and waist in a week (which I know isn’t fat so I’m not suggesting this as weight loss tips or anything!), that I will conduct a future experiment. Because I’m also a huge geek and a sucker for before-after photos.


What I Ate (all salt free/oil free/added sugar free)

Chef AJ’s Red Lentil Chilli:red lentil chili Chef AJ

A kale veg salad made with a brown rice-lentil blend and Chef AJ’s Yummy Sauce for a dressing:kale rice salad

Breakfasts were either smoothies or porridge like this. I usually use oat milk in a carton for my porridge but they contain oil and salt, so I just used water. I have always haaated the idea of porridge made with water, but I mooshed some banana and it was fine:fruit porridge

Salads of something green and non-starchy before the main meal component:bsprouts salad

A kidney bean and veg curry based on a recipe from the Vegan Richa cookbook (I added all the veg and of course omitted the salt and oil):

kidney bean curry

Chef AJ’s split pea soup. This had smoked tofu which was another unintentional salty misstep. I didn’t realise the smoked tofu had salt but it really didn’t change the dish much at all. It’s two small serves (for me!) of smoked tofu spread over six large serves of soup:

split pea soup

So that’s my little SOS free experiment! I had assumed that the beans would make me blow up, but there was nothing.

I’m certainly not diagnosing myself with anything or claiming that going SOS free (or salt free) will be the magical weight loss miracle or anything rubbishy like that. All I’m putting out here is my own short experience, though you must understand that for me to be bloat free is really quite a wonder, given my very frequent mega bloats. I’m talking so bloated after a restaurant meal (before I’ve even paid the bill) that I could barely get in the car. And to then have salt in one meal without having meant to, and massively blow up and now discovering similar stories… well it’s something I really want to explore further and I have the go ahead from my doctor and dietitian. I’ll be sure to update in the future though I need to work up the guts (bwahaha) to stick some photos online!


Has anything like this ever happened to you, or someone you know, where it really seemed to boil down to added salt in foods? Or was it some other Weird Thing nobody would have thought of?



Evolved Generation and Supercharger Menu Launch

Supercharger Endurance Meal

Tonight I attended the partnership launch of Supercharger and Evolved Generation’s new menu specials. This is great stuff for Melbourne, not just for vegans of course but for everyone!

The four new meals have been specially formulated by a dietitian and let me tell you folks, they all look fabulous. For those of you familiar with Supercharger’s ordering system, the new meals are on a separate menu page titled ‘Complete Meals Ready 2 Go’. So instead of the regular menu where you tick boxes for your order, you just ask for the complete meal you’re after, by name. Take your pic from the following four meals: Lightness, Immunity, Endurance or Strength. Each menu is broken down in to Super Base, Super Smash, Super Raw, Super Ferment, Super Protein, Super Simmer, Super Sauce– so your meal will include something that falls in to each of those Super categories. Trust me, it’s awesome.

** Update October 1st 2015: the prices listed below have increased slightly from what is written below **

Here’s what you get!

Lightness ($12.80)

Base of mashed butternut pumpkin with black sesame seeds and fresh spinach; green peas with avocado, lime, coconut oil and mint; shredded beetroot, carrot, radish, ginger and apple cider vinegar; red cabbage and caraway kraut; braised assorted mushrooms in ginger broth; chickpea chole in cinnamon curry; tahini sauce made with coconut water.

Immunity ($12.80)

Base of mashed butternut pumpkin and quinoa; French lentil salad, red peppers, red onion and celery; kale, red cabbage, shredded green apple with tahini sauce; daikon garlic; tempeh lightly caramelised in tamari broth; mild eggplant, tomato, ginger and lime leaf; fresh tomato and chilli salsa with red onion and coriander.

Endurance ($12.80)

Base of steamed white basmati rice and mashed potato with mustard seeds; sweet potato with tamari, roasted pepitas and parsley; 10 Sec broccoli with sweet tamari and ginger dressing; cauliflower and black sesame; fresh tofu simmered in tom yum broth; carrot and green bean khadi with coconut, turmeric and lentils; tahini sauce made with coconut water.

Strength ($12.80)

Base of steamed brown rice and quinoa; cauliflower, black turtle beans, turmeric and curry leaves; 10 sec broccoli with sweet tamari and ginger dressing; carrot and cumin seeds; tempeh lightly caramelised in tamari broth; dahl ka deewana; coconut yoghurt raita with cucumber.


Another thing I like about the new menu is that the pages are printed with nutrition facts, based on the ingredients in each meal. For instance, under the Endurance meal, one nutrition fact reads “packed with carbs to replace glycogen stores and fuel your day”.

I really love it when restaurants put a lot of thought in to their menu and this is why Supercharger gets my vote– not only are both the regular and new meals very well thought out, there’s also the added consideration of giving you both an incredibly nutritious and tasty meal. This is food designed with your health and well being in mind and a lot of thinking has been done for you. This is evident when you look at the menu both on the page, and in your bowls!

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one of the new partnership meals and I went for the Endurance, pictured above. Everything was full of flavour, the cauliflower and broccoli were just right and all I can say is that I’m already planning on going back to get it again. I ate it about four hours ago and I’m still full.

Paul from Supercharger told us a little of the history with getting Supercharger up and running. He mentioned being a little hesitant and questioning whether it would work. I think it has worked fantastically, whenever I’ve visited I’ve been queuing up with quite a few other people and I see people sitting down with their Supercharger meals. I know non-vegans who go there, or people who want a break from their usual lunch time fare (burgers and so on) and opt for Supercharger because they want a nutritious meal. And they tell me they keep returning!

The team members from Evolved Generation also got up to chat a little about their experience with plant based/vegan living. I always enjoy hearing stories like these, especially where plant based fitness is concerned because we have vegans breaking records and busting silly myths about athletic performance on plant based diets. So these stories and personal accounts need to be out there! There were also giveaways (unfortunately my winning streak with raffles appears to have come to an end!) and the opportunity to chat with everyone from Evolved Generation.

Congratulations to both Supercharger and Evolved Generation!


Supercharger: https://www.facebook.com/SuperchargerWholefood

Evolved Generation: http://www.evolvedgeneration.com/  (I previously chatted with Luke Tan here)

Lucy Taylor – Bloom Nutritionist and Dietitian: http://www.bloomnutritionist.com/



Evolved Generation: Chatting With Luke Tan

Evolved Generation

[Image above from http://www.evolvedgeneration.com/about/]

When you’re vegan, you will get the “where do you get your protein” question at least once. You may also have to deal with comments along the lines of “vegans are all weaklings who can’t gain muscle mass”. Unfortunately the latter (and untrue!) statement is quite common in fitness circles and I have certainly been exposed to it myself. You can imagine how frustrating this can be, seeing as the statement is completely false!

Since becoming vegan around April 2012, I have been very interested in vegan body building and vegan athletes in general. These individuals are proving again and again that vegans are indeed a force to be reckoned with. They certainly have no problem packing on muscle and performing incredibly well and taking home numerous trophies!

When I attended World Vegan Day earlier this month, I was very much looking forward to seeing Evolved Generation’s presentation. Founded by Luke Tan, Evolved Generation is “a brand that aims to inspire a culture of fit, driven and conscious individuals”. The Evolved Generation team members presented their top three tips for health, wellness and fitness.

Luke Tan Evolved Generation

[Image above from http://www.evolvedgeneration.com/trainers/luke-tan/]

It is clear when talking to the Evolved Generation team members that they are indeed driven and conscious individuals (and fit of course!). I have been following some of them on social media, keeping up with their achievements and through those achievements I was inspired to get back in to training and make some manageable changes to my life.

Luke Tan is an internationally certified plant-based nutrition and strength coach. He has competed and placed in state body building tournaments and he also coaches plant-based athletes and fitness models for competition.I contacted Luke to chat to him for my blog, but also to discuss my own situation with him. I needed advice on getting back in to training (encompassing the actual training but nutrition as well). Over the years (since about 2001 when I first began weight training) I’ve read so many conflicting articles and pieces of advice that I felt overwhelmed and just blergh! I had knowledge but wasn’t really doing anything about it, or I’d end up confused when trying to map out a program for myself.

One thing that struck me instantly about Luke is his passion for helping people, more specifically, to help people be the very best version of themselves. A person’s emotional wellbeing is a big part of Luke’s approach. There’s none of this “here do these one-size-fits-all exercises three times a week and get back to me in a week NEXT PLEASE”, which is what I’ve dealt with in the past in various trainers here and overseas. When I look for someone for my own medical or non-medical purposes, or some kind of therapist for my children, I will go with those who I feel have personal, firsthand experience with the issues their clients need help with. Someone who has basically experienced a situation and therefore brings empathy and compassion in to their dealings with other people.

Through the A.W.A.K.E. method (please click on the link to read more about it) Luke helps clients with making healthier changes to their lifestyle, all the while making mental health a priority. Luke spoke to me about training and retraining ourselves and undoing a lot of prior learning, especially where negativity about ourselves is concerned. This rang true for me, both with personal life stuff and training!

Luke and I chatted about training and I asked his advice on what I should do with my own goals. He gave me some great training and nutrition tips but most of all, Luke gave me some valuable tips on beginning on the path of being the best version of yourself. I’ve taken his advice and have started on a health and fitness journey that’s leading me towards the goals I have set for myself. I’m pumped, feeling good and loving that I am doing this as a vegan.

Luke Tan Evolved Generation

[Image above from http://www.evolvedgeneration.com/trainers/luke-tan/]

I would very happily work with Luke in the future for my own health and fitness goals and as such I have no hesitation in recommending you contact him for your own training needs!

I was very happy to learn that Luke is releasing a book in 2015. As well as writing about his background, Luke also educates and empowers people, particularly against the misinformation that is out there about plant based fitness and lifestyles, and he encourages people to begin making global positive change by rethinking what is on their plate.

Please check out Evolved Generation’s website at

In more exciting news (and more of “Melbourne is awesome for vegans!”) Evolved Generation have just announced a partnership with Supercharger Wholefood! I know I have quite a few readers who are fans of Supercharger! Luke gave me some details and I think it’s fantastic and nothing I’ve seen before– this merging of plant-based nutrition and menu offerings for your fitness needs.

Evolved Generation and Supercharger are holding an event on January 29th, 2015 at Supercharger (third floor Myer Emporium building in the city). There will be presentations by the Evolved Generation team, drink demo and tastings, details of the menu specials and more. Hope to see you there! Keep an eye on Evolved Generation’s Facebook page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/evolvedgeneration