For those of you who are vegan, vegetarian, or perhaps exploring the option of a plant-based diet, you might be wondering what are the benefits of not eating meat? We spoke to vegan fitness trainer, Andrea Lowell, about how going veggie just might be the best thing you’ve ever done for your body!
Q&A with Andrea Lowell
Andrea, one of the first questions that many people ask you is, “Where do you get your protein?” Do we really need animal protein to stay healthy or are there viable alternatives?
Animal protein is not an ideal protein source. Not only does it take a ton of our body’s total energy to fully digest, but you’re not even getting as much as you think you are! After animal protein is cooked, it loses 50% of its protein value immediately! The bioavailability (meaning our bodies ability to utilize it) then further drops to about 40%. So, it’s a whole lot of effort for not the pay-off we’ve been lead to believe!
Each person’s protein needs are different, but plants and superfoods have the most bioavailable protein. My favorites? Spirulina (add to smoothies), hemp seeds, goji berries, nuts, maca root…even mushrooms! I eat all of these things and my body is significantly more toned than when I ate tons of meat and dairy (and worked out more)!
What are the benefits of a plant-based diet in regards to overall fitness and health?
Since most plants are 90% digested in our mouths, we’re left with tons of energy! Digesting animal products and proteins take up to 65% of our body’s total energy. People are fatigued, and it’s because we are eating too much meat as a society. The body also processes calorie sources much differently. For example, I can eat four bananas a day and not gain an ounce of fat. However, if I were to eat the calorie equivalent in ice cream, I would gain weight. Fruit is an incredible pre-workout fuel. The carbs go straight to energy-to-burn and there’s phenomenal water content, so we’re hydrated too! It’s all in balance with carbs, fiber, and phytonutrients (healing nutrients found only in plants)! Eating a plant-based diet will keep your digestion amazing, tummy flat, fueled for workouts, and provide the nutrients needed to recover that animal sources simply can’t. You’ll save cash too by not buying additional supplements, because the plants provide everything you need!
Many women come to you for training because they want to tone up and lose weight. How does your training make your clients fit, yet not too bulky?
I focus on strength training, core stability, and plyometrics (a fancy term for jumping!). I, too, used to be afraid of hitting the weights, fearful I’d look like a dude. But women do not have the testosterone necessary to bulk and build in that manner. In fact, when women lift weights, our muscles get tighter, heavier, and more dense, hence why the scale might not budge, but your jeans are looser! Unless someone is training for hours a day, day after day…they do not have to worry about masculine hypertrophy. I lift as heavy as some of the guys I work with, and I am the tiniest and tightest I have ever been! A lot of women in the fitness industry who look “jacked” are taking HGH or worse! Yes, I said it. As long as you’re not “juicing” or messing with your hormones, you will not look like man!
Aside from strength training, jumping sculpts the legs and booty, expends tons of calories, and saves a lot of time (sayonara, cardio!). And conditioning the core allows for better form when lifting. So by focusing on core strength, weight training, and jumping, you will have the body of your dreams! Don’t be afraid of the weights!
As women we are all too often obsessed with clothing sizes and our weight on the scale. How do we avoid these negative pitfalls?
It’s so hard not to use the scale as our litmus test of our “ideal body.” As we age, it’s hard not to reminisce about our “high school weight” or being a size 0. Once I shifted my goal from being skinny to being healthy, I magically became a size 0. Whereas before, when I was at the gym five days a week, counting my calories, and taking toxic supplements, I couldn’t lose those last six to eight pounds and agonized over it. So a shift in reasoning of why you’re doing it makes the world of difference.
Spiritual practice has been paramount for that aspect of my fitness journey. Being in gratitude much of the day, focusing on the things I have, not lack, makes me have great self esteem and confidence. I also set my intention before I work out, telling myself I’m going to kick ass! And that I’m going to have a strong and productive session. I use my intelligence to understand that I’m working on my fitness because it’s good for me, keeps me youthful looking, and will prevent health issues down the road. So, it’s really a mind, body, spirit approach to wellness that works for my clients and myself!