During part of December I was visiting my family and friends in the south of Brazil. One of the first things most people said to me was: “You’re thinner”. What happened is that I lost about 12 kilos in the last 2 years. But it was a slow, healthy, and very peaceful weight loss journey. Two changes were fundamental: first, I started running and doing strength training and HIIT at home (I actually never put my feet in a gym); and second, I stopped following the rule of having 5-6 small meals a day and started having 3 decent meals a day instead.
I know what many of you are thinking: But Ana, isn’t it healthier to eat every three hours to speed the metabolism etc ?! I tried to follow this rule for years but never managed to lose much weight or to maintain my weight. One day, when reading fitness articles, I found one report about “intermittent fasting” (more info here). I loved the idea for two reasons:
• Having six small meals during the day was challenging to me because I was constantly thinking about food and worried about what I would eat in the next meal. I am a person who LOVES to eat and think about food, to create recipes, to read about nutritional features of foods, to test, etc. To some extent, this “concept” of eating 5-6 meals a day affected my concentration and productivity, because I was always thinking about food, and by the end of the day I had often far exceeded the desired amount of calories.
• Making six small meals was also frustrating because I never felt satisfied after a meal, especially after lunch.
Now, how is my diet nowadays?
- I have my three meals between 8:30 and 15:30. The rest of the time I’m fasting. Most people who follow the IF eat their meals between 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm, but I love breakfast and prefer to keep it in the morning!
- My breakfast starts with a large cup of black coffee, no sugar. Then often I will a very large bowl of oatmeal with soy or almond milk, chia seeds or sunflower seed, mix of berries, peanut butter, cacao or cinnamon, bananas slice, and wheat bran. On weekends, I like to have vegan pancakes or a vegan omelet .
- My lunch is often a bowl like the one in the picture – first I fill it with lots of veggies and green leaves. Then I add a plant-based source of fat (avocado, or seeds of sunflower or pumpkins). Finally, I add carbohydrates and proteins, such as sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, lentils, beans, tofu, seitan, chickpeas or chickpeas tofu. That makes me feel super satisfied for hours. I also love to have curry with white beans and once a week pizza.
- In the middle of the afternoon I very often prepare my lovely green smoothie (1 frozen banana, two well-filled cups of spinach or kale, ½ cup of frozen broccolis, ½ cup of red fruit or frozen mango, 1 tablespoon of chia or flaxseed, 1 tablespoons of Sunwarrior vegan protein powder, water or coconut milk). Other times, I opt for healthy cookies or crackers and veggies sticks with hummus. The rest of the day I drink tea and / or coffee with almond milk. Occasionally on weekends, I will treat myself with some dessert, like this brownie or a chia pudding.
I’m not suggesting that this is the healthiest or easiest way to lose weight. My tip is to experience what works for you and do your own research. We are all different! In my case, the IF simplified my life, gave me more time and energy to do other things and now I am less obsessed with what I’m going to eat.
And to finish today’s post, I have a recipe of vegan falafel of sweet potato and quinoa that goes perfectly with a super colorful salad!
- - 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used a mixture of black and white quinoa)
- - 1 cup boiled and smashed sweet potatoes
- - 1 cup smashed cooked or steamed green peas
- - 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- - 1 tablespoon of wheat flour
- - 1 teaspoon of salt
- - Chopped parsley (optional)
- - Ground black pepper to taste
- - 1 cup of finely chopped purple cabbage
- - 1 cup spiralized zucchini
- - 1 cup finely chopped or spiralized carrots
- - 1 cup of arugula
- - ¼ sliced avocado
- Tahini sauce
- - 2 tablespoon of tahini
- - 2 tablespoon of water
- - 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- - 1 pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. With the help of a spoon, or with the hand, make balls the size of a tablespoon. Place the balls in a parchment paper and bring to the oven for 30 min at 180°C, or until they turn slightly crispy.
- Tahini sauce: In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients till you have a creamy consistency.
- Assembly of the bowl: Mix all the ingredients of the salad, except the avocado, and season with salt and lemon. Cut the avocado and place over the salad along with the falafels. Drizzle some tahini sauce over the falafels.
- This recipe yields 12 falafels. They can be refrigerated and consumed within up to 3 days.