Sunday, 12 June 2016

Fitness Blender's 4 Week Vegan Meal Plan - Week 1 Review

Fitness Blender 4 week vegan meal plan review

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm back on the workout wagon for summer and trying to lose some weight, tone up and get all-round healthier and stronger. For the past five weeks I've been following the Fitness Blender #FB30 Fat Loss Plan for Busy People. The plan is a mixture of high intensity interval training and strength training with some kickboxing and yoga / pilates thrown in. I've followed the Fitness Blender plans before and always found them to be incredibly effective, interesting and fun.

If you've never heard of Fitness Blender before, they're a husband and wife duo called Kelli and Daniel who have tonnes of free workout videos on YouTube. You can just go ahead and pick a video, but I am definitely the sort of person who needs to follow a plan, otherwise I feel a bit lost in all the choice. The Fitness Blender website is home to loads of different plans tailored to suit whatever you personally want to get out of a workout - whether it's fat loss, muscle gain or even to build a booty! This plan, and the ones I have followed before, are all designed for busy people, so each of the workouts are around 30 minutes. You do five workouts a week, with an option sixth workout which is usually something low impact like stretching. You do have to purchase a plan from their website but they are ridiculously cheap (less than £10) which is amazing considering the price of many other similar plans.

Over the first four weeks of the eight week plan, whilst I can definitely feel and see a difference in my overall strength, fitness and tone, I wasn't seeing the results on the scale that I wanted to see. I know the scale is not the be-all-and-end-all and I'm not a slave to that number, but I wanted to speed my progress along a little, so I decided to purchase the 4 Week Vegan Meal Plan from Fitness Blender to accompany my workouts.

I'm now at the end of week one, so I thought I'd share my thoughts and experience so far, in case anyone else is thinking about buying the plan.

What is it?
The basic premise of the plan is built around three small meals per day plus three snacks. Coming into this as someone who has been programmed to think 'less meals = less calories = weight loss', the prospect of eating six times a day was completely alien and slightly terrifying!

The plan is set out in calorie categories, for each meal, you can have a smaller or larger portion to fit your calorie allowance for the day. The allowances run from 1400 per day through to 3000 if you're looking to build mass.

I log my food in MyFitnessPal so I can keep track of my macros. Before I started this plan I was trying to stick to 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fats. This plan is a bit more carb heavy - roughly 60% carbs, 20% fat and 20% protein which was another thing I was worried about, but it's working out OK so far.

The main difference between this and cooking whatever the hell I like is planning. You have to be much more organised and plan in advance to follow this programme. We do our weekly shop on a Friday, which means on a Thursday evening I go through the meal plan for the following week and write down (yes, I have a spreadsheet) the ingredients for each meal, how much I need of each item, and whether I already have it in the house or if I need to buy it.

We also have to be a lot more organised in preparing the food. Because you are making everything from scratch instead of using processed convenience food, it does take longer to make meals - breakfast has been a particular change where I'm making a tofu scramble or a quinoa parfait instead of pouring some cereal into a bowl. I also have to prepare lunch plus two snacks to take to work with me, whereas before I would just have lunch and maybe a banana or protein bar in the afternoon.

Although it feels like we're buying a lot more groceries, because we're buying fresh produce it's actually working out fairly reasonably - the past two weeks have come in around the £50 mark which feeds both me and Andrew for the week. We are shopping around a little more and going to the market for things like nuts which are always more expensive in a supermarket. We're also regulars at our local Asian supermarket because there is a lot of tofu on this plan!

The meals
Without giving too much away, the meals themselves are quite varied with different varieties of veggies, salads, beans, grains, tofu, nuts and even bread and pasta making an appearance. In the first week I really found myself looking forward to each meal, especially as the snacks included hummus, peanut butter, popcorn and dark chocolate!

Fortunately there aren't many foods that I don't like so I haven't had to substitute many of the items in the plan, but I can see how that might not be the case if you're trying to feed a family of four - there's bound to be something someone doesn't like. The only thing I have subbed is beetroot (the worst of all of the vegetables), which I replaced with cucumber. I don't think nutritionally it's quite the same, but it was in a salad so I just rolled with it. The plan is flexible enough that you can sub things, so long as you're not subbing carrots with french fries, you're pretty good.

Cheat meals
The plan doesn't necessarily have one 'cheat meal' per week built into it, but it does have a whole chapter up front about cheat meals or cheat days and how to build in things you can't avoid, like parties. The recommendation is once every 10 days if you're trying to lose weight, or once a week if you're maintaining. I haven't had a cheat meal this week but I'm going out for dinner with friends on Friday and I know that the place we're going doesn't have a vegan salad (which is just about the craziest thing I've ever heard), so I'll be exercising portion control. A bit.

The drinks side of things has been quite hard. Whilst you are technically 'allowed' to drink anything you like on the plan, you have to factor drinks into your calorie allowance and anything other than water is not recommended. In the name of being as strict as possible, I have cut out caffeine (even my beloved tea!) and have drank nothing but water all week. The first three days I got a headache but it seems to be out of my system now. Whilst you can drink alcohol on the plan, it's counted as a 'cheat' and so the rules above apply.

The results
I am happy to report that in the first week of doing this plan I have lost 2lbs! I feel much less bloated, I haven't once felt hungry or deprived, and I've really enjoyed the stability of knowing what I have to eat and when. It's actually saved loads of arguments!

I'll check back in over the coming weeks and let you know how the plan is progressing, but in the meantime if there's anything you'd like to know about the plan, feel free to ask! Or if you fancy trying it for yourself, you can download it for around £15 here.

Emily xo


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  5. Hello. it's so hard to find information about this plan. I hope you still see this comment. Q: how are the recipes laid out? do you have to weight them or is the US scaling method used(I forgot what it's called, I'm from Europe and we use the metric system)? will I have to convert everything every day? it's a shame there's no grocery list. did you find yourself throwing stuff away because you bought too much?

    I really want to get it, so I hope to hear from you! 😊 Have a nice evening.

    1. also, did you see any physical results? I workout with fb too, but I eat a lot and feel like my stomach just doesn't wanna budge. the rest of my body is quite slim (too slim) but my belly is always there. :(

    2. also, did you see any physical results? I workout with fb too, but I eat a lot and feel like my stomach just doesn't wanna budge. the rest of my body is quite slim (too slim) but my belly is always there. :(

    3. Hi! So in terms of layout you have each day laid out over a page or two. You'll have your breakfast with a list of the ingredients and a table which tells you how much of each ingredients is included in the recipe - these amounts vary depending upon your daily calorie goal. Then underneath you will have the recipe - these are very short as the meals are quite simple (I'm looking at one page which is vegan yogurt and granola for one snack, dinner is sautéed veggies, beans a tofu and the other snack is popcorn and dark chocolate, so the recipe bit is quite short).

      The measurements are in cups and tablespoons / teaspoons which is a bit annoying (we use metric in the UK too!) but I ended up buying a set of measuring cups for a few pounds which made life loads easier!

      Each week comes with a grocery list but I found that they weren't always 100% accurate - I spotted a few mistakes when I was making my weekly shopping lists. Some of the items I only had to buy once as they lasted the whole of the plan (things like popcorn kernels for example) but I did have to buy lots of fresh produce. We ended up going to a market where we could just buy two carrots, one orange etc so we didn't waste food by buying a whole bag of oranges at the supermarket. I didn't feel like we wasted much that way, plus there was two of us on the plan so if a recipe only called for half a melon or something, my partner ate the other half to stop it being wasted.

      I really hope that helps! I loved doing the plan and really got into a routine with it towards the end. If you have any more questions just let me know! 😊 X

    4. Just saw your other comment, I got really good results (I've put some photos on my Instagram) but I switched my workout to Insanity part-way through the programme and I think that helped a lot. My stomach and hips are my problem areas and I actually started to get an definition with the FB vegan plan and Insanity for the first time ever! Before I went on holiday and ate loads of vegan junk food... oops! 🙊 X

    5. Thank you so much for replying so fast! I'm definitely starting now. First, I'll look for some measuring cups too, I didn't think of that! I'm scared of the Insanity program, as I had a break from fitness for a month or so (holiday and start of uni, meh), but I had nice results with FB 5days/ week, about 40-50 min/day. I'm really into weight training now, I notice the best results on my belly this way (when I don't take one month long breaks! :D). I'm so excited to start this plan now!! Thank you again for your clear answer!!

  6. Hello. it's so hard to find information about this plan. I hope you still see this comment. Q: how are the recipes laid out? do you have to weight them or is the US scaling method used(I forgot what it's called, I'm from Europe and we use the metric system)? will I have to convert everything every day? it's a shame there's no grocery list. did you find yourself throwing stuff away because you bought too much?

    I really want to get it, so I hope to hear from you! 😊 Have a nice evening.

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