It’s been four weeks since I switched to a vegetarian diet. The benefits are already evident.

Since turning vegetarian on 1 January 2011, all my body measurements have already shown improvement, bringing me closer to my goal of aging in reverse within a year. Here are the numbers:

1 Jan 2011 29 Jan 2011
Weight 67.0 64.0
Fat% 22.2 20.3
Fat (kg) 14.9 13.0
Muscle% 31.3 32.0
Muscle (kg) 21.0 20.5
BMI 24.9 23.8
VFA 10 9
Metabolic / Body Age 45 41
BMR 1552 1511

Overall, I lost three kilos in less than a month. More important, I lost nearly two kilos of fat. This weight loss was also achieved without losing any muscle. My body’s muscle mass percentage actually increased!

Metabolically speaking, my body has already gotten four years younger. My goal is to have the metabolic age of someone five years (or more) younger by the end of the year.

Let me take this opportunity to answer some of the questions I am most often asked regarding my new diet:

Do you take seafood / fish?

Since fish don’t grow from seeds and aren’t green in color, I would have thought the answer was obvious. Nevertheless, this is one of the first questions I usually get when I tell people, “I’m vegetarian.”  (Apparently there are some people who call themselves “vegetarian” even if they eat fish with their vegetables.)

Anyway, the simple answer is no. Some of the vegetable dishes may use oyster sauce in the preparation or may even be mixed with a little egg but, as a rule, the diet excludes animal flesh, even if it’s fish or shellfish.

Where do you get your protein?

From vegetables, of course. Cultural tradition, the advertising industry and in most cases our own governments have hammered into our heads that meat is the best, most reliable source of protein. In truth, a varied vegetarian diet with a balance of protein, fats & carbohydrates, and adequate calorie intake provides more than enough protein. You can also combine different vegetable products to get the maximum quality of vegetable protein (e.g. vegetable curry with naan bread). I make sure I eat a lot of beans, lentils and my favorite green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.

Read more about vegetarian protein here.

Don’t you feel weak?

In a word, no. On the contrary, I find I have more stamina than ever before. I am generally more alert and have noticed I no longer experience the drowsiness that kicks in after meals (especially in the afternoons). Today I did my usual Saturday two-hour Kali & Panuntukan (kick-boxing) session – without the air-conditioning! But instead of being exhausted, I feel great.

Aren’t you hungry all the time?

No, because I’m always eating. A common misconception is that dieting means depriving your body of food. On the contrary, when you skip meals your body thinks it’s starving and kicks into “panic” mode, storing up as much energy as it can from your next meal (ie building fat cells).

There’s nothing wrong with snacking. It’s what you snack on. That’s why I am always eating something every two to three hours. Only instead of an Oreo McFlurry (my former favorite afternoon treat), I munch on apples, oranges, pistachio or cashew nuts.

All in all, the measurements are very encouraging. If all this can happen in less than a month, I look forward to documenting my progress six months or even 12 months from now.

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