For a month now, I’ve been following the Engine 2 Eating Plan. The book is called the “Engine 2 Diet,” but I don’t like the term “diet” as it implies that I’m doing this for the sole purpose of losing weight in a four-week crash course of deprivation. It’s essentially a vegan diet, although the book really never actually mentions the word, “vegan.” It prefers to refer to itself as “plant strong.” Whoever decided to go that route (and I know it was some marketing guru) was a genius. The word “vegan” has a stigma, but a “plant strong” eating plan written by a firefighter and professional triathlete sounds downright sexy and easy. And you know what?? It is…
I swear I thought I’d be going absolutely bonkers to have a steak, cheeseburger, piece of chicken, cake, milkshake, salmon, etc…you name it. (or even a casserole combined with all of the aforementioned). Oddly enough, I don’t crave any of it. I’ve never been more satisfied or full overall from any eating plan. Yes, I’m depriving myself of certain food groups, but I’m not depriving myself of nutrients or calories, which makes all of the difference.
I’ve had people ask several questions in the last month, so I’ll try to answer some of the questions I’ve received. Some are asking because it’s a plan they want to consider. Some are asking because they think I’ve gone off the deep end. Either is probably valid at this point…
Why are you doing this particular plan?
I have high cholesterol and this plan promotes lowering cholesterol naturally by taking control of your diet. At last check, mine was 259 (well above the 200 recommended safe range).
My HDL (good cholesterol) was a phenomenal 104 (recommended above 39)
My LDL (bad cholesterol) was a dismal 140 (recommended below 100)
Overall, my ratio is good because of my HDL, but I want to get that LDL number down!
The other reason I’m trying this plan is because of the healthy food choices, which have led to a 4lb weight loss up to this point.
What do you eat?
Here’s what I don’t eat: meat, chicken, fish, dairy (that includes milk and cheese)
I’m eating a ton of food and loving it! Breakfast usually consists of whole grain cereals (Ezekiel, Uncle Sam’s, Kashi), fruit and soy milk…I also enjoy sunflower seed butter and sugar free jelly on whole wheat bread, veggie sausages, etc.
Lunch: beans, rice, veggies, salads, hummus, black bean burgers, whole grain pastas
Dinner: whole grain pastas, whole grain pizzas with no cheese, but plenty of veggies and “fake meat,” veggie lasagna, cereal, salads, rice, beans, etc/
Are you getting enough calories and protein?
I know I’m getting plenty of protein with the veggies, beans, tofu, hummus and other fake meat. I also feel I’m getting plenty of calories as well as I’m never “starved,” and I eat every 3-4 hours. Peanut butter and avacado has fat so I’m getting that as well. Overall, I feel very well-fueled and my 3 pm sugar cravings have gone away!
What about Iron?
Again, a lot of iron is in the foods I’m eating and I haven’t been craving red meat. I will test my iron when this is done because it was low in February when I attempted to give blood. They wouldn’t let me.
Are you hungry all the time?
Rarely…mostly very content
Have you lost weight?
I hopped on the scale today and was 4lbs down, but I’m also a woman and that number could be 10lbs heavier tomorrow. I personally haven’t noticed a change visually, but some clothes are definitely looser and friends have said they notice a difference. I still see the naked goo belly.
Is this something you plan on doing religiously forever?
I can see myself following it 90-95% of the time just because it hasn’t been that hard and the food tastes so much better! My parents are coming to visit in two weeks and they love the Salt Lick BBQ. Therefore, I’ll probably indulge in some meat. I also love sushi and have missed some yummy salmon and tuna rolls.
Have you cheated at all?
Like Bill Clinton said, “It depends on what your definition is…” I have had NO meat, chicken, fish or dairy in any of my main meals since the end of February. However, I’ve had some diet cokes (one a day at most) and I chew on at least 4-5 pieces of sugarless gum throughout the day as a habit. The only dessert I’ve had was an Engine 2-approved fruit cobbler baked by Jess and I had a piece for breakfast.
Now–I know I’ve inadvertently cheated at restaurants because it’s harder to control their oil and ingredient content. I ask for dressing on the side and use extra salsa or pico as my dressing. However, every restaurant I’ve been to has had some form of veggie option.
I’m also not skimping on my Ironman nutrition ingredients…I use Perpetuum and Endurox (both have whey protein–dairy). I also use Power Gels and CLif Blocks which have sugars.
Can you drink alcohol?
The book highly recommends that you don’t drink for the first 28 days, but if you do drink, limit it to one glass a night. I’m still drinking vino about 2-3 times per week. A girl needs a vice, especially since I haven’t had a cupcake, cookie or ice cream in over a month!
Has it affected your training or energy levels?
I feel right where I need to be. I struggled with one workout a couple of weeks back, but I think my body was simply fatigued from overtraining and lack of rest. Other than that, I’ve been feeling great as my training hours have ramped up.
I do plan on getting my cholesterol checked in the middle of April and I’m so anxious to see the results. I will be truly disappointed if the numbers haven’t improved even slightly.
If that’s the case, I plan on hitting Mangia Pizza for an Extra Cheese, Extra Sausage, Stuffed Crust Pizza!