I'm male, 34 years old. I recently read "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes and found the overall argument pretty compelling (although I think he gets some things wrong), so I decided to try doing low-carb. I started trying to eat low carb on 3/7/12, experimenting with different things and doing a lot of research. There is really not much out there in the way of practical advice for doing vegan low carb.
I've been vegan for 4.5 years. Back in 2010 I lost about 20-25 lbs (went from low 190s to mid-high 160s). I was reasonably happy with my weight at around 167, but not totally content. I think my best weight would probably be about 160 (assuming muscle mass stays about the same). I lost the weight basically by just not eating very much. It worked, but I can't say I felt particularly healthy when it was all done. And then the weight has been slowly coming back.
I had also become aware that something was off about my diet. Over the last 18 months a decent amount of the weight has come back (although my body composition is better now due to doing a lot of muscle building). My weight was going up, but I was also feeling unhealthy. So I started dieting on 3/5/12 and started reading "Why We Get Fat" that same day. By Wednesday I had finished the book and was already making a concerted effort to reduce my carb intake. So far, so good. I now know what it feels like to run on fat most of the time. It's a waaaay different feeling than when I was losing weight on a low-calorie diet. I've lost about 3-4 pounds so far (and I know it's real loss because I weigh myself daily and pay attention to my average weight, not the peaks and valleys).
After I started doing the low-carb thing, I started doing a lot of research about the nutritional content of foods that I was eating (and foods that I was thinking about eating more or less of). I was pretty disappointed when I realized that I was definitely NOT getting enough vitamins and minerals (V&M). And for the most part, I had been eating less-than-optimal amounts of a whole array of V&M for a number of years (I say "for the most part" because I did go through phases of better eating habits). So this hit me hard. Most days I was getting less than 100% of vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, zinc and copper! Before I was eating nutritional yeast consistently, I was also probably low in thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and B6. I also found out that a deficiency in one can cause or exacerbate a deficiency in another (or example, being low in Vit A or Vit D can cause a secondary zinc deficiency, and I was probably not getting enough of ANY of them, except probably Vit A - good ol' carrots!). Vitamin C also helps you absorb iron (of which I was getting too little), and I wasn't getting C on a consistent basis. Folate and B12 levels are often highly correlated as well, and I wasn't getting enough folate.
So my two main goals now are to lose weight AND to ensure that I get 100% of V&M every. single. day.
The core of my diet is as follows:
*74 grams sesame seed, 54 grams flaxseed, 47 grams sunflower seeds (all ground up and drunk with protein powder in two separate drinks, one in the morning, one in the afternoon or evening) - this provides the majority of my minerals
*two 30 gram scoops of gemma pea protein powder - this provides a little over a third of my protein
*1-1.5 cups sauteed kale and turnip greens (with lots of olive oil) - this provided Vitamins A, C and K in abundance
*6 grams nutritional yeast (eaten with the greens) - B vitamins
*100 grams firm tofu OR one serving of beans or lentils (105-167 grams, depending on the type - always 20 grams of carbs per serving) - more protein, potassium, calcium, iron etc.
*2 brazilnuts - all the selenium I need
In the evening I'll eat a little bit more carby, at least in part because it makes it easier to eat with my wife or go out to eat with people). But I still try to keep it fairly low (making sure to eat 20 grams or less of "carby" carbs like rice, potato etc.). We often have stir fries and curries, so I just eat the vegetables and beans and/or tofu and really minimize the grains and whatnot. I'm still experimenting with eating other carbs, mainly for the mineral content.
When I first started I (more or less randomly) set 113 grams carbs as my daily limit, but now that I've figured out the details and realized that I don't really need a lot of carbs to feel full, I'm going to shoot for 100 as my goal this coming week. If this feels fine I may go lower still, maybe 90 or 80. I'm getting 130 grams (or more) of protein per day and I don't count fat grams, but between the seeds, olive oil and tofu, I'm getting a lot. And I'm totally okay with that. Fat is yummy.
I'm getting 100% (or more) of all vitamins and minerals with the exception of pantothenic acid and potassium. I still need to figure out a way to ensure that I'm getting enough potassium every day (I could eat cauliflower and broccoli every day, but honestly, most days I'm just too full!). Pantothenic acid is also something I have to figure out - it's just not available in high quantities in many vegan foods (or vegetarian food, for that matter). But I've figured out how to get 100% of everything else, so that's been really encouraging (and a huge relief). I also take a B12 supplement, which is standard practice for vegans (but I do get 50% RDA from nutritional yeast, and I'm considering doubling my daily dose just to get all my B12 from actual food).
So... I realize that this is not truly low carb. It's more like moderate carb. But we'll see where it goes. I might end up going pretty low, depending on how I feel and how bored I get of eating this way. I'm not in a huge hurry to lose weight as it's mainly just "vanity fat," so I'm okay with it possibly taking longer than it might if I went truly low carb.
I have not been all that lucky in finding good resources for vegan low carbing, but that's okay. I don't mind doing the research because it forces me to REALLY know what I'm doing, so then I can defend my choices to others. If you think it's hard to explain to people why you're low-carbing, try explaining why you're vegan low-carbing! People love to scrutinize what I'm eating (for multiple reasons), so it's good to be armed with data to defend myself.
Are there any other vegetarian or vegan low-carbers out there? Got any tips? I'm open to advice from anyone, just so long as it's given with the understanding that I'm vegan, so I don't eat things that come from animals. It's just the way it is with me. Being vegan for me is not about nutrition, it's about ethics, and I'm not here to debate ethics (and I imagine most people here feel the same way). I'm vegan, but I don't care if you are or not. I'm just here to learn more about low-carbing, so I'm open to info from anyone.
I am also pretty into strength training. My core exercises are deadlift, hang clean, barbell row, overhead press, overhead squat, front squat, back squat, bench press, weighted dips, weighted pullups and pushups (different varieties). I also do a little bit of the bodybuilding lifts (biceps curl, lateral raise, rear lateral raise), but my goal is primarily to increase strength (not to "get huge"), so I don't devote much time and energy to isolation/bodybuilding exercises. I put my energy into heavy compounds. I also run a little bit, usually 5k or less. If anyone else is into any of this, I'd love to get some advice on how you think low-carbing does or should relate to all of this.
Anyway... hello to everyone! I hope to get some good ideas and meet some nice people