HIGH PROTEIN/ LOW GI VEGAN MEALS & THE EFFECTS OF SUGAR ON THE SKIN

Monday, 27 June 2016



I am always asked by friends who are considering becoming vegan on tips for high protein meals; I realised that high carbohydrate, refined starch foods such as pizza and pasta do not benefit my body; This was an interesting paradigm, as I think the general consensus is usually that high carb = high energy. It actually has the opposite effect on me, and many friends of mine who now eat a wheat free and low sugar diet have had a similar experience. I felt heavy and I would be susceptible to big energy crashes and weight gain. I started reading up about insulin spikes and in particular, the effectiveness of a sugar free diet. I would love to write more about this in the future, and is definitely an area I wish to research more in my post grad studies. 

I can honestly say that eliminating certain foods from my diet has enabled me to lose weight and also give me sustained  energy which has has been pivotal in achieving my fitness goals. In terms of skincare, my skin has never been better. Dermato-endocrinology studies have detailed the link between high GI foods (glycemic index) with insulin spikes, hormonal imbalances and is cited regularly in meta-studies as a contributory factor in acne; although a multi-faceted skin condition with varied aetiology.

I overhauled my diet to include high protein vegan meals, with a relatively gluten, wheat  and sugar free focus. This is not to say I don't occasionally have a vegan pizza! But generally, 80% of the time, I eliminate sugar.  Low sugar in the diet is so pertinent to beauty and dermatology in my opinion. 

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE BEAUTY?

In terms of acne and inflammatory skin conditions, sugar has a very specific hormonal effect. High GI foods can cause a big release of insulin and some experts believe acne may linked to a hyperinsulaemic state. Insulin controls IGF-1 and androgens which in particular have a role in acne pathogenesis due to the stimulatory effects on sebum production as well as interference with some retinoid-signalling pathways. I have read many studies that recommend a low GI, high protein diet for managing acne. Similarly, if PCOS is linked to the acne, Clinical Nutritionists recommend a low GI diet  to manage symptoms due to a similar insulin mediated pathway.

In terms of ageing,sugar generates Advanced Glycation End-products. These biochemical products interfere with the skin's structural integrity and degrade collagen and elastin (the proteins that hold and support the skin and degrade over time as part of the ageing process).  This has three main effects; it causes cross linking of collagen, propagates inflammatory processes and inhibits skin cell growth- all implicated in accelerated skin ageing. 

HIGH PROTEIN VEGAN TIPS 

I will definitely detail some recipes in future posts :) in general, it is about sourcing most of your calories from protein and healthy fat sources and complex carbohydrates with low GI and always swap- cutting something out completely is not how our brains work- habit swaps beat habit breaking. Healthy fats in the diet are not to be feared; I eat these in abundance and have actually lost weight as a consequence- your cells need lipids; so sourcing healthy fats in the diet is important to cell homeostasis. 

Here are my high protein vegan staples:

ALMOND, CASHEW AND PEANUT BUTTER

 I usually have tenderstem broccoli, cut cucumber or oat cakes with these. 



CHICKPEAS, BLACK BEANS AND LENTILS

 The most versatile staple. We experimented with making a high protein porridge; chickpea and lentil as the base as these have a lower GI than oats, and have even made vegan chocolate cake and ice cream out of black beans  (recipe to follow lovely readers) Making your own variations of humous and falafels, without the bread, are quick and easy and give you so much sustained energy. For a high protein/low GI breakfast and a chickpea/lentil porridge; blend warm chickpeas/ cooked lentils, with cinnamon, avocado, soya milk, peanut butter and either stevia (for very low sugar) or add a banana and blueberries for sweetness. 

I also use my spiraliser to make courgetti, and I use black bean or edamame spaghetti- these swaps make it feel less like a restrictive diet and I really don't notice the difference (I promise!)



VEGAN PROTEIN SHAKES

 The quickest, best food on the go. I use low sugar, unsweetened almond or soya milk and chia,  I minimise fruit sugars (such as dates/bananas) and add in spinach and seeds for extra protein. I adore Pulsin' - an amazing protein powder company. 

MARINATED TOFU

Tofu has a bit of bad connotation as flavourless, but with the right marinade can be delicious! I always opt for organic and firm tofu as it holds together better in the cooking process. 

KALE, SPINACH and GREENS


I often cook a large amount of greens and add some nuts/ tofu. My favourite is kale, stir fried in sesame oil and garlic with smoked paprika. As well as being full of protective antioxidants which could also protect cells against free radical damage; greens are full of protein and minerals/electrolytes like potassium vital for metabolism and feeling energised. In general, I just replace any refined carbohydrates with greens; ie instead of rice, I will have green vegetables on the side. I think making seamless swaps as appose to elimination is key to succeeding in a new dietary lifestyle; I think diets should always be abundant. 


VEGAN PROTEIN SOURCES I LOVE 



I really hope this has been useful- do you eat a low GI diet? I would love to know your thoughts and recipes 


  L.M 
xxx


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