to kick off my vegan protein project, I would like to introduce you to two lovely females that kick ass – Sam and Lyanne from StrongHer! We have sat down together to discuss their StrongHer project, macros and protein sources – and pretty much everything you have always been wondering about regarding macros (cause what the hell are these, right?!) and why people use protein supplements.
We are Sam and Lyanne, the 2 co-founders and directors of StrongHer. We have both been personal trainers with our own separate companies helping women with their fitness journeys and decided to collaborate last year (2016) and henceforth StrongHer was created where our mission is to educate and empower as many women as possible through resistance training, nutrition and well being.
What made you become personal trainers & what made you specialise in female fitness?
Sam – I became a personal trainer because I have always had this huge desire to help others. I realised my passion for fitness whilst still being a dancer and then realised that this was how I could be helping others. I wanted to specialise in women’s fitness simply because I am a woman and I understand the struggles we have as women and it’s relatable.
Lyanne – It was a random sequence of events and probably something I should have realised before… I had been a dancer for years, then moved to London to further my dance career and worked full time as a receptionist in L.A. fitness. It was from here that my interest in fitness really took off – combined with my desire to want to help people. I was a typical cardio bunny, yoyo dieter and working in this environment made me realise how wrong I had got it, so I made the necessary steps to get qualified. The reason I decided to specialise in female only training was because no one can know everything about everyone, but you can master a niche and looking at who I enjoyed training out of my then current clients I realised my preference lay with women – obviously being a woman it’s easier to relate, but also I wanted to help women and give them all the information on all the things I wish someone would have told me.
Besides fitness, nutrition is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle. What is it that you focus on regarding your nutrition? Do you count calories?
Sam – For me it’s about being balanced. I always say to women, that if you can’t see yourself still consistently doing it – don’t even start. By having a better understanding of your macros and what the uses of each of them are, and then working out the amounts of each that you can have, means you can essentially eat whatever you want whilst still getting whatever results it is that you want.
Lyanne – I focus on IIFYM (If it fits your macros) approach to food. Your macros (or macro nutrients) are protein, carbohydrates and fats and and everyone has a certain amount of each they should consume depending on their goals. What IIFYM means is that you can eat a variety of foods and as long as it fits in the amounts appropriate to you its all good – so there are no restrictions which means you can still eat all the foods you love!
Do you count your calories/macros?
Sam – I go through phases in all honesty. I am counting at the moment because I have a holiday coming up but I haven’t really been all of this year. I feel that after logging my food for the majority of last year, that I have quite a good understanding so that I don’t need to constantly be tracking.
Lyanne – I do track my macros when I have a definite goal but from tracking religiously last year in my competition prep I have a good grasp on what portions look like for maintaining.
95% of women we meet say I eat relatively healthily and they have a good understanding of food, but then when we look at it, the portions are off and they eat too much of one food group and not enough of another – by tracking the guesswork is gone and you can begin to understand what foods have what macros in. If the goal like most is a reduction in body fat you will need to eat consistently in a calorie deficit and have the correct amount of macros for energy, retaining lean muscle and vitamins and minerals absorption, how will you know that if you keep guessing your foods.
How much protein shall a grown human consume per day?
This completely depends on the person and their goal. We find that the majority of people don’t consume anywhere near enough for what they need as they don’t have the knowledge and are usual not even aware. We typically find that people consume around 50/60g per day whereas as most people should be having around the 100-120g mark. For example, I work well on a higher protein and higher fat diet where I would have 35% protein. This would mean that I would be consuming around 130g of protein a day.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what protein supplements are for. Can you explain why someone would use protein powders in their diet?
It can be incredibly hard to get the amount of protein required into your body to begin with just via food. When we first started training etc, we would be having 2 scoops of protein powder over the course of the day just to get the amounts up. (1 scoop of protein powder is around 23g of protein). But once you are used to the correct amount of protein like us you soon realise you would probably prefer to eat something wholesome rather than a processed liquid.
Are there any websites you can recommend to calculate BMI, BMR and TDEE?
I don’t like BMI as it doesn’t take into account lean muscle mass and so for someone with a high amount of muscle mass and is heavier due to this, this can affect their BMI and tell a person they are overweight etc. As for working out your BMR & TDEE, I actually use my own equations etc for my client but I know Lyanne uses https://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm
Which advice would you give someone who is just starting to split their macros?
Annoyingly, this whole nutrition game is a trial and error game. There is not one answer that fits all unfortunately. As for splitting your macros, it can be split so many different ways due to so many different things (e.g. somatotypes, activity levels, kind of training you are doing etc). A very vague place to start is to evenly split to 33% on each macro, but again this does not take into account your goal, body type etc. There is a good article here which can give you a pointer as a starting point based on your body type:
But again: it’s all about trialing, seeing how you feel with it and then adjusting if need be.
Can you give a few examples of high-protein (vegan) foods?
It is more difficult as a lot of vegan high protein foods will also be similar amounts in carbs however a few are; Tofu, Lentils, Beans, Chia Seeds, Broccoli, Asparagus, Almonds, Spirulina and Peanut Butter.
What motivates you? What can you advice on finding motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Sam – Oooo thats a hard question! For me, I just really enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. My energy levels always feel good and I enjoy the food I eat. Some people are driven towards looking good, or feeling stronger but for me it’s just about feeling alive.
Lyanne – The ability to do the impossible is what motivates me. I personally love a challenge, doing the unthinkable however I know that’s not the same for everyone – but to surround yourself with people that think this way is the best form of motivation. If you are around people that always see the negative, look at the problems not the solutions and judge others you will be influenced to behave and think the same.
What are your future plans for StrongHer?
Right now we are focusing on building the community so we are setting up more regular classes so more women can learn in a non judgemental environment.