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26 Sept 2022

Fitness coach gains 40lb by going vegan for eight months and fears she is becoming diabetic so fixes her weight and health with full-time carnivore diet

Fitness coach gains 40lb by going vegan for eight months and fears she is becoming diabetic so fixes her weight and health with full-time carnivore diet

A fitness coach who gained more than 40lb and believes she was becoming diabetic after going vegan for eight months says she has fixed all her health issues after swapping salads for steaks and becoming a full-time carnivore.

At 5ft 7in, Daniela Vizintin, 31, was the envy of her friends with her naturally slim 7st 8.5lb frame, until a Netflix documentary highlighting the need for dietary change influenced her to turn vegan in July 2017 – which resulted in her gaining 3st 2lb, or 40lb.

Filling up on carbohydrates, yet still feeling hungry and tired, Daniela – who moved from Trieste, Italy, to Croydon, south London, in 2012 – was forced to give away her size 6-8 clothes in favour of stretchy jeggings, saying: “I felt embarrassed.”

She added: “I became vegan after watching a documentary and I thought I was making the right moral and ethical choice, as I am very conscious of our environment.

“But it started affecting my health and I was gaining so much weight, I couldn’t even breathe in my favourite skirt. I could barely put it on.

“In 2018, I was around 11st. I was a size 14 and I had to give away all my clothes.”

She added: “I started suffering with anxiety and low self-esteem. I used to be the girl who wore short skirts, but I became this super timid person who didn’t want to go out.

“I just started buying jeggings. I didn’t want to get dressed up. It was a big shift, I felt like I was a different person.”

Daniela became vegan after watching a Netflix documentary in July 2017, quickly devoting herself to her newfound diet and abandoning her favourite cured Italian meats for meatless substitutes.

But, as the limited diet left her obsessing about what food she could eat, she loaded up on pasta and pizza and saw her weight soar from 7st 8.5lb to 11st in less than a year.

Despite still having a body mass index, used to gauge a healthy weight,  of 23.9 at her heaviest – well within the NHS guideline of 18.5 to 24.9 – Daniela had never had to watch her weight before.

Now, as she grew bigger, she started suffering with health issues including suspected prediabetes and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS.)

She said: “I was one of those people back then who could eat anything and I never gained weight.

“I never expected so many health issues to come from becoming vegan. It’s something I did because I believed it was the right thing to do.”

So, in early 2018, she abandoned her vegan diet, yet she continued to gain weight despite being a personal trainer, eating as she had before and exercising regularly.

Seemingly fit and healthy, walking for three hours a day and working out three-to-four days a week, she even resorted to calorie counting, but nothing worked.

In the end, Daniela, whose boyfriend of four years, KC, is a web developer, said: “Despite being a personal trainer, I wasn’t seeing any results myself – even though I was doing all the right things, so I thought something must be wrong.

“My hormones were all over the place.”

She added: “It was very frustrating and I was so anxious, as I was devoting so much time and research into my fitness and saw no results.

“I was worried my customers would leave me, or that they were all getting results, but I wasn’t.”

Daniela believes she was becoming insulin resistant – a condition linked to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, where the body is unable to respond to the amount of insulin it is producing – after measuring her waist, which she says is  a common way to test for the condition.

When she realised her waistline had expanded from 27in to 31in, she knew it was time for drastic action.

Also being forced to visit the toilet every hour because of IBS, she said: “When I was vegan, I couldn’t be anywhere far from a loo and I was constantly cramping and gassy.

“When I realised I was insulin resistant too, it was very scary.”

She added: “There are a million things about diabetes that are terrifying, like the fact it means you have a hormonal imbalance and your body is fighting against you.”

She finally had her eureka moment in April 2021, a few months after creating her fitness brand Stay Fitness, when she chanced upon a podcast by an American doctor, who claimed that human beings can live off meat alone.

Desperate to find a solution, she threw herself into the carnivore diet and within two weeks her IBS  had cleared up and she had regained a spring in her step.

  • Breakfast - Protein shake with three raw eggs
  • Lunch - Steak
  • Dinner- Meatballs or beef stew with rice or sweet potato

Now devouring steaks, ribs, and sausages, Daniela is a toned 10st and feels healthier than ever, saying: “When I started eating only meat, my IBS went.

“Then I stopped going to the loo every hour.

“My skin started clearing and I just felt and looked different.”

She added: “A carnivorous diet is not a weight loss diet, it’s a body optimisation diet. It reset the way I felt. My body did what it needed to do and I feel so much better. I felt good.

“It changed my relationship with food as I was ironically less obsessed about what I was eating.

“When I was vegan, I just ate all the time. Our hunger is the signal that the body is not getting what it needs.”

She added: “I was just obsessed with feeding myself.”

Daniela believes the vegan diet left her “dangerously malnourished” as she was not absorbing enough essential nutrients, so resorted to “carb-loading” to cope with her constant hunger.

And she is now hoping to use her fitness business to help educate people about the effects of different diets, in order to find what best suits each person.

Daniela said: “With the vegan diet, there’s a nutrition deficiency. One thing I keep saying is that eating nutrients doesn’t mean absorbing nutrients. And we’re bad at absorbing nutrients from plants.

“Protein is the most abundant substance in our body and a protein deficiency is a real issue.

“All these things long-term are dangerous, as you will be malnourished and, combined with low or high calorie food, you’ll either be too skinny or overweight.”

  • Find a community of carnivores to talk to
  • Give it 30 days to see if it works for you
  • Get all of the processed food out of your diet
  • Prioritise animal protein in your diet
  • You might feel rough at the beginning, but stick with it

She added: “Personal training isn’t just about going to the gym and working out.

“The education behind it is so important. You need to know why you are doing what you’re doing.”

You can follow Daniela for more fitness advice on Instagram @danistayfitness or on the Stay Fitness YouTube channel.

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