Summer is my least favorite season of all. I can’t handle the extreme heat and to top it all, it’s when my body seems to fail miserably despite my healthy vegan eating habits. Just few days ago, I threw up, had bouts of headache, diarrhea, and body aches.  But as with my past summers with very similar experience, this too I can handle victoriously (read summer guide for vegans).

Summer time, while everyone seems to be in the “summer body” mode, can be a perceived detriment to those wanting to up their fitness game; because let’s face it, heat really wears you down. But here are some tips to help you beat the dreaded summer slump (read how to beat fatigue if you’re vegan).

Hydrate. We lose more water because we sweat more so it’s important to drink more water to prevent risk of dehydration (read my vegan bodybuilding progress).

Don’t solely focus on numbers on the scale but take your lifestyle up a notch. Unless you are eating more than usual and exercising less during the summer, the slight fluctuation in number (weight gain) is basically water weight. Because you drink more water, aldosterone, the fluid-conserving hormone, regulates the kidney to retain more fluid vis-a-vis reduce the amount of salt in sweat, a mechanism that aids in water retention (read fitness tips for women over 40).  I am usually heavier during summertime but that does not make me fret about it. I recently bought a digital scale with body analyzer that  measures muscle mass, body fat, water weight and bone density. It would be nice to monitor my progress from hereon. I am posting my current readings here for reference. I am not using this device to diagnose myself or go overboard with what I am doing or should be doing. As a healthcare professional, I am accountable to my own actions and lifestyle.  This is based on my height, weight and age (5’0, 105 lbs, 44). Now if you’re over 40 years old and haven’t done any blood work, I suggest that you do now even if you aren’t suffering from any ailments (read important health and screening tests for women over 40). Fixing is a lot easier when problems are discovered early.

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Without sounding too technical, the scale photographed above basically tells me that my body fat is normal at 23% (22-30% range) and my muscle mass is also normal at 31% (28-39% range). My body water is borderline high at 56.4 but this is quite normal for mid-age women (in contrast, the more fat and less muscle mass, the lower water weight) but this explains the fluctutation in weight as mentioned previously (water weight related to water retention). However, I need to work on strengthening my bones more because while I am not solely relying on this digital analyzer, my bone mass is relatively low at 4.6 (7-7.8 range) hence, I need to focus on exercises that will help build bone density. Osteopenia/ osteoporosis risk factors are there for me: Asian (ethnicity) and bone structure (small/petite).

Exercise early in the morning or late afternoon when it isn’t that hot. Finding the sweet spot is always a great motivation to keep it going. Avoid the sun during peak hours, 10am to 4pm, as much as possible. If you love the outdoors, I can’t emphasize enough the use of sunscreen religiously. Reapplication is where most people falter. Even if your sunscreen says waterproof or sweatproof, reaapply every 2 hours. Summer brings out the worse in sun spots and melasma, including sunburn and risk for melanoma.

Gaining muscle vs. Losing weight. Vegan does not necessarily translate to healthy because there are hundreds of vegan junk food you can buy from the stores. If you want real stamina from plants, opt for unprocessed, oil-free, real fruits and vegetables. Protein bars are completely unnecessary because if you eat variety of real food, your daily protein intake is covered. As vegan, know that your macro requirements are different from non-vegans. Gaining muscle is different from Losing weight. Cut your calories even without exercising, you will lose weight. Consume more calories and exercise more, you will gain muscle. It goes without saying that if you eat less and exercise, you will have dramatic weight loss; eat more than your daily calorie allowance and not exercise, weight gain ensues. Macros for a typical vegan bodybuilder looks like this: 40-45% carbs, 30-35% fat, 25-30% protein. You can use this guide calculator to compute for your daily caloric requirement, macros, etc (read how to shop vegan groceries). There are lots of theories and suggestions you can find online and I’d be honest with you, they can all be very confusing. Listen to your body, follow vegan athletes and medical doctors to give you some guidance, but at the end of the day, you know your body well more than anyone else. So if your body is telling you to take a break (as I am now), give it a rest for the meantime. I am no pro bodybuilder but my goal is to look fit and toned for my age.


Don’t be a proteinaholic. Unless you are suffering from extreme malnutrition, know that protein abounds in practically most plants palatable to humans. The key is eating in variety (adult women on average needs protein 46 grams/day, men 56 grams/day, this is for non-active/non-athletes). This book Proteinaholic, penned by known bariatric surgeon and triathlete Dr. Garth Davis will help you understand the science (and common sense) behind protein intake. It will help you dispel common myth and how over consumption of protein (mainly animal sources) can lead to more health problems, as proven in clinical studies and peer reviews. It will also give you inputs on how to reverse the leading cause of morbidity and mortality which for the most part are lifestyle-related (think hypertension, stroke, cardiac arrest, diabetes, obesity, certain forms of cancer, etc.) The information is out there. There are more and more medical doctors embracing and advocating this life-saving lifestyle to their patients. Even the American Diabetes Association has now acknowledged the power of vegan diet in reversing or managing diabetes. The outgoing president of  American College of Cardiology Dr. Kim Williams is vegan and can personally attest how his numbers improved hence his strong advocacy towards this diet amongst his patients. At the end of the day, you do what’s best for your body and health but if it comes to the point of no return, then maybe it’s about time to re-evaluate your eating habits (read my journey). Becoming vegan will not make you invincible and delegate you with super powers, but it can potentially help you reverse whatever chronic conditions you may have or solve whatever faulty “genes” you may have inherited.

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29 thoughts on “Vegan Bodybuilding | How To Beat Summer Slump

  • What useful tips, Kath! Keeping hydrated is so important, and people don’t realize how dangerous, and easy it is to become severely dehydrated during the hot months of summer (especially when you are exercising).

  • Jen Walker

    Working out in the summer is not easy, and I’ve been getting up at 4:30 am to get my workouts in before work while the weather is still cool. I prefer to focus on how I feel overall rather than numbers on a scale for my sanity.

    • thefabzilla

      Good for you. The numbers on the scale are ok for guidance but like you said, it’s better to concentrate on how you feel. Sometimes people worry too much about numbers that sometimes they overlook muscle mass

  • I’ve been trying to remember to drink more water this summer — it’s fefinitely been helping, too 🙌🏼

  • I’m not really sure why this is “vegan” bodybuilding since the tips are right for everyone doing bodybuilding and toning.

    • thefabzilla

      Good point. This topic is for new vegans or vegans new to bodybuilding, esp the last 2 tips. But I’m glad to know that how I wrote it means it can also be interpreted across the board

  • Excellent detailed post, Kathryne. Today was a great day for jogging because there was low humidity, and I had a good run. For me, summer, late spring and early fall are best for me for exercise because jogging is my exercise, and it’s so cold outside during the rest of the year. I’ve got to get back to weightlifting because I desperately need the toning. I wish I could stand hanging out in my unfinished basement where my weight bench and weights are. Thank you for the motivation.

    • thefabzilla

      Thanks much Allison! I’m happy that you’re into fitness routines too! Is there a way you can bring up some of your weights where there’s fresh air? I can’t imagine working out in the basement too. I’d be out of breath or a/c will be on full blast.

  • I don’t do well in the heat either and it’s been awful lately!

  • Great tips.

  • I think not focusing on the scale and making it a lifestyle change instead of a diet is one of the best piece of advices I ever received. I received it at the same time I learned that muscle ways more than fat and was getting down on myself because I was gaining wait instead of losing while dieting and exercising.

    • thefabzilla

      Thanks Cassie. Yes, a lot of people are focused on the scale numbers rather than evaluating their overall lifestyle habits.

  • Jess Scull

    You always have the best workout tips!

  • Ehmkay Nails

    If I don’t work out by 10am, I don’t. It’s wayyyy Too hot and humid!

  • 25 Sweetpeas

    Your athletic clothing is always so cute! I enjoy working out, I wish there were more hours in the day! 🙂

    • thefabzilla

      Thanks much! I buy from HauteLook/Nordstrom Rack app. They have super cute active wear section. If I’m not working full time, I would exercise more

  • I started working out at fitness studios about a year and a half ago, and I was surprised to see how people are obsessed with protein. So many people are on a low carb, high protein diet, and they have protein shakes, protein bars, etc, on top of eating nothing but chicken basically… It’s like people hear that proteins are needed when you’re trying to build muscle, but then they take it too far. Variety is key.

  • I need to get these activewear picks!! Glad I can also apply these tips as a non-vegan.

  • Leslie

    I love your health tips! You look amazing #Goals I am trying to live healthier and it’s not always easy.

  • You have awesome health tips and the thing about them is they are backed by your experience. It’s not just some random listing on the internet.

  • Madhubani

    I hate summers as well.. Especially when it reaches to 45degrees in the place I live in.. These are some amazing tips.. And you look fabulous as always..

  • I totally agree, variety is key! Some vegans go a bit overboard by eating black beans only or soy only for their protein, and I’m like SMH.

    • thefabzilla

      I cannot imagine myself eating the same things. Tell me about beans, I have love and hate relationship. Love for the protein but hate for the gas, haha!
      Soy, in particular tofu, is something I avoid coz I have sensitivities to it- serious breakout, despite this being dismissed as myth.

  • I agree… water is so important and hydrating is key. I also agree that exercising in the morning or in the late afternoon is also a great tip. I can’t do exercise mid-day, I’ve lost all my motivation because it is so hot. So I tend to choose morning after I take the boys to school. Thank goodness we are on the same page.

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