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12 things this hot vegan bodybuilder wants you to know about health and fitness

Jon-venus-vegan-bodybuilder, what this hot vegan bodybuilder wants you to know about health and fitness by

Jon Venus is making a new name for vegans everywhere – here are 12 things this hot vegan bodybuilder wants you to know about health and fitness

With 98.5 thousand followers on his Instagram account and nearly 267 thousand subscribers on YouTube, it’s safe to say that vegan bodybuilder, VivoLife ambassador and personal trainer Jon Venus, 26 is causing a bit of a stir among the blogosphere. The half Brazilian, half Norwegian hunk lives in Barcelona and insists that when it comes to fitness, the vegan way is best. And it certainly seems to be working for him, the fitness coach who has been dubbed one of the ‘world’s hottest vegans’ is so proud of his chiselled physique that he even took his shirt off for his wedding photos.

Amazed at how he has built so much muscle on a vegan diet, we wanted to catch up with Venus to learn the health and fitness philosophies he lives by. While he was visiting the UK, Healthista joined him for a training sesh in one of Fitness First’s London gyms. Within three minutes of entering the gym, he’d been spotted by multiple fans that praised his online videos as he gushed quietly to us that random approaches while working out were a regular occurrence for him. The social media maverick took us through some of his favourite lower body workouts and we squatted, leg pressed and lunged our way around the gym floor (and then leg pressed again for good measure). As we made our way around the weights area, we quizzed Venus on the best and most healthy ways to go vegan, the one exercise everyone should be doing and if white carbs are really that bad. So listen up ladies, this is what one of the world’s best-looking vegans wants you to know about health and fitness.

Like a girl guide, be prepared

‘The first thing you have to do is make sure that you don’t jump into a plant-based diet immediately without educating yourself. You really need to understand what foods you should and can eat and which foods are going to benefit your health and your body. It helps to do it as a slow transition and just incorporate more vegan meals into your day at first. In the first week, it’s going to be weird because your body is so used to eating meat, junk food or other processed foods. It’ll take some time for your digestive system to adjust but once it does, you’re going to feel completely different and amazing.’

Don’t be afraid of carbs

‘Restricting your carbohydrates isn’t going to help you build muscle OR lose fat. I personally think that as a general rule, most people that are trying to gain muscle weight should allow 60 percent of their calories to come from carbohydrates – that’s whether you’re vegan or not. Of course, if you’re an endurance athlete this won’t really work for you. But that doesn’t mean eating lots of white bread. Oatmeal, chickpeas and lentils are all high in carbohydrates as well as protein and include a lot of the macronutrients we need.’

Or for that matter, potatoes…

‘Other great sources of carbs that I always recommend are yam and sweet potatoes, white potatoes and rice. You should go for brown rice over white because it’s going to be healthier, it’s got more fibre. But once in a while white rice is not going to hurt you. And white potatoes are totally fine. I go through phases, sometimes I have white potatoes almost every single day and then I go back to sweet potato. I don’t follow exactly the same diet every single week but I’m a huge potato fan for sure. One of my favourite dishes is stuffed baked sweet potato. I stick the sweet potato in the oven, slice it in half and then fill it with lentils that have been seasoned and mixed in with nice vegetables and curry spices and some hummus, salsa, maybe guacamole – it tastes amazing.’

Eat, and eat lots

‘The biggest mistake people make with a vegan diet is that they eat salads and vegetables all day and then don’t feel very good. You have to go for a higher calorie meal that is a good source of protein, carbs and fats. A lot of people also say they just eat salads and think a plant-based diet is super boring but there are a million recipes out there, all you have to do is Google ‘Awesome plant-based recipes’ and you’ll get a ton of results. So just experiment and have fun with it and you can’t go wrong.’

Do you really need that oil?

‘I always stir fry my food in water, not oil because oil is just empty calories. You can saute your vegetables in water instead and then just put a low-fat wok sauce on top. Obviously, oil is going to make it taste a little bit better and if you’re trying to get that crispness, oil is essential but if you’re really looking out for your health and trying to optimise your results from the gym it’s a good thing to do. If it’s a tiny little sliver of oil it’s not going to do that much, but you have to remember that one tablespoon of oil is already 100 extra calories. And when you’re sauteeing vegetables or frying them you generally use three or four tablespoons. That’s suddenly an extra three or four hundred calories added to your meal which is a waste, in my opinion. You can still season your food with different herbs and spices to make it taste amazing – I find oil to be unnecessary in most cases.’

But be wary of calorie counting

‘People with a history of eating disorders should definitely not be counting calories, I don’t recommend it. Just focus on eating the right, healthy foods and everything else will come into play. But if you have a specific fitness goal and you want to learn more about your body and which foods to eat, it can be helpful to track sometimes. I always give my clients a meal plan with calories and macros so they understand what their body needs to reach a certain goal and then after a couple of months of tracking you’ll know exactly what to eat, you’ll know how your body feels when you have too much or too little so you won’t have to track for the rest of your life, it becomes intuitive.’

Don’t be a time waster on the gym floor

‘In the gym, a lot of people take long breaks, they’re on their phones in between sets. They’ll be texting and then they end up taking five to ten minute breaks in between each set. The point of going to the gym is about making the most out of your time there so you’re in and out as quickly as possible. Some people even train for just 20 minutes a day and get amazing results because of the level of intensity they put in – non-stop resistance training, pushing themselves until they tremble. It’s a kind of training called high-intensity interval training. It’s not for complete beginners but if you’re capable, even with 20 minutes a day, you can really push yourself to get amazing results. People should also think less about getting those repetitions in and focus more on how the muscles that they’re working feel. You have to go until you can’t lift anymore and then you know you’re doing a good job.’

Ladies, do your squats

‘If I had to choose one exercise that would benefit the most people this would be it. A squat is so important because it really targets a lot of muscles and helps build your core, your glutes, your hamstrings, quads and calves. It helps to build your entire lower body and has a huge afterburn effect so you burn lots of calories afterwards but you also burn a lot of calories as you’re doing it. I really think most people would benefit from squatting. But of course, there is a big risk of injury if you’re new to the exercise, so do make sure that you approach it with caution.’

MORE: Healthista 30 day squat challenge

For the hundredth time – you won’t get bulky

‘Think about how many guys have trouble building muscle and putting on weight and they have significantly more testosterone than women. No matter how much women train, if they do it naturally without taking steroids and hormones, they’re not going to look bulky. Unless you have a genetic predisposition to be really, really muscley, it’s not going to happen. You’re just going to look more toned and have a better body composition. Usually, you lose fat and build muscle more or less simultaneously, so don’t panic – your jeans will still fit.’

Lift weights to lose weight

‘It’s really important to focus mostly on weights to lose weight because weighted exercises have such a powerful afterburn effect. They’ll also really help you to retain muscle mass when you are losing weight so you don’t just look like you’re becoming smaller, you look more toned and developed in your muscles.’

Move your body

If you have an active, busy lifestyle or job then you don’t need to kill it on the cardio. Walking is one of the healthiest forms of cardio anyway. But if you’re the kind of person that has an office job and barely moves it could be a good idea to incorporate some high-intensity interval training either on the elliptical or the treadmill or just set a slower, consistent pace for 30-45 minutes. Do this three times a week to keep your heart healthy and to help you lose fat.

Full-body routines are great for beginners

‘If you’re a total beginner it’s better for you to do full body routines. If you’ve never touched gym equipment before or if this is your first six months to a year of working out then I also recommend focusing on full body workouts. And if you’re very out of shape and very sedentary, I recommend only three full body workouts per week – recovery is just as important as working out if you’re trying to build muscle as your body needs time to repair. If you’re more experienced, you can go into an upper lower split so that one day you do upper body and the next day you do lower body and work out four times a week.’

TRY: FIT HIIT Healthista’s new High Intensity Interval Training app (£2.99 from iTunes)

Jon Venus is an ambassador of plant-based nutrition company, Vivo Life. Find out more at

Read more

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4 reasons you’re not losing weight on a vegan diet

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