Road Trip! Vegas Vegetarian Nutrition Tips

kardena pauzaFinally, the truth about vegan and raw diet meal plans for men and women who want fast fat loss.

And even if you aren’t ready to go vegetarian

…you’ll love what vegetarian nutrition expert Kardena Pauza (a former Ms. Fitness America) has to say about your fat loss diet.

Here’s an interview I did with Kardena to share the truth about vegan meal plans to help you lose fat…

CB: Kardena, you just went to Vegas – the home of the all-you-can-eat buffets – and you still managed to stick to your amazing vegetarian lifestyle. I’m going there this weekend for 5 days, and I’d love some of your advice on how to avoid spending too much money on low-quality food. So how’d you pull that off?

Hi Craig! Yes, like you said, I just got back from a 4 day trip to Vegas for a family reunion, golfing in 100 degree weather, Cirque Du Soleil show and lounging on the lazy river.  It was an event filled 4 days of socializing, entertainment and activities.

But I am back and I feel wonderful, unlike how most people feel when they return from Vegas.

Preparation is key to eating healthy since a lot of the food available to us in restaurants is high in fat, sodium, and sugar.  You are thrown out to the restaurant wolves if you don’t prepare ahead of time; you are at their mercy.  I’ve done that too many times and I always regret it and know I need to be responsible for my health and take charge.

Before driving out to Vegas, I did my preparations by going out and buying

  • veggies and fruit
  • raw nuts and seeds (almonds and sunflower seeds)
  • flax crackers (use just like chips)
  • salsa, guacamole, hummus, and 2 gallons of water.

I made granola out of sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, shredded coconut, raspberries, and raisins. Everybody who tries it loves this granola and it tastes amazing! I brought my hemp protein powder, green powder, cinnamon, and seasoning salt.

Because we drove to Vegas I had plenty of room for a couple small coolers in the back seat and a bag of dry food.

I made a huge salad with spinach, mixed greens, avocado, tomatoes, onions, sunflower seeds, and a vinaigrette dressing.  This was crucial because the road to Vegas is littered with fast food restaurants.

On the way to Vegas we ate the salad, flax crackers and salsa, an apple and dipped celery in guacamole. We didn’t have to stop once! Well, except a pit stop from drinking tons of water.

CB: Very nice, but what about for folks like me who have to fly down?

Craig, you know that’s no excuse!

If you are flying, you can still eat healthy. Almost every major city has a large health food store or a great produce department! So buy snacks & fresh foods when you arrive and take healthy snacks on the plane, crucial!

We got a suite with a kitchen which had a blender for making great smoothies in the morning and a refrigerator for our fruits and veggies.

I have stayed in rooms with no kitchen and used my coolers and put bags of ice inside to keep my food cool. So no kitchen is needed, just the desire and drive to be healthy. No excuses…

When we went out to restaurants I would get a salad, ask for avocado on the side and lemon wedges.  I added my own sunflower seeds which I had stashed in my purse and I had a super energizing meal!

Now my family did order a huge piece of chocolate cake at one restaurant, so I *had* to help them finish it off.

But hey, between 8 people we shared one dessert and we all felt satisfied and not super stuffed or over dosed on sugar. I also shared a glass of wine with my husband.  We enjoyed ourselves without going overboard and that’s the key.

For snacks we ate home made granola, fruits, veggies and hummus, and flax crackers and salsa or protein shakes.

Let me tell you, we literally saved $500 by not buying over priced food.  We ate like kings & queens (high quality food) and I didn’t gain weight & I feel amazing!

It’s possible to be healthy, have fun and still lose weight!

CB: Nice, I won’t let you down next week, and I’m going to follow your advice. Alright, now I have a tough question for you. Kardena, a lot of folks immediately picture a pale, almost unhealthy person when they hear someone is a vegetarian, vegan or “raw food” dieter. And frankly, I’ve met a few like that.

However, you clearly do not look the part of the stereotypical vegan. In fact, you’ve won a contest called the Ms. Fitness America. Tell us about a couple of things that some vegetarian and vegan eaters do wrong.

KP: ms fitness america
It’s funny that you bring this up because I have noticed that myself. I think it’s wonderful the commitment vegetarians and vegans have for themselves, their health, and the environment.

But you know what I’ve found is that a lot of vegetarians are just really misinformed and don’t know how to nourish their body properly.

I’ve coached many vegetarians and vegans back to vibrant health because they weren’t feeling healthy and energetic like they used to.

I noticed beginner vegetarians tend to fill their daily caloric intake with too many processed carbs & sugars.  Things like cheese pizza or soy mocha Frappucinos, and even candy bars!

They think that because they don’t eat meat it gives them the excuse to eat high carb or high sugar foods.

This can be just as destructive as meat!  Why?? Because it’s mostly acidic. We’ll talk about the importance of this in the future, so stay tuned!

CB: Great stuff. So what have you done to avoid those mistakes…how do you get looking so vibrant and healthy (and fit, of course!)?

Thanks for the kind words.:)

I steer clear of these processed grains and sugar.  They are a detriment to good health.

I fill my diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Instead of getting carbs from grains, I get my carbs from living foods which are also rich in essential vitamins, minerals fiber & enzymes.

When I feel like having something sweet I will have fresh dates with almonds and raspberries or make a raw chocolate treat with no dairy and no processed sugars.

Just high quality organic ingredients that taste great; that’s what my friends tell me.

raw vegan chocolate dessertCB: You know, I made those raw vegan chocolate truffles last week with your recipe and they were amazing. (Okay, I had someone make them for me, but I ate them, and that’s what counts!)

Now tell me, what are 2 or 3 of the most common vegetarian foods that folks should NOT eat for fat loss?

I know an entire vegetarian family who is overweight so just proof that you can really eat unhealthily on a vegetarian diet.

I hear vegetarians/vegans say they eat often pasta. 

Most times the portion of pasta people eat is 3 times the amount of what the actual serving size should be.

So they are taking in excess calories that turns right into fat on the hips or belly!

Plus, the large chain smoothie shops that everyone goes to for breakfast or lunch, everyone thinks they are doing something good for their body and eating healthy.

“How bad could an innocent fruity smoothie be,” they say…

Those smoothies are insanely high in sugar, I’m surprised no one goes into diabetic shock after drinking one!

Check out the nutrition book they have in the store or look online and you’ll see they are full of sugar, usually between 60-120 grams of sugar!

CB: Geez, that’s 3 times as much sugar as you get in a can of soda! Are there any other vegetarian foods to avoid?

Cut out the sweetened soy milk. This could be one of the culprits that’s keeping you from losing that excess weight and being healthy.

Here is a tool I use and it’s called “Kardena’s 20% Carbohydrate Rule”. If more than 20% of the total carbohydrates in a serving comes from sugar, do not consume it.

Look at the total carbohydrate grams and figure out 10% by moving the decimal point 1 space to the left. Now double it to give you 20%.

For example, let’s take soy milk – total carbs is 10 grams, 10% of 10 is 1 gram so 20% would be 2 grams. The carbs from sugar is 7 grams so it is definitely over the 20% mark. Stay away from that.

(Fruit does not follow this rule; it contains natural sugar, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber which are all vital to vibrant health.)

Suggestion – Buy unsweetened soy milk or unsweetened almond milk. If you have a craving for something sweet, put a little stevia in your soy or almond drink and it will definitely satisfy your craving.

Stevia is an herb and has no sugar calories but has a powerful sweet flavor so you can enjoy drinking it knowing you are doing something healthy for your body.

I also recommend making your own fruit juices rather than buying them, because too many store bought fruit juices are full of added sugar, and I don’t like them because they are pasteurized. (But that’s a long story I’ll cover on my blog in the future.)

On a side note – one of my clients just told me yesterday that she made the fresh vegetable and fruit juice blend I recommended to her.

She has made this juice before but on this particular morning she made it after a night of drinking (which I don’t recommend!) and it got rid of her hangover! These fresh made juices are powerful!

Suggestion- Eat fresh fruit and berries and drink fresh made juices only.

I want everyone to recognize & get rid of the hidden sugars in what you drink because they are making us fat and unhealthy. Your body is designed to drink mainly water and most other drinks on the market have tons of hidden sugar that add 100’s of extra calories to your everyday caloric intake.

How much water should we drink?

Drink ½ your body weight in ounces and watch your energy increase and your weight decrease!

CB: Okay, enough of my trash-talking vegetarian diets because I truly believe they are healthy, easy to follow, and satisfying. So why don’t you tell me about one of your top female clients who has experienced amazing changes after switching from the western diet to your miracle natural diet?

One girl was 30 lbs. overweight, but after taking my advice she made simple changes in her diet and lost 30 lbs. within 2 ½ months.

She also overcame her depression and started taking massive action towards reaching her goals.

She used to train with me at 9 am, then she started getting so much energy that she would call me at 6 am and ask if she could come in earlier because she was wide awake and ready to go.

The debilitating PMS symptoms she was having went away, for all the women out there, and her complexion cleared up and she’s not having breakouts.

Her digestive system is much much healthier and she has less bloating and constipation, leading to a flattening of her stomach by 2 inches!

stk61418corI only mention this because soooo many of my clients – especially women – have constipation problems. I know because they tell me all the time & it makes them feel terrible.

CB: Congratulations to your client. She should be very proud of her transformation. Alright, what about the men…you have a success story for all the men reading TT Fat Loss?

Of course I do! We’ll call him Mr. P.

He lost 37 lbs. which is really great but there were even more benefits that were exciting.  He suffered from food, pollen, and pet allergies for 15 years.

His allergies were so out of control that he had to take prescription allergy medication everday of his life so he could function. But the medication made him really drowsy at work and he had a hard time focusing.

These medications don’t make you feel great like the commercials depict; frolicking in the meadow, skipping, and laughing, not the case…

CB: Yeah, that’s not surprising…

But by using my system he cleared up his allergies and didn’t need the medication.  He threw his medication away 5 years ago and has never needed it since!

He also developed lean muscle and a lean body. His skin looks so much younger, nobody would ever guess how old he is and even his excessive body odor disappeared!

CB: Well, not pleasant to think about, but you bring up a couple of very important topics that bad diets can cause – everything from fat loss to consitpation, and even body odor. Gross!

But at the same time, I really enjoyed your vegetarian voyage to Vegas. That gives me some great ideas for my trip. Thanks so much, and I hope you ‘ll be back to answer more reader questions in the future.

If anyone reading has any questions for Kardena, please post them in the comments below. Thanks!

  • 1
  • Jami

    Hi Kardena,

    Thanks so much for working with Craig and giving us vegetarians some great ideas! My question is how much protein do you recommend and what sources are you getting them from? I worry about getting to much fat when I up my seeds and nuts. I do eat dairy but would prefer to not get the majority of my protein from these sources. I go back and forth with eggs and dairy and sometimes have a hard time eating them…when I think about where it comes from it really grosses me out! Any help you can offer would be fabulous!

    Thanks again!


  • “Okay, enough of my trash-talking vegetarian diets because I truly believe they are healthy, easy to follow, and satisfying”

    CB you wrote it so does that mean you’r are going to stop munching on dead animal and get some more  Fruits  &   GREENS between your teeth

    Could Kardena answer for me, for carbo content is she advocating Fruit as a major source and is she a vegan
    what ever the answer is, she’s a damn fine looking plant eater to me

  • Nanou

    great news. I can’t believe it, because it’s too good to be true.
    But, you look great, you must be doing something right.
    good for yo…

  • Craig,

    Great inteview! Although I’m not a vegetarian, I am Italian and I think Kardena’s recommendation about pasta is key! My family and I were shocked when we found out how much 1 serving size of pasta really was. We must have been eating 3-4x’s the recommended amount!

    Since I’m really trying to get cut for TC5, I’m trying to avoid pasta. But once I go back to maintance eating levels I will be sure to only eat the recommended serving size of whole wheat pasta.

  • interesting interview. as someone who has been a vegetarian, i can vouch for the “fat” vegetarian concept. i feel better when i eat 20% protein, 20% carb at each meal. but admittedly, i really loathe meat, fish, and poultry. how can i eat 20-20, getting enough protein while not maxing out on fat from nuts (which admittedly, i could eat from now until september?) in a sort of shorthand way of thinking about it, how would a vegetarian tackle a diet akin to what is advocated in a program like body for life, for example?

  • Don

    Great interview, however I am an omni eater. We enjoy foods from all groups.

  • Karen

    This is great, Craig! Thanks, Kardena!

    I am almost 51, female, mom of 5. I have been a strength trainer for 5 years. Working out has never been a problem for me; it’s always been my eating habits!

    Most recently, I am following Dr Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” 6-wk intro plan which is 2 lbs veggies, at least 4 fruit servings, at least 1 cup beans, a max of 1 cup starches, no animal products and minimal fat (10%?).

    While I have not cut out my animal products all together (currently using 4 eggs in my morning smoothie), I have radically reduced my protein intake (from ~100g a day!) and i have increased my veggie intake.

    My questions are about the protein balance (how much and what sources) and the vegetarian diets that promote soy products.

    Some say to eat soy and tofu, others say they are not good sources.

    I just find chicken easier on my stomach than 1 cup of beans, but i’m working on that adjustment… Thanks!

  • Debra

    Great article and great video. Was nice to see where you grew up. Love your dog!!!

  • It’s high time that light be shed into the cobwebbed corners of the last archaic few bashing a veggie diet.

    Kardena’s travel eating plans sound just like mine – preparation and habits of experience -( eating veg for over 35 years) – make this easy. I manage to even do it successfully – with only a few blips on the screen – internationally in far-flung places and even 3rd world countries. Which just goes to show how doable this is.

    I’m glad to Kardena taking a proactive position in this campaign and with her high visibility profile has the opportunity to make a big difference for many.

    Thanks Kardena and nice work Craig on publishing this interview!


  • aleks

    Thank you for this interview and article. As a fit and healthy vegetarian, it’s nice to hear others support this way of life.

  • suzanne

    PLEASE help!!

    I am 42, weigh 113, workout 30-40 minutes per day. (I do Craig’s TT, intervals, and misc. bodyweight and dumbbell exercises.) I eat very healthy. (No processed foods, lots of fruits and vegies) My stomach is getting bigger and bigger. I just read your comment on bloating, but I am not constipated at all. What’s going on. My stomach is really embarrassing.

  • Great read.

    I’ll admit that I’m skeptical of the AVERAGE vegetarian/vegan (as they tend to be the most overweight/energy-drained people i come across) BUT this article proves that it can be done in a healthy way!

    Dr. John Berardi did a case study where he followed a lacto-ovo diet and was able to even gain muscle mass! Incredible!

  • Steven

    Great interview Thanks Craig, Thanks, Kardena.
    I’m a farmer so I love our own home grown grass feed beef, we also do all our own chicken for meat and eggs, we have our own milking cow for raw milk and we make our own cottage cheese from the raw milk. We have a huge veggie garden and herbs, and we grow alot of our own fruit and nut trees. I loved your tips when going away! You are thrown out to the restaurant wolves if you don’t prepare ahead of time; you are at their mercy. I’ve done that too many times and I always regret it and know I need to be responsible for my health and take charge. I also agree with Craig, Kardena your looking so vibrant and healthy and fit, and a very nice lady well done. I don’t know if I could give up meat but thank you again for the info lots of great tips vegetarian or not.

  • excellent.. enjoyed the post. At least i know i’m not alone!!

  • TheFactor

    I’m always skeptical of anyone that pushes their way as a panacea. The client examples given make it sound like a vegan diet can cure any human ailment and turn you into a super model in a month. I understand that hyperbole is a virtual necessity in marketing today, but there’s got to be some semblance of reason. And someone touts processed carbs as something that CAN be as destructive as MEAT? I’ll always have a hard time taking a person like that seriously.
    Can people live happy and healthy on a vegan diet? Of course. Is it optimal? Who knows. Is it possible to live equally or more healthy on a diet full of whole foods including meat, veggies, fruit, nuts and dairy? I think so. Part of the reason some people knock vegetarians and vegans is because some of them are so dogmatic about their beliefs. Nutritional science has proven and disproven a lot of things over the years and it’s impossible to say what’s right and wrong at this point.

    • alirosie

      really interesting you say that so many vegetarians and vegans are dogmatic because i have had exactly the opposite experience. i don’t try to inflict my veganism on others (i cook for my vegetarian sons and don’t comment on my McDonalds loving friends) but find so many meat eaters insist on telling me how wrong i am – that i must be deficient – that they are right.
      i guess there are dogmatists in both camps.

  • Hi Craig,
    I have started using yr progm tt for body weight training for 4 weeks approx however I am now seeking your advise on how often to train during the 4 weeks and also seek yr advise to burn fat around my stomach,build good biceps,triceps,back muscle,chest,abs and lastly including strength training.

  • sunita

    THANKS CRAIGE & KADRINA FOR GREAT INTERVIEW . I am from India & pure vegetarian. I am 20 lbs overweight anaemic & having acidic stomach problem. I can not have Iron suppliments as these cause me severe diarrhoea.Its a great relief to know someone can help me out. I am also in dilemma about proteins that from which source I should take & how much of protein I should take.I will be highly thankful to you If you could give me the diet routine to solve all my problems.

  • Kell

    suzanne if your stomach is getting more and more bloated i would definately go and see a doc and get a medical opinion, especially if your exercising regularily and eating clean. There can be other reason besides weight gain for bloating.


    Great interview Craig, love that now you are getting interested in vegetarians. I worked out 6 days a week I live happy, energetic and healthy beeing a vegetarian .

  • Hey Craig & Kadrina,

    Great article! I will pass it on to my campers here at Tri Valley Boot Camp in the East Bay Area!! Although I am not a vegitarian, I do practice and teach clean, natural nutrition to my campers and pound it into their heads each day.

    I get asked all the time as you well know, “what is the best way to get rid of the fat around my waist?” my answer “Good Nutrition, Good Good Nutrition and ohhh yeah Good Nutrition along with some great workouts”.

    98% of my nutrition is based on vegetarian nutrition and even without being able to workout last year due to a back injury, I was able to stay lean and reduce my body fat.

    Keep up the great work! Love your programs!

    Deborah Sandoval,
    Owner/Adventure Fitness Trainer
    Tri Valley Adventure Boot Camp ~ East Bay, California

  • LuckyPenne

    WOW, this came as a surprise after all the blog articles we’ve seen here on this subject lately. Nice to see a different perspective — many thanks from the low fat, raw vegan in the crowd 😉

    Cheers ~
    Penne & the CanDo! Crew :o)

    iLearn in Freedom Network
    Home of the Naturally F1T Family

  • Kardena

    Thank you for your comments and I can appreciate that you have such a wholesome lifestyle and diet with fresh from the farm produce. For people who do choose to eat meat, I would definitely recommend grass fed and raw dairy when possible. Thanks for your comments and wonderful to hear about your amazing farm!


    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks Kardena!

  • Beth

    I have been Vegan for about 7 months I recently (1 month) became RAW also… why havent I lost weight? I I should be seeing a big difference shouldnt I abut I show nothing.. I still have 50 lbs to loose… I get a lot of flack from people because I am a RWA VEGAN I want to say HAHA and show them I am doing the right thing HELP!!! I do have more energy.. I work out everyday but Wed with TURBO FIRE LOVE IT so what can I do differently???

  • @yazhenning

    Hi- on average you need 45-60 grams of protein per day. Not a lot. Unsweetened, organic soy milk over whole grain cereal gives you 20 in the morning. Look to make sure it provides 6 grams protein per serving. 2 slices of 100% whole wheat bread with 5 slices tofurkey on a sandwich gives you another 20, and black beans/edamame/garbanzo beans or tempeh or 100% corn tortillas or brown rice provides the rest. Great job! Watch the nuts: 20 almonds per day is all you need.