A fitness coach who became vegan after watching a Netflix documentary about the meat industry was forced to ditch her plant-based diet after gaining 2st 12lbs and developing high blood sugar levels.
Daniela Vizintin, 31, from Croydon, south London, was naturally slim at 7st, 8.5lb until a film promoting plant-based diets influenced her to ditch meat and dairy in July 2017.
After switching to a vegan diet, Daniela went from a size 6-8 to a size 14 in eight months and developed a myriad of health issues including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and suspected prediabetes.
She went back to her regular diet in early 2018, but found it hard to shift the added weight until she decided to try out a meant-heavy diet in April 2021.
Now, she weighs 10st and has a toned, muscular physique.
Daniela Vizintin, 31, from Croydon, south London, was naturally slim at 7st, 8.5lb when she watched a Netflix film promoting plant-based diets in 2017
After switching to a vegan diet Daniela went from a size 6-8 to a size 14 (left) in eight months. She decided to try out a meant-heavy diet in April 2021 – and now weighs 10st with a toned, muscular physique (right)
Fitness coach Daniela threw herself into the carnivore diet last year – devouring masses of red meat including steak, ribs and sausages
‘I felt embarrassed,’ she said. ‘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.
‘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.
After swapping from a plant-based to a meat-heavy diet, Italian-born Daniela is a toned 10st (L-R) and feels healthier than ever
‘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.’
After watching the documentary in July 2017, Italian-born Daniela quickly devoted herself to her newfound diet, abandoning her favourite cured meats for vegan substitutes.
But the limited diet left her obsessing about what food she could eat and she loaded up on pasta and pizza – seeing her weight soar from 7st 8.5lb to 11st in less than a year.
Despite still having a body mass index 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.
As she grew bigger, she started suffering with health issues including suspected prediabetes and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS.)
After turning vegan in 2017, the fitness coach loaded up on pasta and pizza and saw her weight soar from 7st 8.5lb to 11st in less than a year. Pictured L-R, examples of Daniela’s carb-heavy vegan meals
Daniela started eating more meat in April 2021after she chanced upon a podcast by an American doctor who claimed that human beings can live off meat alone
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.
‘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’, said Daniela.
‘My hormones were all over the place. 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’s meat-based diet
Breakfast: Protein shake with three raw eggs
Dinner: Meatballs or beef stew with rice or sweet potato
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 four inches, 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. 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, after listening to 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.
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.
‘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. I was just obsessed with feeding myself.’
Daniela believes the vegan diet left her ‘dangerously malnourished’ as she was not absorbing enough essential nutrients. Pictured L-R; examples of Daniela’s meals now including steak, chicken and sausages
Daniela now focuses on eating as much protein as she can, mainly from meat including steak and chicken
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.’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.’