Can a Plant Based Diet Sustain an Athlete?
I had my fourth child (in 6 years) this October. After great recovery time and rest I have found myself really wanting to see if at 33 I could ever be an athlete again. 2015 is my year to find out.
A lot of my motivation to get in shape and eat better has been the result of working on a new product. We are extremely excited about this new line of all natural, ready-to-eat plant based vegan cereals – Rokit Fuel. The ingredients are things we all recognize and try to get into our diets: hemp hearts, maca root, chia, quinoa, oats and other healthy seeds and nuts.
The first step in this journey is to inspire myself and perhaps you with an aspiration to be an athlete. When I say “athlete” I mean someone who can run really fast to catch a bus, not feel at all winded, and even enjoy the dash. An athlete could play almost any sport and be fairly good just because your body is strong and fast. I want to feel tough not weak, healthy not sick, I want my limbs to be strong and move quickly when I need them. I want to be able to run up the stairs really fast. I want my real life to be like the epic heroes in video games or movies who can jump, run, dash and get stuff done!
In November, I ventured out to a local Cross-Fit exercise gym and listened to what their program was all about. I didn’t tell them anything about me. They went through what they had to offer and got to the nutrition pitch. They said that to be successful diet is paramount, and traditionally cross-fitters have embraced a Paleo diet, however as a gym they have ventured to discover the benefits of other diets including vegan diets. I was excited to hear such great news – big smile! This began my look into plant based diets and athletes who have been successful.
The book I am reading now is called Thrive – The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier Professional Ironman Triathlete. I have found some great motivating things that I know will help me to eat great during this year. I have been vegan a long time, but I constantly fight the vegan junk food cravings. The author addresses these reasons for these cravings – stress, specifically nutritional stress. He writes “Early humans craved sweet foods, just as we do, yet these cravings were satisfied exclusively by eating fruit. When stress goes up, so does our need for high-quality nutrition. Fruit provided it for early humans: The brain assumed that sweet meant nutrition in the form of fruit. However most sweets that people eat today – in the form of refined carbohydrates and processed sugars—are nutritionally empty.” This and other great advice from the book have me really excited to adjust my diet and really feel huge changes in my mood, and energy levels. The overall message of the book thus far for me has been a whole plant based diet will provide all the nutrition my body needs and in the least stressful way. Many foods that athletes eat now do provide vitamins and minerals, but also stress the body out causing premature aging and less long-term success. It is a great read, I suggest any serious plant based athletes out there pick it up.
One thing I was super excited about was that many of the specific plant based foods recommended by Brazier in his book are things that I already eat a lot. Sprouts were a huge component of getting proper amino-acids. Amaranth, Quinoa, spelt and other grains that are here at our shop were also big ingredient items. As an example he looks at Millet and touts it as one of the most easily digestible grains. It is high in B vitamins, magnesium and essential amino acids. It is a grain that can be sprouted, or cooked.
2015 will be great! I will do a write-up mid-year as to my progress and results. Best of luck to you in your resolutions!
- Kat Jones