The Vegan Athlete

Tuesday was a very exciting day because I met my idol, Brendan Brazier.  For those who don’t know him, he is a Ironman triathlete, a two-time Canadian 50k ultra-marathon champion, and **drum roll** practices 100% plant-based diet.  I signed up immediately once I found out he was hosting a seminar at the Whole Foods in Arlington.  As you can see in the picture, I was super stoked and of course I sat in the front with my googly eyes.

When I started a plant-based diet I discovered Brendan’s book, Thrive.  Although I felt better and had more energy, I struggled with my long runs.  I’m very adamant about this lifestyle, but I wanted to perform better and that’s when I found Brendan Brazier.  How can a professional triathlete be vegan and win championships?  He reveals his philosophy and secrets in Thrive.  Essentially, the seminar was a short summary of his book plus a lot of great tips not in the book.

Not to worry I took notes from the seminar, but I highly recommend his book to anyone – athlete or non-athlete, omnivore or herbivore, anyone who is interested in improving their sleep, energy, and overall lifestyle.

Stress – We all have different types of stress that effects the body.  Some are emotional, physical, and environmental.  These stress factors increases cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a hormone produced from your adrenal glands.  A small release of cortisol can be beneficial to increase your immunity and energy.  Your body is smart – it will trigger these hormones the moment it feels it needs to go in survival mode.  Too much of cortisol can decrease bone density and muscle.  It can eventually lower your immune system and cause blood sugar imbalances.  It can also led to abdominal fat and high blood pressure.  Wonder why there are people who workout everyday and don’t see results?  I use to over exercise with no breaks in the week.  I didn’t let my body heal or recover, so my body was freaking out and it created more cortisol hormones to protect myself.  Like Brendan’s experience, I started to feel weak and actually gained weight, so I did something really stupid – I lowered my calorie intake.  I damaged my body enough and now I’m depriving my body from nutrients.  I gained the weight even faster. The key is RECOVER.  My body was crying for this.  It’s so important to rest.  This will balance your stress levels, so you can perform better.

Balance – Remember in chemistry class when you had to test the pH (potential of hydrogen) with strips of paper – 1 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline.  Our body is neutral with a pH around 7, so it’s important to maintain this balance.  I’m not saying to pull out a chemistry set to test everything you eat.  There are a few foods you should try to stay away from or take in moderation.  If the body is in a acidic state it prone to aliments.  Here’s a great diagram that summarizes acidic and alkaline foods.

Energy – Brendan talks about two types of energy – short term energy from stimulants and long term nourishment for your body.  Stimulants like coffee and sugars can give you a quick boost, but there’s a price to pay for this.  Your body works harder to digest stimulants, so it’s using a lot of energy and causing stress to your body.  Ever feel that afternoon crash?  This is what caused it.  Your body is working so hard it will result to fatigue, so you want more to get over that hump.  I like Brendan’s analogy – “think of it as a credit card”.  You can buy it now, but then .. you pay for it later.  This made me think about what I should put in my body.  Ever since I went on a plant-based diet I never get the afternoon crash.  If I feel hungry around 3 or 4, I eat a fruit and it gives me the energy I need because it is nourishing my body.

Brendan is my inspiration.  There was book signing after the seminar and I was able to speak to him for a couple minutes.  The cool thing about Brendan is that he doesn’t push you to buy his products.  He wants to help you.  Brendan is the creator of Vega products.  I will talk about Vega in another post because I actually use these before meeting Brendan.  I’m hoping to run a full marathon this year and need to know how I can improve my performance on a plant-based diet.  He gave me solid advice on what to eat and how to train.  Not once did he mention his products to me.   He is indeed a very classy and fit athlete.

I ended the night by picking up dinner from the Whole Foods salad bar, which by the way, is awesome.  I love the brown paper boxes you pack your salad in.  Here’s what I had:  chard, lettuce, wheat berries, corn, radish, balsamic tofu and mushrooms, red cabbage, chick peas, tomato, kidney beans.  I didn’t add any dressing because it’s already full of flavors.  There’s no need to hinder the freshness.  It was a delicious meal to end my evening.

Reference: Thrive by Brendan Brazier

One response to “The Vegan Athlete

  1. Cute pic & very nice blog. The Vega chocolate flavored recovery mix is tasty! Thank you for sharing your experience & tips.

    Well wishes,
    Andres

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