Plant based Triathlete
I switched to a plant based diet back in 2016 after reading ‘How not to Die’ by Michael Greger. It opened up my eyes to what a plant based diet is but also how it can be beneficial for mental and physical health. Over the previous few months, my mental and physical health hadn’t been great, I had seen a massive decline in my physical strength. So I thought I might as well give it a go and see if a plant based diet could actually help me. I admit to being sceptical and thought it would only last for a month or two but found that I was really enjoying learning how to cook new things but most importantly felt stronger and more positive.
Having now been plant based for 4 years I could never go back. Not that I need any more convincing but it’s so motivating to see many more athletes adopting plant based diets. I noticed after transitioning I gained a lot of strength, at the time I was really into weight lifting and started hitting PBs. After 2 years of being plant based I did my first half marathon (just for fun) and loved it, I then decided I wanted to do more endurance events and that’s how triathlon came to me. Since switching to endurance, I’ve slightly changed my diet… I definitely eat more now and it’s much more carbohydrate based.
A typical full day of eating (on a training day) for me would be sourdough toast topped with peanut butter and banana with melon or berries and an oat ‘milk’ coffee. Lunch is usually an apple, wholewheat pasta with pesto, spinach, peas and nuts followed by a couple of pieces of dark chocolate or soya yoghurt. I love cooking so happily spend more time making dinner, go-to’s for me are 5 bean chilli and red lentil dhal, both packed with protein to help with recovery after training and made up of wholefoods which make me feel great – I’d have these with either sweet potato, brown rice or quinoa. Throughout the day I have plenty of snacks too – if I’m on a long ride I’ll have a couple of gels, oat cakes and a protein bar towards the end; if I do strength training I’ll have a protein shake and big bowl of popcorn after. And of course, I can’t say no to dessert, I bake a lot too so banana bread and dairy free ice cream is a go-to.
It’s a common misconception that those who are vegan or plant based miss out on vital nutrients and protein. I actually find I eat more protein now than before and tend to have it across the day rather than just in 2 meals. Vitamin B12 is something that plant-based/vegans can be deficient in, but a lot of meat eaters are too! I make sure to have a B12 supplement at least every other day, or a load up on nutritional yeast/marmite which are both great sources of it.
I’m not saying that everyone should be fully plant based, but I do believe my body thrives on it and I’m sure many others would too. Everyone’s body responds differently to types of foods/diets, however a wholefood diet that is predominately plant based is the most natural way to eat according to our evolution.
Although my profession is not nutrition, I have a Vegan Nutritionist qualification and am really interested in learning more about diets for athletes/plant based diets. If you have any questions about anything food related just drop me a message (@plantbasedhmj)!