Physical energy and mental stamina are crucial to live up to the promise of your highest potential. The Plant-based Athlete provides information, scientific research, resources and creative ideas to develop a nutrition plan that meets your goals. You don’t need to be a vegan to benefit from reading this book, but if you are planning to reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet, it has a comprehensive approach on how to do it.
The selection of the books I recommend on this blog is based, for the most part, on how unique they are. The Plant-based Athlete is a unique kind of read because there are many dimensions to it. Authored by Matt Frazier and Robert Cheeke, The Plant- based Athlete contains the contributions, support and feedback of medical professionals, dieticians and over fifty plant-based athletes.
The inspiring life stories of these athletes propel you towards your own dreams and goals. Take, for example, the story of Fiona Oakes. She holds four world records for marathon running and is the fastest woman in the world to run a marathon on all seven continents. Fiona is in her fifties now, and she continues to run 100 miles per week. She wakes up at 3:30 am, works as a firefighter and takes care of over 400 animals in an animal shelter that she founded. There is a documentary about her life: “Running for Good”.
You can learn about it here:
Fiona Oakes became vegan when she was only six years old, but not every athlete in this book started to transition to plant-based diets that early. For example, Dr. Harriet Davis, a prominent bodybuilder, decided to eliminate all animal products because she wanted to address her digestive issues. When she was in college, she stopped eating meat. Years later, she adopted a 100 % plant-based diet and has been on it for over a decade. Harriet Davis is a physician; she is board certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine, and her patients seek her for advice on how to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Rip Esselstyn is a current swimming world record holder in the 200-meter back backstroke for the men’s fifty-five to fifty-nine age group; he is a former elite professional triathlete, and has been a whole-foods plant-based devotee for more than thirty years. He chose this way of eating during the late 1980s, when his father, physician Caldwell Esselstyn Jr, was conducting groundbreaking research on how plant-based diets could prevent heart disease. Rip grew up eating lots of animal protein and processed foods before his father’s research convinced the family to make the switch.
There are various reasons for embarking on the path of a plant-based diet. One of them is the wish to support one’s health by optimizing the functioning of body and mind. Making choices that are ethical and sustainable are part of the equation of health. Furthermore, many people are starting to become aware of the cruel treatment of animals; they do not want to support the abuse of other living creatures, so they make mindful choices for both their health and the environment. Research has shown that plant-based diets are beneficial to fight climate change, increase diet healthfulness and reduce diet costs (check the references at the bottom of this post to learn more about the research).
Those who have less of a carbon footprint on the planet are sometimes the ones who suffer the worst consequences. Take a look at the situation in Southern Madagascar. Climate change is responsible for a drought that prevents people from growing and producing food. Famine is striking the region. The women are so desperate to feed their children they have to resort to cactus leaves and insects. You can learn more about this here:
The Plant-based Athlete debunks all the myths about plant-based diets; it does so with research, and it also shares the incredible experiences of athletes. The book explains how you can get all the protein you need from it and what you need to do to make sure your nutrition plan is balanced and complete, taking into account both macronutrients and micronutrients. The research citations are at the end, and there is a section with recipes recommended by some of these athletes.
To keep your gut healthy, you need foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. The wellbeing of your gut is also related to the state of your immune system, mental health and fitness performance. It is a good idea to stay away from soda, overly- processed foods and other foods that are considered pro-inflammatory such as red meat, processed meat like sausages; refined carbohydrates like pastries and white bread; French fries and other fried foods. You can choose instead a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and pseudo-grains like quinoa, amaranth, oats, brown rice, barley, millet and others.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not difficult to get enough protein from plant sources. Aminoacids are the building blocks of protein. There are twenty in total; nine of them are essential aminoacids. This means that the body cannot make them, so it needs to obtain the essential aminoacids from outside sources. This is why a variety of food sources matters. For instance, lysine is an essential aminoacid. Lysine is necessary to make collagen, a component of connective tissues, bones and cartilage. It also plays a role in making carnitine, which helps to convert fatty acids into energy. The recommended allowance of lysine is 38 mg per kg of body weight per day. Half a cup of lentils contains 624 mg. Half a cup of tofu has 582 mg; 1 cup of amaranth has 512 mg; half a cup of chickpea beans, 291 mg; 1 cup of quinoa, 442 mg of lysine. You get the idea.
There are special points to consider when you choose a plant-based diet. Vitamin B12, for example, is not found in vegetables, so you need to take a supplement. Also, make sure you make decisions that are tailored to your individual needs. Everybody is different. If you have questions, do your own research and talk to your healthcare provider to discuss it further.
All in all, the advice and research in this book offer a good guide to enrich your diet.
If you are inspired to try new ideas to enhance your nutrition and lifestyle, you may also be interested in checking blogs with creative plant- based recipes and information.
Here’s a list that may help you:
Wherever you are in your life journey, The Plant-based Athlete serves the purpose of your cheerleader. It empowers you to become the best version of yourself; to keep working toward your goals without letting failures define you; and to surround yourself by people who support you, while staying away from those who doubt you.