While training for my second marathon last May , I listened to "The China Study' and changed my eating habits. I was afraid if I took out all animal and dairy that I would lose that "good protein" I needed for fast recovery. I listened to "Eat to Live" next, both my husband and I chose to follow Dr Furhman's 6 week plan in the back of that book. We focused on eating the vegetables and fruits required for his strict diet plan. I continued to train, but found myself struggling for the energy I needed to go the distance on my long 12-18 mile runs.
I got worried and slowly backed down my mileage and ended up not running the marathon. I was disappointed that eating this way would prevent me from achieving my running goals. However, I continued to focus on the health benefits I was gaining from eating this way. The weight I had gained with my twins pregnancy just seemed to fall off. Of course I was happy about that, and my husband quickly(3months) dropped 60 pounds. We both felt better than ever. As winter came on I decided to just go for a run again. I ran 4 miles on my first run in months and I felt fantastic! I was so excited!!! After analyzing things a little, I realized that on Dr Furhman's 6 week plan, you don't consume enough nuts, seeds avocados etc. because his 6 week plan is based more on weight loss, not maintaining. I was not eating an athlete's diet.
As an athlete, the biggest concern is PROTEIN... where and how am I going to get it if I am not eating a cow everyday?? I have had some fun and even opened my own eyes in researching this. First we have to find out how much protein we need daily. I searching wikipedia for this answer (I also searched several other places to find very similar answers): How many grams of protein are recommended per day?
0.8 grams per kilogram of body mass
e.g. if you are 70 kg it is recommended that you have 70 kg x 0.8 grams protein per kg per day = 56 grams protein per day
However, it should be noted that this is the general rule for sedentary adults. It is widely agreed that up to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body mass are needed for active adults engaged in strength training or intense endurance training. So we now have the formula. Convert your weight into kilograms and times it by 1.8 grams **IF YOU ARE STRENGTH TRAINING OR ENGAGED IN INTENSE ENDURANCE TRAINING**
I figured mine out and was surprised at the small amount that my body actually needs and uses. The next step is finding the foods with the highest amount of protein per serving.
GREEN VEGGIES are a great source. Dr Joel Furhman compares broccoli, kale, and romaine lettuce with a sirloin steak:
Grams of protein per 100 calories serving: broccoli 11.2 grams, kale 11grams, romaine7.5 grams, and the sirloin steak only 5.4 grams. That is just the protein comparison, check out his chart to compare all the other vitamins and nutrients you are getting from the greens and NOT from the meat: http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/healthy-food-nutrient-density-of-green-vegetables.html
LEGUMES are another great source of protein.. what are legumes you say? (I had to look it up when I first started eating this way.) peas, beans and lentils: including all dried beans and peas- kidney, runner,soya, chick peas, mushy peas, processed peas, baked beans, petit pois, beansprouts. Many legumes contain nearly as much protein as found in tofu. But legume protein is slightly deficient in two amino acids. It is often recommended to eat a grain dish at the same meal in order to get a better balance of essential amino acids.
NUTS AND SEEDS an easy source of protein and healthy fats. A few of my favorites (per100grams): Almonds 21grams protein, cashews 20 grams, pine nuts and hazelnuts 14grams. 1ounce of sunflower seeds 5.48grams, 1TBSP of Sesame seeds 2.55grams (I love to sprinkle both of these seeds on top of my salads)
Training this year, I feel more prepared to fuel my body properly. I am excited as my mileage climbs to see how well my body is able to perform. I am finding that I can run more with less effort than in the past years. I decided to just go crazy and try and 8 mile run to see if I could make it, my longest distance prior was 4 miles. I ran it with ease and I felt great afterward. My body is performing at its peak and I am loving it! I just need to stay focused on my diet and consume enough of the GOOD STUFF!
Can I still be an Athlete...? YES!!!
Great articles I found on athletes that eat a plant based diet:
Tony Gonzalez NFL Player http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-thegameface081508&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
Brenden Brazier, Ironman tri-athletehttp://www.penguin.ca/static/cs/cn/0/microsites/thrivediet/pdf/plantprotein.pdf
Scott Jurek, utlra marathoner http://www.samadhi-yoga.com/jai/yoglif.htm#1
There is also a list of althletes/olympians: http://www.veganathlete.com/vegan_vegetarian_athletes.php