The Vegan Diet
Why Choose The Vegan Diet?
By definition, a vegan diet includes all foods except fish, meat, poultry and dairy produce. Strict vegans also do not consume honey, eggs and will even avoid buying cosmetics and clothes that derive from animals.
For our purpose here, we'll keep our focus on the nutritional part of it rather than going to deeply into ethical aspects of a vegan diet. The primary idea here is to describe why vegan foods are so healthy for our bodies.
As you might have already found out, I transitioned to a vegan diet over a year ago and have also tried to switch to raw foods.
Often, people that have been living a vegan diet for a while state that it's much easier switching to raw foods. While only a small percentage ( less than 1% ) of the American population lives a vegan nutrition, the numbers aren't much higher in Europe in comparison.
The issue many people on Standard (American) diets have is that they assume vegans must lack enormous amounts of nutrients in their diet. Therefore vegans have got to take lots of supplements every day to make up for their insuffient diet.
Let me explain which vitamin supplements I take: One!
My simple routine in the morning is to take one zinc tablet (15mg), 1-2 tablespoons of silicic acid gel and 2-3 spirulina tablets. That's it!
Although zinc is found in sufficient amounts in nuts, grains and legumes, I take the zinc tablet more out of habit.
As for other supplements, a recent study has shown that specially Vitamin C supplements taken by endurance athletes over months worsened their performances.
Vitamin tablets that serve as supplements have no positive effects on the immune system and are highly acid-forming. They
are often overdosed and not absorbed properly.
Another interesting matter is whether my diet creates an alkaline-forming environment in my body and as a consequence I'm feeling vital and healthy.
Ask yourself, too, whether your diet is composed of foods that are alkaline- or acid-forming?
How do you find out?
I've recently done a 5-day experiment where I used pH test strips to find out about my body's acidity levels. I firmly believe that I follow a healthy and balanced diet. This test would be a reality check and show me the truth.
So over five days I tested 5-6 times daily and maintained the same eating habits as usual. The colour of the strip indicated the pH ("potential of hydrogen") levels that should ideally range between 6,2 and 7,4 on a scale from 1-14.
1 stands for highly acidic and 14 for alkaline.
The result: My ph levels always ranged between 6,5 and 13. Only twice did the test show slightly acidic levels. Another interesting observation was to find out how alcohol influenced the balance. After one glass of sparkling wine I tested 1,5 hours later indicating 5,6. This led me to the assumption that alcohol acts highly acid-forming in the body.
Despite all that is said about the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine or beer: During taper phases, intense training
blocks or while recovering from an ultramarathon alcohol consumption should be kept at a minimum level!
To my biggest surprise, drinking 2-3 cups of coffee with soy milk still kept the pH levels at balance. This shows that the food I'm eating easily offsets the acidic-forming effects of coffee because it's a small percentage of my daily overall food and drink intake.
As ultrarunners we should aim to eat foods that are mainly alkaline-forming in the body. If about 80% of your nutrition includes alkaline-forming vegan foods and 20% that have slightly acid-forming effects, the balance is good.
Maybe you've suffered from long-term fatigue, head colds and allergies before? These are all signs that the body's pH is out of balance and is quite possibly acidic. An environment like that negatively effects your health at cellular levels.
It stresses the body out which could not only result in disordered sleeping patterns but also lead to more severe illnesses. Doing a test like described above helps you to find out the truth about your diet.
Explore now which foods should be consumed seldomly and are acid-forming:
- Black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas and chickpea flour, lentils
- Oats, Spelt, Brown rice, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Soft drinks, whey and soy protein isolates often found in sports protein powders, prescription drugs
- Roasted peanuts, white sugar, coffee, all types of cheeses, margarine, butter, pasteurized milk, cream
- Refined wheat flour, rice, pasta, commercial breakfast cereals
- Poultry, shellfish, beef, pork
So, what's left to eat?
Pick your favourite vegan foods from the list below and become creative by trying new recipes or creating your own delicious meals:
- Cucumbers, leeks, peas, sea vegetables, zucchini, parsnips, onion, herbs, garlic, sprouts, celery, carrots, beets, cauliflower, all leafy greens
- Melons, lemons, oranges, apples, pineapples, grapes, figs, berries, avocados, bananas, nectarines
- Quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, millet, amaranth
- Sweet potato, yams, squash, tofu, miso
- Hemp seeds, flax seeds sesame seeds, walnuts, macadamias, almonds
- Coconut oils, pumpkin seed oil, flaxseed oil
- Balsamic and apple cider vinegar
- Stevia and agave nectar as natural sweeteners
Simply adding cooked vegan foods to the long list of raw and superfoods is a great combination that has proven to be an ideal solution. Remember that chlorophyll content raises the pH of the food and in turn the body could naturally lead to a vegan diet.
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