Use the POWR acronym to remind yourself why you have chosen to compete on a plant based diet, and how you can maximise your chances of success.
Eat Plant Based Food
A plant-based diet is a powerful tool for improving your cardiovascular health, digestive system, athletic performance and post workout recovery.
As an athlete you need more calories than less active people, especially when training and competing. If you eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, you will easily meet all of your nutritional needs including your protein needs.
Plant-based foods are high in dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins. Just three essential nutrients are not available from plants. These are Omega 3 EPA, Omega 3 DHA and Vitamin B12. You should take these as vegan supplements which are readily available.
Plants don’t contain any cholesterol; your body makes all the cholesterol you need.
Plant-based foods are low in bad saturated fats
Plants don’t contain the types of bacteria capable of causing food poisoning in humans.
A plant-based diet is rich in complex carbohydrates. These are essential to all athletes and especially endurance athletes.
A plant-based diet increases blood flow and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.
A study published in 2017 found that 44 percent of middle-aged and older endurance cyclists and runners had coronary plaques.
A plant based diet has been clinically shown to reverse plaque and at the same time address other key contributors to atherosclerosis, including dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, elevated body weight, and diabetes.
Research clearly points at plant-based foods as very beneficial for digestive health whilst it consistently shows that animal-based diets are detrimental to digestive health.
Choose Organic Food Whenever Possible
Plant based foods usually contain a lot of pesticides which are very difficult to wash off as they penetrate the skin of the plant.
Pesticides are toxic and can not only cause a number of health effects, but are also linked to a range of serious illnesses and diseases in humans, from respiratory problems to cancer.
Many Plant based foods are also Genetically Modified (GM), for example 80% of soy production is GM (94% in the USA). GM foods are associated with many acute and chronic health risks and may be responsible for certain food allergies.
Eating Organic Food is as clean as you can get as it doesn’t allow for the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones or genetically modified organisms (GMO).
In most countries organic farming is highly regulated and controlled by law so the Organic stamp is a good guarantee of quality and safety.
Eat Whole Foods For Best Results
Whole foods are plant foods that are either unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed.
The idea is to eat the food as close to its natural state so it retains its fiber as well as a whole range of beneficial phytochemicals, Vitamins and other nutrients that are often removed in processed foods.
They are a key part of your commitment as an athlete to take responsibility for what you put in your body, and the only way you can be sure of what you are eating.
The other benefit of eating whole foods is that you avoid the problems associated with consuming processed food such as trans fats, saturated fats, lack of fibre, added sodium, sugar and preservatives etc.
It also means you don’t have to check all those contents labels (and remember the really important ingredients are the ones that AREN’T on the label).
Eat Raw Plants At Least 50% of the Time
Cooking plant based food will destroy many of the enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients it contains. It also washes away much of the flavour. Whenever possible you should eat your food raw.
The strict definition of raw food is that it should be eaten completely raw or not heated above 104–118°F (40–48°C).
It’s argued that some plant foods shouldn’t be eaten raw, not necessarily because they are dangerous but because it can affect the bioavailability of the nutrients.
In view of this and the fact that some plants just taste better cooked you may want to mix it up a bit.
There’s not much wrong with a mixture of raw food, semi raw food such as wilted spinach and blanched food, for example green asparagus blanched for 60 seconds (my favourite).
Get more POWR in less than 2 Weeks
One of the most remarkable things about a plant based diet is how quickly the affects are noticeable.
If you follow the advice here you will find your performance and wellbeing improve almost instantly and certainly within two weeks you will be faster, stronger, sharper and better.