Running on a Vegan Diet

What used to be a rare topic on running forums has now become one of the most sought after subjects among runners looking to advance their running careers and/or improve PR times.  It’s no secret that a vegan diet can improve running performance; just take a look at Scott Jurek – For nearly two decades, Scott has been a dominant force in the rarefied sport of ultrarunning.  Perhaps more impressive than his many victories, including seven consecutive wins at the Western Sates 100-Mile Endurance Run, is that he does it all on an entirely plant-based diet.  Of course, there are many other vegan runners, including Rich Roll, Carl Lewis, and Matt Frazier (who just ran his first 100-miler).
Scott Jurek                                                Carl Lewis                                           Matt Frazier
Some of the improvements that I noticed shortly after distancing myself from meat, eggs, cheese, and milk: increased energy, quicker recovery, joint pain relief, no injuries, and (of course) weight loss.  I also used to walk around feeling bloated most of the time.  Removing processed foods and animal products from my diet has actually helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin (literally).  Obviously, the benefits of adopting a vegan diet go well beyond the pavement, but I’ve focused on running for the purpose of this article.  Read more about my story here.
One of the biggest problems with an omnivore’s diet is the consumption of animal protein.  Many runners believe (and I used to) that they should be consuming large amounts of protein because of their demanding lifestyle.  While eating meat and drinking milk, you not only get the animal protein, but its acidity too.   Animal protein is one of the most metabolically acidic foods that humans eat.  It creates conditions of acidity within the body after ingestion, forcing the body to seek to return to an alkaline state through demineralization of the bones and the cells.  This contributes to bone demineralization, which leads to weakened bones and, ultimately, osteoporosis.  This is especially bad for people who repetitively pound the ground with their legs for long periods of time.  We just can’t afford to have weakened bones.
What we eat either heals us or (you guessed it) kills us; it’s really that simple.  So what are some of these amazing plant-based foods that runners are eating? Here’s a quick list of superfoods that vegan athletes are mixing into their recipes to boost performance and promote speedy recovery.
When I made the switch, I was completely lost as to what I should (or could) eat.  At first, I started with salads but that became old really quick.  I decided that I better learn how to cook a few things and started doing some research.  I now have more ingredients to cook with than ever before!  And, because I’ve already done the research, you don’t have to.  Here are some of the foods that make their way onto my shopping list each week.  Just keep in mind that fresh plant-based foods typically have shorter shelf-lives than their processed counterparts.  However, dried (or canned) beans, seeds, lentils, and legumes can have much longer shelf-lives.  It’s usually best to buy what you need for the upcoming week and leave the rest until you have a recipe that calls for it.
Another great discovery of mine was the Vitamix Blender.  I use it every single day to make kale smoothies.  The power of the Vitamix allows me to pulverize my veggies and fruits into a cold refreshing drink.  It’s the quickest, easiest, and tastiest way to get your recommended dose of vitamins and nutrients.

Are you considering going plant-based but not sure yet?  What is keeping you from making the switch?  Let us know below!

You can also grab my free eBook here which explains my transition to plant-based marathoning.

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