Saturday, May 19, 2012

Becoming Vegan - 30 days of pure Methane.

Readers of my blog might remember a post I made in September of 2011.  I wrote about discovering Dr. Mark Hyman's book, "Ultrametabolism" and how I went from 170 pounds to 146 pounds in 6 weeks.  I raced the Leadville Trail 100 2 months after reading the book and finished in 37th place out of 600.  Here is a link to that post.

For those of you that don't want to re-read all that, here is the diet in a nutshell.  Eliminate all sugar (except fruit), caffeine, gluten, alcohol, dairy and meat (besides lean chicken, turkey and lamb).  You do this for the first 30 days then gradually add back in grains (whole, not refined), alcohol (sparingly) and dairy.  This allows you to find out which foods are causing inflammation in your body and what you have intolerance to.  You can have dark chocolate, but reducing sugars is something that you strive to do forever.

After my race season I relaxed quite a bit on the diet, but did make some changes in how I eat overall.  Over the holidays I let things slide and don't worry so much about my weight.  This year I slowly watched the definition in my body go away and my weight slowly crept back up.  I never let it get above 160, but it hovered between 153-158 pretty consistently.

After my DNF in last months Traprock 50K I decided that if I wanted to produce good results this year I needed to get serious about my diet again.  Since the Ultrametabolism diet worked before I assumed it would again.  I decided that I would add one more twist as well.  Rather than just eliminating dairy, I would also eliminate all animal protein.  Yes, I went Vegan.  Actually it would be more accurate to say I went Sugarfree, Glutenfree Vegan.

This last Monday marked 30 days that I have eaten a 99.9% plant based diet.  The only exception I have made is that I have continued to occasionally eat Sushi.  I have nothing against eating meat.  I have no problem killing animals and eating them, as long as it is not wasteful.  I made the decision to eat this way purely to see how it would effect my running and racing.  I have several friends that are Ultra runners that are Vegan and they swear that it has a positive role in their success.

So after 30 days I am writing about this because I am blown away.  I have never had something make such in impact on my running.  The one major thing that I can't get over is my recovery.  I'm just not sore the next day after a long run.  The most common comment when you talk about eating a plant based diet is that you can't get enough protein, especially if you are an endurance athlete.  I am not finding that to be the case.

In the last 3 weeks I ran every day (almost 250 miles) with zero soreness and very little fatigue.  I have gone from 153 to 145 pounds and I'm eating like a horse.  I'm getting very lean, even though my diet consists of a LOT of fat (avacado's, nuts, olive oil, etc).  This Thursday I entered a local 5k.  I have done zero speedwork this year, but I managed to place 12th out of 6000 runners and walkers.  I set a new PR by over 30 seconds (17:49) and took 3rd in the 40-49 age group.  This came as a total surprise.  I have no other explanation to turn to except my diet.

The hardest part of this diet was giving up sugar.  It took a few weeks before the cravings went away. Sure, I would still love to have a bowl of ice-cream, but I'm not jonesing for it like I would have before.  Not eating meat has been easy.  Not eating cheese has been a little harder.  Not eating eggs was really tough.  I love eggs!

I have actually been taking a lot of flack for eating this way.  I have been told to eat a cheeseburger or turn in my man card.  People seem to think that I am attacking the way they eat by talking about how I am eating.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I'm hoping that my regular readers who have been interested in my running might use this as a little food for thought.  The most common question I get asked about this diet is why?  "You run so much and are so fit, you could eat anything you want and you will burn it off".  I don't believe that.

I'm not doing this to reduce calories or lose weight, although when I started I wanted to get down to race weight (150 or so).  I stopped eating sugar because I have seen enough evidence to believe that it plays a major role in heart disease and cancer.  Yes, I really believe that.  If you are not laughing your ass off right now, thinking I'm nuts, then check out this link.  The video is a presentation by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology.  You might have seen him on 60 Minutes covering the same topic.  Watch the entire 1 1/2 hour if you really want to see the scientific reason that sugar is poison.

I also am curious about the connection to cancer and animal protein.  Again, if you are interested, watch the movie Forks over Knives.  Based on a study done in the 1960's called "The China Study" there is very strong evidence that the government really botched up it's recommendations to the American public about the amount and type of protein that we need to survive.  In fact, the evidence shows a link between cancers and animal protein.

I am simply exploring the connection between what we put in our mouths and how our bodies react.  What I thought was going to be a 30 day detox/experiment has turned into a real surprise.  I didn't expect to actually feel this different.  I didn't expect my running to be so positively affected.  But I am excited about continuing down this path.  I would also love to hear from any of you that have had similar results, whether it is from becoming a Vegan or any other change you made to your diet.

But I would really love to hear from some other Vegans about the farting.  Holy hell this diet gives you a lot of gas.....


RawBodyGoddess said...

They don't call beans the musical fruit for nothing! Did I ever point you over to the site 30 Bananas a day? ( and check out Michael Arnstien

I am a FIRM believer in the power of RAW vegan. Though, I tend to be about 50/50 or 60/40 right now betw raw/cooked, I truly feel the best when I eat raw vegan. The issue I will run into though is not eating enough. You have to consume a LOT of food when you are following it seriously. Check out Doug Graham's 80/10/10 diet if you have time...I find that when I am doing raw I recover very fast, green smoothies make an EXCELLENT recovery drink! I have done numerous ultras on fruit and green smoothies only and felt awesome. Congrats on your challenge! Giving up sugar is one of THE hardest things, I believe. It really is a drug.

Alex Bridgeforth (@alexbridgeforth) said...

I struggle reading post like this because i never get to see a nutrition plan. If I took out all sugar and meat/meat by product out of my diet right now I would literarily be drinking water eating spinach, carrots, apples, oranges, peppers, cucumbers, onions, pasta, berries, strawberries, microgreens, almonds, orange juice, Chia seeds, cornmeal. Yea I think that is it. So I am supposed to just eat that an NOT FEEL HUNGRY??? I don't get how you get the protein from just what I listed...I don't see where the healthy carbs come from. I don't see the fat.

Nathan Sanel said...

I purposely didn't get into what I'm eating because that would be a very long post. I'm getting my protein from beans, nuts, quiona, tofu, and a vegan protein powder. My carbs are coming from rice, greens, quiona, corn, fruit, veggies, dried fruit (especially dates). My fat is coming from lots of avocados, olive oil, nuts, and nut butters.
Hope that helps, but I would be glad to post a typical day's eating if your interested.

Nathan Sanel said...

I have run with Mike at several races. He is amazing, but even I feel his diet is a bit imbalanced. He struggled with his nutrition at his early 100's but then compromised a bit on where he is getting his energy from and starting kicking serious ass.
I like a lot of raw food, as a matter of fact most of my veggies I prefer raw. I can't imagine at this point eating 100% raw though.

Alex Bridgeforth said...

Yes I would very interested in a typical days eating. Im honestly wanting to try a vegan diet for thirty days just to see how hungry I am.

Honestly, right now for breakfast, I have a soomthie every day that contains, orange juice or berry juice, strawberries, carrots, spinach, kale, chia seeds, one egg, honey, almond butter, BCAA powder, and whey\casein\egg protein powder. For mid morning snack: orange and almonds,

for lunch: barley sandwich with hummus, pepper jack and turkey or almond butter and organic strawberry preserves, I have almonds, an apple, cheese stick

for dinner is a weird stir fry of vegetables past and meat.

That's a lot to type but Im just try to see what I would substitute for a Gatorade type drink during my workouts considering all hammer products have sugar. Also trying to find out what I should be drink post workouts (endurance and weight lifting) sorry for so much

RawBodyGoddess said...

Alex, coconut water is a great alternative for gatorade. Or, just pain water and you can get your electrolytes in pill form(Scaps, and the like.)

Nate, I just thought you might be interested :) I think Michael does pretty well with his diet, but 100 iles is a whole different brast, imo...I don't know that I woud necessarily recommend 100% raw vegan to just anyone...I know that it has worked for *me* and I can do shorter ultras on it(50m or less) but I also am not always 100% based on where I am at health-wise or if my body needs something, yk?

Be careful with dried fruit...dates seem to be ok but other dried fruits can give you a spike on blood sugar that can make you shakey similar to chowing on some candy (found that out the hard way...oy)

leeapeea said...

Nate, I'm amazed by the change I could see in your body on Thursday. I'm also sorry to hear people giving you gruff for it. You made a choice for you and one that's not easy. Hell, I have a hard enough time doing something as basic as counting calories, never mind eliminating (mostly processed, I assume) sugars. It's too bad they have to see it as a judgement call.
Best of luck on your exploration.

Steve Pero said...

Nice post, Nate...
Deb is vegan, I am close, but still like an occasional steak (grass fed) and love eggs and my whey protein. She tried turning me on to hemp protein to replace my whey, but had diarrhea for a week while using it, so stopped. Deb's also on a no wheat diet, buys all her grains and makes her own flour from rice and barley. Wheat is as bad for you as sugar! Neither of us use sugar as we agree with the cancer link. If you haven't yet, check out Ben Greenfield's blog and podcasts. Not sure I can go vegan, but will end up that way if Deb has any thing to do about it ;-)
Best of luck!

Meagan Bradley said...

Hi Nate, I'm following you! Somehow found you through another site and I'm intrigued with what you are doing for 2 reasons. (1) On a personal side, I don't do ultra's but I compete in Triathlon. I was only competing in the half ironman distance but this year will do my first ironman + compete at World's in the Half IM distance. YIKES! Nutrition is a huge component of that and I learn from everyone. (2) On a professional side, I like to read about the every day achievements and challenges of folks like you so I can tap into my resources and provide content that helps people like us. I am one of the marketing folks with - juicers, blenders, etc. Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us. Take care ...

Eric said...

Hi Nathan, very cool. I have a question about the sugar reduction though, as this is definately my main problem... You're still eating fruit sugar, so where do you make the cut? Is honey as a sweetener OK? Are you just cutting on processed sugars? Thanks.

Nathan Sanel said...

I do not eat any sugar except for fruit. That means no honey, agave, maple syrup, sugar in the raw, stevia, etc. I eat nothing with added sugar in it. Its tough at first but before long you really don't miss it. It cuts out about 95% of all processed foods though because just about everything has sugar in it.

sherpajohn said...

"You can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat"
-Pink Floyd

Just for shits and giggles of course..


Andy said...

My hat is off to you... my diet is my weakest link and something I have yet to really work at. Reading your post makes me think about changing some things up even more. Thanks!

nrmrvrk said...

Just watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix Instant. Loved it. Thank you!