Sharing my learnings from the book, The Plant-Based Athlete by Matt Frazier & Robert Cheeke
The Plant-Based Athlete by Matt Frazier & Robert Cheeke
The Plant-Based Athlete by Matt Frazier and Robert Cheeke reveals the incontrovertible proof that the human body does not need meat, eggs, or dairy to be strong. Instead, research shows that a consciously calibrated plant-based diet offers the greatest possible recovery times, cell oxidation, injury prevention, and restorative sleep, and allows athletes to train more effectively, with better results.
However, committing to a plant-based diet as an elite athlete, first-time marathoner, or weekend warrior isn’t as simple as swapping vegetables for meat. Even the slightest food adjustments can impact performance. That’s why Matt Frazier, founder of No Meat Athlete, and Robert Cheeke, founder of Vegan Bodybuilding, wrote this groundbreaking book, to guide those interested in making this important shift in how to do so with the best, most transformative results
- Athletes throughout history have benefited from swapping out meat for plants. That’s because they knew a little secret: not only does a vegan diet not impair endurance and strength – it actually increases both. It can also help stave off a host of diseases like cancer, strokes, and diabetes.
- Macronutrients are the building blocks of nutrition; they’re what provide calories – that is, energy – for your body. The three main macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Micronutrients, on the other hand, are the minerals and vitamins that play a crucial role in keeping you healthy. Plants contain an abundance of micronutrients that help your body produce energy, boost your immune system, and repair muscles.
- A food’s calorie density reflects how many calories it contains per unit of measurement. On food labels, this is usually listed as calories per gram. Plants like cruciferous veggies, fruits, and grains are high in volume but low in calories, so you’ll feel full sooner compared to calorie-rich, low-volume foods like meat or oil.
- nutrient density – how many nutrients per calorie a food or beverage contains. Plants have a high nutrient to calorie ratio. Combined with their low-calorie density, this means that you can eat more – and more healthily – and you’ll still lose weight.
- The goal is about achieving a diverse mix.
- Protein is involved with building and repairing muscle tissue, and it’s integral to making essential hormones and regulating immune function.
- Unfortunately, eating a lot of animal protein is associated with heart disease, stroke, and cancer – the saturated fat and dietary cholesterol that animal-based foods contain restrict blood flow to your organs.
- plants offer extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, and 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods. Together, these can actually reverse conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Carb-rich whole foods, especially leafy greens like kale, have the highest ANDI score – that’s short for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. This score rates foods based on their nutrient-to-calorie ratio. On top of that, both our muscles and brains prefer using whole, unprocessed complex carbohydrates as fuel.
- Complex carbs are converted to glucose and then stored in our bodies as glycogen, to be used as energy later on. When we deplete those glycogen stores, our bodies turn to stored fat as a secondary fuel source. Protein is used as a last resort.
- Whole fruit is also one of the best pre-workout foods available; the authors call it “nature’s perfect short-term energy source.”
- For optimal athletic performance and health, aim for a 60:20:20 ratio – meals that are around 60 percent carbs, 20 percent protein, and 20 percent fat.
- Fat protects your organs, produces important hormones, supports cell growth, and provides your body with energy.
- With 9 calories per gram, fat has more than twice the calorie density of carbohydrates or proteins.
- Monounsaturated fats, which contain omega-9 essential fatty acids (EFAs), are made by your body. While you don’t need to get these from outside sources, consuming omega-9 has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, increase “good” cholesterol, and decrease inflammation. Great sources include avocados, chia seeds, and nuts like almonds and walnuts.
- polyunsaturated fats, which comprise omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs. Because your body can’t produce them, you’ll need to rely on your diet to reap their benefits. Try achieving a 3:1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s by reducing your oil intake and cutting out processed foods.
- trans fats, which abound in things like processed meats, dairy, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Studies have linked consumption of trans fats to stroke and heart disease. Cut these out of your diet entirely
- a diverse plant-based diet can provide almost everything you need to live a healthy life, so you can keep your supplements minimal. These include vitamins B12 and D, zinc, iodine, and vitamin K2. Aside from that, some plants are so healthy that you could almost consider them natural supplements.
- There are a few tricks to ensure you’re absorbing enough iron. First, eat smaller doses more often throughout the day. Second, consuming iron-rich foods along with vitamin C can boost its absorption by five times – so drizzle some lemon juice on your salad. Third, avoid drinking coffee and tea for a couple of hours before and after eating because the tannins block iron absorption.
- Adaptogens are certain herbs and mushrooms that are also so healthy they’re practically supplements themselves. As their name suggests, they help your body adapt to physical and mental stress.
- oxygen is important during exercise. Studies have shown that beets contain a lot of nitrates, which help dilate your arteries and increase oxygen flow to your cells.
- the best performance-enhancing drugs are hydration, work ethic, and attitude.
- your body is 70 percent water. As such, you need to properly hydrate to nourish your cells and muscles. Not only will this keep you healthy, but it’ll also reduce soreness.
- set yourself up for success by creating a timeline to help you stay focused and on track. Once you have a specific goal, decide on a realistic timeframe for achieving it, and then plot your training regimen accordingly. Consistency is key; achieving smaller wins is a lot more effective than focusing on the final prize.
- it’s critical that you warm up before each training session to prepare your body for the stress it’s about to undergo. Five to ten minutes of jogging, push-ups, and jumping jacks will do the trick. Next, stretch the major muscles in your body to loosen up and promote flexibility during your workout.
- after your workout, don’t forget to cool down. Try going for a short walk while circling your arms. And then remember to rest!
- your attitude plays a huge part in your athletic performance. Finding joy in your pursuit will ensure you’re less likely to burn out – and more likely to reach the finish line.
- A plant-based lifestyle helps your athletic performance, animals, and the planet.