So, about two weeks ago, I went with some friends to see Brendan Brazier, a vegan ironman, author of Thrive (The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life) and Thrive Fitness (The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness) and formulator of Vega products. Based on the information about the session, I was pretty interested to hear what Brendan had to say, even though I’m not vegan, but I was surprised at how much I learned.
I thought that Brendan’s session would be more geared towards the vegan lifestyle, but there were many things that I learned that I think could be applied to any lifestyle: vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, or any other eating style.
Here are some of my favorite lessons learned from Brendan’s presentation:
- Energy by conservation: You can get energy by conservation by consuming foods that don’t take too much energy to assimilate. For example, gluten is actually hard to digest and can rob your body of energy. If your body has to put more energy towards digesting gluten, then it can’t put that energy towards your workout, etc.
- Same stresses: Stresses are the same no matter the source. Even exercise can be a form of stress on your body.
- Stressed too far: When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are raised and can lead to adrenal burn out.
- Stress and Weight Loss: When cortisol levels are elevated it can be hard for you to lose fat or gain muscle.
- Stress Symptoms: Raised cortisol levels can cause trouble sleeping, sugar cravings, muscle tone not getting where you want it, etc. These symptoms are actually a good thing because they tell you something is wrong.
- Treating the Symptom vs the Cause: The common problem today is that people mask their body’s red flags. People treat the symptom (often via stimulants), not the cause. People drink coffee because they’re tired instead of just getting more rest/sleep. Brendan had a good example – if you’re driving and your check engine light comes on you can put a sticker over it to make the light go away, but that’s not really helping the root cause (which will eventually become a problem is left untreated).
- Alkaline-Forming Foods Are Good: Alkaline-forming foods are the cornerstone of good health. Greens are the most Alkaline-forming foods. These foods are good for: immune health, prevent osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, increase muscle functionality.
- Isolates Are Acidic: Whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, etc. are acidic (you want to avoid acidic foods).
- Veg for B12: Good vegetarian sources of B12 are chlorella and nutritional yeast.
I think I really felt a connection with Brendan’s lessons because both he and I share a common interest: what food does for you. In fact, when I spoke with him to get his autograph (yep, totally bought the book after the presentation) and was talking about how I liked his lecture, we totally jinxed by saying at the same time that it was interesting “what food can do for you.”
I left thinking that my adrenals are probably completely burned out at the moment but most importantly I left with a newly refreshed curiosity to research what foods can do for me.
My main takeaways:
- Eat more alkaline-forming foods
- Work on better pre and post workout snacks. For pre, look for foods that are easier to digest. For post, look for good sources of protein that are not isolates
- Treat the cause, not the symptom – I think I’ve been working my way towards this approach over the last couple years, but it’s good to reinforce the idea
- Stock up pantry so I can try some Thrive recipes
- Experiment more with food – learn what works for me
- Continue to be curious about food and learn what they can do for me
I’ve been reading through Thrive for the last couple weeks and I really love it so far. I think the lessons are a little harder to apply to an omnivore’s lifestyle (than a vegan’s) and there are some obscure ingredients utilized in many of the recipes (though I’d like to add them to my pantry), but I’d really like to work on incorporating a bit more Thrive Diet into my lifestyle. In fact, at some point, I’ll be signing up for Thrive in 30. Can’t wait!
Reader Question: Do you treat the symptom or the cause?