Protein, Protein, Protein!

One of the first challenges I faced as a budding Vegan Triathlete was recovery.  I read there is almost as much protein in whole plant-based food as beef, calorie for calorie.  “Great”, I thought, “lots of veggies, eat til I’m full”  No problem….Veganism is easy!

2 weeks later I set a PR in Ironman Louisville!!! (It was my last ditch effort to get to the Ironman World Championships since I missed it by a spot, as a non-vegan, in Coeur D’Alene)  9:31 and change!!!  Off to Kona, and planning on a plant-powered podium finish.  “I love being a vegan!”

Fast-Forward 2 weeks….Setting…. Ironman 70.3 World Championships….Feeling good!  Awful race…aargh..a felt flat, no power on the bike.  I felt like I could go all day, but only at a sub-standard pace.  3 weeks later Leadman, Bend OR, 3.1 mile swim, 142 mile bike, 14 mile run!!!  Flat…….aaargh and Kona is only 3 weeks away!!!   I felt good during Ironman week in Kona, but on race day…Same story!!  My fall season ended in disaster after a great race in Louisville,…WHAT HAPPENED??

This is the learning part….Why couldn’t I recover?? It may have been simply too many hard events in too little time. Plausible, but I thought it was more than that. It could have been salt, but I almost froze to death in Bend, Brrrrr.  Truthfully I have always stuggled during the big races.  My worst 3 Ironman 70.3 finishes have been during the 3 World Championship events. (I hope to change that trend in a big way this fall!)  Although it was breaking my heart, I thought the lack of recovery was due to diet.  I wasn’t willing to give up on veganism, so I started to research and experiment.

Enter the mighty tomato, 22 calories, 1.1 grams of protein.  I try to get roughly .8 grams of protein for pound of body weight while training hard…sometimes even 1 for 1, for me that’s 170 grams of protein per day!!!  or a whole heck of lot of tomatoes!!!

Take home points….to be a successful vegan endurance athlete, you have to eat!!!  My first rule is QUANTITY and VARIETY.  If you eat like a bird, you won’t succeed!!  Yeah, I know a cow is vegetarian, and they eat all day long.  I don’t want to offend anyone but  EAT LIKE A COW!!!

My second rule is this.  Beans, beans, beans.  There are a few calorie dense foods that a vegan endurance athlete needs…especially post-exercise.  Beans, legumes, peas, nuts, soy, etc. They are the bases for plant-based protein and you need to include them with every meal.  they include your branched chain amino acids, a very low glycemic index, and fuel for performance and recovery!!!

Oh yeah….and they give you gas.  A small sacrifice for such awesome benefits!!  And this actually gets better as your body adapts to your new diet!!  Be patient!

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2 thoughts on “Protein, Protein, Protein!

  1. That’s Good information, I’ve been vegan for 3 years now and planning my first Triathlon on OCT, it’s just a sprint, but at 49, it’s a challenge. I’ve been in the army for 20 yrs now and want to be able to move to a 70.3 hopefully next year, after I retire. Thanks

    • I haven’t been a very consistent blogger, but I am also at the 3 year vegan stage and learning new tricks every day! Good luck on the Sprint Tri, Let me know how it goes! I will try to get some more info out.

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