Plant-based diets have steadily grown in popularity as we have learned more about nutrition. For instance, the world’s healthiest people are found in so-called “Blue Zones,” where the diets are predominantly plant-based. Research has shown that you can get all the nutrients you need from a plant-based diet. To people raised on the belief that you need meat, this is quite a revelation. Plant-based meals are designed to return your body to a diet for which it is best adapted. It’s no wonder that many ultramarathon runners have embraced plant-based diets to help them become better runners. Here’s how you can too.
Pick the Right Plant-Based Diet for You
There is no one plant-based diet. Instead, there are many, and they are not all made equal. All plant-based diets emphasize eating certain foods associated with cardiovascular benefits, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils, and nuts. The plant-based diets with the most scientific evidence for their benefits for heart health include the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the MIND diet. All of them are rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals that will help you reduce your blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower the risk of diabetes, and help you maintain a healthy weight, all factors that will improve your cardiovascular performance and lower your weight risk of heart disease.
It’s also important to note that the type of food you eat and where they come from is necessary. White rice, for example, and white bread, are both plant-based foods, but they are highly processed plant-based foods. You want your plant-based diet to be as close to unrefined as possible. In our example, white rice and white read have been ravaged by the nutrients that are good for the heart and they are also high in glycemic content, so your blood sugar level will spike, you will feel hungrier, and overeat.
If you drink pure fruit juice, you are getting an inferior product to whole fruit, because fruit juice can have a higher sugar content and have a lower fiber and vitamin content. Eating a can of fruits is even worse. Lots of canned plant-based foods have additives, sugar and sodium added.
Make Sure Your Diet is 95-100% Plant-Based
If you really want to commit to the diet, you should ensure that your meals are 95-100% plant-based. Bring variety to your diet and eat a large variety of vegetables, eaten in season. If you can, grow them in your garden and pickle or dry any excess vegetables so you can eat them in the off-season. The best of these foods are leafy vegetables such as kale, beet, spinach, chard, collards, and turnip tops. Combine these with seasonal fruit and veg, beans, and whole grains.
Some people on a plant-based diet consume meat, but when they do so, they do so very sparingly, usually in celebrations, to flavor dishes or as a side dish.
There are many beneficial effects to increasing how much plant-based food you eat. You should favor fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, sweet potatoes, and yams. Of course, you can eat whole grains as well.
You should make sure that you have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Modern diets tend to be very narrow and uniform, which is not very good for your overall health.
Source: Blue Zones
With a plant-based diet, you will be able to improve your cardiovascular performance, maintain a good weight, boost your powers of recovery, enhance your energy levels, reduce your risk of diabetes and improve your overall health. Many ultramarathon runners have enjoyed the benefits of a plant-based diet and there’s no reason why you can’t too.