For a long time now there has been a trickle of experimenters or so called early adopters vying for a chance to call themselves different or change makers. Of late this has come in the form of changing their diets particularly to plant-based vegan options to saving the planet and to saving themselves. What these early adopters didn't know was that their life was just about to change for the better. Not only did their tastebuds change, their mental capacity increased, concentration on the match point or long ride heightened, recovery sped up and best of all they felt energized and invigorated for the first time in their sporting career if not their life. Some of these superhuman athletes include ultra endurance athlete, Rich Roll; UFC fighter, Mac Danzig; track star ,Carl Lewis; ultra running champion, Scott Jurek; body builder, Robert Cheeke; boxing legend, Mike Tyson; pro triathlete, Brendan Brazier; pro tennis star, Martina Navratilova; tennis prodigies, Venus and Serena Williams; NFL strongman, David Carter a.k.a The 300 pound Vegan; boxer, David Hayes; olympic weightlifter, Kendrick Yahcob Farris; world champ Xterra triathlete Madi Serpico, world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic and UFC fighters Nick and Nate Diaz. Sorry about the name dropping but I am from Cape Town after all.
Last month we chatted I was prepping for Ironman South Africa and now that’s a thing of the past and I have post race boredom, eating the same amount and waiting for the kilos to jump on all while suffering from severe procrastination to begin training for Comrades. My lack of training now is merely a mental break and not a physical one, reason being is for the first time ever the my body felt amazing on day two post race - the day when everything is supposed to fall apart and fill up with lactic acid. In short I woke up feeling like a million bucks. My only conclusion is that my plant-based diet over the past 6 months has been refined to something of a purist nature and banning all refined foods, preservatives, processed sugars and keeping off that cholesterol disaster we find in animals. Eating more alkaline and less acidic foods will help drain the lactic acids and cause less rigid-leg-syndrome or the more common cowboy walk post race. So in essence I am eating even more greens and even less human engineered delicacies. The green stuff removes the lactic acid and speeds up recovery! So what did I eat during the race. Unfortunately it was too cumbersome and not aero at all to tape broccoli and carrots to my time trial bars but I did have a solution. Bananas in transitions and on the runs, raw bars on the bike, Red Rush beet shots in transitions and on the bike, water everywhere, potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes wherever I could stuff them or find them - baked and lightly salted of course. I love substituting my sweeter raw bars out with saltier foods like nuts or potatoes because sometimes too much of a good thing can start tasting like a bad thing. And lastly what did I eat post race. Well after falling over the finish line and wandering into the athlete corner, ironically after completing an endurance event done only by healthy and fit freaks there was mostly processed and refined junk besides for the watermelon. And watermelon has never tasted so good. I remained on a 80% raw fruit, veg and nuts and seeds diet with added grains and beans making up the last 20%. My hotel outplayed itself in the catering department and so did my body or should I say the food I was disciplined enough to consume.
Lets get back to the title. Green for some may mean Creme Soda or peppermint crips but in this case its the lesser known mysterious group called vegetables. Although this group has not been seen by many since their mothers fed them pureed greens as toddlers they have started coming out of hiding in 2017 and wow us millennials have grown up and taken our health into our own hands. Dr Oz labelled 2017 as “The Year of The Vegan”. Whether he bases his opinions on facts or dreams, he sure has been bang on the money with nutrition trends over the past decade or so. Dr Oz and Creme Soda aside whats so special about vegetables especially the greener variants. Well Pop Eye eats spinach so duh… In all honestly they are laden with micro nutrients on top of macro nutrients building a body that will be equipped for the inevitable torture race we all gear up for on a monthly basis. My personal faves are spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, boy choy, oh yes and the snack favourite cucumber mostly layered with hummus (protein powerhouse sitting at 15%).
Greens are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease due to them being extremely low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing many phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. What a mouthful but slow it down and you will see it is magic to our bodies. The reason I love greens is that I get to put vibrant whole foods into my body that help to fight the disease causing acidity lying within body. If there is something out there that is nutrient dense and cancer fighting then count me in. And why restrict yourself to the recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg a day when you can experience that variety at each meal. Tossing aside the meat, fish, chicken and dairy has led me into a world of abundance and variety. The 1 hour economy or convenience offered in the 21st century is two tiered not only allowing ease of access to foods detrimental to our health but on the other end of the scale it gives us access to plant foods from all over the world expanding our menu choices beyond the easy growing kale and broccoli. So no more excuses ok. You don't have to eat the boring house salad every night.
A quick, easy and cheap starter, snack or salad:
Avokale Immune boosting salad
1 x Avocado
1 x Bag Kale (Can be replaced with spinach should you prefer a less intense taste)
½ cup Sunflower seeds
Garlic and Herb salt
Rinse the kale and dry, add it into a big bowl. Add the avocado by massaging the kale and the ado together. This will eventually decrease the volume of the kale at which point you squeeze half a lemon into the bowl along with the garlic and herb salt to taste. Massage until everything is mixed and the avocado has become smooth with no pieces or chunks. Before serving mix in the sunflower seeds for an extra protein kick. Voila 5 minutes of prep and a whole lot of nutrients
This recipe might be a quick fix but remember a healthy lifestyle is never a quick fix. Your body has taken many years to get where it is so don't expect results the very next morning. Work in extra plant foods into your life and tolerate the detoxing symptoms but then soak up the new vitality you will gain through a life powered by a tenfold increase in nutrients.