Notice: For those of you who only read the first lines of my blog, here is the important stuff: we are meeting at Percy Warner Park for the next three weeks rather than Shelby Park. Park at the end of Belle Meade boulevard, we will meet at the bottom of the “stairs”. Do not speed while driving down Belle Meade Blvd.
On Being a Vegetarian
Spurred on by a discussion I had while running last Sunday, I have been perusing the internet for articles on being a vegetarian endurance athlete. I have read articles about the benefits of red meat, which were refuted by articles about the horrors (both health wise and environmentally) about eating cows – which refuted the article I read about how humans are meant to eat meat – which in turn, was refuting the article I read about how humans resemble herbivores rather than carnivores, which was refuting the article….blah blah blah
You get the idea. There are so many mutually exclusive opinions about just about everything, that sometimes it’s really hard to know what to believe. So here are a couple of nutritional conclusions that seemed to be pretty consistent across the more credible articles (and believe me I read plenty of non-credible articles):
1) Iron: If you don’t eat red meat, and you are an endurance athlete, make sure you are getting enough iron. Iron can be found in green leafy vegetables, but iron from meat is easier to absorb than iron from plant sources. Aparently iron from plant sources is absorbed easier if it is taken with vitamin C, and stay away from coffee and tea. So make yourself a orange juice/spinach smoothie.
2) Protein: Being a healthy vegetarian is hard, and instead of packing meals with extra vegetables and plant sources of protein, many people just end up eating lots of cereal and breads. (And girl scout cookies.) Endurance athletes need more protein than the average joe, and protein is where many vegetarian diets fall short. One study said that vegetarian athletes tended to feel hungry a lot of the time, probably because they weren’t getting enough protein or fat, and often craved sugar. So make sure that you are eating good sources of protein with complete amino acids. (Refer to the article above for an explanation of complete vs. incompleted proteins.)
3) Fat is not a bad word, and some vegetarians don’t get enough of it. What? That’s right, eat more fat. For endurance athletes, high fat diets are bad – but ultra low fat diets have also been found to be bad. So make 20-30% of your calories good fats – whether you’re a vegetarian or not!
4) There are other nutrients such as zinc, calcium and B-12, that vegetarians need to pay attention to. Read this article for more details.
What’s the bottom line?
The bottom line: If you are an endurance athlete, you need to eat more than if you are sedentary. So if you are a vegetarian athlete, make sure that those extra calories are coming from foods that are protein and nutrient dense. Or just forget about all that vegetarian crap and order yourself the old 96er!
See you on Sunday!
Notice: For those of you who only read the last lines of my blog, here is the important stuff: we are meeting at Percy Warner Park this week rather than Shelby Park. Park at the end of Belle Meade boulevard, we will meet at the bottom of the “stairs”. Do not speed while driving down Belle Meade Blvd.