Back in the summer, when I came back from a most awesome vacation in Canada I made a major switch in my diet, put simply I went vegan. This is fairly easy to define;
- No meat
- No fish
- No eggs
- No diary
- And if possible Gluten free
The only two concessions to this were a splash of half-n-half in my coffee and milk in my tea; I am British…this is how the Empire was made!
I trained for Ironman Arizona as a vegan. I wasn’t worried about the “not enough protein” argument, as my meat consumption was pretty low anyway. I added some new things to my diet, primarily tofu and tempeh, both soy based products that contain protein. I refueled using a Vega post workout shake and that worked fine! The biggest loss was cheese but I found some alternatives that worked ok in cooking but let’s be honest it’s hard to beat a good cheddar or soft brie.
Overall my weight went down I bottomed out at around 164lbs down from around 180lbs, this is probably too light for me. I was around 168lb at race day for IMAZ. Of course this is not just due to diet; 12-15 hour training weeks played a big part too. That’s clearly evident as I have floated back up and this week hit 175lb one month post-race, I expect that to start dropping as I get back into training in the coming weeks.
In addition the weight loss my metabolism felt cleaner, I stopped getting the 3pm post lunch coma, I slept better, I wasn’t constantly snacking, I didn’t spike and crash… the list goes on. Now these are all physical effects, the biggest one was mental; boundaries! I had a set of rules; I could eat this and I couldn’t eat that…it was actually very simple. Black and white if you like. This works well for me as despite having the ability to drag myself out of bed at 4am five days in a row to train I have trouble resisting something that I shouldn’t. And at this time of year Christmas, is of course, the force multiplier of this.
Post IMAZ I made the conscious decision to reverse the vegan choice, that’s not to say that I went out and ordered a 20oz steak but things crept back into my diet that previously were eliminated. It was also an economic decision to try and get through some of the stuff that stared at me every time I opened the freezer door. Making more of an appearance was beer which while not eliminated during training was certainly reduced. Now I am not confessing to being a closet alcoholic but they are empty calories, albeit very nice ones!
Overall it’s been an interesting experiment both in the physical and mental aspects of it. Living within a clear set of rules makes things like I say very black and white and very easy to follow.
So starting in the New Year, the rules are back in play.