While I was doing my 5 hour ride today, I started thinking about food (and dreaming of food, as you do 3 hours into a long ride). I have been eating plant-based for 3 years now. Most people call it vegan. I don't really like having that label attached to me for the simple reason that being vegan doesn't mean that you have a healthy diet. Instead, I like to think about what food is good for me and beneficial to my overall health. I was first introduced to the concept when I came across an excellent book by Canadian Triathlete Brendan Brazier on plant-based nutrition and performance (The Thrieve Diet). It all made complete sense to me and it changed how I look at food. I now think about all the nutrients, including the important micro-nutrients, my body needs when preparing a meal.
As a result my digestion problems have almost completely resolved themselves. I have more energy throughout the day and I'm not getting the usual afternoon low anymore. I also dropped nearly 6 kg of body weight without trying while eating significant less food than I used to. It's a win win situation really.
Below I compiled my menu of a normal day for you to get an idea. It's also a good exercise in itself to write down everything you eat and drink in one day. First of all it's quite hard to remember but when you do it gives you a new appreciation of what your body is supplied with on a daily basis.
I tend to change my breakfast every few weeks as can't seem to eat the very same thing every morning day in and out.
Turning frozen berries into a delicious breakfast.
I head out on my training rides straight after breakfast. Breakfast keeps me going for 1 to 2 hours depending on the intensity of the ride. During the ride I drink plenty of water and Electrolytes from PURE Sports Nutrition. My favorite flavor is Lemon because it reminds me of the taste of home-made lemon ice tea.
Food wise you can't go wrong with bananas and fresh fruit. But for longer, sustained energy I munch away on Awaken Bars - they are raw, organic superfood bars that taste great. The cacao bar feels like eating healthy chocolate!
My food of choice for training and racing is as natural as possible.
As soon as I set foot in the door from a ride, I head straight in the kitchen making a recovery, protein shake. I use a mix of protein powders from pea, rice and hemp to get a complete and balanced amino acid profile. I add frozen bananas, some maca powder and blackcurrant powder or beetroot powder for improved recovery.
I love having my recovery shakes after a ride. They are nutritious, easy to drink and refreshing.
I follow this up with a quality, nutritious meal 1 to 2 hours later. These are complete meals containing complex carbohydrates, protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals. The Green Bean Cacao Chili is a great example, served with brown rice, millet or quinoa. This is usually enough to fill me up until dinner time comes around.
Green bean cacao chili
For dinner, I stick with a high quality protein source (e.g. chickpeas, brown lentils, peas). These are also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. My absolute favorite is Cauliflower Cheese with brown lentils. The "Cheese sauce" is high in vitamin B12 - a very important vitamin to take care of no matter if you are vegan or not. It is mainly found in dairy and animal products but also in some yeast-based products such as marmite and nutritional yeast. B12 is crucial for normal brain function and neuronal development and plays a key role in the formation of red blood cells.
My second go-to dinner option is a large green salad with a handful of nuts and seeds and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar, oil blend and fresh herbs from the garden.
Then I'm ready to hit the bed and repeat everything the next day.