Cycling Scotland - Nutrition for the Long Haul

Its all about the recovery. Training for Scotland will have some intense moments. Since I've never done a bike-packing trip before I'm relying on Tom to guide me through our training. We'll be covering anywhere between 30-50 miles a day with around 2500' in elevation change. Not too bad, but training is required. What I've noticed is when I'm in a hard session getting up a hill I can't imagine doing this again in the next couple of days. So I look to my nutrition and recovery to get me ready to do it all over again.

Cycling Scotland 2016

I learned having good nutrition as a recovery method when I first went vegan and trained for my first triathlon. I was completely daunted by the amount of training I was going to have to do to complete an Olympic distance triathlon thinking back on my first half marathon training when I could barely move on my off days. Luckily I've learned a lot in my years and everything I learned from eating a well balanced, whole food, plant based diet made a huge change in me being able to get out the next day for a good session on the road, bike, or in the pool.

Well Balanced, Whole Food, Plant Based Diet

What does that mean? It means eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains in whole food form - not processed. Pasta is ok every now and again, but quinoa and rice is much better. Smoothies are great, but as long as they contain at least half vegetables as they do fruits. And as much as I'd love to rip into an entire bag of potato chips after a long session, I know its better to bake a sweet potato and eat that with beans and veggies instead.

So, what should you eat? Check out my recipe section or try any of these, some of my favorite recipes:

Breakfast Quinoa

Breakfast Quinoa

Aunt Judy's Baked Oatmeal

Aunt Judy's Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast Burrito #2

Breakfast Burrito #2

Red Smoothie

Red Smoothie

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

Split Pea Curry

Split Pea Curry

Roasted Veg Bowl with Creamy Basil & Parsley Sauce

Roasted Veg Bowl with Creamy Basil & Parsley Sauce

Burrito Bowl

Burrito Bowl

Vegan Nicoise Salad

Vegan Nicoise Salad

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Beet Reuben Sandwich

Beet Reuben Sandwich

Samosa Soup

Samosa Soup

Beet Green & Quinoa Italian Style Stew

Beet Green & Quinoa Italian Style Stew

Thrive

Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman, two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, AND plant-based athlete. He, with Charles Chang, have created Vega, a plant-based protein powder, supplement, and sports food company. He's also the author of four books:ThriveThrive Foods, Thrive Energy Cookbook, and Thrive Fitness, which are full of incredibly useful information about eating a plant-based diet and living a plant-based life. He also has an awesome website Thrive Forward with tons of information, videos, and recipes for the plant-based enthusiast (or the plant-curious.) 

Brendan Brazier has four elements to his Thrive Nutritional Philosophy that I've found incredibly helpful:

High Net Gain Nutrition

Eating more calories does not ensure more energy, but eating natural, unrefined whole foods requires lower energy to digest. Therefore, eating foods that require little digestive energy and eating those that give us more substantial micronutrients let us have more energy and give us more nutritional gain.

For example, eat more fruit and pseudo grains (quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice) than pastas and breads, which are harder to digest. Our bodies will use less energy to digest those foods, so we have more for our day.

Alkaline-Forming Foods

The measure of acidity or alkalinity is called pH, and maintaining a balanced pH within the body is an important part of achieving and sustaining peak health. If our pH drops, our body becomes too acidic, adversely affecting health at the cellular level. People with low pH are prone to many ailments and to fatigue.

Low body pH can lead to the development of kidney stones, loss of bone mass, and the reduction of growth hormone, which results in loss of lean muscle mass and increase in body fat production. And since a decline in growth hormone production directly results in lean muscle tissue loss and body fat gain, the overconsumption of acid-forming foods plays a significant role in North Americas largest health crisis. However, food is not the only thing we put in our bodies that is acid-forming. Most prescription drugs, artificial sweeteners, and synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements are extremely acid-forming. 

All green vegetables are great sources of alkaline-forming foods. Here's a GREAT video where Brendan discusses eating alkaline-forming foods and the benefits they have for you.

Elimination of Biological Debt

You know that after meal crash we get sometimes? From eating a heavy meal or one that isn't very nutrient dense? That's biological debt. We can get two types of energy from food: one from stimulation, and the other from nourishment. Eating nutrient-dense whole foods eliminate biological debt. Skipping the caffeine and sugar will also mean skipping the short-term stimulation that eventually gives us the massive crash we can experience later. 

Thrive Forward

I highly recommend checking out Brendan's website Thrive Forward. Its completely FREE and full of tons of great videos, recipes, and articles. You can sign up for a FREE personalized nutrition plan based on what you want to get out of it: Clean Eating 101, Sport Edition, Sustainability, Optimal Weight, Digestion, Energy, Longevity / Anti-Aging, Immune Function, and Stress.It doesn't get any easier or CHEAPER than checking out his website.

So I'll continue to train, eat, and recover! More to come soon.