When I first began my journey into the plant-based lifestyle two people were at the forefront of information and advice: Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier. Brendan Brazier, in my opinion, is the trailblazer in leading an active plant-based lifestyle. He's 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: Thrive, Thrive 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.
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.
Below I've linked a podcast with Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier where, in one part, he talks about the stimulation in coffee. I still drink coffee daily, but I drink much less than I used to - usually less than a cup. I like it before I go out on a workout to give me that extra boost. Brendan talks about that being fine as long as we know that while we get the quick spike in energy we will get the crash later. (Which I'm ok with since it helps me get out the door in the morning!)
I've been very lucky and have never suffered from allergies. My poor husband, Tom, however, has not been so lucky. Summer comes around and he's a sneezing, stuffy, headache-y, congested mess. And while he loves the summer months, he longs for fall when everything dies off and his nose finally drains. So we assumed it was just an environmental allergy.
However, since switching to a mainly plant-based diet since January 2014 he hasn't had ANY allergies this summer. He hasn't had to fill a prescription, stock up on tissues, or gone to sleep with a stuffed nose.
Brendan talks about this: wheat, gluten (in wheat), corn, soy, and dairy are the most common food allergens - suffering from symptoms such as mild nasal congestion, headache, and mental fog are the most common. While Tom hasn't been tested for allergies this year by a doctor, he has cut out dairy and most gluten and has seen a massive improvement in his allergy symptoms (and lack thereof!).
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.
And lastly, here's a great interview with Brendan from The Rich Roll Podcast:
Find Your Athletic Edge: Brendan Brazier at TEDxFremont where he discusses his Four Nutritional Philosophies: