Clean Fuel

By: Michelle Magnan

After interviewing Brendan Brazier, the former professional Ironman athlete who founded Vega and has inspired countless athletes to go vegan, for ATLX (see that article here), I started to dig deeper into plant-based nutrition. Here’s why: I’ve always known that vegetables are superstars when it comes to nutrition – and have done my best to eat lots of them every day, even going so far as to have big green salads for breakfast with fried eggs on top – but I’d never considered adopting them as my primary fuel source.

After speaking with Brazier and exploring his new website, I was inspired to make a change – not to complete veganism, or vegetarianism even, but to a way of eating that would rely on vegetables, legumes and healthy oils for a larger portion of my diet.

This would have been good news to the dietitian I worked with a couple of years ago who, after seeing what I ate on a daily basis, told me I was eating too much protein. This is a rare issue with women, she said. What can I say? I live in Calgary, a city that loves its beef, and was raised to be a good carnivore. For this reason, I thought that eliminating beef and chicken, for the most part, would be difficult.

I began in little steps, choosing seafood over meat, and then graduated to bigger changes, like seeking out vegetarian options on menus and cooking more often with veggies and beans at home. One of my favorite recipes over the last two months came from Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, GOOP: the sweet potato, black bean and kale skillet. Her cookbooks are now on my wish list, because many of her recipes seem easy, healthy and plant-based.

Here’s what I’ve found after a couple of months of eating less animal-based protein, such as eggs and beef, and eating more veggies, beans and complex carbohydrates such as yams: I’ve lost roughly five pounds, but the difference is more profound than in just weight. My energy levels are high, high, high, my workouts are going well and on the rare occasions when I order a steak, I enjoy it but am aware that my body feels heavier and works harder to digest the meal.

Based on my experiment thus far, I’m totally inspired to keep fueling myself with plants, beans and more plants. My newfound approach reminds me of author Michael Pollan’s sound mantra: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Simple advice, big results.

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