Since I started racing (2004) I always knew that nutrition played a big part of the game. I went to several nutritionists with different kind of approaches. In all of them I had trouble, recovering, with hydration, fueling and so on. Since I always liked the natural approach of things, and I was vegetarian for awhile and a few nutritionists said was impossible to train and be vegetarian, I started to eat meat again, never felt good, recovery and energy level weren’t good as well. So 2 years ago, I went vegan and one day my wife said “let’s do 2 weeks all raw”, since that day my diet is 100% raw.
This part is simple: All animal products make your body acid, when we train we make our body acid as well, so having a diet that contain animal products making your body more acidity makes recovery a lot harder. Also, the digestion of animal products takes a lot of energy, and we can be using that energy to train and recover. Yes it is that simple! Keep in mind to that even a lean cut contain a lot of fat!
Raw for me it is the next level in nutrition. The truth is, anything cooked above 105 degrees kill the enzymes and part of the nutrients. By that means, when you cook the food you change its natural state, therefore the body does not recognize, and even if it does the digestion process will be really stressful. My idea is: if you have to cook to make it taste good, that is not a good food for you. And yes that will include grains!
The benefits of a raw vegan diet have been amazing for me and for all of my athletes that decided to change their diet. The greatest benefit is how clear your mind is, and how easy is to focus on training, work etc. Energy levels are sky high. Sleep (which is the biggest part in recovery) is great, I can sleep less but with a lot more quality (I usually sleep 7 or less hours per night and wake up fresh like I slept 12 hours). Recovery time it is a lot faster, now I can schedule hard and long workouts closer together, also tapper time it is smaller, so I can train harder closer to the race and gain more fitness.
If you plan to change your diet you have to be prepared to feel bad before you feel good. That happens because your body start releasing all the toxins that you ingested for years. If you have a SAD (standard American diet), you can take up to 6 weeks of detox if not more. I went to major detox symptoms and I had (or I thought I had) a great diet.
My diet now is very simple, it is a diet called 80/10/10! 80% carbs from fruits and veggies, 10% protein from green leafs (kale, spinach etc), 10% of fat from seeds and nuts (no oil). Those % are from calories, by that means if you have a 2000 calorie diets, 200 calories from protein, 200 calories from fat and the rest carbs (of course carbs from fruits and veggies, mostly fruits).
I take pretty much no supplements, the few things I take are raw protein and the raw meal replacement (both from “Garden of Life”) when I travel. No caffeine. No chemicals. Even gels and sports drinks I make my own. The funny (or sad) is when I used to take all the commercial salt tablets, gels, sports drinks etc, I had stomach issues during races, cramps and hard time to recovery. Now that I stopped all that I have zero problems and my performance gotten better.
Feel Good and Go Raw!
Check out Richard’s sites to find out more about Raw Vegan triathlon training or check out some simple recipes for triathlon gels and sports drinks here