Plant-based athletes out there are accomplishing incredible things with the benefits of following a healthy and non-toxic diet. The brain and the gut are related and a diet that is low in inflammation can only serve to help you reach optimal health and performance.
1) Believe that plants have the power to make you stronger.
The only fix I had to make when I started training prior to my transition was a change in focus. Diet being 80% or perhaps even more than the health equation, I had to bare in mind the impact that my own health had on my immediate environment. I would say that going plant-based has made me a better athlete and a healthier/radiant person in general.
A plant-based diet can also increase longevity and reduce the risk of illness. Therefore, the benefits of eating a plant-based diet, which include reduced risk of cancer, obesity and diabetes paired with athletic performance can set you up for a whole-some, healthier more and energetic lifestyle. Why not commit to that for yourself?
2) Know the importance of the brain-gut connection. AKA: sharpened intuition and strength (gains are mental, after all):
When you cut out dairy, milk, eggs from your diet, you are paving the way for a healthier micro-biome full of healthy bacteria. We are made of bacteria after all, so why does the lighter/more energetic athlete do better? Because when he/she is in a positive growth mindset, he/she can outperform the other athlete, who is merely surviving and whose brain-gut biome is disrupted by the accumulation of toxic animal products.
I noticed that when I made positive tweaks to my plant-based diet, while following the rules of recovery, hydration and intensity (shorter breaks during sets) during my strength-training and cardio sessions, my overall energy levels seem to be more conducive towards building a stronger version of myself.
Does a plant-based athlete become strong? Yes, if he/she is committed to making choices that benefit his or her goal.
Principles I go by that enable me to commit to my health on top of not consuming animal-based products:
- Commit to strength training 3-4x a week and incorporate High intensity Interval Training into my routine.
- Plant-based foods are whole-some foods. If you want to become stronger and physically fit, place the emphasis on carbs and whole-based plant-based foods and you will become strong (the leanness/growth will be secondary to your strength)
- Sleep <6-8 hours a night, hydrate and repeat. In this fast-paced modern world, it is possible to sleep that long if you commit to being true and humble to your vision which in my case was the training element of my lifestyle. I enjoy being fit, therefore the adjustments I made are secondary to the training, which I enjoy more when I focus on gaining strength.
- Grind out your program. If your personal trainer laid it out for you, if you are training to become more agile, if you are trying to burn fat. Basically, any objective that you have can be achieved by the principle of progressive overload and patience. Bare in mind that the body can change only if enough force is exerted onto it. Also bare in mind that energy is finite and that recovery is part of the whole equation. Take care of your strong and beautiful body so that it can perform as you would want it to.
- Finally, apply a growth mindset to fitness. Fitness is a learning curve and a journey. What worked at one point is not going to work at another, bare in mind that it is a process to be enjoyed and not to be forced upon for immediate results. A healthy and happier you should always be the objective!