How to Eat a Well Balanced Plant-Based Diet While Training for a Marathon
Eating enough food and eating the right foods is just as important as conditioning your body to run faster and longer when it comes to marathon training, or any high intensity sport. You can't perform your best if you aren't fueling your body the right way. If you begin your day with a bowl of sugary cereal or doughnuts, expect to feel lethargic and hungry for more sugar. If you eat a heavy lunch that consists of meat, cheese, and white flour (think pasta or white bread), you're going to want to take a nap by mid-afternoon. And here's the thing, the more processed, high fat, and high cholesterol foods that you eat, the more you'll crave them. It's a vicious cycle.
The good news is that you can reverse bad eating habits and teach your body and mind to want healthy foods. I did, and you can too.
A few weeks ago I was talking with my hair stylist, and she said that she was impressed by my willpower and healthy eating habits. I told her that it really didn't have anything to do with willpower, because the food that I share with you in these posts is what I love to eat, it's what I crave. I really like spinach salads, fruit smoothies, and veggie pizza without the cheese. Sure, I indulge in the occasional bowl of potato chips and sweets as much as the next person, and that's okay, as long as the majority of the foods that I eat are whole and plant-based. That's the beautiful thing about eating a healthy vegan diet, you can splurge every once in a while without feeling guilty.
The longer you eat a whole food plant-based diet, the more you'll crave foods that are good for you. That's really important if you're athletic, and even more important if you're not. People who don't like to exercise already have a strike against them when it comes to their health, so eating the most nutrient dense foods that you can eat, that are also low in fat and cholesterol, is a non-negotiable if you want to feel your best and stay out of the doctor's office.
As marathon training kicks into high gear, I'm all the more conscious of how much food I'm consuming. I make sure that I'm eating a balanced diet that will supply me with all of the protein, nutrients, and healthy fats that I'll need to get me through the race. Here's an example of what I ate in an average day.
This is What a Balanced Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Looks Like
I started my day around 5:30 am with a tall glass of lemon water and a hot cup of Nespresso coffee with frothy almond milk.
After checking my email and blog comments I ate a banana and a handful of almonds and stretched and used the foam roller before my run. I also drank a big glass of water.
After my run I made a chocolate pineapple protein smoothie with Arbonne protein powder, frozen pineapple, spinach, and a banana. It doesn't look pretty, but it tastes great!
By the time I finished drinking my smoothie, stretching, rolling out my muscles, and showering, I was ready for a real breakfast. My body was craving something fresh and fruity, so I made a spinach salad with organic strawberries, blueberries, raw hemp seeds, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. DELICIOUS!
After sitting at the computer for a few hours I was ready to get into the kitchen and start experimenting with a chocolate mint protein brownie recipe that I had been thinking about. Click here for the recipe.While the brownies baked I made my favorite chickpea curry "egg" salad sandwich. Click here for the recipe.
I ate two of the chocolate mint protein brownies that I made earlier with a cup of green tea.
I didn't want to cook so I ordered a vegetarian pizza with extra sauce and no cheese and ate two pieces. The hubby and I opened a bottle of bubbles and made a toast to the beautiful summer day.
I ate an organic apricot and drank another glass of water before going to sleep.
How Much Protein is in a Plant-Based Diet?
Plenty. If you're eating a well rounded, balanced diet you don't need to think about whether or not you're getting enough protein. The only reason that I put protein powder in my smoothie after running is because I'm working out much more than the average person. On this particular day I consumed approximately 84 grams of high quality plant-based protein. That's almost twice as much as the daily recommended allowance of 46 grams.
Friday - Two hours of doubles tennis and upper body workout. 2 mile walk with the dogs.
Saturday - 12 mile run and a 2 mile walk with the dogs. We went to the vegan food festival in Chicago so I walked a few miles at that as well.
Sunday - Active rest day. I walked the dogs for 2 miles and played spikeball with my family.
Monday - Two hours of doubles tennis, a 5.9 mile run, and a two mile dog walk.
Tuesday - 4.6 mile run and a 2 mile dog walk. I also played a 1 and 1/2 hour singles match.
Wednesday - Interval training workout and a 1 mile dog walk.
Thursday - 5.5 mile run and a 2 mile dog walk.
Friday - 2 hours of doubles tennis and upper body workout. 2 mile dog walk.
Total miles run - 28 miles
Total miles walked - 16 miles
Total hours of tennis played - 7 and 1/2
I had a successful week of training, I feel great, and I'm looking forward to the July 4th weekend. I hope you all took something away from this. I wish you the healthiest and happiest weekend celebrating our countries independence!
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