So yesterday I ran an ultramarathon – the FATS 50K – and now I’m starting on a vegan slow-carb diet. Why? A couple of reasons. One, I just read Tim Ferriss’s Four-Hour Body, and I’m intrigued by the concept. Two, right now seems like a good time for experimentation. I’m fresh off a 50k, and a renewed emphasis on whole foods might help recovery. The other reason that right now also seems like a good time to give this no-white-carbs-no-fruit-no-sugar thing a try is because I’m already looking ahead to my next two fall races – the Spartan Beast in Spartanburg (yes, you read that right) on November 4, and One Epic Run in early December. I’m curious to see if/how the change of diet affects my training and my race-day performance for each.
Unlike most people (I assume) who go on the slow-carb diet, I don’t really have a weight-loss goal. It probably wouldn’t hurt if I lost up to 5 more lbs., but at 5’7” and 130(ish) lbs., I’m quite certain that all will be fine if my weight remains the same. No, I’m really more interested in finding out if the change in diet, particularly the increased protein intake, will result in any noticeable strength gains by the time I compete in the Beast and in One Epic Run.
Also unlike most people on this diet…I’m vegan. At first glance, the vegan diet doesn’t lend itself especially well to this or any other low-carb (let’s call it what it is) diet. After all, what does a vegan eat besides carbs? Definitely not protein, since you can’t get protein without eating meat, dairy and egg white omelettes…right?
Wrong. All foods born of a living cell contain protein. Dark leafy greens, fruit (not that I’ll be eating any on the diet), carrots, all of ‘em. Other nutrients, too, unlike most high-protein fare you can pick up at a drive-thru window.
Which brings me to my next point: A whole-foods plant-based diet is surprisingly similar to the Paleo diet. Meat’s the biggest difference between them, and both discourage the consumption of foods that are not “whole” – as in white carbs and anything else that’s processed.
One of the ways in which the slow-carb diet is more doable as a vegan is that it allows, even encourages, the consumption of legumes for “caloric load” and to replace grains and other sources of carbs which can derail weight-loss efforts due to how the body processes most high-carb foods.
I’ve taken some baseline measurements from first thing in the morning on October 1 (yesterday) before the 50k and started to publish them here, but then it occurred to me that even personal acquaintances might not be ready for that much information about yours truly… So I’ve written them down in my journal and will provide updates on relative changes from week to week.
In terms of athletic performance, I don’t really have a baseline since I’ll be running both of these races for the first time. However, having participated in events of similar duration and intensity, I think I’ll be able to gauge whether the diet helped, hindered or did nothing by how I feel as it goes along, how my training goes, and the results of my first attempts at both races.
My hippie vegan slow-carb diet and exercise journal follows.