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Old 06-19-08, 01:21 PM   #1
Tony (Michigan)
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Any healthy Vegetarians here?

In his book "Cycling Past 50" Joe Friel has some things to say about vegetarians that worry me. I began eating 99.99% raw September of last year. Some condiments are not raw that go on my salad.

I was around 190 when I started and have maintained 155.5 lbs. give or take a pound for about 7 months now. Friel states in his book that vegetarians don't get enough amino acids (proteins) or iron among other things and that this hurts their performance. Yet there are quite a few professional athletes who are vegan.

How do you maintain the riggors of bicycling being vegan?

I am starting to train using his methodology along with Armstrong's and his former trainer/coach.

Tony
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Old 06-19-08, 03:41 PM   #2
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Do you expect "unhealthy" vegetarians to admit it?
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Old 06-19-08, 03:56 PM   #3
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Protein is a total non-issue for any reasonable vegan diet. Zinc and B-12 are possible worries, easily compensated by supplements. Iron is generally not a problem.

I eat occasional salmon, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, but otherwise qualify as a perfectly healthy and happy vegan.
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Old 06-19-08, 04:59 PM   #4
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I just started eating vegetarian about 3 or 4 months ago--and I've just started training more--but so far I feel fine. Based on what I've read, I don't think there's anything we need that we can't get from a vegetarian diet and perhaps supplements. Plenty of athletes--professional and non--are vegetarian. I have Friel's book too and there is a lot of helpful info in it, but based on other things I've read, I'm not concerned about the veggie diet, for whatever my opinion is worth.
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Old 06-19-08, 05:07 PM   #5
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I'm awash in too many deer and wild turkeys in my neck of the woods to even think about going vegan
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Old 06-19-08, 05:17 PM   #6
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Protein most definitely is an issue. Your body needs protein. If you don't eat enough, it will start breaking down its own muscle tissue for it. Long enough of that and you start losing some serious muscle mass. Vegetarians can get protein from cheese, eggs, etc. Vegans have a harder time because they are strictly fruits, nuts, grain and vegetable. In that case, they have to make sure they eat enough daily protein in the form of legumes (like lentils and other beans), tofu, etc.

In addition, hemoglobin (or hematocrit) plays a big role in sports like cycling. That's why EPO is so popular in the pelotons. This means red blood cells. In order for red blood cells to be produced, you need sufficient levels of iron and vitamin B12. You can't get much of either from a strictly vegan diet (vegetarian not so bad). Both vegan and vegetarians usually need supplements for iron and B12. You can get iron from dark leafy vegetables, from raisins, and a few other things, but you cannot be a vegan or vegetarian without knowing what you're doing, because you need the supplementation as I said, plus you need to eat the right mix of non-meat proteins in order to get complete high-value protien. If you don't it doesn't take long before you start feeling and looking rundown. If hematocrit drops, it doesn't take that much before you start feeling it in your cycling.
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Old 06-19-08, 05:34 PM   #7
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I'm awash in too many deer and wild turkeys in my neck of the woods to even think about going vegan
Wow. A moderator wins the off-topic post of the day award. Jack Lalanne, in his 90s is a semi-vegetarian. He stays away from all bovine products, including milk, but does eat some fish. Bill Pearl is a vegetarian, although not a vegan. He won the Mr. Universe contest and looked pretty good at age 56:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...w=414&sz=30&hl
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Old 06-19-08, 05:40 PM   #8
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While I'll admit I can't understand the reasons for people totally eliminating meat from their diets, I would suggest that you look to the programs of successful vegetarian athletes to base your training program on.
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Old 06-19-08, 06:11 PM   #9
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In his book "Cycling Past 50" Joe Friel has some things to say about vegetarians that worry me. I began eating 99.99% raw September of last year. Some condiments are not raw that go on my salad.

I was around 190 when I started and have maintained 155.5 lbs. give or take a pound for about 7 months now. Friel states in his book that vegetarians don't get enough amino acids (proteins) or iron among other things and that this hurts their performance. Yet there are quite a few professional athletes who are vegan.

How do you maintain the riggors of bicycling being vegan?

I am starting to train using his methodology along with Armstrong's and his former trainer/coach.

Tony

I'm about 95% vegan. Started a couple of years ago mostly from the cancer perspective as I can't afford a recurrence. I had a big protein issue. I got very fatigued and after a couple of weeks figured out that it was lack of protein. I've since run into a women who had that problem for two years before she solved it.

Based on my activity level, it appears I need about 70 to 90 grams/day. It's impossible to get that much unless you gorge on beans/lintels or are into soy. I tried soy years ago (several times) and it made me sick. So I supplement around 30-40 grams/day with rice protein. I may try Tofu or fermented soy as that's the only way historically that soy had been consumed. The other soy products are kind of an experiment. It didn't work for me.

You do need to supplement with B12. I also supplement with 700 to 1000 grams/day of calcium as I eat no dairy. There is evidence that it may not be necessary to do so, but I'm hedging my bets.

I also supplement with Omega 3 (the two types from fish) and do eat a little fish now and then. That's to counter a too high intake of Omega 6 from plants/nuts. Omega 6 tends to thicken your blood while O-3 tends to thin it. Historically our diet gave us a ratio of O-6/O-3 of 3/1 to 1/1. Today, it's claimed that most folks are 20/1 to 10/1. Since our livestock is now corn fed, you don't get the O-3 from meats that we used too.

Iron is also a common problem. I don't seem to have that problem based on my annual blood test. I'm kind of a fanatic though on mixed spinach salads. A friend of mine had a serious iron problem and went back to meat.

I've read a few vegan books. Most seem to be half faith and half science. They claimed all you need is about 30 grams of protein. Fine for a couch potato, but not near enough for my activity level.

There was an article (NYT's?) not too long ago about a pro player who went vegan. It might have been football. He had a rough time and had to get help to ring out his diet. It may not be that simple to go vegan if you're very active.

My nutrition bible for basic nutrition and the tailoring for the very active days is Ryan's Sport's Nutrition for Endurance Athletes (2nd edition). It was due to the book and some google searches that I solved my fatigue problem so quickly. She cautions about the issues you raised as well as the O-6/O-3 ratio.

Al

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Old 06-19-08, 06:52 PM   #10
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I don't know what they base that vegan protein requirement claim on. 30 grams is lower than what is recommended even for people who have to be on a low protein diet for medical reasons (unless they are child-size maybe).
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Old 06-19-08, 08:03 PM   #11
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Al.canoe, you say you take rice protein. What about whey protein in powdered form?

I believe Anne Wigmore lived 20 years just on sprouts and fermented drinks and fermented grains. She got plenty of b-12. She was very active all her life and didn't have any grey hair. She started out with gray hair though.

I am not suggesting a cyclist live on sprouts. It is just that some have done it.
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Old 06-20-08, 12:06 AM   #12
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I eat occasional salmon, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, but otherwise qualify as a perfectly healthy and happy vegan.
And here I've been telling people I'm almost a vegetarian I guess I need to aim higher!
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Old 06-20-08, 07:07 AM   #13
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I'm vegetarian, leaning toward vegan. I'll eat eggs and cheese but lately I seem to be losing my taste for them.

When I was a carnivore at age 30, I acquired the symptoms for Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.

At 48 I stopped eating all meat as a matter of conscience, shortly before being diagnosed with longstanding Anklosing Spondylitis and was prescribed Enbrel and Methotrexate.

At 49 I felt good enough to get back on a bike.

Now at 50, I feel healthier and have more energy than I've had in 20 years.

Recent extensive blood tests show all of my levels right where they are supposed to be.

Life is a trip!
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Old 06-20-08, 07:10 AM   #14
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I was a vegetarian for 20 years and for the last couple of years have slowly been heading back that way. I did notice I was getting a little wimpy on the hills but I didn't even think of associating that with my diet. The change had just been happening naturally without a decision and I am getting a lot older. It took the next routine visit to the doc for him to tell me I was low on iron, so I have started eating more meat but will probably go back to vegetarian with an iron supplement if needed.
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Old 06-20-08, 08:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Longfemur View Post
Protein most definitely is an issue. Your body needs protein. If you don't eat enough, it will start breaking down its own muscle tissue for it. Long enough of that and you start losing some serious muscle mass. Vegetarians can get protein from cheese, eggs, etc. Vegans have a harder time because they are strictly fruits, nuts, grain and vegetable. In that case, they have to make sure they eat enough daily protein in the form of legumes (like lentils and other beans), tofu, etc. ...
I did not express myself clearly -- I should have stated that it is trivial to obtain more-than-adequate amounts of all of the essential amino acids in a vegan diet, assuming that one includes lots of legumes, as I do. This is why I favor Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian, and other cuisines which use various beans liberally. "There is a hummus among us ..."
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Old 06-20-08, 08:47 AM   #16
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That's Ok, John E, I sometimes fail to express myself clearly too. Easy to do in a forum posting.

One thing I find among many people new to the concept of vegetarianism (not meaning you, here) is that they equate protein with meat. They don't realize that vegetarians have the same protein requirements as anyone else, and that it needs to be done in a certain way.
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Old 06-20-08, 10:46 AM   #17
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I just thought I'd mention that it isn't just protien that you need, but a "complete protien." In other words, there are a number of essential amino acids that the body requires. If the protien consumption is otherwise adequate in amounts, but lacking in one of the essential amino acids, you will still have problems. It can happen to people who consume meat too. In a USAF survival school, we were taught that eating rabbit cannot sustain a person, as rabbit meat lacks one essential amino acid for humans. There is a lot written on this, and you can search "essential amino acids" to get more info on this. Here are several:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_amino_acid

http://www.realtime.net/anr/aminoacd.html

http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/food3.htm

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Old 06-20-08, 12:12 PM   #18
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For me, what really clangs is vegetarians and vegans itemizing their supplements all the while testifying as to their excellent health.
If their diet is so great why do they need the supplements?
It's like saying I have a first class bike that only needs me to stop every two miles to put the chain back on, re-tighten the BB and re-adjust the saddle.
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Old 06-20-08, 02:42 PM   #19
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Al.canoe, you say you take rice protein. What about whey protein in powdered form?

I believe Anne Wigmore lived 20 years just on sprouts and fermented drinks and fermented grains. She got plenty of b-12. She was very active all her life and didn't have any grey hair. She started out with gray hair though.

I am not suggesting a cyclist live on sprouts. It is just that some have done it.
For a vegetarian, whey would work. However, I'm vegan; no dairy. There's a very strong correlation between dairy and prostate cancer. That's not proof of a causal relationship, but since I've exhausted both known cures, I'm playing it as safe as I can.

Al
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Old 06-20-08, 02:45 PM   #20
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I just thought I'd mention that it isn't just protien that you need, but a "complete protien." In other words, there are a number of essential amino acids that the body requires. If the protien consumption is otherwise adequate in amounts, but lacking in one of the essential amino acids, you will still have problems.
John
That is now OBE. Your body takes care of converting amino acids to meet it's needs. That used to be a great rational to promote meat/dairy consumption.

Al
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Old 06-20-08, 02:50 PM   #21
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For me, what really clangs is vegetarians and vegans itemizing their supplements all the while testifying as to their excellent health.
If their diet is so great why do they need the supplements?
It's like saying I have a first class bike that only needs me to stop every two miles to put the chain back on, re-tighten the BB and re-adjust the saddle.
aubinmg, I guess that depends upon who you talk to. I have been a raw foodist now for almost a year.
I lightly warm up some things like corn but not over 112 degrees. I try to keep all enzymes intact without destroying them by heat.

I sprout grains and make dehydrated flat breads out of that with raw honey etc. added to the bread.

One thing I am finding difficult though is that sprouted beans (except lentils) taste horrid.

I make green smoothies (see rawfamily.org) which breaks down the cell wall of the plant in order to extract all nutrients out of it.

Gorillas, Elephants, etc. eat raw vegan diets and are very powerful. However, they don't ride bikes.

I just wish there was a way I could definitively know for sure I was getting enough protein.

I don't take vitamin or mineral suppliments since that throws off the natural balance in the vegies I take.

Tony
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Old 06-20-08, 03:00 PM   #22
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For me, what really clangs is vegetarians and vegans itemizing their supplements all the while testifying as to their excellent health.
If their diet is so great why do they need the supplements?
It's like saying I have a first class bike that only needs me to stop every two miles to put the chain back on, re-tighten the BB and re-adjust the saddle.
The B12 supplement because due to factory farming practices, you can't get it from plants anymore. The protein is more of a choice rather than a necessity. You can get plenty if you consume sufficient amounts of the correct plant food.

The omega 3 is more of a hedge than a necessity. It's not proven that you need a low ratio of O-6/O-3. However, there is a lot of evidence that such a low ratio may reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

If in fact we actually did have a low ratio in our diets before factory farming, then it would indeed be a weakness of the vegan approach and supplementation/eating less contaminated fish is necessary. Nothing's perfect.

Then there is no definition yet of "perfect" as far as nutrition is concerned. It'll be decades before we are even close to having one.

Al
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Old 06-20-08, 03:02 PM   #23
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Never really likes Vegetables or Fruit so I am a meat eater.

Fruit is still something I can do without- Unless it is wrapped in Carbo-Hydrates, served hot with lashings of Custard over it. Vegetables on the other hand- I am a keen gardener. Over the years I have dabbled in growing my own veg but in the last 5 years I have noticed a dererioration in shop bought vegetables. So a couple of years ago- I set up a veggie plot. There is nothing better than going down the garden and picking a fresh cabbage- a few pods of peas or beans and a handfull of carrots and cooking fresh. The taste of a home-grown organic pesticide free vegetable is fantastic. I now eat a lot more vegetables than I used to and enjoy them- But only if they are served up with a good 6 to 8oz portion of Animal.
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Old 06-20-08, 09:54 PM   #24
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Been ovo-lactovegetarian for about 6 years, and absolutely no complaints here. Yes, I take a multivitamin, but nothing mega, and nothing more than what most people should take. No worries re: protein, as I get plenty in my diet (tofu, gluten, legumes, dairy), although when I'm bulking (I lift), I drink a whey protein shake just before lifting- just 3x/week. As to iron, I'm fine in that department, as well, being a healthy 58 year-old male. Menstruating women or people with clinical anemia *might* need a supplement, but the epidemiologic evidence is pretty clear that a high level of dietary (or supplement) iron intake is a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease. (That's why you won't see iron added to men's formula multivits.) As to dairy- Al, the study you're probabiy referring to is the one by Park et al.: Am. J. Epidemiol., 1 December 2007; 166: 1270 - 1279. It is hardly conclusive, and only barely suggestive that skim milk (not any other kind) MAY be associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. There are a lot of reasons to be cautious in interpreting this study, and for now, I wouldn't suggest (yes, I'm an epidemiologist) that men stop drinking skim milk, even older men (the ones for whom the slightly increased risk was the highest, but still minimal).

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Old 06-21-08, 03:03 AM   #25
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I eat a lot of beans and rice etc, check this out. http://chetday.com/quinoa.html it tastes good too. I cook it in a microwave 1 cup Q and 2 cups of water until the water is absorbed. Be sure you rinse it before cooking.
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