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vegan cyclists

Old 04-14-17, 11:45 AM
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vegan cyclists

I've seen various testimonials from vegan cyclists about how going vegan or meat/dairy free have helped dramatically improve their cycling performance. One guy said his FTP went up 50W. Another guy said he's recovering faster. I believe both of these guys were interviewed by the vegan cyclist (youtube channel).

Can you guys shed some light on why going vegan can help you performance wise? Is it the micronutrients? avoidance of processed food? what's wrong with meat/dairy?
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Old 04-14-17, 11:53 AM
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I have to wonder if its just an increase in overall diet quality and carbohydrate intake.
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Old 04-14-17, 11:55 AM
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Wait, you're telling me a vegan bragged about all the wonderful benefits of being a vegan?
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Old 04-14-17, 12:03 PM
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i've been trying a different diet this year which is hardly vegan, but could probably best be described as 'non militant pollo-pescetarian'. basically, ive tried to cut out red meat entirely, but make exceptions when options are limited (for example, eating at someone's house for dinner). i cut out beef/lamb/pork and processed meats (bacon/sausages/deli meats) as much as possible because i can't find any literature that says they're good for me (iron isn't really something i'm that concerned about and there are other ways to get it). i also try to view meat as an 'accent' to the meal as opposed to the 'main thing' (ie/ the meat on my pasta should be more proportional to the sprinkling of parmesan i grate over it as opposed to the noodles).

my reasoning is that i tended to chose the most unhealthy meats as much as possible because it tastes the best, and now that i've limited my options i'm eating fish much more (~2 times a week consistently) and completely vegetarian some days. i'm also eating more veg/fruit because i now need to eat more to get the same calories i was previously getting from all the calorically dense meats. in the end, i think my diet is healthier and more balanced on the whole (and has less carbon impact, for whatever thats worth) and only required about a 3 week adjustment period. basically, as @wktmeow guessed, limiting meat intake has just helped shift me to a healthier diet with a slightly different macro breakdown (mainly less fat - i still make sure to get the ~30g of protein at each meal)

i don't know that i have any hard numbers about recovering faster or a 50W FTP boost (which seems really suspicious), but i think there's potential benefits from altering ones diet provided its done responsibly. i also like the line the 'its better to be vegan 90% of the time than try to do it 100% of the time and fail'.
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Old 04-14-17, 12:17 PM
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Are you taking any supplements? I know there are other sources of iron, but non-heme iron isn't as readily absorbed by the body, and even in leafy greens the total amount of iron is pretty low compared to what you'd get in red meat. Personally, I was feeling pretty drained off the bike during some higher volume weeks, so I started taking an iron supplement and started feeling more energetic within a couple of days (but I admit this may have been the placebo effect).

I'm also experimenting with eating less meat overall though. Trying to do at least a few meatless meals per week, and I'm thinking about having an enforced 'meatless monday'. I've been stocking up on cookbooks and making some nice dinners 3-4 times a week lately, so it shouldn't be too hard to transition compared to when I was eating out regularly.
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Old 04-14-17, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
One guy said his FTP went up 50W.
Sounds like witchcraft and sorcery to me. While I do believe eating and drinking "cleaner" will improve performance, 50W sounds a little riciulous, all else being equal.

Also, is vegancyclist the same dude as durianrider? Guy's a kook.

Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Wait, you're telling me a vegan bragged about all the wonderful benefits of being a vegan?
right???
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Old 04-14-17, 12:33 PM
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i mean, i still eat red meat maybe once every week or two. but getting iron from a plant source isn't *that* hard - i eat oatmeal with nuts/seeds/fruit every day and wouldn't be surprised if i dont get it all from that, or the beans/lentils+grains/leafy greans i tend to eat at lunch (combining non-heme sources with Vitamin C helps uptake). one time i tracked it for a week and i was probably getting around 3-4x the recommended daily intake, so even with less absorption i think im OK.

i do take a multi-vitamin that happens to contain iron as well, and i also have regular blood panels (a ton of runners i know are anemic), but ive never experienced issues.
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Old 04-14-17, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by scheibo View Post
i've been trying a different diet this year which is hardly vegan, but could probably best be described as 'non militant pollo-pescetarian'. basically, ive tried to cut out red meat entirely, but make exceptions when options are limited (for example, eating at someone's house for dinner). i cut out beef/lamb/pork and processed meats (bacon/sausages/deli meats) as much as possible because i can't find any literature that says they're good for me (iron isn't really something i'm that concerned about and there are other ways to get it). i also try to view meat as an 'accent' to the meal as opposed to the 'main thing' (ie/ the meat on my pasta should be more proportional to the sprinkling of parmesan i grate over it as opposed to the noodles).

my reasoning is that i tended to chose the most unhealthy meats as much as possible because it tastes the best, and now that i've limited my options i'm eating fish much more (~2 times a week consistently) and completely vegetarian some days. i'm also eating more veg/fruit because i now need to eat more to get the same calories i was previously getting from all the calorically dense meats. in the end, i think my diet is healthier and more balanced on the whole (and has less carbon impact, for whatever thats worth) and only required about a 3 week adjustment period. basically, as @wktmeow guessed, limiting meat intake has just helped shift me to a healthier diet with a slightly different macro breakdown (mainly less fat - i still make sure to get the ~30g of protein at each meal)

i don't know that i have any hard numbers about recovering faster or a 50W FTP boost (which seems really suspicious), but i think there's potential benefits from altering ones diet provided its done responsibly. i also like the line the 'its better to be vegan 90% of the time than try to do it 100% of the time and fail'.
i've noticed similar improvements in my health by eating less meat, more fruits/vegetables, and adding fish to my diet. that hasn't been the case very much lately, because grad school has me by the balls, and i barely have the time to cook.
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Old 04-14-17, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
Sounds like witchcraft and sorcery to me. While I do believe eating and drinking "cleaner" will improve performance, 50W sounds a little riciulous, all else being equal.

Also, is vegancyclist the same dude as durianrider? Guy's a kook.



right???
vegancyclist is a guy in california. durianrider is aussie, a little rough around the edges, but a good guy overall i think
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Old 04-14-17, 01:15 PM
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gotcha
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Old 04-14-17, 01:25 PM
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There is a handful of vegan cyclists that ride/race around here. They preach the diet heavily and swear it'd let them pedal to the moon if they desired. I haven't seen any dramatic improvements from guys they recruit into the mix though. 50 watt FTP jump would be cool.
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Old 04-14-17, 01:45 PM
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The local p1/2 crit champ/badass eats hamburgers, I believe.
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Old 04-14-17, 02:09 PM
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I think it has to do with overall better diet, lower calorie intake, and TONS of carbs. this results in leaning out quickly while having tons of readily available sugar to burn for fuel. you don't have to be a vegan to reap these benefits, just meter and time sugar intake around your workouts and you'll see some of the same results. I've personally experienced this by consciously regulating my sugar intake (specifically upping it, A LOT, before and during hard workouts) and I've noticed a huge change in ability to sustain power for long periods, and being able to recover mid-ride by ingesting pure dextrose to spike blood sugar.
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Old 04-14-17, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by scheibo View Post
i mean, i still eat red meat maybe once every week or two. but getting iron from a plant source isn't *that* hard
agree, but some folks (based on their dietary choices) have a problem with that.

Originally Posted by scheibo
- i eat oatmeal with nuts/seeds/fruit every day and wouldn't be surprised if i dont get it all from that, or the beans/lentils+grains/leafy greans i tend to eat at lunch (combining non-heme sources with Vitamin C helps uptake).
vitamin c definitely helps there.

Originally Posted by scheibo
one time i tracked it for a week and i was probably getting around 3-4x the recommended daily intake, so even with less absorption i think im OK.
while the heme/non-heme difference in absorption is real, is more like the difference between whole milk and 2% milk: whole milk is not "100%".

can't recall off the top by rate of heme absorption is on the order of 10-30% (it varies based on the individual and timing) vs something like 2.5-20% for non-heme. IOW one is *typically* a bit better absorbed, but neither comes anywhere close to full absorption.


Originally Posted by scheibo
i do take a multi-vitamin that happens to contain iron as well, and i also have regular blood panels (a ton of runners i know are anemic), but ive never experienced issues.
hard workouts, repeatedly, do tend to deplete iron stores, and there are many endurance athletes (particularly runners where every extra ounce can be felt) have... interesting... diets.

only real way to tell is to get regular panels.

unnecessarily supplementing (pills w/ iron) is possibly a waste of money and, even worse, a health risk.
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Old 04-14-17, 07:58 PM
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It's BS really. They are either lying or just experiencing placebo.

Performance is going to come from proper macronutrient balance and micronutrient intake. Most of those vegans don't get enough protein. That's terrible for cycling and recovery. Most don't get enough fat. Fat is an essential nutrient for cell rebuilding as well, proper organ function, and testosterone production.

Carbs are the only nutrient that's not essential. But they are the body's preferred source of fuel. So great for cycling obviously. They are also muscle sparing so again, great for riding.

If you can eat vegan and get enough fat and protein to hit your macro goals then that's fine and awesome. But it's harder to do that being vegan. Most vegan protein is weak as well. Not a balanced and complete amino acid profile.

So I have nothing against veganism. I just have a problem with thinking it has magical properties that defy the laws of thermodynamics and nutrition.
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Old 04-14-17, 08:19 PM
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Local 2x RAAM finisher and age-group winner, ultra marathon runner, otherwise super crazy endurance guy eats his body weight in fried chicken at team camp every year...

Local militant vegan guy is reasonably fast, but won't shut up about being vegan. It was painful watching his girlfriend eyeball the fried chicken at camp. I thought about slipping her some while he was in the restroom.
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Old 04-14-17, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
Also, is vegancyclist the same dude as durianrider? Guy's a kook.
Like someone mentioned, they're different dudes.

Durianrider repeats himself repeats himself a lot.

VeganCyclist makes informative and interesting well made race and training videos. He's not a weaponized vegan shaming your food choices like some appear to do.

VC makes way better videos than Maven, if that's any sort of metric.
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Old 04-15-17, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by aplcr0331 View Post
Like someone mentioned, they're different dudes.

Durianrider repeats himself repeats himself a lot.

VeganCyclist makes informative and interesting well made race and training videos. He's not a weaponized vegan shaming your food choices like some appear to do.

VC makes way better videos than Maven, if that's any sort of metric.
Vegan Cyclist is awesome. He's the best cycling channel out there next to GCN.
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Old 04-15-17, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly215 View Post
Most of those vegans don't get enough protein. That's terrible for cycling and recovery. Most don't get enough fat.
this is demonstrably false for vegans eating enough calories of a relatively balanced diet.
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Old 04-16-17, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
this is demonstrably false for vegans eating enough calories of a relatively balanced diet.
Except that it's not. You just said for those eating a balanced diet. It's hard to eat a balanced diet eating vegan. Look at durianrider. Dude gets no protein or fat at all. Even the vegan Cyclist who I love, when he talks about what he eats I'm seriously questioning his macro breakdown.

I eat 120-150 grams of protein per day. I don't know how I'd do that vegan. I do have vegan protein supplements and eat tofu here and there but it'd be tough.

It's an undeniable fact that vegetable sources of protein don't have the complete amino acid profile that animal sources do. Not all protein is equal. So even if you are hitting your protein goals as a vegan, are they complete sources?
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Old 04-16-17, 07:00 AM
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first of all i agree that no one should model their diet after durianrider.

but what makes you think you need that much protein? I get about 1g/kg, which is low compared to most here, but is not an issue for all at me. That being said, I'm not going to pretend that going vegan made me feel better, i feel pretty much the same as I did while I was eating meat, but I definitely don't feel worse.
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Old 04-16-17, 07:11 AM
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Something that happens is that when people start some type of food intake guideline - be it something like veg, or veganism, or be it a specific diet plan - what they're actually doing is paying attention to their food intake for the first time - and that's what provides the benefits.

That's one of the reason that so many different diets have some scientific foundation - and why so many of them, too, can sort of flip flop in what they show over time. You know: eggs will kill you one day; eggs are a superfood the next.

A lot of dietary benefit comes from not just what you eat, not the specific diet, not veganism, but in paying attention to it and trimming out an overreliance on crappy foods, empty calories, etc etc. Pollan's advice of "eat food, not too much, mostly plants" rings well here.
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Old 04-16-17, 07:14 AM
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i totally agree with that, which is why I think I didn't see some type of crazy improvement when i went vegan because I pretty much just took what I was eating before and replaced chicken/eggs with beans/lentils/tofu/tempeh/etc.
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Old 04-16-17, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Philly215 View Post
It's BS really. They are either lying or just experiencing placebo.

Performance is going to come from proper macronutrient balance and micronutrient intake. Most of those vegans don't get enough protein.
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Old 04-17-17, 04:17 PM
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I can't really comment on the performance aspect of being vegan because I have been vegetarian since I was 10 years old (33 years ago) and mostly vegan all my adult life (with the rare exception of some cheese or dairy products when eating out) . I ate that way long before I started cycling. My reasons for not eating animal products are ethical and environmental but I think there are some health benefits, a lot of the meat and dairy consumed has hormones and other carcinogens, unless you can afford to buy organic, grass fed etc.
I've done just fine as a cyclist on a plant based diet (and triathlete prior to that). I don't preach vegetarianism but when people ask me about it, the number one question is always "where do you get your protein?" I should really come up with a better answer but I honestly don't know, but I must get enough because I have plenty energy and recover well from workouts. I do take a Vit B12 supplement and I drink a Vega shake about 4-5 times per week just to add some more protein, calcium and vitamins to my diet.
One of the best resources online is Rich Roll's website and podcasts. Not all of his podcasts are about diet (some of the other ones are really interesting too) but he does highlight some very successful athletes who are vegan.
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