As a professional triathlete, it is important to figure out the equation to be as lean and strong as possible, but still have enough energy stores to meet the high demands of training, racing, recovering, and traveling.
At the end of 2016, I decided to implement a plant-based diet. I read a lot about endurance athletes switching over to this type of diet and having success. I made the change at the end of 2016 and strictly held myself accountable throughout the entire season in 2017. I partnered with BlueprintFit in the middle of 2017 but I assumed with having a vegan diet my bloodwork would be flawless. To be honest, I did not get enough testing done to monitor the changes in my body with the new diet.
I was having the best season to date with 5 wins until around October, and then things went south. I had no energy, motivation, and could not finish workouts. Most notably, I stopped having my period. This is always a bad sign and can have severe long-term effects. I decided it was time to get more testing done with Blueprint and also have it analyzed to see what was going on.
In November, I got blood testing done with BlueprintFit and there were some major red flags:
- Very low B12 which can lead to cognitive decline, fatigue, anemia
- Low prealbumin indication nutritional (protein) malnourishment
- Low hematocrit which means anemia, fatigue, poor athletic performance
- Low EPA/DHA associated with higher states of inflammation, poor recovery, anxiety, depression
- Lower amount of free thyroid hormone
- Lower carnitine which is vital for the ability to burn fat
- Extremely low cholesterol which inhibits the making of vitamin D and leads to low absorption of calcium
After learning about these issues, I decided to make a change and end my plant based diet. The transition from being 100% plant based to incorporating animal products into my diet has been challenging as I expected, but I am feeling stronger and executing training exactly as planned.
I gained about 6 lbs. My body feels heavier, but I have more energy in training and I have yet to have a niggle or any health issues this winter. Overall, I am very happy since nailing my training is my main focus right now and not necessarily how I feel or look.
Breakfast still consists of a giant glass of lemon water immediately when waking up, two big cups of coffee with unsweetened almond milk, a can of Beet Performer and oatmeal. However, now my oatmeal is a little more substantial. I have 2/3c of organic rolled oats, 10g of Garden of Life Vanilla protein powder, 1 scoop of collagen peptides, banana, almond butter, and chia seeds. It is pretty high calorie and full of protein but I feel satisfied after and I can train shortly after eating this.
After my first training session, I have lunch which consists of 2 eggs with the yolks, ½ avocado, spinach, sweet potatoes or quinoa and collagen peptides. I am eating eggs all of the time and I have had fun learning new ways to prepare them. I literally have never hard boiled an egg until this month. Now, I can’t get enough of them! If I need something easier to digest I make a protein smoothie with Beet Performer, Garden of Life protein, frozen bananas and berries, and almond butter.
Dinner is where big changes have been made. I have red meat (preferably Bison) 1-2x a week and I have fish (Salmon, Mahi Mahi or Ahi Tuna) 1x a week. I try to eat red meat after big training days. The evenings I do not have meat, I always have 1 hard-boiled egg. The rest of the meal is plant based. That usually consists of a quinoa salad, veggies, potatoes, coconut sticky rice, soups etc. I am staying away from bread as much as possible after midday and I am also not eating dairy.
After 12 weeks on this plan, I decided to get my blood checked again with Blueprint. I knew it would not be anywhere close to ideal. It took about 10 months to deplete myself of nutrients so I am fully aware I will not be back to normal overnight, especially with hard training. My training is in full swing sitting at around 25hr a week with some high intensity and high volume mixed in. However, I got my period back and I feel healthier all around.
My March labs reported that:
- My Hemoglobin/hematocrit are much higher which means I am staying clear of anemia
- Higher prealbumin which means I am eating sufficient calories for the exercise I am doing
- B12 and Folate are better but still on the low-normal side and can be improved
- EPA/DHA still low which means I need more Omega-3s in my diet
- My good HDL cholesterol is much higher which is driving up my total cholesterol #
I am fortunate to have BlueprintFit as a tool to monitor my health on the road to feeling healthy and strong again! I will continue to post updates on the process and how I am racing and adapting.
Choose the tests that are best for you: Blueprint One, Metabolism, Nutrition, Muscle & Recovery, Endurance, Hormones, and Food Allergens (link coming soon). BlueprintFit also offers coaching with registered dietitians to review results and identify strategies to improve your health and performance.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BlueprintFit. The opinions and text are all mine.