Category: Training

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Vegan no more… or why I moved on from vegan diet

Lot’s of energy, getting thinner and feeling great were my side effects of being on a vegan diet. Not bad right? Right. Honestly I didn’t mind the vegan lifestyle which I held for over a year. In the beginning I don’t remember if it was my constant running that inspired me to eat vegan, or the other way around. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point. I can attribute both the running and vegan lifestyle to books like “how not to die”, “Born to run”, “The china study” and “Whole”. Great books, great research and really, a great lifestyle to live for many people.

The first months or so I lost weight, felt great and in general was impressed by how much food I could eat and not get fat. Pretty amazing. However, later on I quit running daily and realised that my weight started to come back and on top of that my body fat % was increasing. So I eliminated fats from my vegan diet, didn’t help. Just ended up being more tired, and I mean really tired. So I started increasing sugar and fruit intake. This didn’t help much either and instead I started to have energy crashing and constant cravings. The entire time during my vegan experiment I noticed that I had to eat constantly – at least 3-5 times a day, proper meals. I was always hungry. I’m not a scientists or doctor, but if the vegan diet is suppose to be the optimised human diet, why would I have to eat all the time? That was my thought process.

I also started fasting more, sometimes one day a week to just intermittent fasting, I don’t find the vegan diet to lend itself so well to fasting. My hunger would be ravenous quickly. Within hours of my last meal, I would be craving a new meal. When I woke up I would be desperate for food. When I would fast on a vegan diet, I would basically be lying in bed staring at the clock. I have a lot of will power, something I train daily. But I also like to use my willpower on issues other than food; like being a creative, productive individual to society. Reaching goals, building systems and running different businesses.

I also found that while I was quite happy living vegan, my family, not so much which often created unnecessary irritations in an otherwise excellent relationship. While I love animals and empathise with the plight of the factory farmed animal – the mental stress and bodily stress just wasn’t worth it for me. Sorry.

So where I have gone with my food then? Honestly after living vegan for a year, my body and mind was craving fat and meat. I felt it in my bones. So, I ate fat and meat. Lot’s of it. I am very much against factory farming, so I am in the process of getting my hunting liscense. I’m not sure there is anything more ethical or meaningful than being a hunter. (not trophy hunter killing near extinct animals.. those guys are pieces of shit) This is something I have learned over the last year or so of reading and studying hunting.  This is also what convinced me to drop the Vegan lifestyle in the end. I would venture to say that without hunters, many more animals would be extinct, many more animals would die of starvation, disease and pretty much any other cause.

Now I know a lot of vegans that will say “your doing it wrong that’s why it’s not working for you”.. perhaps, but being vegan is not that difficult. You don’t eat meat or animal fats and proteins among other principles. Maybe I wasn’t eating enough sugar and cupcakes. Also, you can pretty much make the argument “you not doing it right” with just about anything. Look at communism for example – has never worked, will never work and is an absolute plague among mankind. Yet people still long for the controlling hand of Mao or Stalin. Remember “It has just never been done right”

Keto 

I have read quite a bit about Keto, and it’s something I might want to try with more dedication in the future. But mentally I’m just not there yet. From time to time I drink bulletproof coffee after a long night of fasting, but haven’t found any positive cognitive functions or any noticeable effects on my body.. other than a higher body fat %. I do like the taste though. I recently did a 2 day fast only drinking water and found that I finally came into ketosis with a 1.3 mmol ketones level. Not sure the effort is worth the results. But again, this is something I will experiment more with in the future.

Slow carb

So I guess you could say I’ve landed somewhere between a keto diet and Slow carb. I have cut out all sugar, white carbs and fruit from my normal day to day eating. With a cheat day every week. I find that the cheat day is something that I look forward to, but when the day comes, I realise just how bad and uncontrolled my old diet really was. Things I would eat daily have now been pushed to a certain time slot one day a week. I also find that my insulin levels are low and my energy is high as well as an elevated cognitive function. Much clearer thinking and brain functioning than my year with veganism. As an added bonus I am losing weight and body fat rapidly and eat twice a day with barely any hunger pains in between meals. Amazing. In less than a month I have lost 6 kilos body weight and 3% body fat. No training or running of any kind as it’s been too damn cold here. Just a light Wim Hof training daily (breathing, some pushups, and weightless squats)

I usually eat my last meal between 18.00 – 19.00 and don’t eat again until 11-12 the next day with no loss in energy or cognitive function. Now that seems to be an optimised human diet, or at-least an optimised diet for my genetic makeup. I recently did a two day fast – just water for two full days. My energy levels held up, though I would say by the end of day two I was getting hungry.

Fasting

As I have written a few times, I have started experimenting with fasting, as there is a lot of research suggesting that fasting is excellent for long term health. My goal is to do a three day fast every month and maybe a 5 day fast once every six months. I recently did a 2 day fast without too many complications, though I did have to fight boredom a bit. I realised by fasting that I am a “stimulant” eater. I like to eat as it gives me something to do.

Going to the movies: gotta eat popcorn

Watching a movie at home: Popcorn, chips and nuts

Playing video games: candy is nice

upset: chocolate

Sitting on the couch: grapes, oranges, apples.. anything really

So boredom is definitely a factor in my eating process and something I am mentally working through. Especially now when I work mostly from home. Interestingly enough, I find using the local coffee shop as my office is great for the boredom factor and I don’t eat at all. Buy a coffee and I’m good to go.

Results of my fasting so far: not sure, forgot to measure everything. The only thing I did measure during my fasting was my glucose blood levels and my Ketons.

Conclusion:

Now I don’t think I will get any backlash here from the vegan crew out there as I never professed to be a vegan anyway. Barely ever mentioned it, and certainly didn’t build my reputation on being a vegan. I don’t believe in dieting to lose weight, for me it’s about optimisation. What works best for my body with the least amount of work, thought and foresight required without making me fat, stupid and disease ridden. I am always experimenting and I love the process of trial and error and measuring results. Veganism simply doesn’t work for me, maybe in the future I will give it a go again, when I’m rich and can have a full time cook working and preparing all my food. Until then however, I will go with an option that works for my body, schedule and laziness.

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My training and progression in running

I just ran my first half marathon, my body and feet are still sore and my stomach now full from my first real meal in 7 hours. I certainly didn’t break any records on this run, but considering in January I was puking from a 10 kilometer run, I would say I feel damn good. I had no real reason to run other than the fact that I felt like it. The weather was nice and I needed to get out and explore. It was an excellent run, and while certainly tough, was a lot of fun.

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In January I ran my first 10k ever in my first competition ever called the Stockholm winter run. It sucked. My time was 1hr 7minutes and I thought I was going to die. I never considered myself a runner, but I had always fantasied about it. In the last 5 years I might have run a total of 10 kilometers and on top of that I haven’t done any kind of training in well over a year or so. I was convinced running was for other people, you know, the small, skinny people who couldn’t cut it at any other sport.

My training program

I will be honest with you here.. I am by no means an expert when it comes to training for my runs. As I wrote earlier in this post, I haven’t run much in my life. But I have read a few books, and really tried to get caught up quickly, and so far what I am doing seems to work. My first 10k I ran in January took me 1hr 7 minutes and nearly killed me. My heart rate was firing hard and I had to take a few breaks along the way. My second 10k that I ran two months later I did in 56 minutes and I felt I could have done a lot better, my energy levels and endurance was through the roof. I originally got my idea on training from again the book born to run. Or atleast the idea of how running should be and I kind of took it from there.

In the book born to run the author talks about how his trainer said ”slow down, if it’s not fun your doing it wrong”. Or something like that. So I kept that in mind when I started my training, I would slow down if I was breathing hard or feeling that my run was tough. Why not very specific, it worked in keeping me motived in the beginning. From there I later read a book by Rich Rolls called Finding ultra. Here he gets more specific and talks about heart rate zones. Namely he discusses how he could go hard but would burn out quickly. So his training coach told him to never pass 140 beats per minute and run longer.

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After playing around with different training and running apps I eventually landed with iSmoothrun that allows me to pretty much do anything I need from an app and export to any other systems such as strava and so on. I setup my heartrate in 5 zones. 1 is a light walk, 2 is a bit harder walk, 3 is a light jog, 4 is a good race pace and 5 is death. Well not really death, but I can’t run very far in zone 5. Zone three is somewhere between 135-143 Beats per minute (bpm), and this is where I do all of my training in.

I try to do 4-5 10k’s a week (about an hour and five minutes in zone 3) and now I added 1 long run on the weekend which is anywhere between 1 hour – 4 hours. Distance is not as important for me as time running. I find that because I haven’t run a lot in my life that I definitely have to work on my endurance. I already know I can keep a good pace for over 2 hours, now I just have to increase the amount of time running.

Heart rate zones:

1 – light walk

2 – faster walk but not running

3 – Light jog – builds endurance and is fun to run in

4 – tougher, good race pace

5 – max heart rate zone

Running:

Always do all my training in zone 3. It’s fun and builds endurance.

Every run is at-least 5k (35 minutes). While most runs now are around 10k (1 hour)

I try to run 4-5 days a week with a long run on the weekend between 2-4 hours long.

Though I am still working on my endurance for the long run – it wasn’t so long ago that I couldn’t run a 10 k (less than 3 months ago), now I am running them several times a week and having a blast.

Perhaps soon I will include 800 meter yasso’s

Yasso: take the time you plan on doing the marathon (your 10k times 4) for me this would be 4hours and 15minutes (I’m not breaking any records here). Anyway you run 800meters in the time in minutes and seconds. So for me this would be 800meters in 4minutes and 15 seconds, then light jog 4minutes and 15seconds and repeat 6-7 times.

I haven’t included yasso’s or any other kind of sprints into my training as I am still just trying to build endurance and not really too concerned with speed yet. Perhaps that will be at a later time. But so far I love my long endurance runs and I don’t really want to burn myself out doing sprints and anything else that could kill my motivation.

Nutrition

I found rather quickly that I simply couldn’t keep my standard paleo diet any longer the more I was training. Besides the fact that I was always getting sick, I realized that I simply didn’t have the needed energy to do my runs as often as I wanted to, as my body simply needed a lot more high quality carbs. So I made a change over to a WFPB (Whole Foods plant based diet) – vegan. And found the results to be amazing so far. I have a lot more energy, I’m not getting sick anymore (from 2-3 times a month for the last couple of years to nothing), and as an added bonus I’m not getting cramps anymore nor am I bed bound after a heavy meal.

My pre-run nutrition on regular 10k run days is just about any vegan meal a few hours before my run and coconut water with me along on the run. This gives me plenty of energy for these runs. I run mid-afternoon usually right after work as it’s a good time for me. It’s easy to get motivated to run after sitting at a desk for a few hours.

Perhaps later on I will try and move this to early mornings as I’m usually awake around 5am anyway, I just haven’t found the motivation to change this part of my routine yet.

I’m still working on my nutrition needs for my long run days, but so far I usually do my long runs on the weekend so I eat my morning bowl of oats laced with Maca powder, spirulina powder, sunflower seeds, pumpkin and chia seeds. I give my stomach a two hours to rest, then a drink a small smoothie consisting of beets, coconut water, bananas, apples, some nuts and seeds as well as Maca powder and spirulina powder and topped off with kale.

On the long runs themselves I bring coconut water and two homemade energy bars consisting of dates and nuts of some kind. (Can be found in backpacking recipes section of this site.)

That’s it. That is my running nutrition at the moment and I feel amazing. I feel like I’m in my teens about energy wise and my recovery time is fantastic.

Goals:

So now that I am running my ass off what is my motivation? In the beginning I started running because I felt it was something I had always wished I could do. Felt like something that I had to do. My duty as a human I guess. Can’t explain it. My other motivation is that I figured if I could run a marathon than my long hikes should never be a problem again. As I started to run, and now I feel like I am getting pretty good at it, my goals include running ultra marathons, marathons and trail running. No real reason anymore, just a ”why not” kind of thing. Kind of like backpacking, or as Scott Jurek likes to say ”sometimes we just do things”.

It’s fun… it’s as simple as that!