Category: vegan

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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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How running has changed my backpacking

Last year I made a 7 day trip through Iceland, north to south through some incredible countryside and even meeting up and joining the Laugavegur trail for 5 days. It was a lovely trip and I had about 10 kilos of gear and food with me for the excursion. The hike at times was tough, or atleast one or two days of the journey was tough, all in all, on a scale of 1-10 for difficulty I would rank it around a 5. A great trail for anyone who is properly prepared. There are however two major inclines (major..) on day one while leaving Landmannalaugar and day 5 between Porsmark and Skogar. These two inclines kicked my ass in every possible way. The last day I was so tired on the incline between porsmark and skogar that I thought I would die. If memory serves me the total incline was around 900-1000 meters. I thought at the time, that considering the circumstances (climbing a 1000meter cliff with backpack on), that I did quite well. It wasn’t until I did my recent trip through Sarek national park in Northern Sweden, that I realized the truth behind my Iceland trip.

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Let me paint a little picture here. Hard wind, rain, knee high swamp for hours on end, daily 500-1000 meter inclines and declines, waist high wading and to top it all off – no trails. Complete wild and a 13kilo backpack. That was my most recent trip to the Sarek national park in Northern sweden, a few hundred kilometers north of the arctic circle. This trip was demanding in every possible sense of the word. On my gear, physique and psychology. But I didn’t feel it. My body was such a well oiled machine for this trip that I literally felt as if I could turn around and do it again without any problems. I didn’t have any of the normal knee, back or lung issues. And on the last day I was afraid to tell my traveling companion just how damn good I felt (after a 1300 meter incline with my backpack on) because I didn’t want him to think I was doing the “manly” thing of bragging about how cool I am I could carry my backpack up a hill. (like many of the heavy miserables that like to brag about how much weight they can carry)

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My body was functioning better than it ever has on a backpacking trip, this was on minimal sleep and a deprivation diet. Honestly, no matter how much food I pack and eat I still run a deficit on these kinds of trips. The changes this year compared to last year, and the relatively easier Laugavegur trail? My running and diet changes I made late last year. Since going full vegan and running I have lost around 22 lbs (10 kilos) off my body, that’s 10 kilos my legs don’t have to carry when backpacking and the insane amount of carbs I eat on the diet fuels me like nothing else. My running has improved my cardio exponentially, when last year I could barely make the last incline on the Laugavegur trail, this year I did that same 0-1000 meter climb on several occasions and felt damn good.

 

While my backpacking trip wasn’t full vegan, in fact I snuck in some powdered milk to my breakfast and cheese on the last day at the hotel.. Oh and I did make the mistake of eating a sausage, it had always been the mainstay of my backpacking trips – the reward at the end of the day kind of thing. Only to realize my taste buds have changed, and what once tasted like gods hands massaging my tongue, now tasted like salted dead pig and had the effects you would expect on my daily shitting habits. With that said, I don’t beat myself up about it, I am always working towards long term health goals and benefits, and I can’t kill myself everytime I make a slip up. Beside, being a bitch to other people about their habits is probably the worst thing to do to get converts.

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Anyway, last year after laugavegur I was satisfied, ready to hang up my boots for a while a relax. Much like a traditional hiker who normally takes a year off between longer hikes, I felt much the same. Now, the only thing I want to do is get out again. My body, feet and soul feel perfect after my last trip and I can only credit my diet and training habits.

 

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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!

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A little secret

I’m going to fill you in on a little secret, something that has been in progress for sometime and only now am I starting to accept it. It all started about 6 months ago and was cemented into place around 3 months ago. Since around 2014 I have been sick constantly, in fact somewhere around 2-3 times a month from anywhere between two days to weeks at a time; to say that is has been difficult to keep to a training regime is an understatement. I figured I wasn’t getting enough sleep, or my child was making me sick, or I became allergic to something. In any-case I figured it would go over soon enough so I never bothered with going to the doctors.

On top of always being sick I have had very little energy over the last couple of years. I figured it was part of getting older! However after finally getting sick of always being sick I decided it was time for a change. I was sick of being sick and tired!

Before I go any further let me roll back my timeline another two years about the first time I tried to get into running, it was after I read the phenomenal book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It was this book that inspired me to start running, and with that I also learned that I couldn’t keep any routine as I kept getting sick all the time. I also figured that losing some weight and running more is probably a good idea considering my “adventurous” lifestyle.. or backpacking.

I kept giving it a shot, and whenever I needed some extra motivation I would go back to reading Born to run. Well, getting sick and being tired has a bad habit of sapping what little motivation I had to move and at the same time I started to get more fat than usual around my stomach and chest. Man boobs started to form and where I once had a slight visible muscle definition was now replaced with fat and mushyness. My thin muscular face has been replaced by a somewhat gooey one. To say I was aging bad, in my opinion was an understatement.

I had always followed the Paleo diet or carb free diet for most of my adult life, not religiously but it had definitely become my lifestyle. I preferred a steak a plate full of broccoli and sweat potatoes to a pizza. I believe that this kept me from getting overly fat, as the diet does work as a diet. I never thought that it was my diet that was leading to my sickness and getting fat. Then I watched a documentary called Forks over knifes a while ago, more like a year or so ago, and it stuck with me. So I decided to watch it again as well as read a few books on the subject of a whole foods plant based diet. To my amazement these are some of the absolute best researched books i’ve ever read of diet and nutrition such as the China Study and Whole by Colin t. Campbell. How not to die by Michael Greger and a few others. I also read Rich Rolls book on his similar journey from half dead to making a change; Finding Ultra.

After reading these books I realized that there was a very real possibility that it was my diet that was killing me and not some unknown infliction that came up from hell and has decided to plague me personally. So I figured that I could at-least give the idea of the whole food plant based diet a try for a short while and see if there is any difference. What is a whole food plant based diet? (WFPB diet = VEGAN) Or sort of, in reality vegan could be chips and coke cola, WFPB is a healthier alternative.

At about the same-time I started to make my progress over to a WFPB diet, I finally made my way to a doctor to get my blood work and so on done. The test results came back negative on finding any reason on why I am sick, but came back positive on that I will probably die a young and horrible death due to heart disease as my cholesterol levels where much higher than normal for my age. What did my doctor prescribe? Pills and lots of them or change my diet and start exercising more (this is Sweden, doctors are allowed to prescribe diet and exercise as their not yet completely owned corporate subsidies of the drug industry). I decided I would try diet instead.

My process has been slow, it has taken me several months to replace my typical meat recipes with WFPB alternatives, to empty my shelves of my meat and dairy recipe books, and to restock my fridge and cabinets with vegan goods.  When I got the test results from the doctor, my WFPB transition was more or less complete, with the test results pushing me over completely.

Disclaimer: I hate the term Vegan, when I think of the word vegan all sorts of strange shit pops into my head, the PETA people throwing paint on fur wearers, the hippy dread lock guys refusing to shower or wear shoes, or the creepy vegan gangs standing outside McDonalds terrorizing bystanders. With that said, I certainly think animals should be able to live their own lives, but It simply doesn’t sell me on being a vegan, I love bbq chicken wings and a lovely juicy cow on my plate.

No, my motivation for a WFPB diet is this: I don’t want to die a horrible slow death. I don’t want cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or any other number of afflictions that can be attributed to the typical western diet. I would love to write a lot about the research done and used in the books I listed above, but I won’t. It’s just too much and I prefer everyone to do their own research before listening to me. There are studies of patients, hundreds of patient on their death beds with heart disease and diabetes who went over to a WFPB diet and within months their health improved so much that they didn’t need pills anymore. Many of them in the control groups lived an extra 20 years or more while the subject who continued their traditional diets and moved over to pills and operations died within the first year or two of the studies. I could go on and on, but I will leave that to you. You will know when the time is right, you will feel it in your bones and when you feel it, you will read these books and make the changes.

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Stopping to drink some cocunut water and eat a banana on a 70k bike ride

So what are the results so far? Since I converted over to a WFPB diet I have not been sick, not even close to being sick. My energy levels have increased ten fold – I feel like I’m 18 years old again. I have so much energy that in-order to not go crazy I have to get out the house and run! How much do I run? Hundreds of kilometers every month on top of several hundreds kilometers biking. I don’t get tired, I just keep moving. My muscles and bones are completely recovered from one day to the next. I’m sleeping better, I don’t get tired after eating and I’m losing a lot of weight. My energy levels increased so dramatically that I quit drinking coffee altogether – from a liter or so of coffee a day to nothing. To say that the side effects of eating a WFPB diet are far beyond my expectations is again and understatement. The new me is so addicting that the idea of ever going back to a traditional western diet with dairy and meat is simply not a possibility. Another plus side is that most restaurants only have one or two vegan dishes, AWESOME! I don’t have to spend time debating on which of the 20 different meals to choose from.

Left: Just finished the Stockholm tunnelrun 8k
Right: About to run my third competition for the year. 10k which I came in at 56 minutes.

I have no idea what my test results will show the next time around, but honestly, I’m not too worried about it. There is no doubt in my mind that my cholesterol will be radically reduced and my heart will be thumbing at full blast without interference for many years to come.

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My mousli banana crunch. A vegan breakfast that taste amazing

So heres to the new me, and my own continued progression, I am even thinking of making a simple VLOG to document my journey. I am also in the process of converting all my backpacking recipes to vegan alternatives and so on. With all this said I hope that you two will do the research and find the motivation to change. It will change your life and make you wonder what the fuck you where doing all these years killing yourself slowly, when you could have been living life to the fullest. Focused, energized and on fire.

Some tips for your own transition:

  1. Watch the documentaries Fork of knives, Food matters and the newest What the health
  2. Read some books The china study, Whole, How not to die
  3. Buy some new recipe books. Fork over knifes has a great app as well as recipe book. The plant power way is a good book. Green kitchen has a great book and App.
  4. Replace your favourite recipes with vegan alternatives. Experiment! you can’t be afraid to try new dishes when making the transition.
  5. Be patient and realistic, the transition is not going to happen overnight. Give it a month or so to take the first steps, then go all in! The feeling of being unstoppable and awesome is addicting.
  6. Remember: on a pure health basis if you want to avoid cancer and all the other diseases and sicknesses attributed to the western diet meat and dairy should not exceed 5% of your total consumption. So in other words, it’s perfectly ok to eat a little cheese now and then if you get the urge!
  7. You don’t need dread locks and wear hemp clothing just because your diet changes. But if you feel like it go for it!