Wednesday, 27 November 2013

My 3 favourite Vegan recipes this month

Porridge! Breakfast
 
 

Ingredients


Porridge oats
Water
Coconut milk
Cinnamon
Honey

Place porridge oats covered with water into a saucepan over night. Turn heat to full and stir in the same amount of coconut milk as water (amounts will vary depending on how much porridge you want to make.) While cooking sprinkle cinnamon over (I use a lot), serve piping hot and add honey to taste. Cooking time 7-8mins.


Veggie Burgers! Lunch


Ingredients

1 large onion
1 cup sweet potatoes
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup courgette
1 cup carrots
200g kidney beans
100g ground walnuts
1 Thick slice of dairy free bread
Spices; cumin, ginger, mixed spice and curry powder
Wet mix; tomato ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar

Chop the onion and fry it on a pan with a splash of water and a shake of cumin and ginger. Add all the vegetables after chopping them into small pieces. Cook on a med-high heat until all veg soften. Once cooked allow to cool slightly add the kidney beans and walnuts. Blend the contents in a food processor. Return contents to pan on a low heat. Blend the bread into bread crumbs and add to mix along with 1 tables spoon of tomato ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and curry powder. Stir until all contents are mixed well.
Once mixed form the contents into patties. The amount you get depend on the size of the patties you make, I usually get about 8-10.

These take about 30mins to make, but keep well in the fridge and are a real easy lunch option if placed in a pitta bread with some houmous and spinach!



Pad Thai! Dinner


Ingredients

1 red onion (Cumin, ginger, and parsley)
1 clove of garlic
150g cashew nuts
150g bean sprouts
150g sugar snap peas and baby corn
150g mushrooms

8 baby peppers (yellow and orange)
1 lime
1 packet of straight to wok rice noodles
Soy sauce 7 table spoons
Honey 2 tablespoons

Fry the red onion and garlic clove (after chopping finely) in H2O on a wok high heat, sprinkle with cumin, parsley and ginger and lower heat. On a medium heat add cashews, bean sprouts sugar snap peas, baby corn and mushrooms and cook for 8mins. Turn heat up to high and add peppers, squeeze the lime on top, stir continually. Turn heat to medium, add noodles and sauce (separately mix 7 table spoons of soy sauce and 2 table spoons of honey). Continually stir and mix noodles for 4mins and then turn heat up to high, cook for a further 6mins stirring continually and serve.

Run fast, eat slow but most of all RunSensible!

Neil
@RunSensible






  • 1  pound can of beans, drained and rinsed, or 1.5 cups cooked beans (suggestions: your favorite bean!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced veggies (suggestions: carrots, celery, mushrooms, chopped spinach, chopped kale, corn, chopped artichokes, zucchini, squash, sweet potato)
  • 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons oil for frying (suggestions: olive, coconut, grapeseed)
  • 3 tablespoons liquid flavor (mix and match suggestions: mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, vegan worcestershire, buffalo sauce, balsamic vinegar, salsa, pasta sauce, marsala, water)
  • 4 teaspoons spice (we recommend combining at least two: smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, montreal steak seasoning, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel, oregano, curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (omit or reduce if your liquid or spices contain salt)
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient (suggestions: buckwheat, unsweetened protein powder, bread crumbs, cornmeal, oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredient (suggestions: chopped walnuts, olives, avocado, sundried tomatoes, leftover cooked rice/quinoa/bulgur, parsley, cilantro, basil)
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, veggies, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a food processor and pulse with beans, liquid flavor, spice, salt until combined but still chunky. Pulse in the dry base and texture ingredient.
Form into golf ball size balls and flatten into patties.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Fry patties 2-3 minutes per side until browned and heated through.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/veggie-burger-recipe/#sthash.eK80rRy8.dpuf
  • 1  pound can of beans, drained and rinsed, or 1.5 cups cooked beans (suggestions: your favorite bean!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced veggies (suggestions: carrots, celery, mushrooms, chopped spinach, chopped kale, corn, chopped artichokes, zucchini, squash, sweet potato)
  • 2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons oil for frying (suggestions: olive, coconut, grapeseed)
  • 3 tablespoons liquid flavor (mix and match suggestions: mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, vegan worcestershire, buffalo sauce, balsamic vinegar, salsa, pasta sauce, marsala, water)
  • 4 teaspoons spice (we recommend combining at least two: smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, montreal steak seasoning, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel, oregano, curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (omit or reduce if your liquid or spices contain salt)
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient (suggestions: buckwheat, unsweetened protein powder, bread crumbs, cornmeal, oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup texture ingredient (suggestions: chopped walnuts, olives, avocado, sundried tomatoes, leftover cooked rice/quinoa/bulgur, parsley, cilantro, basil)
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the onion, veggies, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a food processor and pulse with beans, liquid flavor, spice, salt until combined but still chunky. Pulse in the dry base and texture ingredient.
Form into golf ball size balls and flatten into patties.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Fry patties 2-3 minutes per side until browned and heated through.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/veggie-burger-recipe/#sthash.eK80rRy8.dpuf

Friday, 15 November 2013

How I became a Vegan!

"The best doctors give the least medicine"
How I became a Vegan!


At the beginning of this year (2013) I was training for the Paris marathon. While training I was experiencing abdominal cramp and bouts of diarrhea during or immediately after running. These symptoms had been going on for years at a low grade level and I suppose it only became an annoying issue when I started training again for a marathon. It had been 5 years since my last marathon. In the 5 years between Dublin 2008 and Paris 2013 I learned a lot about the human body and alternative health, having spent 5 years studying to be an Osteopath, 3 years previous to that studying Physical therapy and one year studying human nutrition.

So I recognised something was wrong as I am sure most people would have. However instead of running to the doctor which a lot of people might do, I took control of the situation and implemented Hippocrates adage "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food". When doctors take the Hippocratic oath, they leave this piece out. Why is that? 
I knew the most likely suspects were either gluten or lactose both of which I was all too fond of. During late February 2013 I switched from regular milk to lactofree milk and to no surprise at all my symptoms virtually went away over night. After about 2 weeks I was running with about 80% reduction in symptoms and I felt much better day to day. 4 weeks after switching to lactofree produce I switched to soya milk and butter and it was then that the symptoms went away completely.

Sometime during those 3-4 weeks I saw a post on twitter that caught my eye. A guy who I follow who is also a runner re-tweeted a post by @RichRoll, I'd usually have scanned over this without paying it any attention but on this occasion I opened the link. It was then that my whole view on nutrition changed dramatically. It would do a great disservice to Rich Roll if I was to contextualise his message, so here is a link to his website, blog, podcast and book.
Since I was ramping up the miles on the pavement and my music list was driving me insane  I needed a new audio wave and the Rich Roll Podcast came at the perfect time. Any time I was heading out for a long run I put the latest podcast onto my iPod shuffle and go. It was new content every time and the discussions were right on my wave length; nutrition, performance, long distance events, running, triathlon and disease prevention. There was a new light shining at the end of the tunnel and I liked the look of it.

I'd been off dairy over a month and the next step I took was to introduce a green juice or smoothie into my daily routine. Here is a link to what I do and what goes into each juice. I played around with that for a few weeks and the more and more I listened to Rich Roll interviewing amazing guest the more and more I learned. The more I learned the more I changed and as I changed, my habits did too.
I starting eating more raw food, carrots or cucumbers dipped in humus, bananas, raisins, seeds and nuts. I was enjoying the food and I just kept feeling better and better. I was still eating meat, fish, chicken and eggs at this point and hadn't really considered being fuelled totally by plants.

During the final few days leading up to the Paris marathon I reduced the animal products in my diet considerably and my energy surged. I was far from plant powered but it felt good. After the race I continued reading and researching nutrition, performance and disease prevention. I continued listening to podcast while running and I stumbled upon the ultrarunner podcast, it was after listening to those guys interviewing Christopher Mc Dougall that led me to read Born To Run and therefore discover the superhuman powers of Scott Jurek who in my opinion is the best runner this planet has ever produced. After finishing Born to Run I immediately read Scott's book Eat and Run. This was the tipping point that changed my whole thought process. Here were 2 guys (Rich and Scott) with enormous physical and mental strength who seemed like really nice guys (unlike most elite sports persons), they were both vegans and both doing really well in endurance sports.

The more time I spent researching these guys and their message I kept coming across the plethora of confounding facts that suggest this lifestyle is the way to health and the most likely to avoid the 2 main killers of the western world, Heart Disease and Cancer, disease of affluence.  Both those disease processes along with many other western diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritis (and many more inflammatory conditions), multiple sclerosis, dementia and depression seem to have a strong link to ingestion of animal products. Without trying to over simplify the message in the China study, these diseases are far more prevalent in regions that eat more animal products than those that don't. And the bell curves of the two variables follow each other remarkably close as you move from an area of low to high animal product consumption while watching amount of people suffering from those diseases.

Slowly over about 5 months I morphed into a vegan without setting out on that path. It really snow balled when leading up to the Dublin marathon I discovered Brendan Brazier's 7 day vegan challenge. It's a useful tool aimed at getting people more mindful about what they eat. I took the challenge and you can too here.
I came across Brendan Brazier and the vegan challenge while listening to @RichRoll interview @Drgarthdavis here #50. The content of this message should be curriculum in high school years, that is how you tackle the health problem.

For 15 days leading up to the Dublin marathon I ate only plants, I felt great and I really enjoyed the food. After the marathon myself and the rest of the guys in my running club went out for dinner to celebrate our achievements. I ordered some pork ribs for starters and a chicken pad thai for mains. That night I couldn't sleep, I felt like crap. For the next few days I my diet contained some animal products and my energy plumeted again, I didn't feel like exercising and my joints began to hurt.

So without ever really planning it or even contemplating that I would ever want to be a vegan, I became one.

What is a vegan?

The word Vegan comes from the first 3 letters and last 2 letters of vegetarian. Vegans don't eat animal products. That means no meat, chicken, fish, dairy, cheese or any other animal source food. The simple way to look at it is to ask a question of the food you are eating. Did this come from a source that had a face? If it did vegans don't eat it.

Why choose a vegan diet?

I chose a vegan diet because it yields enormous health benefits and reduces the risk of some of the well known killers significantly. I didn't come into this lifestyle with an animal ethics or welfare view point. However once you open that Pandora's box it is impossible to turn a blind eye to some of the practices of large scale farming. The much publicised what came before video highlights these acts.

As a primary healthcare practitioner I don't believe it is possible to consider health without balancing, nutrition, fitness and spirituality. In osteopathy we investigate the biological, psychological and social aspects of every condition before diagnosing and treating. Ignoring the animal ethics would be a contradiction for me.

Is it a boring way to eat?

I asked the same question too but once I got started I really enjoyed exploring new recipes and ways to cook food. It made me a much better cook and opened my eyes to so many tasty foods I had never eaten before. Below are some links to what I use.

No Meat Athlete recipes

Mind Body Green  meal plans

My Vega meal plans

The Happy Pear videos of easy foods

How do you get enough protein?

The protein question is the most obvious question you'll get asked by people who don't understand a vegan diet, or any nutritional matters. We as a species just like all other animals don't need any specific protein in our diet. We can not ingest proteins through our intestinal wall and its a good idea that we don't. Foreign proteins would kill you in minuets. What we need and use are amino acids. Plants contain proteins just like animals only the percentage in plants is far lower and the structure of these proteins is much simpler. These simplier proteins can be dismantled far easier in our intestines and assimilated far quicker, requiring less energy and producing far less free radical damage. Animal proteins are always accompanied by saturated fats, plants are not.
The proteins in plants yield more than enough amino acids for our liver to build the proteins we need to live and thrive and if you don't believe me check these guys and girls out.

Scott Jurek ultra distance runner, winner of Western States 7 times in a row

Mac Danzig Mixed Martial Arthist and UFC fighter



Brendan Brazier Ironman endurance athlete



The list is endless here

Over consumption of high protein foods accompanied by saturated fat is a guaranteed way to develop heart disease, high blood pressure and many cancers. It is for those reasons primarily that I have chosen a plant based life style.

Thanks Rich Roll.

Neil



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Race report Dublin marathon 2013!

Clock watching, hoping it would end!
It's taken me a while to write this post because my marathon didn't really go to plan and I had another bad day on the road. The last bad day I had was at the half marathon when I felt a bit ill and really tired, I dug deep that day and finished in a respectable 1hr32mins. That wasn't the case for this race report.

The overall training for Dublin hadn't been ideal, right around when I should have been planning a training schedule I was moving country. I was running every day at that time and feeling really good. However the weeks and months that followed didn't quite go to plan. My life was changing day to day. I was developing myself as an osteopath and working in different clinics across the city. Any training regime I had was impossible to keep because work demands were my top priority. I did a lot of running but there was no structure, I don't think I did any specific speed or interval sessions.
I ran every day for 72 days covering almost 700km during May-August and this gave me a great fitness base. Without any real prep I ran a PB in the Dublin Rock n' Roll half marathon. This gave me a confidence (perhaps a cockiness) that I had become a better runner, that after all was why I did the run streak.

Tildy and her twin sister!
Brotherly hug for a birthday boy!
I took over an osteopathy clinic the week before the marathon. We celebrated my sons 2nd birthday on the Friday afternoon of that week by having family and friends over, I stayed up late. The next day my sister got married, I had a super busy morning followed by the ceremony and a fantastic night of celebrating, I stayed up very late and drank more than 1 glass of wine. We stayed the night in the hotel had breakfast with my family the next day and drove 2hrs to race registration, registered and picked up my swag bag. We drove home, I dropped my wife off and immediately drove to the airport to collect some friends from London that had come to stay with us for a few days.That night I had 2 social beers and reminisced about London life with good friends.The next morning was race day. And I felt good!

I felt good at the beginning of the race and confident that I'd run under 3hrs20min. I thought a sub 3hr10min was unrealistic after partying at the wedding 2 nights before so I ran with the 3hr20pacers. The pace felt easy and from about 3-4km I was tempted to take off and run at a more comfortable albeit faster pace. I didn't because I knew my pre race preparation had been below par. Plus I needed to PEE really bad, which is strange for me.
I upped my pace to gain some ground with the notion of slipping back in after a PEE stop. I did and my plan worked. I settled back in and once again the pace seemed a bit slow. I needed to PEE,,, AGAIN!!!
I upped the pace again and implemented the same plan which worked, when I settled back in the pace still seemed a bit slow and I was feeling really cold all of a sudden even though I was sweating. I began to run a more comfortable pace and slowly made my way up the road away from the 3hr20min pacers. I was still feeling slightly cold and I needed to PEE,,, yes, again. I stopped and relieved myself for a third time having never need to do so before in a race. Overall I was still feeling good and the miles clicked away until the 20 mile point. I passed the banner for 20 miles and then just stopped.....

I'm not sure why, at the time it seemed like a good idea! I don't remember feeling that bad before I stopped. I had been fuelling with raisins and sweet potatoes and I wasn't hungry or bonking. I think I was exhausted, I think on a subconscious level I knew before the race even stated that I wast going to make it and now just after 20 miles I had stopped and I didn't want to continue. I needed to PEE again and I was feeling really cold, I was hoping I could find my friend who I knew was watching somewhere around 21 miles. I was out, I decided after seeing another competitor receiving medical attention that I'd DNF. I just wanted to go home.
I walked for about a mile and thought about life, family and friends. I envied my sister and her husband, they were just about to set off for a cruise around the Caribbean while I was cold and lonely while surrounded by thousands of people, the crowd were great and the encouragement got me going.
I did a few maths calculations and decided to stick it out. I was past the place my friend said he'd be and I didn't see him. So if I ran slowly I could still post my third fastest marathon time, which would mean making it back before 3hrs45mins. I thought of the 10,000 or so competitors that would be delighted with that time. I stuck it out but it was tough, I was cold, shivering and I needed to PEE. 6 times in total I stopped to PEE during that race and when I got home I discovered I had a bladder infection, which probably added to the pre race exhaustion, the shivers and the decision to stop.

I finished in 3hrs40mins. I collected my medal and made my way home. I was happy I finished and felt ok once I showered and put on some extra layers. The next day my body felt good, this, was the clear indication that I hadn't hit the wall at the 20 mile mark. Not all decisions to stop are due to physiological walls that people run into! I had been on a plant based diet for the 2 weeks leading up to this race and I attribute this to lack of pain the day after the race.

Run fast, run long but most of all RunSensible.

Neil



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Green Juice!


Picture taken from www.healthycosmos.com
I've been drinking green juice daily for almost 6 months now. If a day passes where I don't get a chance to make one I feel my body craving it, it's weird!
At the moment I'm eating strictly vegan and will do for the remaining 13 days leading up to the Dublin City Marathon. What does it mean to be Vegan? Well it's probably better reffered to as being plant based. So all the foods I am consuming do not contain any animal products, animal flesh or animal waste. I am choosing to do this from a purely performance stand point, the performance benefits I will explain in another post. Since I'll be eating wholey plant based food it is inevitable that I will be juicing every day and sometimes twice a day so I thought it would be a good idea to share the resources I use.

Anytime I mention a green smoothie or juice around family and friends, I get quizzed! Most people snub their nose at the thought of the texture or taste but believe me, if it is done right these things are delicious. And of super value to an athlete!

So here are a few of my go to resources when deciding what to juice.

One of my favourite web sites is www.mindbodygreen.com and on that site I came across this story. I found it quite inspiring, although I don't share any of the background story with this guy. The inspiration came from the power of the food.

There are lots and lots of articles on the mindbodygreen site about juicing but this one I found most helpful and really easy.

My wife bought me this really cool book 'The Green Smoothie Bible' just after I started. She waited about a month for me to give up or for the fad to wear off. Once I cracked the month and she realised I hadn't gone mad she gave me this as a gift one day. It is a good purchase because it will tell you what to juice and when depending on the seasons and what fruits are available.

My go to site for all things nutrition is nutritionfacts.org if you have a question you can bet there is a small video answering that question. But better than that, you can also bet that the video is evidence based not some hoodo voodo. Here is one of my favourite videos on juices and smoothies.

I'll end this post by stating the 3 things I put in every juice or smoothie I make.

1. Spinach or kale. I'm not mad on the texture of the kale juices so I usually go with spinach. Why? I've worked in the health and fitness industry for 15 years and have learned that if a clint or patient begins a question with "what foods can I eat to ensure I'm getting enough...........", the answer is always Green leafy veg! It dosen't mater if the question ends with, vitamin A, B, or C, iron, magnesium or selenium, fiber, energy or goodness, the answer is never wrong if the answer is green leafy veg. Vitamin B12 is the only exception.

2. Amla powder. Why? Our bodies are pounded every day by free radical damage. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage. Scientist are warning us that just about everything may be a risk factor in cancer growth. Well the truth is, many cancer growths come from free radical damage not being off set by antioxidants. Get your Amla powder and rest easy that you are doing a lot better than most people.

3. A squeezed fresh lime. I exercise a lot, most days I do something. Citrus fruits are shown here by Dr. Michael Greger of nutritionfacts.org to reduce muscle fatigue and damage. Muscle damage is what makes you slow down.

I hope all this stuff helps!

Run fast, run far but most importantly RunSensible

Neil

Friday, 11 October 2013

Marathon fatigue!

Running a marathon is the ultimate test for most runners. There are multiple months of hard preparation and training to get you body up to the condition that is required to complete the feat. Dedication is a word marathon runners know too well, while most people are laying in bed on Sunday mornings recovering from a hang over or sleeping off a busy weeks work, marathon runners are out running anything between 10-22 miles. During the week they are doing recovery runs, interval sessions (on the track) or hill repeats on some obscure road. 

When it comes to race day 'Pace' is the most important factor. Go out too fast and you'll blow up before the finish, begin too slow and a personal best might slip away! So the key questions should be "what causes us to slow our pace?"

The simple answer is fatigue. When the body becomes fatigued our pace will inevitably slow down at the rate fatigue sets in. The fatigue is caused by muscle breakdown. Research has shown by examining blood markers, that an increase in muscle fibre damage is statistically correlated to slowing down in the later stages of a marathon. 

The study looked at the bloods taken from people running a marathon. The people who slowed down the most or lost pace the most also had a higher bio marker for muscle fiber damage. So it's safe to say that the more muscle breakdown you have the slower you become. It makes sense to think that if the muscle structure breaks down, the muscle function will deteriorate, hence the slowing down. This leads us to ask "what is causing the muscle break down?"

The study also showed that the people who had the most muscle breakdown also had a higher glucose utilisation in the earlier parts of the race. You see where this is going? 
The people who were burning the most glucose in the early part of the race were doing so because of an inability to burn fats. The glucose stores are good for about 1 hour to 1hr30mins, once they are gone you need to access the fats, if you can't access the fats your body will take the only available option, muscle proteins. Our body will always opt to burn fats because it's the most economic way of moving. However if you train your body to burn glucose all the time by munching down fancy gels and overpriced energy bars (all of which contain mostly glucose) then you'll have a real problem accessing those fat stores come race day. This will cause a bonk if you are not fueling the sugar addiction throughout the race and will inevitably cause muscle breakdown towards the end.

It's really difficult to run a negative split (run the second half quicker than the first half) in a marathon. Therefore you are going to experience some muscle breakdown or fatigue, which causes the slower pace in the second half. It is estimated that an average individual needs about 300 calories per hour during a marathon to ensure peak performance. If you don't consume the 300 calories your muscles will suffer the defecit. If those 300cals are coming from highly processed refined sugars your chances of bonking or hitting the wall increase dramatically.

How can you minimise the muscle breakdown?

There are two basic ways you can minimise the muscle breakdown. The first is to ensure that your muscles are strong and not easily broken down. A few simple resistance exercises will ensure good muscle strength. Make sure you include both upper and lower body exercises. You should be able to hit most major muscle groups at home so no gym membership is required. I include push ups, squats, ab curls, lunges, plank and pull ups.
It's also a good idea to perform a few plyometric exercises after your interval session especially if it's on a track. Plyometrics involve leaping, jumping and hopping movements.

The second simple way to combat muscle breakdown is to train your body to burn fat. Quit the sugar, especially on a long run. Try using bananas, sweet potatoes or raisins instead of gels. Stock up on complex carbohydrates or low glycemic carbs before heading off on long runs and try sticking to water as a way of re hydrating. This will release glucose into your muscles at a much slower rate, this will enable your body to burn fats due to low insulin levels. In the presence of insulin fat burning is almost dormant.
During the week be mindful of the sugars you are consuming. Try and opt for whole food sugars such as fruit and vegetables as opposed to refined sugary snacks and drinks. 

Thats a lot of info to consume but be midful of what you out in your mouth, how you train and what you desired goals are, then all these points are easily achieved.
Neil