How a Plant-Based Diet can Improve Fitness and Endurance

Have you ever wondered why no matter how much you work out, you just can’t seem to get results? Yes, of course some people are more genetically predisposed than others, but what about focusing on the quality of fuel? I decided to do a Q&A with an endurance triathlete, personal trainer, and co-owner of Equilibrium Personal Training Studio, Peter Kadzielawski, who attributes the improvement in his performance, and racing Ironman® distance triathlons (2.4 mi swim, 112 mi bike ride, 26.2 mi run) to a plant-based diet. Let’s see what he has to say about the changes in his fitness and performance after having incorporated a plant-based diet into his lifestyle.

Q: What made you consider shifting your eating habits to a plant-based diet?

A: After having experienced a series of injuries, I was unable to physically train, yet at the same time wanted to continue improving as an athlete. While recovering and taking time off, fresh fruits and vegetables were a way for me to heal my body, supplying the highest quality nutrients required for repair.  As a result, reaching out for more plants has also eliminated processed foods from my diet.

Q: What are the biggest changes in how you feel during and in-between training sessions?

A: After completing a several hour bike training session, I used to be physically drained and beat up, wanting to just go straight to sleep after a work out. Once switching to consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, I started to recover much faster and felt much more energized. Another side benefit from a plant-based diet was losing additional weight, which contributed to becoming faster on the course.

Q: How do you supply your body with enough protein after strenuous workouts?

A: Filling up with different types of legumes, dark leafy greens, and quinoa have allowed me to get the amino acids needed for tissue repair.  I’ve also supplemented with a raw plant-based protein powder that I incorporate in my daily green smoothies, juices, and raw snacks. For electrolyte replenishment, I hydrate with coconut water.

Q: What other benefits have you noticed?

A: Definitely taking off fewer sick days during training. Implementing freshly pressed juices has become a regular part of my everyday diet, and is something that boosts my immunity all year round, making less room for illness. Some of my favorite juicing ingredients include beets, fresh ginger and turmeric roots.

Q: What advice would you give to others who want to get better results as athletes?

A: I would say to steer away from the idea that because you burned the calories, you can eat whatever you want. In fact, it’s the opposite. Stick to the highest quality calories that come from fresh vegetables and fruits, as opposed to fueling with refined carbohydrates with no nutritional value.  Remember that the body acts like a “sponge” when it’s depleted after a work out. At that time it’s ready to absorb whatever you feed it, so nourish it with as many live nutrients as possible to help regenerate and energize it.

Aleksandra Kadzielawski

Aleksandra Kadzielawski is a nutrition coach based out of Chicago.She helps her clients realize that changes in lifestyle are possible to achieve for anyone, and understands that each individual requires a customized solution to wellness. Her goal is to bring out the best version of you, whatever that may be.Aleksandra received her Bachelor of Science degree from Depaul University, and is also a Certified Wellness Coach.Her motto is: “Take Care of Your Body, It’s the Only Place You Have to Live In.”
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