For super-athlete, vegan author and popular podcast host Rich Roll, clean eating was the catalyst to a totally revamped life. On the edge of his 40th birthday, Rich found himself overweight and winded from climbing the stairs in his own home. He made a dramatic lifestyle change, adopting a vegan diet and then competing in an Ultraman competition later that year. Now considered one of the fittest men on the plant, Rich is proof that transformation comes down to the day-to-day.
You may have caught us crushing on his wellnessy wife, Julie Piatt, earlier this year (whose new vegan cheese cookbook is also a must read). Below, find out what a vegan athlete like Rich eats daily. Hello, 2018 resolutions…
I generally begin each day with at least a liter of room temperature water with a few ounces of apple cider vinegar, followed by a green smoothie prepared in the Vitamix, our super high powered blender.
My green smoothie recipe varies considerably, but it generally includes dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard; 1 beet plus beet greens; 1-2 bananas; ½ cup of blackberries or blueberries; coconut water; 1 tablespoon each of chia seeds, hemp seeds and ground flax seeds, maca powder, spirulina powder and acai powder.
Typically this is more than enough to get me out the door for my first training session of the day. The only caveat is the occasional fasting workout where after my morning liter of water I enjoy 1 cup of strong coffee and then just head out to train, refraining from food until after my morning session.
If I am extra hungry in the morning, I will add a bowl of cold quinoa with blueberries, almond milk and chia seeds and/or some gluten-free toast with almond butter. For the super long sessions, I pack one water bottle with 900 calories of Perpetum, a maltodextrin-based, low glycemic liquid carbohydrate drink.
I keep it light throughout the day. A big salad with steamed or blackened veggies with balsamic dressing usually does the trick, supplemented by snacking and grazing throughout the day on fruits (bananas and dates) and nuts like raw almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts. If I am really hungry, some rice or quinoa with lentils hits the spot.
I eat a large dinner, usually a recipe Julie prepares from our book, The Plantpower Way – veggie burritos, vegan lasagna, enchiladas, a huge bowl of rice and quinoa with black beans, guacamole and hot sauce are typical fare.
One thing that might surprise people is that I actually don’t eat as much as people might think. Over time, my body has acclimated to the training load, becoming very efficient. Therefore, the long rides and runs don’t take the toll people think, so my appetite isn’t as voracious as one might believe. In addition, the foods I eat are so nutritionally dense that I am getting all the nutrients, micronutrients, phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins I need.
During long cycling workouts, I drink coconut water and feed on bananas, dates, almond butter and sweet potatoes. During long running workouts, coconut water, water, electrolyte tablets, dates and Perpetum get me through.
For swimming workouts, I stick to simply hydrating with water or coconut water.
Post Workout Nutrition
Upon conclusion of a training session, I immediately rehydrate with water and coconut water. Within the first hour post workout, it’s another big green smoothie, similar to the morning version with lots of greens with an added focus on fruits like bananas (3-4), berries and citrus, plus one scoop of plant-based protein powder. For this I prefer 22 Days Nutrition as it is organic (rare in the protein powder/supplements world).
It’s important to note that I do not overdo it with the protein – I have found through years of experimentation that we just don’t need as much as we think. I believe people would be surprised that despite my sever training load that I have had no issues building lean muscle mass and expediting my recovery between workouts without supplements – 1 scoop of protein powder a day or even every other day is more than enough – don’t get me started on all the confusion and misunderstanding around protein!
We love Rich Roll’s take on veganism, protein and physical training. What’s your take?