Adopting a plant-based diet: an ultra endurance cyclist’s journey to well-being

In December, I adopted a plant-based lifestyle. I had thought about it on and off for a couple of years. But it wasn’t until I read Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra and then Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run that I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Both Rich Roll and Scott Jurek are ultra-endurance athletes who have excelled at their sports while fueling themselves on plant-based foods.

Their example gave me the confidence that I could live entirely on plants. It also helped solidify for me that adopting this type of diet was the only logical thing for me to do for my health and well-being, and for the planet. So I began omitting meat, dairy, and eggs from my diet, as well as any remaining processed foods that I sometimes indulged in after a long ride.

Plant Based diet for cyclists

The benefits of plant-based eating are well documented. Cutting out meat and dairy has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, reduced inflammation, improvements in blood sugar, and lower risk of Type-2 diabetes.

A growing body of evidence also shows that a plant-based diet helps to lower one’s risk of cancer, particularly colon and breast cancer. In athletes, adopting a plant-based lifestyle can improve cardiovascular health and performance, lead to improvements in endurance, and speed up the recovery process.   

Beyond the health benefits, a plant-based diet benefits the environment and the animal population. As the film Cowspiracy documents, a person who follows a plant-based diet saves each day 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, and one animal’s life.

I’m now three months into it. I have more energy, feel stronger and more grounded, and enjoy food far more than I used to. Food tastes more flavorful and is more satisfying than ever. My consciousness has changed as well; I feel more connected to the environment and world around me.

On the bike, my climbing has improved and I feel better fueled; this is a great perk since I live in southern California and am surrounded by mountains.

Plant Based Diet for Cyclists

Enduro Bites—which I had already been using for rides prior to going plant-based—have become an even bigger part of my workout nutrition. They not only taste great, but because they are made of figs, are high in potassium and are good sources of manganese and vitamin B6. As an added bonus I use Beta Red, made of beets, before rides to enhance my ride performance, whether it’s a hard, short workout or a longer endurance ride.

The benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle are manifold. I only wish I had made the transition sooner.

About the Author:

plant based diet for cyclists

Jodie Lawston is a university professor with a passion for ultra-endurance cycling. She is currently part of the Houndstooth Endurance Racing Team. With her teammate and always-up-for-an-adventure buddy Jill DeFratis Robinson, she raced the Silver State 508 in 2014 and set the course record for 2x women’s teams. In 2015 she raced the Hoodoo 500 Stage Race, and won the women’s division. She’s happiest when she is climbing Palomar Mountain and now, preparing plant-based meals.

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