Plant Based Diet

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  • #63868

    I am a 62 year old thru-hiker. Generally, thru-hiking is low intensity 20-25 miles days for months at a time, over thousands of miles with few breaks. I’ve been experimenting with a high fat, lower carb diet for the last year. However, with this diet I find significant inflammation, evenings, and low energy while on the trail. I am thinking of switching to a plant-based diet to reduce inflammation and gain energy. Your thoughts?

Posted In: Nutrition

  • Participant
    Cadmium on #64004

    I am not sure, but according to a healthcare paper writer from, greens alone won’t give that much of energy required for a hiker. By plant you don’t mean a total vegan right? Plants will fill you up and reduce inflammation but for energy you need to consume some low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, grains, dried fruits and sunflower seeds. These will help build calcium and fiber and keep you and your heart healthy.
    Better to consult with a professional nutritionist.

    Participant on #64040


    Thanks for the information. You are correct, I’m not talking total vegan. You are probably correct, I should be adding more dried fruits and grains into the mix.

    I find it interesting that some professional endurance athletes, namely Scott Jurek, do well on a plant based diet. Recently, I was was watching a documentary called “Game Changers” where doctors who consult for professional sports teams (i.e. NFL) are recommending a plant based diet.

    rich.b on #64089

    A couple important points to add some clarity. First, penmypaper is not in the least a reliable source of information – it is a paper-writing mill for students looking to cheat. For reliable sources of information, it is necessary to go straight to the research articles themselves. Second, based on the misguided source of information, there seems to be a misunderstanding by Cadmium what a plant-based diet is. It is not simply a pile of vegetables or fruit on a plate, but includes all plant-sourced foods including whole grains, seeds, nuts, pulses, legumes and more. Energy density is not an issue.

    A proper, diversified plant-based diet, based on whole-foods, can easily meet the nutritional and energy demands of any outdoor athlete, but any healthy diet, whether flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan, requires some forethought and effort. A risk for some people switching to a mostly or all plant-based diet is that this is done solely by reducing/eliminating meat, dairy and/or eggs, rather than thinking about it holistically. There is quite a bit of research on vegan and vegetarian diets within sports science, which shows no negatives and possibly benefits (for example, the ongoing NURMI study, with several recent papers by Wirnitzer and co-workers), and more broadly within epidemiology that shows positive effects particularly regarding cardiovascular disease. There are also good reviews addressing macro- and micronutrient issues for vegan/vegetarian athletes (for example, Fuhrman and Ferreri, 2010, in Current Sports Medicine Reports), where, for example, B12 can be a concern requiring supplements. Game Changers has a lot of merits, I think they represented the science fairly well, but it is short on ‘how to’, so if you are unsure where to start, then having a discussion with a dietician/nutritionist could be a useful starting point, as suggested.

    One person’s experience is only anecdotal, so the only personal note I will make is that I am in my late-50’s and have been vegan for more than six years, and it has not impacted my ability to sustain a training habit of 10+ hours per week and run ultras when I occasionally decide to. In all honesty it is impossible to state objectively whether I recover faster, have less inflammation, etc. – I have no reference ‘me’ to compare to. It is only fair to say I can train a lot and diet is not a limiting factor. With that switch I did and still do spend a great deal of time reading the research literature out of personal interest, and spend more time and effort cooking; more plants in the diet means more time at the cutting board, but also opened the door to seeking out new foods and new recipes. Importantly, by your description at the start of this thread, your current diet is not working so well, so there is only going forwards – and I wish you luck in your progress.

    Participant on #64773

    Rich B.,

    Thank you for your articulate and wise response. I’ve been doing the research and will go slow if/when I decide to switch. From my research, I have noticed or observed a slight preference in plant based diets for athletes who for the lack of medical understanding and concepts are fast twitch, perhaps more power, than slow twitch, perhaps more endurance. As I said, just an observation. As several wise people have suggested, I will consult a nutritionalist before moving forward.

    Thank you all for your kind replies.

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