High Performance Vegan Athletes: Tiffany + Matt

Alright… So the #BurnMVMT is about moving your body 30x in 30 days. With Day 24 in the books… we’re pretty sure we’ve got that part down. But what about the refuel? We sat down with instructors Matt and Tiffany to get their take on fueling their #BurnMVMT… VEGAN STYLE. As longterm high performance vegan athletes, they know a thing or two about refueling your body in the right way to maximize performance, re-energize the body, and plain and simple… FEEL GOOD.

1. What initially sparked your interested in switching to a vegan diet?
Tiffany L: As an athlete, dancer, and fitness competitor, I tried every diet you can imagine.  I just wanted to find something that made me feel and look healthy with energy and a vibrant glow being the only side effects.  A low carb high protein high fat diet made me tired with dull skin. A high carb (processed) low fat moderate protein diet gave me energy and a few extra lbs but I had stomach issues.  Carb cycling made me really lean but my energy and focus was inconsistent.  I’ve read a lot of books on nutrition and after reading Dr. Douglas Graham’s The 80/10/10 Diet and Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live, I knew I needed to become vegan.
2. What were some of the initial challenges you faced when beginning this diet while maintaining your high athletic performance?
Matt C: The single largest challenge for me has been, and still is, simply eating enough. I have to eat every three hours on the dot to manage my energy levels, especially since I lift weights and/or Burn nearly every day. Travel can complicate this, as it is more difficult to plan when I will eat or bring food with me. I have always been a healthy, balanced eater so I have had no real issues with the food itself. I found that switching from eating meat to being vegetarian was more difficult than switching from vegetarian to vegan because switching to vegetarian required me to completely re-think the way I structure my meals, whereas going from vegetarian to vegan was largely a shift in the way that food is prepared.
3. What do you think are some common misconceptions people have when considering the vegan diet for an active lifestyle?
MC: If I had a penny for every time I got asked by strangers where I get my protein or calcium I would be a very rich man (people are also surprised that I don’t have dreadlocks or eat granola out of a mason jar). Many people also assume that vegan athletes have to take a million supplements and drink vegan protein shakes all day in order to get the necessary amount of nutrients. Most of the food research and published information about diet in this country is paid for by food companies that have an economic interest in getting people to buy/eat more of their product. The reality is that most Americans eat far too much protein and that broccoli has more readily absorbable calcium than milk, to list a few examples.
4. Biggest challenges?
TL: Perfecting new recipes.  Sometimes you see a picture of a vegan meal and ask Google how to make it then it doesn’t look or taste anything like the picture.
MC: Honestly, after this may years I feel like a pro! I recently got comprehensive blood work done a few months ago and learned that I had no nutrient deficiencies, which is something that I’m proud of. The only things that come to mind are making sure I eat enough, especially when traveling, as mentioned earlier, and making sure that I don’t eat too many starches / simple carbohydrates — This is an easy pitfall for me if I’m not careful, especially at less vegan-friendly restaurants.
5. Biggest benefits?
TL: Healthy glowing skin, energy, rarely ever sick, regular bowel movements, and no bloat. But the one I’m most happy about is my children eat a mostly vegetarian diet and prefer fruits to any processed snacks.
MC: Becoming a vegan would bring your body consciousness to a whole new level and would have a significant impact on how you feel. Since I became vegan, I stopped getting the headaches that I used to get almost every day, my hair and skin have become noticeably more luminous, and my body just generally feels better on a day-to-day basis. When I cut out animal products I quickly realized that many of the unpleasant feelings we experience after eating, such as bloating, headaches, stomach aches, etc., are not normal feelings and are often linked to the food we eat.
6. What’s your favorite vegan recipe?
7. Final thoughts?
MC: Being vegan is a lifestyle that is just as much about eating healthy, clean food as it is opting out of the factory farming system. There are some really great books out there about being vegan / limiting animal products and the positive effects it can have on your body and the environment. It is also very important to do research before making a change so that you have a game plan to ensure you eat a balanced diet (i.e. not oreos, french fries, and PB&J sandwiches for every meal – yes, Oreos are vegan… all chemicals).
Three books I recommend are:
1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan (or anything by Michael Pollan really)
2. Food, Inc. – Karl Weber
3. Skinny Bitch – Kim Barnouin

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