Contributing Monkie Brendan Brazier
Published on August 6, 2009
Photographer: G Monkie (CC)
G Living’s Brendan Brazier is one the world’s few professional athletes whose diet is 100 percent plant based. He’s a professional Ironman triathlete, bestselling author on performance nutrition, and the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called Vega.
The following is our fourth excerpt from Brendan’s book “The Thrive Diet”, on sale now.
I use the term biological debt to refer to a state that the body goes into after energy from stimulation has dissipated. Often brought about by eating refined sugar or drinking coffee to gain energy in the short term, biological debt is a state of fatigue.
For long-term health and vitality, we need to understand the difference between two types of energy: one obtained from stimulation, the other from nourishment. As a general rule, the more processed the food is, the more stimulating its effect will be on the nervous system, and the less nourishing. In contrast, the more natural and whole a food is — raw and sprouted being the best — the less stimulating and the more nourishing it will be. Because of our insatiable desire for quick, convenient energy “on the go,” our streets are crammed with coffee, donut, and fast food establishments. This solves the convenience problem and offers a short-term energy solution through stimulation. However, it does nothing to help with the payment inevitably required by the body if this route is taken regularly. The body can subsist on stimulating, nutrient-absent food only so long before becoming either exhausted or sick –and where the body goes, the mind is sure to follow.
In the afternoon, lunch has started to wear off, and hunger and fatigue is creeping in. Reaching for either a cup of coffee, a snack high in refined carbohydrates, or both is common. Coffee and refined carbohydrates give a short energy boost but stress the body. Coffee also raises cortisol levels, which lowers the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to infection and eventually leading to the storage of body fat. Refined carbohydrates cause an insulin spike that will elevate cortisol levels. Excessive consumption of coffee and refined carbohydrates will also result in inflammation, a key cause of premature aging.
Many of us are in a constant state of biological debt. Simply put, it is a huge contributing factor to overall stress and therefore has become a major precipitator of fatigue, weight gain, and compromised health in general. If untreated, it can lead to serious diseases. One measure of health is having cost-free energy — energy that lasts and does not have to be “stoked” continually with processed carbohydrates, manufactured sugar, or caffeine. The stoking of energy can end in one result only: less energy. Ironically, many so-called energy foods are the biggest energy-suckers. The high level of processing they undergo ensures that their shelf life is dramatically extended, but this is accompanied by a marked decline in nutritional quality. These foods are certainly not part of a sustainable, high-energy diet.
While convenient, many energy bars offer nothing more nutritional than what candy bars offer. High in calories supplied from adrenal fatiguing refined sources, most energy bars provide energy for the short term (anything with calories will) but, after a person consumes them for several months, will bring about fatigue. The processing they go through in manufacturing, which lowers their pH and destroys their enzymes, make them a strain on both the immune and digestive systems, rendering them a low-net gain, stressful food.
Superior energy-maximizing foods are those that offer sustainable energy, not quick bouts of stimulation. High net-gain whole foods provide a platform on which to build long-term sustainable vitality.