Contributing Monkie Brendan Brazier
Published on June 4, 2010
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 second excerpt from Brendan’s new book “The Thrive Diet”, on sale now in Canada and and in the U.S. in January.
Whole Foods For Complete Nourishment The healthiest way to meet nutritional needs is to simply eat a diet rich in whole foods. Food-sourced vitamins and minerals are superior to their laboratory-created counterparts. As I noted earlier, many calcium supplements are derived from nonfood sources — oyster shells, bovine bone meal, or dolomite — none of which the body is able to use efficiently. Again, the more work the body must do to assimilate nutrients, the less usable energy it will be left with. Salt is another illustration of this. Salt derived from the earth or the sea is often added to food during processing; salt is rarely consumed in its alternative form — plants. Yet, that is a much better way to get sodium in your diet: Let the plant draw and assimilate it and other minerals from the soil or sea, doing most of the work for you. My favorite source of sodium is raw dulse. A sea vegetable, dulse is exceptionally healthy, offering a plethora of minerals that help prolong hydration and therefore endurance.
“I just want to make completely sure that I’m getting all the vitamins I need, so I take every supplement available, the more the better. My body will just excrete what it doesn’t use.”
I hear this often. And while this is true of water-soluble vitamins (vitamins B and C) and minerals such as potassium, chloride, and sodium, fat-soluble vitamins and certain minerals, such as iron, are not so readily excreted. Nevertheless, it is a common practice, especially for athletes. But at what cost?
While it’s not a high-energy cost for a healthy body to flush out unneeded vitamins and minerals, it is still a cost. The body is under great stress to recover from workouts, rebuild cells, and keep the immune system strong, and the last thing it needs is another job. Most people take too many supplements in an effort to speed regeneration. Often they just interfere with that process, prolonging the time needed for complete recovery.
An excess of synthetic fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) in the system can have a considerably more negative effect than those that are water-soluble. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins remain in the system for a long period—any surplus being stored in the body’s fat cells, and possibly resulting in toxicity. General fatigue and a weakened immune system are the milder effects of such toxicity. Effects of more serious toxicity range from hemorrhaging to severe reduction in intestinal flora.
Toxicity resulting from an overconsumption of fat-soluble vitamins is next to impossible when whole foods are the source. Fiber prevents overeating: It’s hard to eat a large amount of fiber-rich food since it swells in the stomach, filling it up.
Look through any sport or fitness magazine and you will undoubtedly notice advertisements making claims such as “improves performance by 20 percent.” Even articles that may carry more credibility than advertisements make such claims. Do these vitamin and mineral supplements improve athletic performance? If a healthy diet is already being eaten, the answer is no.
Usually funded by manufacturers, many of the studies cited in these advertisements and articles were performed on people who had a deficiency in the particular vitamin or mineral being tested, making the test results somewhat misleading. And a person who has extremely low levels of any kind of essential nutrient will not perform to his or her full potential, whether in athletic competition or simply day-to-day living. Once the person gets the nutrient he is lacking, his symptoms will alleviate and he will experience better performance.
These claims—the gains made when the particular product is taken—are not false or even a bending of the truth. But they are results that are not typical for a healthy person who eats a sensible diet. By following the Thrive Diet, you won’t need to take any supplements to enhance performance—the Thrive Diet supplies all the nutrients your body needs.
Visit Brendan’s personal site