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Vegan runner - energy?

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 mandarinlou2 22 Jun 2020

Hi everyone,

I used to be an avid and active runner setting a good pace over long distances. Since going vegan I have lost all momentum and motivation and often on runs I lose all energy and feel shaky. I've recently added some more protein into my diet and foods designed to give more energy (chia seeds, overnight oats etc). Just wondering if anyone has any tips (bar the obvious stop being a vegan!) about anything I could add into my diet to give me more energy. 

Thanks!

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 girlymonkey 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

Which part of your non- vegan diet do you think was your key energy source before? I presume you need to work out which nutrients you are not getting now which you were before and then find a vegan alternative to it? 

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 NorthernGrit 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

Are you supplementing B12? 

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 Sans-Plan 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

What sort of diet were you eating before going vegan ? What distance runs are we talking about ?

I went vegan from veggie over 2 years ago and the only thing i struggle with is fuelling for ultras but that a whole other subject.

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 mattyP 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

This might be of interest https://www.nomeatathlete.com/ I'm not vegan (almost veggie) and find it a pretty good resource. 

I'll be honest I'm not sure it's a question that will be answered with a quick forum chat, you might need to go and look carefully at your diet and do some background reading. 

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In reply to mandarinlou2:

It's kind of hard to tell without more detailed information. How are you fuelling before you head out/on the run?

I've been vegan for 4yrs and in that time I've completed 2 Ironman triathlons (very MOP so not an elite athlete by any stretch).

If you're feeling drained and getting shaky on runs (light headed too?) it sounds like you aren't getting enough calories in.

I generally get all my efforts out of the way nice and early:

< 1hr - up and out fasted

1-2hrs - No food, 1 scoop of tailwind in a half pint of water immidiately before the run.

2hrs+ - Heaping bowl of porridge with unsweetened coconut milk, handfull of frozen berries and a heaped spoon of peanut butter - wait an hour before heading out and take a vest with 2 bottles of tailwind. I can do about 4/5hrs on this - anything longer then I'll take a cliff bar or 2 and look to refil bottles on the way (taking TW powder sachets).

I didn't experience any difference in my performance, positive or negative when I made the switch (a couple of months out from my first IM) and while it doesn't always go to plan and I end up crawling home, it's generally a non-issue getting enough calories in.

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 ianstevens 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

I wouldn’t blame being a vegan (after all, Scott Jurek...) rather that your change in diet has led to you no longer getting something you were before.

First up, before fiddling with smaller stuff, go for the broadest brush of all - calories. Are you getting enough fuel, in any form, to support exercise? 

Then start to look at the mix - Carbs/Fat/Protien. Broadly you want to hit 50/25/25 ish (or variations around that), making sure that when you eat a meal you get at least 25 g of protein. At this rate think about B12 and Iron - do you get enough? Both are commonly deficient in a vegan diet without a bit of thought and planning. Easiest solution is to supplement and forget about in IMO.

Then fiddle around your running. Get some sugar in you pre-exercise - a banana 30 mins before or so. Remember to fuel your longer runs - jam sandwiches, oat bars, cold roast potatoes and even gels all fit in the vegan diet. If you’re out more than 90 mins try to eat something every 45-60 mins.

The fact you’ve used the phrase “foods designed to give more energy” without mentioning simple sugars implies a bit of reading up on sports nutrition would help - I’ve always preferred the Anita Bean guides personally.

I suspect upping your calories will do the trick however, it’s quite common for a switch to a vegan diet to result in lower caloric intake. 

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 marsbar 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

Also obvious, but peanut butter and similar are good calorie dense foods.  

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In reply to mandarinlou2:

Firstly I know very little about diet.

However from my school biology I think that almost all single plant protein sources, with the exceptions of soya and quinoa, are deficient in some of the essential amino acids that we need to form proteins. So in theory if one just ate, say, most pulses as the only protein then one wouldn't be able to build protein without having complementary sources, eg almonds, at some time during the day (proteins can't be stored, without food the body must break down other proteins eg in muscle). Even using complementary proteins the ratios of amino acids will probably not be the optimum for building animal protein and much will be metabolized in some other way. Obviously the ideal protein sources may be actual animal flesh or something evolved as a "total" food eg milk, egg. I hope someone with more knowledge will correct me where I'm wrong.

Another reason might be vitamin deficiency as NorthernGrit mentions. I'm a flesh eater but if I had your problem I might try multivitamin +iron  tablets, and narrow any beneficial effect down by switching to individual vitamins later. However many say tablets aren't ideal and are unnecessary with a balanced diet.

PS I see others have mentioned improving calorific intake which I suppose is an obvious thing to try first.

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 1philjones1 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

Have a look at Veloforte bars. 

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 SouthernSteve 22 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

Iron, B12 and vitamin D should be considered. You can get ferritin blood tests for iron deficiency.

Also look up Female Athlete Triad especially if you are experiencing menstrual cycle abnormalities

Also don't presume its the 'terrible' food you are eating and see a doctor if you are concerned. 

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In reply to mandarinlou2:

You'll need to provide an example of your daily diet before anyone can critique it. 

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 Sans-Plan 22 Jun 2020
In reply to purplemonkeyelephant:

I'm suspecting this may be a bot post, or somebody trying to sell some miracle supplement or food....but i might be pleasantly surprised.

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 Roadrunner6 22 Jun 2020
In reply to marsbar:

Yeah PB&J sandwiches. I put them into individual bags, half ones. They get squashed but just taste the same. On long runs they are awesome. Hard to find a better more complete food at their price.

OP isn't Trailwind vegan friendly? I've started using that but its pricey, again I bag up small amounts from a big bag.

Obviously bananas.

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 S.A.Airgid 23 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

Are you sure it is definitely the veganism? 

New medications, work/life stress, too much caffeine; too much or too little sleep etc. might be the main source of the problem with veganism being coincidental. Also, do you monitor your heart rate - has this changed recently?

It could be the timing of food intake. Carbs early in the day for quick access energy, a good protein source post exercise and later in the day when your body needs it most for repair. 

But if it is the veganism as others have said Vit B12 is a common problem. It could also be iron (and calcium can block iron uptake so take note when you're consuming anything containing both). 

Start a food dairy and after a week or two you'll probably start noticing where there are gaps in nutrition?

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In reply to mandarinlou2:

A banana and peanut butter on toast an hour or so before a long run and hydration and things like dates throughout have served me fine so far. 

I like trek bars too

Id recommend tracking your diet on cronometer app for a couple of days to get a proper feel for your diet and to find out if your deficient in anything. 

I find basing your diet around dr gregors daily dozen is a good foundation to work from. 

I also supplement between 25 and 50 grams of protein a day with a shake or smoothie

Post edited at 14:46
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In reply to S.A.Airgid:

> Start a food dairy and after a week or two you'll probably start noticing where there are gaps in nutrition?

Can't do that, they're vegan! 

(I love typos)

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 JohnV 24 Jun 2020
In reply to oldie:

Following that logic, wouldn't whatever animal you are eating also be deficient in essential amino acids... Unless they got them from the plants they were eating?

Or are the essential amino acids for a chicken or cow different to those for a human?

I don't know the answer. 

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 petemeads 24 Jun 2020
In reply to Sans-Plan:

Almost certainly not a genuine query - the OP only just registered, has made no attempt to thank anyone or query responses - and the post has a familiar "voice" to it with no specifics, only generalities. I follow other forums where new people appear just to cause trouble or sound out opinions then vanish, not sure how this one intends to profit from the current responses which have been very genuine and helpful.

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 ianstevens 24 Jun 2020
In reply to S.A.Airgid:

> But if it is the veganism as others have said Vit B12 is a common problem. It could also be iron (and calcium can block iron uptake so take note when you're consuming anything containing both). 

Interestingly caffeine can block iron uptake too - so don't have your iron supp with the morning coffee!

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 ianstevens 24 Jun 2020
In reply to JohnV:

> Following that logic, wouldn't whatever animal you are eating also be deficient in essential amino acids... Unless they got them from the plants they were eating?

> Or are the essential amino acids for a chicken or cow different to those for a human?

> I don't know the answer. 

Eating a mix of plant sources. There are a set of amino acids that we (humans) can't synthesise and need to get directly from diet - IIRC there's about 20 or so. Most plants do't have the full mix, so you need to eat a variety of plants. So long as you don't just eat wheat and (for example) soya, and mix it up a bit, you'll be fine and will get them all. In contrast meat is a one-hit source, in that in contains all the essential AAs - animals get these by mixed diets and possibly (although again, I can't remember) being able to synthesise some that we can't. 

The take-home really is just to mix your diet up, and not become over-reliant on the same protein-sources as a vegan.

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 S.A.Airgid 24 Jun 2020
In reply to bouldery bits:

Hahaha! I wish I had been attempting a pun but a typo it indeed is. I can only assume my brain went "calcium, milk, dairy" and boom!  

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In reply to JohnV:

> Following that logic, wouldn't whatever animal you are eating also be deficient in essential amino acids... Unless they got them from the plants they were eating? Or are the essential amino acids for a chicken or cow different to those for a human? I don't know the answer. <

As I understand it different animals have different ranges of "essential" amino acids which they cannot produce themselves. Presumably a particular mammal species has milk containing all essential amino acids for that species, which will come from the mother's food. I don't know if there are any mammals that can form all necessary amino acids. School biology, I'm no expert.

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In reply to ianstevens:

> So long as you don't just eat wheat and (for example) soya, and mix it up a bit, you'll be fine and will get them all. In contrast meat is a one-hit source, in that in contains all the essential AAs - animals get these by mixed diets and possibly (although again, I can't remember) being able to synthesise some that we can't. <

Isn't soya one of the few plant foods that does contain all the essential human amino acids (plus non-essential ones that we can also to use to form other amino acids necessary for forming proteins)? So in theory one could use that as a main protein source. However I suppose its unlikely all the amino acids will be in an ideal ratio for most efficient protein production in humans, so mixing many sources would be best, as you say. Again I'm no expert, and hope I'm only talking partial rubbish.  PS Sorry about unintentionally duplicating your reply to JohnV.

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 La benya 24 Jun 2020
In reply to JohnV:

Animals we eat have evolved to be able to extract from and/or create from digesting plant material, everything they need (some things aside like salt etc).  Humans.... not so much.  It can be done, but as is evidenced by the responses above, the human needs to be exceptionally careful about what they eat to achieve the same thing.  Its almost as if humans weren't designed to be vegan!

leave your dislike below.

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 ianstevens 24 Jun 2020
In reply to oldie:

It is indeed, shows I should not have been lazy and actually looked stuff up!

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 nufkin 24 Jun 2020
In reply to La benya:

>  Its almost as if humans weren't designed to be vegan!

They weren't 'designed' at all

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 La benya 24 Jun 2020
In reply to nufkin:

Well yes, of course- thank you for point out the obvious error in my choice of words, rather than addressing the point at hand.

Can I please substitute the words 'weren't designed' for 'haven't evolved over a period of many millions of years, including their common ancestors with the great apes and beyond, by way of natural selection owing to the environmental pressures of survival'....

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In reply to nufkin:

> They weren't 'designed' at all

Are you sure?

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In reply to nufkin:

> They weren't 'designed' at all

If I was designed, they let the work experience kid at it. 

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In reply to ALL

Perhaps insightful but be wary of the effects of caffine in your diet; iron, vital B vitamins are supressed to lower quanitites when taking, say, a coffee before meals. The prevalance is higher when exerting yourself.

For iron, Vit C before meals, mandatory.

I supplement, from my own experiments, with spirilna (and yes it is revolting), wheatgress and maca powder in a concoption every night - spoonful is enough (for me anyways).

Took me years to realise, as a vege, just how much damage - ironically given what caffiene offers - lack of energy and tiredness it caused.

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 Yanis Nayu 25 Jun 2020
In reply to mandarinlou2:

I follow a guy called the Vegan Cyclist on You Tube. His cycling took off when he started supplementing with spirulina. 

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In reply to mandarinlou2:

It may be that being vegan doesn’t work for you. I would suggest you change your diet and eat food that makes you feel well and produces best performance. That could mean introducing meat and dairy.

You need to work out what compromises you are prepared to make but being well and happy are the most important things in life.

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 nufkin 25 Jun 2020
In reply to La benya:

>  Can I please substitute the words 'weren't designed' for 'haven't evolved over a period of many millions of years, including their common ancestors with the great apes and beyond, by way of natural selection owing to the environmental pressures of survival'....

Yes, sorry, I fully know what you meant; that's a bugbear I seem to have developed - 'designed' just doesn't seem to do justice to, as you say, the evolution over millions of years. I suggest 'developed'.

And avoiding me at parties

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In reply to all:

It would appear that mandarinlou2 doesn't have enough energy even to reply,  a shame if a real post as it would have usefully modified the answers, whilst perhaps supporting Sans-Plan comment.

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