Great article by Kevin Gray in this month’s issue of Men’s Journal. Titled Going Vegan in the NFL, Gray writes about the dietary changes made by players such as former Miami Dolphin running back, Ricky Williams, Atlanta Falcons tight end, Tony Gonzalez and more recently, Houston Texans running back, Arian Foster. Williams, who also was a big advocate of yoga, switched to a vegetarian diet in 2005 simply because he felt strongly that it was a healthier way to eat. Despite the drama that surrounded his career, he managed to carry the ball 1,121 yards in 2009 saying that his vegetarian diet “changed my game, and it changed my body…I had tons of energy.” Gonzalez follows the 80/20 plan, 80% plant-based, 20% fish and chicken, claiming the main reason for the fish and chicken is because he needed more calories than he could get on a 100% plant-based plan. Remember, these guys need to consume upwards of 6,000 calories a day to sustain the energy needed for their jobs! Gonzalez says he eats the way he does to because the kind of beating his body takes need the optimal nutrition to repair. NFL nutritionist, Mitzi Dulan, helped Gonzalez, who first tried an entirely vegan plan five years ago after reading The China Study, but then added back the small portions of fish and chicken, says that turning meat into much harder than turning grains and plants into energy. “Taking that fat and that density, it’s a lot more work. It makes your blood acidic and your body has to work to get your body in pH balance again.” While on a 100% plant-based diet, Gonzalez lost some pounds he didn’t need to carry, and felt the best he had ever felt in his career as far as energy and endurance, but did notice he was hitting the weights as well and needed a little more bulk for his position, hence adding in the small portions of fish and chicken. Gonzalez credits his best performance to his diet. He is quoted as saying “I have more energy, better focus and more endurance. I don’t get tired, I hardly every come out of the game and I’m strong as ever.”
As for Texan’s Foster, he finds the attention to his being a vegan distracting so he doesn’t talk much about it. (He says it’s not a cult thing, and according to some reports he may even make some exceptions–) He simply tells the press that he didn’t feel good when he ate big meals with meat. At 25 he had been cutting meat out of his diet for about six months before going to a plant-based diet. He is having his best season ever picking up more yards on the field than nearly any other player in the league! Though my heart belongs to the Miami Dolphins, I can easily see those Texans in the Super Bowl and clearly give credit to Foster for his contribution to his team who I believe have only lost 1 game this season, winning the other 10!
Many have questioned my heavy lean into a plant-based diet, given that I workout for a living. Not only do I feel physically great, but mentally and spiritually as well. If it’s good enough for these guys, it’s definitely good enough for me…and on this Vegan (feast) Thursday, I hope YOU will consider a meatless meal…or even a meatless day! It is clearly a win/win/win situation. If the way you are eating is working for you, that’s great…but if you don’t feel your best, if your energy isn’t where it could be, if your all important numbers (cholesterol, sugar, weight, BP) aren’t where you (or your doctor) would like them to be, get a hold of The China Study. Read it and decide for yourself…What we eat is completely and totally intertwined with how we feel. Of this I am certain!