What I Ate Wednesday: 09/03/2014

WIAW 2 quote
My typical day of eating actually starts the night before. The key to success on a healthy diet is preparation. Plan ahead! Because I eat the same types of foods during the week when I am busy with my internship, job and running, I find it easier to make 2 or 3 salads ahead of time to grab every morning when I pack for the day. This is also helpful in cutting down on my prep time.

This also ensures that I don’t stray from my diet because I have no excuses, the food is prepared already and if I don’t eat it within the next several days it will go bad (one of my biggest pet peeves is wasting food). Another benefit is that it becomes easier to see when I need to go grocery shopping because I run out of everything at the same time. So instead of having to make a trip every day for one or two things, I condense my shopping to the days that I need to do some food prep.


WIAW 2 breakfast


Wednesdays are my easy recovery run days, sandwiched between my tempo run Tuesdays and track Thursdays. So I jogged an easy 4 miles and fueled for the day with:

  • 2 large peaches (480g)
  • 1 large plucot (180g)

This may not seem like a whole lot, but immediately afterward I need to hop on my bike and commute 30 minutes to my internship…I would rather not do that on a full stomach…

I love starting my day with some light fruit in the morning, it digests really easy on an empty stomach and gets some sugar to my cells as well as providing daily vitamins! No need to take a multi-vitamin in the morning, though I did take my B12 (which is not just a vegan problem! Unless you like eating dirt, you probably aren’t getting enough B12…unless you eat a lot of fortified foods).

Mid-Morning Snack!

My stomach started growling around 11:30am, I wasn’t planning on eating my lunch until 1. No way was I going to last that long! So I munched on a gigantic Envy apple (320g=3/4 lb. of goodness). Literally, a lady commented that the apple was almost as big as I was ūüôāWIAW 2 snack


I had one of the salads that I prepped (pictured above) with freeze-dried corn and steamed sweet potatoes (not pictured):


Fistfuls of spinach
1 serving (85g) snap peas
1 large carrot
1/4 English cucumber


1 medium zucchini
2 small steamed Japanese sweet potatoes (308g)

Before lunch I biked from my internship to Portland State University campus (25 min.) to enjoy my lunch in ¬†a park and soak up the last rays of summer before I caught a bus (I’m not biking up a ridiculous hill!) to my job as an after school care program teacher.


Yummy! My favorite meal of the day, not to mention I can finally relax for the day!I rode the bus halfway home to PSU campus, where I picked up my bike and cycled home 25 minutes, up a big hill! When I got home I was pretty ravenous!

WIAW 2 dinner
300g raw cauliflower

Main course:
1.5 large heads Romaine lettuce
774g steamed sweet potatoes (1.7 pounds!)


Calories: 1894

Carbohydrates: 431.2g (87.1%)

Fat: 10.1g (4.5%)

Protein: 57.3g (8.4%)




What the elite eat: Kenyan diet observation report

One cannot be a runner anywhere in the world, and not be aware that Kenyan runners are the best runners in the world. But it’s actually the Kalenjins, one specific tribe of Kenyans, who dominate in the world’s races. There are only about 5 million Kalenjin in the world.¬†“There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in the marathon,” Epstein says. “There were 32 Kalenjin who did it in October of 2011.” (Source: Warner, Gregory. NPR Parallels Many Stories, One World. All Things Considered: “How One Kenyan Tribe Produces The World’s Best Runners”. Nov. 1, 2013). It’s also a great story, the NPR focus is on the genetics and mental toughness of the Kalenjin, which is not what I am addressing today.

kalenjin kenyans

Source: The Chronicles of a Chosen Warrior blog, “The Kalenjins, Tribe I hail from” by Kiplimo Chemirmir. Nov. 17, 2010

My focus is on the diet of the Kalenjin Kenyans. My interest was piqued when I came across an article on Active.com that detailed the findings of a study conducted by Yannis Pitsiladis of the International Centre for East African Running Science in Glasgow, Scotland;  Mike Boit, an Olympic bronze medalist in the 800m event from the 1972 Games; Vincent Onywera from the Exercise and Sports Science Department at Kenyatta University in Nairobi; and Festus Kiplamai from the Department of Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics at Egerton University in Njoro, Kenya. For 7 days, they monitored the food and drink intake of 10 elite Kalenjin runners (1500m and 12k) as they reached peak conditioning for an upcoming cross country season. Validity? One researcher stayed with the athletes around-the-clock for the duration of the week! *

What they observed was rather eye-opening, especially for an aspiring runner like myself.

First, contrary to the popular belief that people should eat a variety of foods, the Kenyan runners only consumed a limited selection of foods, 86% of which came from vegetable sources and 14% from animal foods (about 3.5oz of meat/day and copious amounts of tea with full-cream milk). They also consumed no dietary supplements whatsoever, they relied on whole foods to sustain their training! During this 7-day period, the group ran 75 miles, doing twice-a-day daily workouts. *

Macro nutrient ratio: 80/10/10

Here’s what I¬†really¬†enjoyed reading, as a high-carb low-fat vegan: the Kenyan runners¬†obtained¬†76.5% of daily calories from carbohydrates (600g per 24 hrs.)! 13.4% of their calories came from fat (~46g) and 10.1% of calories came from protein (~75g). Sounds like the high-carb, low-fat diet recommended by Dr.s McDougall, Esselstyn, Campbell and Barnard! Sports-nutritionists recommend consuming at least 9g of carbs/kg of body weight ¬†(4.1g/lb.) and 1.2g/kg of body weight of protein (.5g/lb.) so these runners were eating according to contemporary scientific wisdom for their 5’9, 129lb. frames. *

Foods consumed:

The top 4 components of the Kalenjin Kenyan runners’ diets were as follows, in order of quantity:.

  1. Ugali (corn): 23% of total calories
  2. Sugar: 20% of total calories
  3. Rice: 14% of total calories
  4. Milk: 13% of total calories
  5. Remaining: 30% from meat and plant sources, “No other single food provided more than six percent of daily caloric sustenance (bread was at six percent, with potatoes and beans at five percent each)”. *

As you might notice, the top 3 sources of these runners calories came from starches and sugar! One of the main arguments for a starch based, high-carb low-fat diet is that our bodies’ rely on glucose (sugar!) to provide energy for all of our cells!

This is all sounding pretty darn good for a person who eats mostly plants, vegan (the Kalenjins are not vegan they consume ~3.5oz. of meat/day, about 1/2 a cup), and mostly carbs (like me)!

But….there’s one more thing to assure you of the benefits of a high-carb, plant based diet!!!

tarahumara diet

Photo (left) source: Coppercanyonexplorer.com “The Tarahumara or Raramuri of Copper Canyon”.

The observed diet of the Kalenjin Kenyan runners was remarkably similar to another tribe of people famous for their superhuman running abilities: the Tarahumara Indians of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mexico.

“Research reveals that about 75 to 80% of total daily energy comes from carbohydrate, 12% from fat and 8 to 13% (sound familiar?) from protein. The Tarahumara Indians eat copious quantities of corn meal, along with praiseworthy portions of beans.”* Thumbs-up for high carb! Woohoo!

There is one important thing I would like to briefly address, the¬†milk¬†component of the Kenyans’ diet. (This is a vegan blog, but I cannot ignore this important topic.)¬†I do not¬†advocate milk as part of a healthy diet, but here’s some interesting research as to why it might be okay for the Kenyans.

There are two main types of milk proteins called A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein. A1 is the conventional milk consumed in the western hemisphere from Holsteins (the most common breed of dairy cow raised) and A2 comes from cows in India, Africa, and Asia. According to Keith Woodford, a professor of farm management and agribusiness at New Zealand’s Lincoln University, there are more than 100 studies that suggest a link between consumption of A1 protein milk and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. By the way, human milk only contains the A2 beta-casein protein. **

So where am I going with this? Well, African cow breeds produce A2 milk and according to The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism “Milk proteins and human health: A1/A2 milk hypothesis”, “Populations, which consume milk containing high levels of ő≤-casein A2 variant, have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and type-1 diabetes.” ***

So there you have it! What began as a simple Google search this morning on “how the elites eat before a marathon” before my 16-mile tempo run this morning turned into a day-long exploration of the Kenyan diet! I do conclude that it was a rather fruitful search ūüôā Hopefully this spurs you to give the high-carb diet a try, and go against the carb-phobia that dominates the media health coverage today! Don’t forget, these tribes are mostly vegan ūüėČ


* Anderson, Owen Ph.D. for Active.com “Eating Practices of the Best Endurance Athletes in the World”

**Harkinson, Josh. Mother Jones “You’re Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk” March 12, 2014.

***NCBI. The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism “Milk proteins and human health: A1/A2 milk hypothesis”

Brainwashing: No Bliss for Farm Animals

factory farming brainwashing

Pictures on the right are sourced from farmsanctuary.org

Cognitive dissonance: “The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance” (Source: psychology.about.com).

Meat paradox: “Many people like eating meat, but most are reluctant to harm things that have minds. The current three studies show that this dissonance motivates people to deny minds to animals.”

Denial & Justification:

  • “Animals considered “appropriate” for human consumption are ascribed ‘diminished mental capacities’.”
  • “Meat eaters are motivated to deny minds to food animals when they are reminded of the link between meat and animal suffering.”

“This mind denial reduces negative affect associated with dissonance. The findings highlight the role of dissonance reduction in facilitating the practice of meat eating and protecting cultural commitments.”

(Source: Bastion, et al., NCBI¬†PubMed.gov, “Don’t mind meat? The denial of mind to animals used for human consumption.” Abstract. Epub 2011 Oct 6.)

gandhi greatness of a nation quote

Fish isn’t “health” food! Fish are friends!

Years ago, when I first decided I wanted to be a vegetarian at age 14, I was still eating fish. I later discovered there was an easier way to say,¬†“I’m a vegetarian, but I eat fish.”¬†It’s called pescatarian (like the Spanish word “pescador” which means “fisherman”). I loved fish, I loved sushi, broiled mackerel in miso, salmon marinated in soy sauce, etc. My mom’s Japanese, her influence definitely rubbed off on me (I ate healthy home-cooked meals, I now realize how valuable that was). But since I became a vegan more than a year ago, I’ve learned how harmful consumption of fish is….and the dirty secrets about the industry that produces our animal products, I never want to eat fish again. I also still get to enjoy my food, especially veggie sushi rolls! Yum!

Home-made deliciousness!

Home-made deliciousness!

melville quote

Fish is not the next “clean-eating food”, nor is it even remotely healthy, once you understand some key fish facts. In fact, our fishing industry is quite…fishy…

Here’s a list of reasons consuming fish harms our bodies, other animals, and our planet:

  1. Commercial fishing is destroying the ocean floor: There are a couple of methods of commercial fish farming in particular that strip our seafloor. There is trawling, a large net that is dragged along the ocean floor to catch shrimp bottom-dwelling fish and dredging, dragging a large metal-frame basket along the ocean floor to  catch shellfish. Both methods damage the seafloor habitat and bottom-dwelling sea creatures who call it home. *
  2. Other sea creatures are injured or killed: These methods of commercial fishing, as well as others including: gillnetting, midwater trawling, and purse seining, can yield large amounts of bycatch. Larger creatures, like dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles can also become entangled in nets or caught unintentionally. When these fish are hauled to the surface they can be killed. *
  3. Rise of the aquaculture industry (fish farming): The aquaculture industry is seen as the answer to the depleted oceans. More and more of our fish is being raised and harvested in these glorified fish tanks to meet the demands of consumption. Fish is touted by many as a healthy food, but think again. Over 50% of the fish consumed is farm-raised.**
  4. Farmed fish is non-nutritious:¬†Farm-raised fish get little or no exercise, so their fat to muscle ratio is unnatural, much like today’s cattle. Farm fish are fed an unnatural diet of corn and soy, which we grow in excess due to govt. subsidies and big companies like Monsanto. Corn and soy products are high in Omega-6 fatty acids and low in Omega 3’s, thus producing an inflammatory effect in the fish, making them sick. The accumulated Omega-6’s also inflame humans when not balanced with a 1:2 -1:4 ration of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s.Fish are also routinely given antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to be harvested as they swim in their own feces-tanks (the same thing is done with cows, hello antibiotic resistance in humans!)**
  5. Polluted oceans and fish poop: Farmed fish and their tanks are diseased and filthy. The large quantities of fish packed into small areas of containment (much like Concentrated Animal Feed Operations aka CAFOs) make it the perfect breeding ground for diseases, which spread to wild sea life. In an effort to control diseases and disinfect the fish farms, large amounts of antibiotics and chemicals are used on the fish, this also spreads to the surrounding ocean areas. Farmed fish also poop, a lot. Like all animal waste, it contains methane and nitrogen which promotes algae growth. Excess algae deoxygenates the water and leads to dead zones where nothing can survive. This same thing happens with runoff from CAFOs which pollutes oceans and rivers, and again, the nitrogen promotes excess algae growth and methane is the worst contributor to global warming. **
  6. Farming fish is CRUEL:¬†Fish feel. They escape from their farm existence, thus reducing credibility of so called “wild caught” fish, which may be escaped farm fish. Farmed fish will always live shorter lives and die in ways that are slow and painful. Imagine what lives they could have had.**
  7. You can live without eating fish.¬†Enough said. There are many people, myself included who don’t eat fish for the above reasons and many more. I still get to enjoy so many types of veggie sushi! Fish-less fish sauce is also available for everyone who really enjoys Asian food, like me ūüôā

fish are friends not food


*Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, “Fishing and Farming Methods”, 2014.

**Mind Body Green, “9 Things Everyone Should Know About Farmed Fish”, Nov. 7, 2013.