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Issue #9: Vegan Mountaineering, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Ultra-Running

Issue #9: Vegan Mountaineering, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Ultra-Running

Hi there,

Welcome to issue #9. This week we'll back to a variety of news and articles from the vegan athletic world. Among others, we'll talk about vegan mountaineering, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, crazy ultra-running records, and a Peruvian vegetable that may improve your performance in sports and in... bed.

Here are the topics covered today:

  • Vegan BJJ Competitor Shares Tips How to Eat Like an Athlete
  • Vegan Endurance Athlete Shares His Thoughts on His Superpower (Hint: It's His Diet)
  • Vegan Athlete of the Week: Kuntal A. Joisher
  • Video of the Week: Mt. Everest - 100% Vegan Expedition
  • Mongolian Vegan Ultra-Runner Wins a Grueling US Race
  • A New Ingredient to Add to Your Smoothies (If You Aren't Adding It Already)
  • Study Shows That Vegan and Omnivorous Diets Result in Equal Muscle Mass Gain

Vegan BJJ Competitor Shares Tips How to Eat Like an Athlete

In an interview with plant-based business expert Elysabeth Alfano, vegan Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete Will Brooks shares his thoughts on eating like a vegan athlete. You can watch or listen to the interview on YouTube.

Here's the article with the interview on Elysabeth's website. It summarizes the key points from the conversation, including how to transition to a plant-based diet and how to get more protein:

Will Brooks: Vegan Athlete on Awesome Vegans with Elysabeth Alfano
Vegan Athlete and Brazilian Jui Jitsu competitor Will Brooks joins me to discuss the philosophy of going vegan, the power of healing and more!

Vegan Endurance Athlete Shares His Thoughts on His Superpower (Hint: It's His Diet)

Robbie Balenger, whom I featured in the seventh issue of the newsletter, gave an interview for the Insider. He shares some behind the scenes of his life as a plant-based ultra-runner.

A vegan athlete who ran 100 miles around Central Park in under 24 hours said a plant-based diet is his ‘superpower’
Ultra runner Robbie Balenger has run 3,275 miles from coast-to-coast in less than three months, and 100 miles in a day, all fueled by a vegan diet.

For example, for his 75-day 3,275 mile-run from Los Angeles to New York, he consumed an average of 8,000 calories a day. He ate nut butter, coconut milk, and easily digestible carbs like pasta.

I found it interesting that when he isn't running ultramarathon distances, he doesn't track his calories and macronutrients. But I guess that with his daily minimum of 10 miles of running a day, it's hard to overeat.

Robbie also mentioned some specific foods he eats often:

For meals, some staples include tofu scrambles, rice and beans, and smoothies with chia seeds, carrot juice, and kale.

He also adds calorie-dense foods like nuts, dates, and coconut to his snacks.

Vegan Athlete of the Week: Kuntal A. Joisher

Kuntal A. Joisher is a vegan mountaineer from Mumbai, India. Born into a vegetarian by religion family, he was raised as a vegetarian. He turned vegan in 2002 when he was exposed to the horrors of dairy and leather industry.

About Kuntal A Joisher - Kuntal Joisher

His passion for mountaineering started in 2009 during a chance trip with his wife to a Himalayan hamlet. A few months later, he signed up for a trekking trip to Everest base camp. That's when he decided to climb the tallest mountain in the world. To get his mind and body ready, he enrolled in a mountaineering course in Chilean Patagonia.

His preparations took many years. After two aborted climbs, Kuntal finally stood on the summit of Mt. Everest in 2016. In 2018, he climbed Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. In 2019, he climbed Mt. Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world.

His diet includes foods like: soy milk powder, vegetable stews and curries, fruits, lentils, beans, soups, wheat bread, roti, rice, potatoes, pasta, noodles, red poha, oats, chickpea omelets, homemade vegan yogurts and lots of vegetables.

More information about Kuntal is available on his website. You can also follow Kuntal's preparations and expeditions on Instagram.

Video of the Week: Mt. Everest - 100% Vegan Expedition

Watch how Kuntal A. Joisher climbed to the top of Mount Everest vegan-style: fueled 100% by plants and wearing a 100% animal-free suit. As far as I know, it's the first (perhaps the only?) 100% vegan ascent of Everest.

I love how Kuntal emphasizes that being a vegan athlete isn't just about being plant-based but about making sure that the gear you use also doesn't harm animals.

Mongolian Vegan Ultra-Runner Wins a Grueling US Race

Vegan endurance runners seem to have an affinity for some of the world's most grueling races. Mongolian vegan ultra-runner Budjargal Byambaa recently won a 144-hour Live at the Fair race in New Jersey, USA.

Budjargal runs for six days to take the Gold - Great Vegan Athletes
Vegan runner Budjargal Byambaa has taken another race win over a massive distance. The 38 year old Mongolian entered the epic six day event at the Live at the Fair race in New Jersey, USA. The event is continuous, meaning all stops for eating, sleeping, physiotherapy and toilet breaks use up the rac…

During the six-day continuous event, Budjargal completed 477 miles on a one-mile course (can you imagine running the same course 477 times over six days?). It was 43 more miles than the runner-up. As he said in his interview for GreatVeganAthletes:

“Long distance running is different than any other type of running. It needs not only physical strength, it needs my inner strength. My thought about inner strength is, it is so powerful and it can give me much much more strength than the physical strength.

Becoming vegan helped me to find my inner strength.”

A New Ingredient to Add to Your Smoothies (If You Aren't Adding It Already)

Have you ever heard about maca root powder? I heard about it a few times but never paid much attention to it. I saw it recently in a health food store and decided to try it.

Maca is a cruciferous vegetable growing in Peru at altitudes above 13,000 feet (4,000 meters). The main edible part of the plant is the root. What's interesting is that under Peruvian law it's illegal to export maca in raw form that could be viable for planting elsewhere. This is why the only form of maca available outside of Peru is a powder.

I started adding maca root powder to my smoothies. It never hurts to add a new ingredient. It's rich in many nutrients like vitamin C, copper, and iron as well as some beneficial plant compounds. Turns out it may also have some potential benefits for athletes. Research is in very early stages but it suggests possible improvements in endurance. There's also some evidence showing that maca may help improve learning and memory.

9 Benefits of Maca Root (and Potential Side Effects)
Maca root has become a very popular supplement lately. It provides various benefits for your health, but may also cause some side effects.

Curiously, maca also seems to increase sex drive in both men and women. It requires at least six weeks of ingestion if you need to improve... this type of performance.

Study Shows That Vegan and Omnivorous Diets Result in Equal Muscle Mass Gain

If you have that stubborn friend who keeps telling you that vegan athletes are at a disadvantage compared to omnivores, here's some new evidence that may help you persuade them otherwise.

Researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil monitored for 12 weeks 38 young males. Half of the participants were vegans and half were omnivores. They were told to exercise to increase muscle strength and mass. Both vegans and omnivores consumed 1.6 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.72 g per pound of body weight).

At the end of three months, there was no difference between vegans and omnivores in terms of muscle strength and mass increase. One of the authors of the study said:

“Our findings show that there is no impairment of muscle mass gain for young adult vegans if they ingest the right amount of protein. In fact, the outcome of both diets was the same in this respect.”

More details are available in a news release here.

Vegan and omnivorous diets promote equivalent muscle mass gain, study shows
Trials performed by researchers at the University of São Paulo with healthy young adults show that the right level of protein intake is the key to muscle health, regardless of protein source.

How did I do? Hit reply and let me know. I’m looking forward to your feedback, suggestions, and any questions you may have.

All the best,


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Photo credits:

Featured image: https://unsplash.com/photos/EeITZDXMb0M