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What I Eat in a Day: My Plant-Based Diet as an Endurance Athlete

I know many of you have been curious what my own diet looks like on a daily basis, so yesterday I thought it would be fun to keep a log (and take photos!) of everything I ate during the day. I chose yesterday because it was a bit more extreme – I did a 12 mile trail run in the morning so I ended up burning just over 3,000 calories for the day. I didn’t track my calorie intake, but it was pretty close to 3,000 as well. Let’s get into it!

6:15 – Pre-Run

  • Toasted Ezekiel raisin bread with peanut butter
  • 4 oz coffee (not pictured)

Normally, I don’t eat before I run. As long as I’m doing less than 12 miles, I will always run on an empty stomach, but I do like to eat a small amount of carbs and fat before longer runs to get my metabolism moving. I’ve experimented with pinole (which has become a cult classic on my blog), but a simple piece of Ezekiel toast and peanut butter works well. A little caffeine is also a big performance boost that I save for long runs, so I had a small amount of coffee with almond milk.

6:30 – Trail Run

I was at the trail by 6:45 and did 12 miles as planned. I hadn’t done any runs over 10 miles in several weeks due to wildfire smoke and other factors, so it felt good. I’m also not training for any imminent races as the Leona Divide got cancelled. 9:06 seems like a terrible pace, but remember that this trail is literally called “The Beast” for a reason, and included 2,360 ft of elevation gain (236 flights of stairs!).

My favorite thing to eat on long runs is date bars like Larabars, or in this case a Trader Joe’s bar with two ingredients (dates and peanuts). SO much better than those artificial maltodextrin gels. If it was longer I would have slowly eaten the bar as I ran, but at only 12 miles I just saved it for the drive home. I also had a scoop of my favorite electrolyte powder (Ultima Replenisher) in a water bottle.

[P.S. I just learned that I can embed my Garmin tracks right onto my blog, which is pretty cool. You can even click on it to see the full breakdown of my run if you’re curious.]

9:30 – Breakfast

  • Coffee with Trader Joe’s soy cream
  • Toasted Ezekiel raisin bread with peanut butter
  • Broccoli
  • Chia pudding with berries and banana
  • B-Healthy vitamin

Breakfast was nothing unusual. Coffee. Another piece of toast. Broccoli. Chia pudding. A mountain of fresh berries, frozen berries and half a banana. Last year I wrote about how I eat the same breakfast every day and as you can see, that hasn’t changed at all! The chia pudding with berries that I make each morning is so good. I won’t get into that here because the link above has the recipe and much more detail. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I’m always sad when it’s gone. ??

12:30 – Lunch

  • Huge barley bowl with barley, chopped kale, sautéed crimini mushrooms, pinto beans, cashew dressing, and green onions.

I had some leftover barley (my favorite grain these days) so I used that as a base for a big bowl of whatever I could find. I warmed the barley with a bunch of chopped kale. Then I sautéed some crimini mushrooms with nearly a whole can of pinto beans and some garlic powder & paprika. Then I topped it with leftover cashew cream (like this smoked paprika ranch) and a chopped green onion. I just threw together whatever I had. It looks a lot smaller in the photo – this bowl was really big and filling.

1:00-3:00 – Afternoon snacks

  • Peet’s Americano
  • Raspberry protein bite by Enjoy Life
  • Tiny square of chocolate
  • Peanut butter filled pretzels
  • Almonds

In the afternoon I went to my favorite Peet’s coffee shop (where I have to sit outside in 100o temps because indoor seating is closed due to COVID…) to do some work and had a small Americano (2 shots of espresso with hot water) with a splash of almond milk. I also had a bag of snacks, probably the least healthy stuff of the day, not all One Ingredient approved, but those Enjoy Life raspberry chocolate protein bites (basically just raspberry chocolate truffles) are sooo good. They’re available at Trader Joe’s but don’t buy them, you will regret it…

5:00 – Dinner

  • Whole wheat fusilli pasta
  • A “kitchen sink” pink sauce (tomato paste, cashew cream, water, pinto beans, olives, balsamic, nutritional yeast, broccoli)
  • Don Lee Farms veggie burger
  • Half banana with peanut butter and two chocolate chips

One of the strangest pasta sauces I’ve ever made. It was just a random “kitchen sink” kind of thing where I threw in some more of that cashew sauce with tomato paste to make a pink sauce, plus broccoli, Kalamata olives, a few pinto beans left over from lunch, water, and nutritional yeast to thicken it. Random, but not bad. I poured that over a full half bag (8 oz / 800 cal) of whole wheat fusilli pasta and then added a Don Lee Farms veggie burger from Costco (my favorite veggie burgers, not exactly ?“one ingredient” but not too heavily processed, either) on top. I was a huge dinner, well over 1,000 calories and I was pretty full… but then I had the other half of my banana from breakfast with peanut butter and two dark chocolate chips.

8:00 – Evening

  • 5 oz Malbec

I typically eat a small snack at around 8:00 pm (air popped popcorn / Ezekiel toast / berries / etc.) and then fast for 12+ hours, but I was so full from the gigantic dinner that I skipped the snack and just had a glass of a pretty mediocre Argentine Malbec. Wine is one of my greatest passions, so even though there are health risks with alcohol, I’m willing to have a glass on many evenings because the tradeoff is worthwhile to me.

Observations…

  • You may have imagined that my cooking is like my recipes: structured, planned, organized, focused. As you can see, it is not. I never stand in the kitchen with a recipe like “okay they said two teaspoons of balsamic…” and get out my measuring spoons. When I’m just cooking for myself, it’s quite random and free-flowing. I just grab some of this, a little of that, and put it all together into something tasty. It’s all built around the principles I shared in my Healthy Cooking Survival Guide.
  • The meals and eating schedule for this day were typical for me, but the portions were quite a bit larger due to the fact that I burned ~700 calories above average.
  • It feels a bit silly to look at my watch and realize I’ve burned 2,000 calories by noon. It’s a challenge because an unprocessed plant-based diet like this requires a huge volume of food. Barley, oats, beans, greens, berries, broccoli – they are not very calorie dense and I have to eat very large portions. That’s why I try to add in more dense foods like nuts and avocado, plus dried fruit like dates throughout the day.
  • Fiber was extremely high (75g? 5x more than the average American) and sodium was quite low (<1,500) relative to the number of calories. Those are two areas that I focus on most heavily: high fiber and low sodium. I already wrote a huge deep dive into fiber, and I have one planned for sodium as well because I think the dangers of sodium are often overlooked.

That’s all for today, guys! This was something totally random and different… I hope it didn’t bore you to death ??

12 Comments

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    • Thanks, Lydia! I’m working on it! ?? The more I learn, the more I’m concerned about sodium… it does so much more than just raise blood pressure!

  1. Thank you for the look into your day. I would love to see more of them. It’s great to see how other people eat and the creative things they do. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed on how to cook three healthy meals a day. Being able to see how you used leftovers was great.

    I’m also looking forward to your sodium article. I have heart disease in my family and I’ve been trying to be very aware of where my sodium comes from so I can consume less.

    Thank you for another great post!
    Cathleen

    • Hi Cathleen, I’m really glad you liked it! Leftovers are a lifesaver, haha, it’s so much easier to simply double a recipe (or even just the amount of a grain you cook) than to make two different meals.

      I’ll keep working on the sodium article! It might take a while to finalize it, but there’s some really interesting research out there…

  2. I truly wonder if you are a man or machine. This was a fascinating look into your life Andrew. Inspires me to want to cut out the junk food and substitute so many other healthier alternatives.

  3. Really enjoyed this article! It’s so nice to get to know you, sort of virtually :). Your trail run was impressive. I never break 12:00 or so. Ever consider triathlon? I hope you do more of these day in the life posts. Not to be nosy, but other details would be fun to know too. Pets? Cool houseplants? Okay, yeah, I’m nosy.

    • Thanks, Caroline! ?? I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it. I have thought I could be a good triathlete, but there’s two (tiny) problems I hate cycling and I hate swimming, LOL! I would definitely need a swim coach because I’m extremely slow, and I would need to build more cycling muscle and somehow learn to like it. For now at least, I’ve just figured I might as well focus on running because I love it so much…. No pets, I do have two golden pothos plants that I somehow haven’t killed yet!

  4. Hi Andrew,
    I love, love, love your wealth of knowledge. You are doing all of the hard work and we are reaping the benefits.
    My husband and I are avid runners ( he has more endurance than me). He did his first marathon last Oct and I did my first half this past Aug. He has recently introduced me to trail running and I think that is my true love.
    So I was very intrigued to read how you spent your day after your trail run.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article.
    Keep up the fantastic work and keep the healthy knowledge coming.
    Thank you Andrew

    • Hi Annette! I appreciate the kind words and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think trail running is my true love too… I’m starting to hate running on pavement more and more. This day after the trail run was fairly normal and I got a lot of work done, but when I go longer, the rest of the day is basically just spent eating and recovering. I will keep these kind of posts coming now that I know you guys like to hear about my boring life ??

    • Hi Annette, it should be fine. That’s a very popular brand and I think it’s well balanced. From a health standpoint, any electrolyte mixes should be okay as long as they don’t have added sugars or other ingredients.

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