If you’re familiar with the terms “wall balls, WODs, boxes and snatches,” you’ve likely heard of or participated in Crossfit. A high-intensity workout that is quickly acquiring a loyal community of followers, Crossfit is taking the fitness world–and ESPN by storm. Crossfitters workout together at a “box,” perform a Workout of the Day (WOD), and many choose to follow the program’s encouraged diet: Paleo. However, a growing number of people within the Crossfit community are choosing to forgo the Paleo diet to opt for healthier plant-based options. That’s exactly the type of approach to nutrition that Crossfitter and coach Ed Bauer wants his clients to follow.
Ed owns PlantFit, his own training studio, in Portland, Oregon where his friendly–live by example–approach motivates others to eat plant-based foods, become fit, and improve their health. As a vegan and a Crossfitter, I’m thrilled that I was able to recently talk with him about his efforts to promote healthier living:
Q: Let’s start from the beginning, what is Crossfit?
A: From their website, CrossFit is a fitness program that develops “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” It is also described as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity). I find this to be the most effective program for fast results.
Q: What’s your take on the Paleo diet?
A: My take on this modern version of so-called Paleo is that it is a slightly better version of the Atkin’s Diet, promoting a super high protein, low carb approach. Proponents of Paleo eat lots of animal flesh, with some vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and little fruit. They are strictly against all grains, beans, and dairy. They at least get a few key points right. They claim that all foods introduced after the industrial revolution cause a plethora of diseases such as type-II diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. (Read: “they claim quinoa and black beans cause heart disease and cancer!”) The logic or the science simply is not there. Many sources show that a Paleolithic diet consisted of upwards of 80% plant-based foods, with occasional insects and the infrequent hunted animal. This sounds like Paleo people should be eating a whole foods plant-based diet, with meat once or twice a week. This is a far cry from the meat-heavy cholesterol bomb they are currently consuming. Also, bacon did not exist in the Paleolithic era.
Q: How did you discover vegan eating, and what motivates you to stay vegan?
A: I discovered veganism in 1996 after reading John Robbins’ Diet for a New America. I stay vegan for the same reasons I went vegan in the first place, to cause the least amount of harm as possible, to animals, the planet earth, and myself, physically and spiritually.
Q: What challenges do you see your own clients face when trying to eat more plant-based?
A: The most common challenges I see clients face when eating more plant-based or just eating better are increasing protein, healthy fats, and green vegetable intake. I suggest building meals around tempeh, beans, legumes, tofu, seitan, or vegan protein powder, add in some kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, chard, collards, asparagus, green beans, mixed greens, or zucchini, then top it with some walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, coconut, or avocado. It’s as simple as that. Plus I have clients take a B12 supplement as well as DHA Algal Oil.
Q: Do you foresee more “plant based” training studios popping up as veg eating grows?
A: Yes I do. The “Plant-Based Whole Foods” movement is growing rapidly, and we’ll see more veg-friendly fitness and health-based businesses popping up. Though I do promote the benefits of a vegan diet on health and fitness, I am and always will be an ethical vegan.
Q: For endurance or body-building vegan athletes, do you recommend protein powders and/or supplements?
A: Whether performing a weightlifting or endurance based workout, post-exercise nutrition is critical for optimal recovery. Protein powders are recommended because they provide easily digestible amino acids to rebuild the damaged muscle tissue. Simple carbohydrates, from fruit or fruit juice, are recommended as well to replenish glycogen stores and create an insulin spike, which shuttles amino acids to muscle faster. These are recommended in a ratio of 3 carbohydrate to 1 protein.
Q: What’s your favorite healthy go-to meal?
A: My favorite healthy go-to meal is pre-marinated tempeh with quinoa, sauteed kale, and a big chunk of avocado, with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.