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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Ask the Vegan Athlete

Ask Vegan Athlete Brendan Brazier

Brendan Brazier is a professional triathlete from North Vancouver, and the 2003, 50 km Ultra Marathon National Champion. A successful vegan ironman, Brendan contributes to our magazine with a feature called Ask the Vegan Athlete. In each issue Brendan answers questions posed by readers and offers advice to other athletes who choose to eat a plant-based diet.

Brendan is the author of Thrive: a Guide to Optimal Health and Performance Through Plant-Based Whole Foods. His website addresses concerns of vegetarian athletes, provides a forum for vegan athletes, and includes his schedule of activities.

For more info visit his website at http: //www.brendanbrazier.com

When I used to eat meat I found that I needed to consume more calories as well as sugary foods and caffeine to keep my energy level up. Now that I eat a healthy vegan diet I have lots of energy and don't need to eat anywhere near as much food to feel energetic. Why is this? My carnivorous friends can't believe that I gave up coffee and still have lots of energy.

Recalibration is what happens once food and other stimuli are removed. From this comes adaptation and if done correctly, more energy. Brendan Brazier

When you first get out of bed and turn on a light, it seems extremely bright but is really no brighter than normal. Similarly, when sound level is lower, the body's sense of hearing increases. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the phone ringing sounds very loud whereas other times it sounds relatively quiet? The key word is relatively. Our body has the ability to adjust to much of what goes on around it, which serves us well. Our system automatically adapts to external stimuli; this can both be good, but if misused, it is to our detriment.

The body must decide at what level it will sense stimuli in order to calibrate its sensory system. The only gage the body has is through the information we feed it through sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste. The decision will come from what "level" we supply that information. If, for example, we drink a daily cup of coffee to increase our energy, how long does it take to notice a diminished effectiveness? Over quite a short period of time one cup of coffee will no longer have the stimulating effect on the body that it initially did. Of course, the next step, as seems logical, is to drink another cup to get the "energy" that one cup once delivered. Where does it end?

Our bodies are chronically over stimulated but have adapted at a cost. Yet most of us don't realize it. Constantly having to climb to a new level to remain in the same place is a tough way to live, yet common.

The way to fix this problem and help remove considerable stress from the body, thereby increasing energy, is to "recalibrate." Initially it will be difficult, but after about two weeks, adaptation will transpire.

A general improvement in diet will make the "stripping away" of stimulants much easier, thereby allowing for recalibration.

I tried it last summer. For three days I ate nothing with any sugar at all -- including fruit. The result was a calm and productive demeanor. At the end of the three days I ate a few blueberries. Now, most people who have not tried this might find it strange, but taking in just a small amount of sugar in the form of fruit had an immediate stimulating effect. I would liken the result formerly experienced to drinking a cup of coffee. I'm not suggesting cutting back on fruit. However, this experiment nicely underscores the value of what could be gained by recalibration.

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