What to expect
Changing your diet to a wholefood vegan one will boost your energy levels, stamina, digestion, recovery and it will even improve your lung capacity and sleep. See all about the exciting benefits you can expect in The Vegan Edge.
The more plants you eat, the better your body will function but it won’t happen overnight as your body needs a little time to adjust. When you eat meat, dairy and eggs – foods that are hard to digest – your body produces more bile, which, together with the remains of the animal foods, supports certain bacteria in the gut that produce nasty by-products like TMAO – a dangerous artery-clogging substance. When you start feeding your body more plants providing fibre, complex carbs, plant protein and less saturated fat than animal foods, your body goes through a transition period. That means your gut bacteria are changing: meat- and fat-eating toxic bacteria reduce in numbers, while carb- and fibre-munching, plant-protein-thriving bacteria multiply and help you digest plants (1). These bacteria that prosper on plant-based foods are incredibly beneficial to your health, keeping the gut wall strong and healthy, boosting the immune system, lowering levels of inflammation in your body and making you feel good. They may even protect against some cancers.
When you switch to a vegan diet, based on wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables, and nuts and seeds, the good bacteria start increasing in numbers and eventually take over. However, if you change your diet overnight, you may experience a ‘flatulent’ period of perhaps a couple of weeks when your gut bacteria are changing but not fast enough to cope with your new diet. It’s absolutely normal and will settle down. As your body adapts, you’ll experience better digestion, more energy and much more pleasant bathroom visits than with a meaty diet. Just be patient, don’t give up and you’ll see for yourself!
“I started cycling and racing as a vegetarian, so the only comparisons I can make are between vegetarian and vegan diets. Shortly after I turned vegan, I noticed that I could immediately breathe better. This was in stark comparison to my first pro race when I was still vegetarian. During that fateful race, I was wheezing so badly that my competitors asked me if I was okay as they all left me behind. But once the vegan diet kicked in, I went from the back of the peloton – even dropping out of races – to winning them! The only factor that changed was my diet. Once turning vegan, I no longer get sick, my skin is much brighter with no more blotches, and my mood lifted – along with my energy level… My recovery is simply magic now. This means more days in a row where I can train hard. It also means that during multi-day races like the women’s Tour de France, I wake up every day as fresh as a daisy whereas my meat-eating teammates and competitors slowly dwindle away as the days tick by.”
Christine Vardaros, former US National Team member, multiple cyclocross champion