As one of the world’s premier athletes and a cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong knows a thing or two about staying healthy and fit.
And in a new interview with HuffPo, the IronMan and Tour de France champ reveals his newest training secret: a primarily vegan diet.
It’s well known that the vegan documentary “Forks Over Knives” has caused many celebs (Ozzy Osbourne, Russell Brand, Carrie Anna Inaba, Eliza Dushku and Kristen Bell, among others) to adopt a plant-based diet, and now Armstrong is following one of the offshoot diets from the film.
Those who’ve seen “Forks Over Knives” are familiar with Rip Esselstyn (son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, one of the stars of the film), a firefighter and triathlete. Esselstyn is also the creator of the Engine 2 Diet, a plant-based, whole foods eating plan, which he pioneered to help his fellow Austin firefighters get healthy.
Esselstyn just happens to be Armstrong’s swim partner, so he shared his dietary recommendations with the cyclist. Although skeptical, Armstrong decided to take the plunge and try the Engine 2 plan, once he heard about it and understood some of the potential benefits.
“I started swimming again, and I swim with a guy who started basically a food program called the Engine 2 Diet, which is a plant-based, 100% natural, organic diet. His dad was a famous cardiologist who did Forks Over Knives, and was President Clinton’s doctor. Clinton has gone to a completely vegan diet and he’s essentially erased his heart disease. It’s basically whole grains, different types of beans, kale salad with creative alternatives for dressing. They’ll bring out something that looks like a brownie, but it’s not a brownie…though it tastes a bit like a brownie. So I did it for one day, then two days. Then I branched out and started doing it at breakfast and lunch. I still insist that I get to do whatever I want for dinner. But it’s made a significant difference in just in a month,” he tells HuffPo.
To his surprise, not only did he experience benefits very quickly, but some of the positive changes from the diet were very powerful, including its impact on his energy levels.
He says, “Even when you’re training really hard, it’s normal that you would have certain things for lunch or certain things for breakfast, and then have this dip, or almost like a food coma…I don’t experience that anymore. My energy level has never been this consistent, and not just consistent, but high. I’m a big napper — I couldn’t even take a nap these days if I wanted to. The other thing — I expected to get rid of that dip, but I didn’t expect the mental side of it, and the sharpness and the focus that I’ve noticed. And I was the biggest non-believer, I was like ‘whatever man’, and I’m in. I’m not doing dinners yet, but breakfast and lunch, I’m in.”
Armstrong also says that the diet is very sustainable, especially while at home. Although traveling can be tricky, he says that all it takes is a little preparation.
“You can even travel with stuff. Breakfast is not hard, you bring your cereal and then you go to the store and buy almond milk, you buy bananas to put on top of it. If you plan, then it’s possible,” he says.
If a world-caliber athlete is touting the advantages of a plant-based diet, just imagine how beneficial it can be to the average Joe. Here’s hoping Armstrong will soon add vegan dinners to the mix — and that his experiences will lead others to give veganism a shot!
For more from Armstrong, including his new line of fitness equipment, his thoughts on childhood obesity and his political aspirations, click on over to HuffPo.
Photo Credit: Karin Hildebrand Lau / Shutterstock.com