Matt Frazier, the author of “No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants and Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest, Self” and the founder of NoMeatAthlete.com is a BIG fan of green smoothies, consuming them almost everyday. I’ve been an avid reader of “No Meat Athlete” for some years now and used the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap in preparation for both of my marathons. I was recently honoured when I was given the opportunity to become a founding member of the No Meat Athlete academy and was humbled when Matt agreed to be interviewed by me for Natural Juice Junkie.
Matt founded his No Meat Athlete blog in 2009, at about the same time he went vegetarian. Six months later, Matt qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:09:59, over 100 minutes faster than his first marathon time seven years prior! He has since gone on to run 50 and 100 mile ultra marathons.
So does Matt think he has become stronger as an athlete by consuming more plants?
Matt says, “I do, I’m always hesitant to say that I think it’s because I stopped eating meat. I don’t believe, like a lot of people do, that meat and animal products are a poison for your short term athletic goals. That gets thrown around in the plant based community sometimes and I just am not comfortable saying that.”
Matt explained to me that when he went vegetarian he suddenly had to rethink his meals. “Prior to that I was eating what I thought was the best meal an athlete could eat, which was chicken breast and brown rice and once a week I’d make a vegetable or something and I would very rarely add that vegetable to the plate but I thought protein, fat, carbohydrate, I need to get them in these certain amounts and if I’m doing that then I’m doing everything I possibly can for my body.”
“Lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and that’s it, but once I had to rethink all that, once the chicken was gone and I couldn’t just eat brown rice, I started looking up recipes that were vegetarian and because I was interested in cooking I started actually making full new meals.”
“I don’t think that removing the meat suddenly made me faster, I think it was bringing in all this other stuff in place of the meat is what really did it”
“I didn’t just replace the chicken with some fake vegetarian meat. I would go to the farmer’s market, or I would find a thai restaurant that I never realised was in my neighbourhood because I had never had to look for anything like that. I just always went to all the standard fast food places or the restaurants that people go to, Outback and Appleby’s.”
So I finally had all this new interesting cooking and it was all these new foods that I had never ever tried before and I started eating tonnes and tonnes of new fresh produce so the variety in my diet increased and I finally started to shift towards whole foods, lots of fresh foods, lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds all these things that I had really been ignoring before and I believe that is the reason that I got faster. I don’t think that removing the meat suddenly made me faster, I think it was bringing in all this other stuff in place of the meat is what really did it”
Juices or Smoothies?
“I’ve never really consistently juiced,” says Matt. “I’ve tried little juice type things when I’ll get a juicer and use it for a few weeks. That has never really stuck for me but I can see some targeted benefits of it.”
“Smoothies though, that’s something that I do just about every single day. It’s not quite 100% but I think it’s probably 95% of mornings I will drink a smoothie first thing, make one for myself, my wife and my son and we’ll put all kinds of stuff in there, not just fruit but vegetables, some kind of leafy green, maybe broccoli if we have some frozen broccoli and a lot of nuts and seeds, that gives it a creamy texture.”
“It’s a great alternative to the other breakfast options there really aren’t that many if you eat a plant based diet. So smoothies are a big part of my life for sure.”
“Strong links to longevity”
“I really am learning a lot about nuts and seeds. In a lot of studies they have really strong links to longevity that stand out among foods and so I just think it’s a really good idea to get them everyday.”
“We pretty much use the same four every day. Chia seeds have the omega 3s and the good protein and fats. Pumpkin seeds have the iron. The other things I use are walnuts and flax seeds. It’s not like I’ve determined those are the four most valuable seeds one can eat and that’s why I do it every day, but they are easy to find, they have a lot of great properties all of them you know, the flax seeds and chia seeds especially are kinda unique among seeds and I think have some really good properties and so I do want to always include those. If sometimes I switch almonds in for walnuts that doesn’t matter to me at all. Even the pumpkin seeds, I like knowing I’m getting that good iron source in the morning but I think the rest of my diet has a lot of iron in it too and so it doesn’t really matter to me if for a certain few days I don’t have those pumpkin seeds but generally it’s those four.”
Soak Your Nuts
Did you know that nuts, grains and seeds have a natural defence mechanism to help them survive until proper growing conditions are present? This includes nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances that can be removed naturally when there is enough water to sustain a new plant after the nut, grain or seed germinates. When it rains the nut, grain or seed gets wet and can then germinate to produce a plant. To make nuts and seeds more digestible and maximise their nutritional value you can mimic Mother Nature by soaking nuts, seeds and grains.
Matt says, “It’s something that I do believe in but it’s not something that we often practice mainly because we’re not quite that organised. I think of myself as pretty organised with diet and food but still I’m not great about meal planning. That’s a good idea though and that would also help us with actually eating some of it, like if we were to do it before bed as a ritual, soak the seeds for tomorrow’s smoothie, you basically have to eat that smoothie the next day ‘cause all those seeds are right there, out on the counter.”
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