Finding Ultra: Rejecting Midlife Becoming
    One of the World's Fittest Men,
     And Discovering Myself

For Beyond 50's "Fitness" talks, listen to an interview with Rich Roll. He is a world renowned ultra-endurance athlete and vegan. He was one of the top finishers in the grueling, Ultraman World Championships in 2008 and 2009 - a competition involving 320-miles of swimming, biking and running.  To top that, he participated in what he called an insane event - the EPIC5 Challenge: five iron-distance triathlons on five Hawaiian islands in five days!  Roll, along with Jason Lester, successfully logged 12 miles of swimming, 560 miles of cycling, and 131 miles of running - 703 miles in total. 

Roll will talk about the major turning point in his life when he was barely fit.  Right before turning forty, he was in pain from climbing a flight of stairs due to lack of exercise and being nearly 50 pounds overweight.  His determination to reverse this lead to an awe-inspiring, midlife physical transformation that took a few months. You can learn from him about how to have a similar transformation of your own.

His Secret Weapon: Power in Plants

In June of 2007, Roll made the major transition to what he called the "PlantPower Diet" that is vegan: plant-based, whole food diet.  From the start, it resulted in tremendous energy that escalated over time.  He felt lighter that came with an all-day "high."  His thinking became clearer and his depression subsided.  Overall, he said, "I felt amazing."

Six months later, "I'd already lost forty-five pounds, lowering my body weight to a lean and mean 165 pounds.  Not only was I ripped, I was hooked.  And then I really put my regimen to work, testing my body's absolute limits," Roll explained.

The Nuts and Bolts of the PlantPower Diet

  • Eat lots of different plant foods and use oils sparingly or avoid altogether.
  • The necessary protein (made up of amino acids) will come from ingesting combinations of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables.  An optimal and complete protein source that is considered a superfood is Spirulina, a fresh-water algae phytonutrient.  In terms of protein content by grams, the top 22 (from highest to lowest) on the PlantPower Diet list is Spirulina, Tempeh, Seitan, Boiled Lentils, Boiled Black Beans , Boiled Chickpeas, Mung Beans, Kidney Beans, Baked Beans, Pinto Beans, Kamut, Quinoa (cooked), Black-Eyed Peas, Peanut Butter, Almonds, Oatmeal, Bulgar (cooked), Spinach (boiled), Brown Rice, Broccoli, Baked Potato and Whole Wheat Bread.
  • Alkalinity: Optimum wellness is achieved when the body is in a slightly alkaline state (7.35 - 7.45).  The right proportion to eat is 80 percent alkaline-forming foods and 20 percent acid-forming foods.  Roll has found that a primarily alkaline diet has been his best recovery tool available to promote the repair, growth, and maintenance of lean muscle mass.
  • Nutrient density can be achieved by making  green smoothies.  They require little energy to digest.
  • Remove gluten from the diet.  As an alternative, try sprouted whole grain bread, pasta made from brown rice, breads and tortillas made from spelt or rice flour.
  • Eating sprouted mung beans, lentils, or chickpeas can give bioavailable protein, vitamins and minerals.
  • A plant-based diet is high in omega-3 fatty acids that come from nuts (brazil, walnut, butternut), seeds (chia, pumpkin, kiwi, hemp, sesame), oils (extra-virgin olive oil, hemp oil, wheat germ oil, Vega EFT Oil product, Udo's 3-6-9 Oil product, grains (wheat germ), fruits (avocado), beans (fermented soybeans, navy beans, kidney beans) and vegetables (dark leafy greens, spirulina, algae (available in a lot of supplements), and winter squash).
  • Cook with organic virgin coconut oil.

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