Foods to Improve Athletic Performance & Recovery

Foods to Improve Athletic Performance & Recovery
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The effects of spinach and berries on oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle soreness in athletes.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Higher fruit and vegetable consumption was found to be “positively associated with muscle power” in adolescents, but that’s not who really needs it. What about the “consumption of fruit and vegetables and risk of frailty” in the elderly? Higher “[fruit and vegetable] consumption was associated with…lower…frailty” as well, “in a dose-response manner”—meaning more fruit, less frailty, and more vegetables, too. But these were all observational studies, which can’t alone prove cause and effect.

What happens when you put foods to the test? Well, “no positive influence…ingesting chia-seed oil on human running performance,” but there was an effect found for “spinach supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress.” And, by spinach supplementation, they meant they just gave some guys some fresh raw spinach leaves—one gram per kilo. So, like a quarter of a bunch a day for two weeks, and then they had them run a half-marathon. And, they found that “chronic daily oral supplementation of spinach”—uh, meaning like eating a salad—”has alleviating effects on known markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage.”

Here’s what happens when you run a half-marathon without spinach: a big spike in oxidative stress, blood malondealdehyde levels, that stay up hours or even days later. In the spinach group, the before-and-after two weeks of spinach doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. But, put the body under pressure, and then you can really see the difference. Your body is better able to deal with the stress.

And, if you look at the resulting muscle damage, as measured by creatine kinase leakage from your muscles (an enzyme that should be in your muscles, not leaking out into your blood), you start out at about 100, and go up to 200 after the half-marathon. Right after, two hours later. But, it’s the next day where you really feel it—that delayed-onset muscle soreness, with CK levels reaching 600 before coming back down. That’s without spinach, though. On spinach, you get a similar immediate post-race bump, but it’s that next day where spinach really shines. You don’t get the same next-day spike. So, for a competitive athlete, that quicker recovery may get you back training harder sooner. They attribute this to “the anti-inflammatory effects of spinach.”

Same with black currant juice. After some hardcore weight lifting, muscle damage indicators go up and stay up, whereas the same lifting, drinking berries, and it goes up, but comes right back down. But, these were just measures of a biomarker of muscle soreness. What about actual soreness?

If you look at the effects of tart cherry juice “on recovery following prolonged, intermittent” sprints in soccer players, you see the same kind of reduction in biomarkers of inflammation—but, more importantly, less resulting muscle soreness. Here’s the soreness reported in the days afterwards in the placebo group. Only about half in the cherry group. Then, they measured maximum voluntary isometric contractions of the leg muscles, which understandably took a hit in the days after the intense workout, but not in the cherry group.

They conclude “that participants who supplemented with [a tart cherry concentrate] were able to maintain greater functional performance.” But, that was testing like how high can you vertically jump. They didn’t actually see if they played soccer any better. But, this study on purple grape juice actually showed “an ergogenic effect in recreational runners by promoting increased time-to-exhaustion,” where you ramp people up on a treadmill and see how long they can go before collapsing. After a month of drinking a grape Kool-Aid type placebo control drink, no real change in performance, but a whopping 15% improvement in the real grape group, who hung on for another 12 minutes.

These studies used juice, so they could make a matched placebo control drink. But, you can buy Concord grapes fresh, or tart cherries fresh, frozen, or water-packed in a can. I mix them with oatmeal, cocoa, and mint leaves for a chocolate-covered-cherry type sensation. You may want to try that for a few days before participating in your next big sporting event.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: ponce_photography via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Higher fruit and vegetable consumption was found to be “positively associated with muscle power” in adolescents, but that’s not who really needs it. What about the “consumption of fruit and vegetables and risk of frailty” in the elderly? Higher “[fruit and vegetable] consumption was associated with…lower…frailty” as well, “in a dose-response manner”—meaning more fruit, less frailty, and more vegetables, too. But these were all observational studies, which can’t alone prove cause and effect.

What happens when you put foods to the test? Well, “no positive influence…ingesting chia-seed oil on human running performance,” but there was an effect found for “spinach supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress.” And, by spinach supplementation, they meant they just gave some guys some fresh raw spinach leaves—one gram per kilo. So, like a quarter of a bunch a day for two weeks, and then they had them run a half-marathon. And, they found that “chronic daily oral supplementation of spinach”—uh, meaning like eating a salad—”has alleviating effects on known markers of oxidative stress and muscle damage.”

Here’s what happens when you run a half-marathon without spinach: a big spike in oxidative stress, blood malondealdehyde levels, that stay up hours or even days later. In the spinach group, the before-and-after two weeks of spinach doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. But, put the body under pressure, and then you can really see the difference. Your body is better able to deal with the stress.

And, if you look at the resulting muscle damage, as measured by creatine kinase leakage from your muscles (an enzyme that should be in your muscles, not leaking out into your blood), you start out at about 100, and go up to 200 after the half-marathon. Right after, two hours later. But, it’s the next day where you really feel it—that delayed-onset muscle soreness, with CK levels reaching 600 before coming back down. That’s without spinach, though. On spinach, you get a similar immediate post-race bump, but it’s that next day where spinach really shines. You don’t get the same next-day spike. So, for a competitive athlete, that quicker recovery may get you back training harder sooner. They attribute this to “the anti-inflammatory effects of spinach.”

Same with black currant juice. After some hardcore weight lifting, muscle damage indicators go up and stay up, whereas the same lifting, drinking berries, and it goes up, but comes right back down. But, these were just measures of a biomarker of muscle soreness. What about actual soreness?

If you look at the effects of tart cherry juice “on recovery following prolonged, intermittent” sprints in soccer players, you see the same kind of reduction in biomarkers of inflammation—but, more importantly, less resulting muscle soreness. Here’s the soreness reported in the days afterwards in the placebo group. Only about half in the cherry group. Then, they measured maximum voluntary isometric contractions of the leg muscles, which understandably took a hit in the days after the intense workout, but not in the cherry group.

They conclude “that participants who supplemented with [a tart cherry concentrate] were able to maintain greater functional performance.” But, that was testing like how high can you vertically jump. They didn’t actually see if they played soccer any better. But, this study on purple grape juice actually showed “an ergogenic effect in recreational runners by promoting increased time-to-exhaustion,” where you ramp people up on a treadmill and see how long they can go before collapsing. After a month of drinking a grape Kool-Aid type placebo control drink, no real change in performance, but a whopping 15% improvement in the real grape group, who hung on for another 12 minutes.

These studies used juice, so they could make a matched placebo control drink. But, you can buy Concord grapes fresh, or tart cherries fresh, frozen, or water-packed in a can. I mix them with oatmeal, cocoa, and mint leaves for a chocolate-covered-cherry type sensation. You may want to try that for a few days before participating in your next big sporting event.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: ponce_photography via Pixabay. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

92 responses to “Foods to Improve Athletic Performance & Recovery

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  1. I have an unrelated question about Vitamin B12.

    Dr. G has repeatedly indicated that serious WFPB aficionados should supplement with B12. But how much? When I go to my happy Farmers’ Market store I am confronted with a wide variety of B Complex and B12 supplements. You can get a Balanced B product that gives you 100% of the B complex, but a heaping dose of 1000 mcg of B12. You can find tinctures of B12 that deliver up to 2500 mcg of B12. (Holy energy spikes, Batman!)

    Given that the product manufacturers’ own computations for an MDR are way down at only 6 mcg/day, a thousand micrograms clocks in at a whopping 16,667% above MDR. 2500 mcg gives you 41,667%. There’s got to be a reason why they do that…

    What I really want to know is: How much B12 should we be taking (reasonably) every day?

      1. I’ve been taking the methyl B12 only. Does anyone know of a good, pure (with as little additives as possible) brand of cyanocobalim B12? I’ve been asking for a while but no answered yet.

        Anyways, I seem to do fine on the methyl, hopefully we’ll get an update on all things B12 from Dr. Greger soon.

    1. It’s about absorption. B12 is absorbed better in small, frequent doses. 1mcg three times a day, or 10mcg once a day, or 2000mcg once a week will meet your requirements. It’s a water-soluble vitamin so excess will just come out in your urine. I’ve never heard any dose being called “too much”. And there will be no energy spikes. (I haven’t even heard rumours of energy spikes from B12, but if rumours did exist then maybe they came from the old trend of professional athletes who used to inject B12.)

      There are two forms, cyanocobalamin and methl. Cyanocobalamin is the better one, and it’s also cheaper.

      And B12 is stored in large amounts in the liver, so it can take two or three years or more for someone to become deficient after they stop getting any B12. An exception is infants. Since they haven’t yet built up the B12 stores in their livers, it’s important to avoid deficiency.

      Hope that helps!

      (I wrote a longer reply but it didn’t get posted. I included a link as a reference, maybe posts with links have to be approved by a moderator. If a moderator is reading this, can you confirm that my comment didn’t just disappear? Thanks.)

      1. Actually, there’re four forms of vitamin B12 available in supplemental form: adenosylcobalamin (1), hydroxycobalamin (2), methylcobalamin (3), and cyanocobalamin (4). Only 1 and 3 are active in the human body, but the human body can convert 2 and 4 into 1 and 3. Also, 1 and 3 interconvert in the human body.

        1. Thanks for this info, George! So then 3, for example, can convert into the 1 form? I take methyl so this is really helpful to understand.

          1. Yes, the body can convert 3 into 1, and vice versa, provided that your B12 metabolism is not impaired, which could happen due to age, genetics, or nutrient deficiencies.

            1. George–
              That seems the clearest answer of all, and is appreciated. You distinguish the four B12 forms, and their natural derivation. By taking the active B12 forms (methyl- and adenosyl-), we can obtain all essential B12 isomers.

          2. PubMed had an article advising that if people take the Methyl version, they also have to take other versions with it. “Vitamin B12 (cyancobalamin, Cbl) has two active co-enzyme forms, methylcobalamin (MeCbl) and adenosylcobalamin (AdCbl). There has been a paradigm shift in the treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency such that MeCbl is being extensively used and promoted. This is despite the fact that both MeCbl and AdCbl are essential and have distinct metabolic fates and functions. MeCbl is primarily involved along with folate in hematopiesis and development of the brain during childhood. Whereas deficiency of AdCbl disturbs the carbohydrate, fat and amino-acid metabolism, and hence interferes with the formation of myelin. Thereby, it is important to treat vitamin B12 deficiency with a combination of MeCbl and AdCbl or hydroxocobalamin or Cbl. Regarding the route, it has been proved that the oral route is comparable to the intramuscular route for rectifying vitamin B12 deficiency.

            Also, Cyano is also more efficient than hydroxocobalamin:

            8-week supplementation with 3-µg cyano-B12 elevated serum cobalamin more than 3 µg hydroxo-B12

            They also warn that more Methyl donors isn’t always better: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25841986

            1. Thanks for the info and link, Deb! I’ll check out the article. I’ve only ever taken the methyl form and seem to be doing really well so I’m guessing it’s converting to the other stuff I need efficiently, but then I never started out with a diagnosed B12 deficiency and maybe a defiency is a sign that someone has an impaired B12 metabolism.

              What brands of B12 does everyone use (if you don’t mind sharing)? The most natural (speaking of fillers) I could find is by Garden of Life and their’s is the methyl form.

              I’m also curious to know how accurate Cronometer, for one example, is when it says certain foods like mushrooms contain small amounts of B12. I’d be interested to know where we may get small amounts in our diet from plant foods.

              1. I take 1000mg twice weekly Now Methyl B-12, use nutritional yeast fortified with B-12, and use non-dairy products (in baking, cooking, and with cereal) fortified with B-12. My blood test this spring had me in the high normal range. I have more energy than most people I know.

        2. So should we not combine hydroxocobalamin with cyanocobalamin, at the same time?

          Methy and adenos. forms of B12 made me nuts, really felt unhealthy. Cyano alone does
          squat for me, no real effect other than i loose weight (not good) and hydrox. doesn’t seem
          to do much either.

          The methyl alone used to give me good sleep, but now it just races my mind for 4 straight
          days, increased anxiety.

          Thanks for suggestions or comments on the above.

      2. Oh I’ve heard many energy rumors. Maybe due in part to lethargy from deficiency? In any case, I used to be nervous to take it before bed but lately have been and it does absolutely nothing to my sleep… Now I know why it never worked when I looked to B12 for an energy boost!

      3. >>> It’s a water-soluble vitamin so excess will just come out in your urine.
        As Dr. Fuhrman has pointed out somewhere (probably on his Ask The Doctor forum), it is not true any excess is always excreted. I also know this from personal experience. On 1000 mcg per day cobalamin and 300 mcg per day of methylcobalamin, my B12 level zoomed up to over 1000 (above the upper end of reference interval; the exact number was not reported). My doc told me to drop back to 500 mcg per day, which I did although I still took the methylcobalamin, and several months later it had dropped to the mid-900s but still a bit above the upper end of the reference range used by the lab.

        I am not sure what the definition of “excess” is but it is clear one can easily get over the upper end of the standard reference interval with amounts commonly recommended. (I am 71 and 1000 mcg per day is a common recommendation for my age group.)

          1. Quite possible. As you likely realize, there are many polymorphisms that cause significant differences, which I why I always say people should “know their numbers”. I happen to absorb too much even non-heme iron in the presence of vitamin C because of one (even though I do not have hemochromatosis, the disease where people absorb too much iron), the opposite of the experience of many vegans. This is why I have said several times on this forum that even healthy people need to “know their numbers” and not take too much for granted when it comes to general recommendations.

        1. Serum b12 levels above the assigned “normal range” is by no means an indication of excess, nor is there any evidence of toxicity in such cases. It is simply not normally seen in people not supplementing. While it’s certainly unnecessary to reach such high levels, it doesn’t seem to be dangerous either.

          1. Thanks for the reply. I agree that it does not seem dangerous (no TUL).
            Whether or not being well outside the high end of a lab reference interval (which I happen to understand) implies an excess is a moot point without a definition of “excess”. Likewise, without a definition of “excess*”*, the oft-heard claim that *”any excess is excreted”* is indeterminate/meaningless, and so unhelpful. But given that you acknowledge the level reported was “certainly unnecessary”, I think assuming there was an “excess” would be justified, and if so, the claim is false, although my kidneys could have been working overtime to try to clear any excess out of my body.

            I have never seen a definition of “excess” with respect to the claim cited.
            If you know of one, I’d appreciate knowing what it is.

            Ok, some will no doubt think I’m being too pedantic, but in discussions impacting health, I think details matter.

            1. excess B12 seems to have screwed my body up, big time.
              we all respond to things how we do. not all the same.

              my body begged me to stop taking B12 in all forms, any amount.

            2. By the way: if you wonder what comment gengogakusha was referring to, it was the one by dej46, who is gengogakusha. Didn’t realize the system was switching names on me…

  2. hi. Was the grape juice from concentrate (without added sugars/artificial coloring, of course) or whole grape juice? Obviously, there’s a big price difference in concentrate and whole so would love to know. thanks for the great work.

  3. Is raw spinach safe to eat….as far as oxalates and stuff? I hear that raw spinach should
    be cooked first. Thoughts on this, Dr.?

    And how about baby spinach, are the results from mature or baby spinach? Thank you!

    1. I’m pretty sure raw spinach is safe, people have been eating it for ages and I think Dr. Greger would have mentioned if there were any concerns over eating it raw, especially since he’s referenced spinach in other videos, but hopefully you’ll get a response from someone here. The biggest concern I’ve read about spinach is that despite having a lot of iron, it may not be a reliable source for it due to absorption issues but I believe that is only for raw spinach, not cooked.

  4. I’m 53 and I definitely have noticed the performance benefits of eating whole plant foods in athletic performance. I am an elite mountain biker and road cyclist and I am still able to set some overall KOM’s (King of the Mountains) but especially in my age group of 50+. I just got a 3rd place in my first Cat 3 Enduro race this last weekend and that is competing against all ages.

    I now perform way better than when I was eating animal products. But the biggest improvement is in how amazing I feel everyday, how quickly I recover and how little muscle soreness I get anymore. In fact I did jumping squats today with 95 pounds on the bar this morning. I’m racing cross country mountain bike this weekend at the La Grange Classic in Weaverville, CA– 27miles and 3100 vertical feet of climbing because plants put the ‘ants’ in my pants to race again.

    Eat way more plants!!!

    Keep up the great work Dr. G.

    1. That is an insane workout schedule– hitting a hard leg day 3 days prior to a 27 mile climb! Do you have any recommended sources I could check out for your diet?

      I bike to work daily (8 miles each way), and yoga in the mornings. I find myself hitting limits of exhaustion halfway through the week… I eat healthy (WFPB), but i sense my diet is missing something. Any recommendation would be super. I’m 34, and I hope to be participating in activities like yourself in 2 years!

    2. Agree Hemo. I have experienced the same remarkable effects from a WFPB diet. Just placed 11th overall in a 10K trail run in my mid fifties. And I don’t really get sore even after very hard exercise. Have been WFPB for almost 3 years. I was vegan for 15 years prior but ate a lot of processed foods and didn’t see the youthful transformation that came from whole plant foods.

      1. Yes, I am 54 and eat a WFPB salad/casserole with sprouted beans during each baseball game I play for 3 hours with others aged 20-35. At first they made fun of me, then they noticed that I steal bases, run faster than them and that no one else my age plays in the game. What really got them? When I said,”If you still play when you’re my age, you will be eating a lot of vegetables.”
        John S

        1. It’s great for those of us in our fifties to meet athletic success. Maybe you can serve your sprouted bean salad at a team potluck.

      2. Blair me too! Isn’t it amazing.
        I can’t wait to see what happens in my next race.
        It’s truly transforming. I am 6.5 years WFPB and I just keep getting fitter.

    3. HemoDynamic,

      Congratulations on your cycling achievements! And thank you for your first hand testimony regarding the benefits of a WFPB diet!
      You are an inspiration. Thank you!

    4. Dr Hemo

      Funny you should say all that. I was just thinking the same thing. I am also in my 50s and just signed up for a half marathon. I haven’t raced since becoming WFPB and I swear I am faster! I am amazed. So my goal is to beat my last race time and so far it seems it should be pretty easy! (And in top 20 female finishers-that will be more challenging.)

      We are reversing the aging process!!

      And I finally found no sugar added sour cherries…I am gonna be unstoppable.

      And I have my friends at Nutritionfacts.org to thank. 6.5 years ago you encouraged me to drop that last bit of animal. And I couldn’t be healthier or happier. ❤️

      Bravo Dr. Hemo
      Gale

      1. Way to go my fellow 50-something athletes! I’m 53 yrs old and have been eating WFPB for 6 years. This year I began weight training 3x per week. I worked with a personal trainer for 50 sessions and it was the best money I’ve ever spent. It was a great investment in the rest of my life. I’m an avid road cyclist – I like to train for century rides, ride with friends for fun, and ride the amazing hills here in the Finger Lakes of upstate NY. I recently bought a fat bike and feel like a kid again riding in the woods and up 22% grade hills. The weight training has given me such great confidence in all my activities of life. It’s one thing that I was missing in this journey. Beets, sweet potatoes, tart cherry juice, whole grains, and steamed greens (you can eat so much more when they are cooked) are my secret weapons. Every day I’m inspired by people who are 20 and 30 years older than me who just keep on moving. I plan to be the same way.

    5. Hey hemodynamic, I’m an ex cat 3. Came over to wfpb a couple years ago and am still converting. I’ve found everything you said also true. I’m posting times and watts per kilo very similar to when I was in my late 30’s, now 51 after coming back from a four year layoff. Compared to the year before wfpb I was getting sore from 4-6 days after a hard workout. Talk about discouraging. Almost gave up. Now My soreness is down to 2-3 days, when I eat right, and less if I don’t have beer but that’s not often enough.

      Good luck on your event,!

  5. Anyone have any updates on Erythritol?? Is it still healthy?? Does anyone know if it effects auto immune diseases like chrons?? As it is made with yeast?? Thanks anyone, hope you are all well

  6. I love getting this type of information from him, but. I wish Dr. Greger would say how long prior to exercising that the foods should be consumed to reap the benefits.

    I’ve noticed this in quite a few of Dr. Greger’s videos. I recently watched the video about fennel seeds and it also never suggested “how long” before exercising that the food should be consumed.

    I’d love to be able to use this because I have heart disease. I have an exercise routine and if I could know how many hours or minutes prior to exercising that I should eat these foods that would literally be life-saving for me.

    1. I’d like to know how long as well. I imagine just consuming them regularly would be the best way to go, but I’ve wondered that too from videos like these.

    2. Ztifkram
      You can try pulling the articles that are referenced. They will have written up the protocol. That is where Dr. Greger would find it if he had mentioned it.

    1. Would love to hear more on MSM as well. There’s a lot of claims about it. I’ve taken it solely for hair growth and had very noticeable results.

  7. “…..before participating in your next big sporting event.”

    *snort* You mean like walking around the neighborhood for an hour or so? Sort of leisurely at that? And/or 10 minutes of rebounding? (Bouncing on a trampoline thingiee without lifting feet — it’s great for the lymphatic system.)

  8. I started the year doing one situp, one pushup, and a 10 second run. Today I’ve built up to 157 situps, 157 pushups, and a 26 minute ten second run. Almost two years vegan. What facts are out there about pea protein isolate? I started to add some to smoothies. I’m wanting to maximize my exercise and avoid injury.

    1. Pea protein is made in a factory and is not a whole food. There are critical micro and macro nutrients in peas that are thrown away when you eat this. In addition, there is no evidence whatsoever that you need extra protein. An infant doubles its weight in 5 months eating mom’s milk which is 5% protein. Beans/spinach/broccoli are 30-50% protein. Why eat something unproven and processed when the real thing works.

      Dr. Ben

  9. again Dr. Michael packs a 100 page thesis into a 3 minute video and ties hundreds of facts together to make some pretty indisputable, conclusive great nutritional advice. whew….you rock Doc !

  10. Hi, can you help me to get the full article mentioned in this video? I did not find free online version. You must be a subscriber of THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS. Thank you very much.

    Bohlooli S, Barmaki S, Khoshkhahesh F, Nakhostin-roohi B. The effect of spinach supplementation on exercise-induced oxidative stress. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;55(6):609-14.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24921623

    https://www.minervamedica.it/en/journals/sports-med-physical-fitness/article.php?cod=R40Y2015N06A0609

      1. Had you done it with Sci-Hub George? How did you do it with this article? It may be that I have searched in the wrong way.

        I am looking for an article of scientific research, one that has aim, method, results and conclusions, for a task in college and this one has interested me a lot.

          1. This article is excellent! Thank you very much. It was a subject that I would look for even more material. But for now, I’m looking for something simpler, like this one of increasing recovery from muscle injuries with the intake of spinach.

  11. Hi, I have a question unrelated to this video, but was advised to just post my question under a video.
    Are there any negative effects known to converting the daily dozen into a weekly dozen? For example would it be bad if you ate beans for a few days on one day and no beans the next couple of days? How far could you take this until it would be less than optimal? I assume it wouldn’t be a good idea for instance to eat all your beans monday, fruits and berries tuesday etc.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. What you propose is exactly how I eat. Some days I eat just beans and quinoa. Other days I just eat watermelon. Then the next day I might eat nothing but frozen blueberries and frozen mango. I feel great when I eat this way . There is no evidence to remotely suggest any problems with eating this way as long as it’s all unprocessed WFPB.

      Dr. Ben

  12. Dr Greger,
    In the past few years, I’ve been thoroughly enlightened and impressed by your analysis of nutrition research. I’m even more impressed with how you deliver the analysis in your presentations. I would really like to know what tool(s) you use to create these simple yet compelling and captivating animated presentations. Please share as I would like to use it to present research in a similar way.
    If anyone knows exactly how they’re created please let me know. Thanks.

    1. I guess is just video editors tool, like Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, DaVinci Resolve, iMovie etc… and hard work. Fortunately, he works with a team. A good microphone also is needed. Doesn’t look to me be PowerPoint or Keynote apps.

    2. Hi there,

      We currently work with a video design team to make the videos. In the past, our team has used Keynote presentations turned into video. Hope that helps a little!

  13. Dear Dr. Gregor,
    My name is Deja Parkman and I’m reaching out to for any advice or help to get my story out there. My 77 year old father is terminally ill with stage 4 prostate cancer. He’s been battling with prostate cancer since 2006 and is currently in hospice for his final days. Unfortunately My mother is currently his caregiver and a heavy meat eater. I just bought the eating you alive documentary and watched it with my father. He’s motivated and fighting to change his lifestyle to a plant based one. I bought him vitamins and lots of fruit and vegetables! Unfortunately my mom is unsupportive and constantly telling him things like that’s not gonna work and that he’s gonna die either way. I feel like she’s trying to steer his faith in the wrong direction! I’m currently living in La and will be studying nutritional science at SMC this summer. I’m reaching out because my dad is in danger with this toxic behavior my mom displays and I have no help to get him out of it. I believe whole heartedly that a plant based lifestyle will help my dad live a few years longer and so does my father! I desperately need a solution. My mother has been violent towards us and our dad my entire life and I desperately need to get him away from her and in a better environment. She tormented him for eating black beans, snatched them away from him and threw them out. If you can help or direct me in anyway It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope to hear back from you soon!

    1. Something correlated heapens to me. My moms, love of my life, was very ill, typically cancer and chronic illness from meat and dietary eaters, and I, vegetarian since 2002, vegan since 2017, living in another city, far from her, here in Brazil. I’ve just pack my think and came to live with her.

      Now, she is getting better, it takes time, and I enter in college again (I first study computer engineering) for a new graduation in Nutrition, and I’m loving it. It was a big life change for me, but we are able to do what ever we want. I was living in São Paulo (big city) making movies and working in my little production company, making a little money and creating beautiful things. Now I came to Porto Alegre to live with my mom and just have to start again.

      Continuing my daring to meddle in your affairs, if I have to guess about the behavior of you mom, I’d bet she’s not being mean. It is just not logical. She probably is so overwhelmed with this situation, that she clings only to what she knows and feels secure. Imagine if the only thing you know about eating and how caring yourself, it as you have always done and also all around you, be pointed out with the cause of so many health problems. This is not easy. We make mistakes. When I stop eating meat, a long time ago,in a way I was denying the choices my parents handled me, but I did not condemn them for it, because it was the best they were able to give me.

      I think Dr. Greger and his work and team is a blessing and are helping so many people. And now a real world movement is rising. It was because of him, to see such an important and relevant subject being treated so seriously and appropriately, with real concern for people’s well-being, that it made me go back to college and graduate as a nutritionist. And I only know him on the Internet.

      Do what ever you have to do, my friend. It is your call if you want to be efficient. At least, be with your loved ones. That’s is my advice, if I may. I wish the best for you and you mom and dad.

      1. Very well said Daniel! So cool Dr. Greger inspired you to go into nutrition! The world needs more properly educated nutritionists.

    2. Deja, so sorry to hear about your situation. I assume your mom is his legal caretaker? It sounds to me that if your mom gets violent with your father that you should be able to legally get him out of there. Just make sure he has a good alternative place as rest homes are often really bad and it could be a worse environment. I would talk to your dad and see what he wants to do, then take legal action if necessary. Don’t assume that just because they’re married that no one will listen, issues with spouses are not unfamiliar to the law.

    1. Hi Thomas! Yes, you’re able to get all the essential amino acids you need while consuming a varied plant-based diet.

  14. Fresh fruits and veggies have all the essential amino acids you need.
    No normal people in the western world have ever suffered from an amino acid deficiency as far as we can tell,
    On the other hand 25% of all deaths are currently caused by heart disease which is linked to cholesterol, which is only found in animal products.

    Dr. Ben

  15. Here’s an unrelated question I’d like to ask. I’ve read The China Study which includes documentation of the carcinogenic effects of casein protein in – I presume – cow’s milk. However, I just read an article online (excerpted from Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer) saying that Sardinians – who seem to have a very high centinarian rate like Okinawans – have a diet that includes 26% dairy from sheep and goats (!!), 1% fruits, etc. I then read that goat and sheep milk have type A2 casein protein (non-allergenic and easy to digest) whereas cow’s milk has A1 casein, which clearly causes problems. Here’s my question: have any studies been made testing the impact of goat and sheep milk on health, cancer rates, etc?

  16. I would love to see the NutritionFacts.org team examine the very popular sports supplement of BCAAs. The purported benefits of reduced levels of perceived excursion and faster recovery times are just two examples of why this supplement category is so popular. But, as always, is there a more natural way to obtain these benefits, versus supplementation. And if BCAAs are effective, has it been put to the test.

    1. Jeremy, I think you will find most of the research presented here is based on the average general population who’s sedentary. Not really based on athletes needs.

      In my opinion it’s possible to get all the protein you need from regular food and eating.

      I still use BCAA occasionally because it easy, and it’s not accompanied by too much fat and calories.

  17. Has there been any research into fine-tuning a WFPB diet to alleviate the proverbial ‘growing pains’? I’m an avid viewer, supporter and reader of this site, have compiled Dr. Greger’s list of general well-being and performance-enhancing foods – eg beets – and pain-relieving foods – say, tart cherries – but is there specific advice for my grew-4″-in-6-months soccer player whose thighs are killing him? I’d love for him to get him back on the field and at his best as quickly and safely as possible. Thanks in advance for any and all thoughts.

  18. Hi, susandevoe. As someone who, many years ago, grew 9 inches in a year an a half, I can relate to your son’s situation. The best thing you can do for your son is to make sure he gets enough calories and nutrients to support his rapid growth. Other than that, it is wise for him to listen to his body. It may be that some extra rest is in order, until his body adjusts. He may not be able to sustain both the growth and the additional stresses of athletic pursuits right now. Pushing through the pain may not be the safest course at this time. I hope that helps!

  19. I have a question here. So you say we don’t normally need that much of protein as we’ve been told. But then when it comes to regular exercising (not like in athletes, but just a regular person doing daily functional training to have nicer legs), do i need extra protein? or once again it’s not really about it, but the combintaion of just veggies/fruits that help repairing our muscle faster? I’m a thin woman, and last time i exercised hardly in orden to gain muscle, i was ordered to eat lots of meat and yeah it worked, but now i’d rather do it with a plant based diet. Thanks in advanced!

    1. Andrea,
      I recommend you read the following article by Dr. Mirkin, well-known sports medicine doctor.

      http://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/protein-supplements-dont-make-you-stronger.html

      A few excerpts:
      “Does a Very High Protein Diet Grow Larger Muscles?
      Eating lots of high protein foods does not help athletes grow muscles larger than when they take in moderate amounts of protein (Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004;22(1)), even though athletes will absorb more protein on the high-protein diet (Journal of Applied Physiology, Aug 1992;73 (2): 767–75). However, taking in less protein than you need (approximately 0.7g/kg/day) will cause loss of muscle size (Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan 2012;307(1):47–55).”

      “A high-protein diet is defined as more than 20 percent of daily calories being supplied by protein. Excess protein makes cells multiply faster to increase risk for cancer. Valter Longo at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles showed that people who eat a high-protein diet between ages 50 and 65 were four times more likely to die of cancer than those who consumed less protein (Cell Metabolism, March 4, 2014;19(3):407–417). High protein diets also raise blood levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and increase DNA damage to increase risk for both diabetes and cancers. Lower-protein diets are associated with reduced IGF-1, cancer and diabetes and a longer life span (Cell Metabolism, March 4, 2014;19(3):418–430). That study concluded that plant-based proteins are associated with lower mortality than animal-derived proteins.”

      If you are getting no less than 0.7g/kg body weight per day, and are not an athlete, you are in all likelihood fine. That is not much protein. On my 100% WFP diet, I routinely get on 2300-2400 cal/d diet, 1.5g/kg/day including way more than 100% of each essential amino acid.
      But I am older (some studies show older people need more protein, although I am not sure how good those studies are, and I work out a lot including strength training and high intensity interval training plus ordinary aerobics).

      You might use e.g. cronometer.com (free) to determine your protein intake from food. Might be significantly higher than you think (I was surprised).

      1. Gengo, I think that’s a very good answer. After age 60 might want to go to 1gm protein/kg-body weight.

        And for the normal person we get plenty in our food. We have known 2 body builders who have had kidneys replaced. One of which started losing kidney function of his replaced kidney. We believe it was between the extremely high levels of protein and other ingested supplements.

        Too much protein appears to generally shorten lifespan.

        End

        1. Completely agree. Cf. this 2018 study

          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30247714

          “CONCLUSION:

          Protein supplementation after exercise and before sleep does not further augment skeletal muscle mass or strength gains during resistance exercise training in active older men”

          ——

          The full article is not accessible to me but there’s a summary at consumelab.com under Protein Powders, stating that the extra protein was to 42g per day in 2 evenly divided doses (post exercise, before sleep). The reason appears to be simply that the placebo group got an average of 0.53 g per pound per day or ~1.17 g/kg/d, averaging 93 grams/d), close to your suggested 1g/kg/d. This is achievable on a well planned vegan diet (as I mentioned I routinely exceed this amount).

          It is still possible that those who exercise more vigorously could use yet a bit more, but I am short on data supporting that.

    2. Hello Andrea,

      That’s a great question.

      If you are someone who is following a whole foods, plant based diet and are eating a varied diet in line with the Daily Dozen, then your protein needs will be met for your fitness goals. What is most important when consuming a plant-based and exercising regularly is overall calorie intake. You want to ensure you are meeting your calorie needs, or in the case of gaining muscle, eating a mild surplus of calories (200-300 cals). This can sometimes be difficult for people adopting a plant-based diet due to the low calorie density of most plant foods, so I would recommend including calorie-dense sources such as sweet potatoes, whole grains, legumes, and nuts/seeds.

      Gengogakusha also posted some great information to read over in response to your comment if you’d like to learn a little bit more about protein in athletes.

      I hope this clears up your question.

      Matt

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