Tag Archives: Health/Fitness

Why Plant-Based Diets Work So Well for Athletes–and Everyone


The following is a guest post by Micaela Cook Karlsen, author of A PLANT-BASED LIFE: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body (AMACOM July 2016). She and we here at the AMACOM Books Blog were thrilled to see that Josh LaJaunie, winner of the Runners’ World cover search, includes his plant-based diet among the choices that drive his success. Read on to find out how effective plant-based life can be for athletes and weight loss.

With athletes like Runners’ World cover winner Josh LaJaunie making their appearance, plant-based diets are becoming more and more common among elite athletes–with good reason! The roster of plant-eating top athletes is significant and includes names such as Olympic track star Carl Lewis, Australian Olympic swimmer Murray Rose, MMA fighter Mac Danzig, and heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who credits his diet with helping him shed 130 lbs in retirement.  While the research is still young, there appear to be no disadvantages in performance, and many athletes claim by eating plant-based meals they recover faster between their workouts.

For Josh LaJaunie, the path to ultra-marathoning began with very simple workouts and a massive change in diet. While he had started running and lifting with a gym buddy, he still weighed 320 lbs. He credits a 100% plant-based with helping get down to 190 lbs, allowing him to amp up his runs and make him a serious long-distance competitor.

Why is plant-based eating so useful for athletes? The full picture on how it may help with performance remains to be uncovered, but we do know plant-based eating provides the easiest path to healthy weight that there is. And a healthy weight is what catapulted Josh towards elite running. Here are the top 6 reasons plant-based diets are good for weight loss and maintenance:

  1. You eat the perfect amount of calories without counting calories.
    The stomach holds about a liter, which is roughly 500kcal of whole, unrefined plant foods. Multiply that by 3 meals and add a couple snacks, and you end up with roughly 2000kcal, or just under. That happens to be around what most adults need in a day! When you focus on eating the right foods, you don’t need to be strict about the quantity–your body naturally sorts it out for you. Because of the lower calorie density of whole plant foods, it’s easy to eat the right amount.
  2. You won’t feel deprivation – fiber fills up your stomach so you naturally feel satisfied for longer.
    Eating fewer calories doesn’t have to mean that you feel hungry throughout the day!  There is no fiber in animal food, and very little in processed food – but it’s found in abundance in plants. The high fiber content makes your stomach and intestines feel satisfied longer because the food is digested more slowly. This is what people mean when they say oatmeal “sticks to your ribs”.
  3. Eating plant-based can supercharge your workout results.
    While exercise is definitely important for optimum health, strength, and long-term weight maintenance, exercise without changing diet often has disappointing results for weight loss. This is partly because of the calorie density of whole plant foods – it would take 40 min of running and 1 ½ hours of walking to burn just 100g of parmesan cheese – but only 9 min of running and 17 min of walking for that same 100g of sweet potato. It’s also partly because of the nutrients these whole plant foods provide.
  4. You’ll have improved vitality and alertness – making it more likely you’ll exercise.
    Once you quit eating heavy, animal-based foods and processed food, you may be surprised to find out how light, energized, and ready to take on the world you feel! Most people who switch to a totally plant-based diet report improved energy and decreased feelings of sluggishness, especially after meals. This could make the difference for you in sticking with a workout routine.
  5. Did I mention it’s fun and delicious?
    Many people who switch to a plant-based diet are surprised to find they eat more different types of foods, not less. There are colors, flavors, and a variety of different cuisines that all lend themselves to amazing plant-based recipes. In addition, your taste preferences change so you prefer whatever you are used to – which means we can all train ourselves to prefer foods that naturally produce your ideal weight while at the same time enjoying what we eat.
  6. It’s a lifestyle you can stick with.
    Basically, if you can eat tasty food until you’re full without counting calories or feeling hungry, you can achieve your ideal weight (and also decrease your risk for chronic disease), and you feel great, it’s a recipe for success! Many people are derailed from diet plans because of complex point systems, tracking meals or calories, or feeling deprived because of eating less than their stomach can hold (portion control) or eating the same boring foods day after day. Unfortunately, less than a third of people achieve even modest success with weight loss in the long term. Eating whole, plant-based foods bypasses all of these annoyances to make healthy eating comfortable and fun – and therefore a sustainable lifestyle.


Find out how to begin your plant-based journey–or how to make it even more rewarding, with strategies and over 100 recipes–in Micaela Cook Karlsen’s A PLANT-BASED LIFE: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body (AMACOM July 2016).

MICAELA COOK KARLSEN, MSPH, is one of the founding employees of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and its former Executive Director. A contributor to the New York Times bestseller Forks Over Knives, she is a member of the advisory board for the Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference and founder of www.PlantBasedResearch.org



Back-to-School, With an EpiPen or Without

Mireille Schwartz and daughter with epipen

Author Mireille Schwartz and her daughter consider the EpiPen

The following is a guest post from Mireille Schwartz, author of the forthcoming When Your Child Has Food Allergies: A Parent’s Guide to Managing it All–From the Everyday to the Extreme (AMACOM April 2017), on this year’s back-to-school pharmacy visit and its collision with the recent EpiPen price controversy.

Two weeks ago, as part of my family’s back-to-school ritual, my daughter and I made an annual trip to our local pharmacy in order to refill her epinephrine auto-injector two-pack prescription. When your child has food allergies, there are certain times each calendar year that are pivotal touchpoints for safety: the birthday party, Halloween, winter holidays, and back-to-school. Families with food allergies survive and thrive with plenty of planning, and with strategies firmly in place to handle and manage the inevitable allergen exposures along the way. The epinephrine auto-injector is a huge part of this strategy.

Once a severe allergic reaction starts, epinephrine is usually the first line of defense to treat the situation. It’s a synthetic adrenaline that can reverse the severe symptoms of an allergic reaction in – literally – seconds. The medication is loaded up into an auto-injectable device, commonly referred to as the ‘EpiPen’ after the best-known brand, and one shot can stop an allergic reaction in its tracks. It’s considered the first and best solution in combating food allergies once they have been triggered. The epinephrine raises dangerously low blood pressure by tightening the blood vessels. The lung muscles relax, breathing eases, and swelling reduces in the throat and face. Then the heart rate increases as blood pressure rises, delivering the epinephrine faster to the whole body.

Unlike antihistamine tablets and syrups like Benadryl – also useful, but not as fast-acting – epinephrine is available by a prescription only, and the shelf-life of the medication is slightly more than 12 months, meaning that refills are needed annually. The back-to-school season is a natural time to re-up: school is the ultimate zone for those inevitable allergen exposures.

The end-of-summer trip to the pharmacy is typically pretty boring, with some waiting around, then the polite small talk with our pharmacist followed by the handoff. This time, however, while we waited, we could see a buzz building behind the counter. Our pharmacist scowled at his computer screen, clicking a button over and over on his keyboard. Our eyes met, he quickly looked away, and he summoned over the head pharmacist. Together they began a quiet and heated discussion with the monitor’s glow on their frowning faces. Next, a third pharmacist walked up and tried her hand at the computer keyboard, while the three conferred in hushed tones.

My daughter and I are dependent on these EpiPens. As inconceivable as it was for me to consider, I had to ask: “Is there a problem with our prescription?” The head pharmacist was apologetic as he told me and my daughter, “I’m sorry, but even with your EpiPen coupon, the charge for your daughter’s medication today is $700.” He was clearly uncomfortable and caught off guard. I asked all of the questions a parent asks: was this for ALL the refills available for the entire year? Was this an error of some kind? The pharmacist couldn’t explain it, and he was as astounded as I was.

For Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the EpiPen, back-to-school is the ultimate time to gouge the customer—a customer desperate and dependent on the product. This price hike also happened directly following the removal of the other leading epinephrine auto-injector, Sanofi’s Auvi-Q that “talked you through” its use, from the market. A generic alternative has not yet arrived for consumers. And so it looks like Mylan, the EpiPen manufacturer, has done the cold and calculated unthinkable to us.

This week I’ve heard countless stories from families dejected to hear the same bad news at their own pharmacies all across the country. In some towns the EpiPen price surpassed $1,000. Families were frightened, many left without their child’s medications. No lifesaving medication for the school year.

Earlier this week, I met with my daughter’s school and handed them her brand new EpiPen two-pack. I also swapped out the soon-to-expire EpiPen two-pack in her personal emergency bag, carried daily in her backpack.

How many other families this week did not?

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Food allergy expert & author MIREILLE SCHWARTZ imparts wisdom gathered during her lifetime with food allergies in her upcoming book, When Your Child Has Food Allergies (AMACOM April 2017). She’ll share the stories behind the stories, and with them the health, safety, efficacy, common sense, and fragilities that make us who we are. “Food is everywhere, and our relationship to food needs to be healthy if we are to stay healthy,” Schwartz says. The author lives with her family in San Francisco.


Florentine Frittata: A Delicious Recipe from A PLANT-BASED LIFE

The following is a recipe by Micaela Cook Karlson, MSPH, author of A PLANT-BASED LIFE: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body (AMACOM July 2016). This recipe is one of over 100 mouth-watering dishes in the book.

Florentine Frittataflorentine frittata

Why use eggs or even tofu? This easy chickpea-and-quinoa frittata started out as an attempted omelet recipe with the goal of using canned beans instead of chick­pea flour, but the consistency is much better suited to making a frittata. You can use leftover cooked rice (a more traditional frittata choice) instead of quinoa, but the quinoa cooks quickly inside the batter, making it exceptionally well suited for times when you haven’t planned ahead. Plus, you can make this dish your own by using any of your favorite veggies. Serve for an impromptu but luxurious Sunday brunch.


  • 1 cup frozen leaf spinach, thawed and finely chopped
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or chia seed
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable base paste
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste
  • ¼ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ large red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. In a blender or in a medium bowl with an immersion blender, blend the chickpeas, flaxseed, vegetable base paste, and miso paste on high speed until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa (or leftover rice, if you prefer), garlic, onion, bell pepper, and thawed chopped spinach. Pour the chickpea mixture into the quinoa mixture, and stir until evenly distributed.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch glass pan. Arrange the tomato slices evenly over the top to cover. Bake for 55 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Cool for 10 to 20 minutes or until the frittata is set before serving.

Note: If you bake this in a glass dish, there is no need to oil the pan to prevent sticking.

Serves 6 to 8.

To learn more about A PLANT-BASED LIFE, click here! For other sample recipes from the book, check out our slideshow!

plant based cover and aut

Random Quotes from New Books this July

A Plant-Based Life: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body by Micaela Cook Karlsen

Jacket cover of A Plant-Based Life

Despite your enthusiasm for dietary improvement, an initial burst of motivation isn’t enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Long-term success occurs by forming new habits, which are behaviors that are thought to originate from an impulsive or nonrational part of people. In this context, impulsive isn’t a bad thing. It simply means you don’t have to stop and think about what you’re doing, or make a conscious choice to eat differently. But while you are integrating these new patterns, and even afterwards, you need to stay plugged into your motivating force. There will be moments when your willpower, you energy, and your commitment may wilt. You’ll need a pick-me-up, and staying in touch with your inner impulses in those moments can spark the flame to get back in the game and keep going. The more contact you have with your reasons for your new behaviors, the easier it will be to take the steps required to make them permanent(page 36).

The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees—and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line by Leigh Stringer

Jacket cover of The Healthy Workplace

“Today, Owens Corning is one of the first companies to pilot Harvard’s Health and Human Performance Index. This index measures employee well-being, productivity, engagement, and work culture and was developed by Harvard’s School of Public Health in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson as a tool to enable most robust corporate sustainability reporting. ‘The initial results of this survey have set a baseline of data for us to measure again every 18 months to two years,’ [Gale] Tedhams explains. ‘Even with the results of this first survey, however, we have learned things about our population that we were not aware of before, like the impact of mental health issues, the lack of sleep some of our employees are getting, and where smoking is more prevalent based on age.’ Especially across countries and regions, but also between the different functions in Owens Corning’s workforce and between employees of different age groups, there are always unique health issues to be addressed. ‘Knowing the specific issues and what part of the employee population is most impacted is the first step to making things better’” (pages 179).

Make Your Own Waves: The Surfer’s Rules for Innovators and Entrepreneurs by Louis Patler


“Jack Viorel, founder of Wrightsville, North Carolina’s Indo Jax Surf School and Indo Jax Surf Charities, introduces underprivileged kids to the joys and lessons of surfing. He says what surfing teaches is deeper–and wider–than any ocean. ‘Even the best surfers wipe out–a lot. Getting good at surfing means a ton of wipeouts. To many of the kids we work with, their lives seem like a wipeout,’ he says. ‘Surfing teaches that wipeouts are just part of the deal. When you learn to wipe our and go back out, that can translate to your own life. You can wipe out in anything you’re doing, but all you have to do is paddle back out'” (page 87).


july 2016 new releases

Want to sample other AMACOM books? Check out our Random Quotes from New Books series.


Now Available on NetGalley: A PLANT-BASED LIFE

Cover art for A Plant-Based Life by Micaela Cook Karlsen, July 2016Plant-based diets are growing and growing in popularity, but it takes more than a resolution to eat more broccoli to commit to a plant-based life. Micaela Cook Karlsen, recognized expert in plant-based nutrition and a co-launcher of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, shows how anyone can go plant-based in A PLANT-BASED LIFE: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body (AMACOM July 2016). Journalists, booksellers, book reviewers, librarians, and media professionals interested in health, nutrition, and/or the plant-based diet are invited to request A Plant-Based Life for review.

Whole food for a whole new you.

More people than ever are eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. Studies show that it is better for our bodies and better for the planet—but it isn’t always easy.

Let A Plant-Based Life be your guide. Whether you’re taking your first steps on this path to wellness or recommitting yourself to success, author Micaela Cook Karlsen clearly maps the way. Her program enables you to set your own pace and stay the course—without relying on willpower. Drawing on personal experience and the latest research, she reveals how to:

• Find and sustain your motivation

• Gradually add more whole, plant foods into your diet, crowding out less nutritious fare

• Break old food addictions and establish new habits

• Translate favorite recipes to create delicious, nourishing meals

• Reshape your food environment (at home, at work, and on the go) to make healthy eating a no-brainer

• Cultivate relationships that celebrate and support your new lifestyle

Especially valuable are directions for navigating roadblocks. Here you’ll find strategies for getting family members on board and for allaying friends’ concerns about your food choices with evidence-based nutrition information. Take advantage of shopping tips, pantry lists, menu plans, and more than 100 mouth watering recipes, with contributions from plant-based leaders including Ann Crile Esselstyn, Cathy Fisher, Chef AJ, Craig Cochran, Chef Del Sroufe, Jeff Novick RD, Julieanna Hever MS RD CPT, Kathy Pollard MS, Kris Carr, Matthew Kenney, Matthew Lederman, MD, Micah Risk, Priscilla Timberlake and Lewis Freedman RD, Robby Barbaro, and Susan Benigas.

If your goal is a healthier, more energized—exuberant—life, make this book your personal GPS. The journey will be more satisfying than you ever imagined.

MICAELA COOK KARLSEN, MSPH, is one of the founding employees of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and its former Executive Director. A contributor to the New York Times bestseller Forks Over Knives, she is a member of the advisory board for the Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference and founder of www.PlantBasedResearch.org.

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