Get Pumped With Plant Protein, Naturally

MusclesProtein powders are all the rage for many gym-goers, but is there a better, more healthful way to build muscle mass? In this article, learn what actually makes muscles grow, why timing is everything, how isolated protein found in powders may do more harm than good, and how you can plate your protein and max your muscle with whole, nutrient-rich foods!


Congratulations Julie ~ Winner of this Year's Holiday Challenge Contest!

On June 26th over 250 guests convened at the beautiful and luxurious Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort near San Diego, California for Dr. Fuhrman’s 7th Annual Health Getaway. It was a week set aside for renewal from the hectic pace of life; combined with informative and life-changing lectures by Dr. Fuhrman; delicious nutritarian foods prepared by world class chefs; and fun activities such as zumba, yoga, power walks, exercise classes led by Dr. Fuhrman, country line dancing, a patriotic dinner with live music, beach fun and games, and a highly entertaining talent show.

For Julie and her husband, Kip, it was the ultimate health getaway. They were this year’s recipients of the all-expense paid trip for two as a result of Julie winning the 2012 Holiday Challenge contest. One evening I asked Julie about her newfound health and was excited to learn about her journey. Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Julie!


How did you discover Dr. Fuhrman? 

One day I was sick and lying on the couch and decided to watch a movie that was on Netflix titled, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. (Because that described how I was feeling that day!). The movie inspired me, but I instinctively knew that juice fasting wasn’t a lifestyle that I could sustain long term. Since Dr. Fuhrman was in the movie as a supervising physician, I researched him and discovered his book, Eat to Live. I bought the book that day, because his food pyramid looked logical to me. 


How did you feel then?

At 215 lbs I felt miserable. I suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), chronic sinusitis, debilitating migraine headaches, asthma, allergies, chronic bronchitis, sleep apnea, pneumonia, endometriosis, and loss of energy. Everything combined cause me to be a non-functioning wife and mother many days of the year.


How do you feel now?  

I’ve lost 65 lbs., and all symptoms of my past illnesses are completely gone. I’m able to be a full-time mother, and my children are proud of me now. I’ve also influenced them to eat for health, as well as my husband, parents, and friends, because they’ve all witnessed my health improvements. 


What are your success tips?

  • Keep it simple. Stick to the basics of the program. If necessary, buy bags of lettuce and cut-up vegetables for quick meals.
  • Ignore the critics. Ignore those who aren’t informed but criticize what you are doing anyway ~ realize they just don’t know any better. 
  • Join Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center. Ask questions, interact, and get support from veteran, successful Nutritarians; ask the doctors questions in Ask the Doctor; listen to the library of teleconference calls, and download favorite recipes from the Recipe Guide.  


Congratulations Julie for winning this year’s Holiday Challenge contest! If anyone is interested in the opportunity to win next year’s contest, stay tuned to the Holiday Challenge kick-off coming up again in November.  It's an exciting adventure you won't want to miss! 



Stand up, walk around, and cut down on inflammation

Prolonged sitting is associated with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overall mortality.[1, 2] This is troubling, since most of us sit for most of the day. Since 1950, there has been an 83% increase in sedentary jobs.[3] Many of us sit all day while we work, and then go home and sit for most of the evening – at the dinner table, at the computer, and on the couch.

Photo of computer desk and chair

Just like exercise, prolonged sitting has distinct physiological effects. But unlike exercise, sitting has unhealthy effects. After just a few days of bed rest, increased insulin resistance and unfavorable vascular changes can be detected in healthy subjects.[4]

Exercise is one effective way to counteract these effects, but what about the rest of our day? If we spend an hour, or even two, exercising vigorously each day, is that enough to counteract the effects of the 8-12 hours we may spend sitting down? It turns out that the answer is no. Of course, exercise is beneficial – regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and several cancers. However, prolonged sitting has been linked to increased risk of death regardless of the amount of exercise activity performed.[5]

In addition to exercising daily, we also need to increase our non-exercise physical activity. Non-exercise physical activity, though its intensity is low, makes a significant contribution to our overall calorie expenditure. In fact, in people who do not exercise regularly, 90% of caloric expenditure is on standing, non-exercise movement. [6] We can increase non-exercise physical activity simply by taking frequent breaks from sitting. When we are sitting our muscles are idle, but once we stand up, there is measurable activity in the large muscles of our legs (graphically represented in Figure 3A here) – the body is physically active when we are standing.[6]

In one study, participants wore accelerometers, devices that keep track of physical activity intensity, to track their total quantity and sedentary time and number of interruptions (breaks) in sedentary time. Prolonged sitting was associated with larger waist circumference and higher C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) levels. But interruptions in sedentary time made a difference – regardless of the amount of time spent sitting, a greater number of interruptions in sedentary time was associated with smaller waist circumference and lower C-reactive protein.[7, 8]

Frequent but short bouts of non-exercise activity, like standing up from your desk to stretch, taking a quick walk around the office, standing up while taking a phone call, walking to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator contribute to increasing the number of interruptions in our sedentary time.

Unfortunately, sedentary jobs are the norm, but we can use exercise and frequent breaks from sitting to help us counteract the unhealthy effects of our sedentary days.




1. van Uffelen, J.G., et al., Occupational sitting and health risks: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med, 2010. 39(4): p. 379-88.
2. Manson, J.E., et al., Walking compared with vigorous exercise for the prevention of cardiovascular events in women. The New England journal of medicine, 2002. 347(10): p. 716-25.
3. The Price of Inactivity. American Heart Association.
4. Hamburg, N.M., et al., Physical inactivity rapidly induces insulin resistance and microvascular dysfunction in healthy volunteers. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 2007. 27(12): p. 2650-6.
5. Patel, A.V., et al., Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2010. 172(4): p. 419-29.
6. Hamilton, M.T., D.G. Hamilton, and T.W. Zderic, Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, 2007. 56(11): p. 2655-67.
7. Healy, G.N., et al., Sedentary time and cardio-metabolic biomarkers in US adults: NHANES 2003-06. European heart journal, 2011.
8. European Society of Cardiology: More breaks from sitting are good for waistlines and hearts. ScienceDaily, 2011.


Your body loves to exercise . . . and so does your mind

Dr. FerreriExercise is so much more than just burning calories. The calories burned during exercise, unless you’re a professional athlete, make up quite a small portion of our total calories burned for the day; what we eat has a much greater influence on our body weight. So why should we bother to exercise? Because burning a few calories is just the tip of the iceberg – exercise is an indispensible component of a healthy lifestyle, and has profound beneficial effects, especially on the heart and brain. So if you’ve committed to a Nutritarian diet, why not add some exercise?


Here are just a few of the many benefits of daily exercise:

Protects against chronic diseases.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes by 30-50%. [1] There are clear associations between physical activity and decreased risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and this is thought to be in part due to effects on the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) system. [2] Exercise also protects against osteoporosis, as muscle strength is the best predictor of bone strength.


Less time spent sitting

There has been an 83% increase in sedentary jobs since 1950 – most of us are inactive for most of the day.[3] But the human body was meant to move – our ancestors probably walked up to 12 miles each day, every day.[4] Getting out to the gym for one hour is one hour you don’t spend sitting in a chair or on your couch – significant because prolonged sitting is associated with increased risk of diabetes and overall mortality.[5]


Makes the brain happy.

Exercise truly is nature’s mood elevator. [4, 6] In fact, exercise has such a powerful positive effect on our mental state that it is prescribed as a treatment for major depression. Meta-analyses of clinical studies have shown that exercise alone works just as well as anti-depressant drugs or cognitive behavioral therapy for depression. Aerobic exercise plus strength training works better than aerobic exercise alone, and hatha yoga (physical yoga) is also effective at reducing depression symptoms. [7-9] Exercise affects the levels of several neurotransmitters in the brain, including increasing the production of serotonin, which is associated with feelings of well-being. [10] Anti-depressant drugs are often in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), drugs that increase the amount of serotonin in the brain – but it turns out we can elevate serotonin naturally with exercise.

Keeps the brain thinking. 

Physical activity has been consistently linked to cognitive abilities and mental alertness.[4] In older adults, regular walking was shown to decrease the risk of cognitive impairment and contribute to maintenance of brain volume [11], and strength training also produces cognitive benefits.[12] Physical activity may exert these effects in part by enhancing blood flow to the brain, which accelerates detoxification of free radicals – important since the brain is especially susceptible to oxidative damage.[4]


Keeps the mind focused and present.

Exercise helps to bring the human mind into the present moment, becoming intensely aware of sensations in the body, rather than daydreaming. A study published last month in Science found that the human mind is daydreaming (not thinking about its current task) about 47% of the time, and also that people rated their mood as happier when they were focused on their present activity rather than engaging in other thoughts. Certain activities were better correlated to focus on the present than others - the top two were sex and exercise. [13, 14] Certain types of exercise generate more presence than others – for example, it’s more likely that you’d daydream while running on a treadmill than in a yoga class. Mindfulness practices are known to be effective for reducing depression symptoms, and breathing exercises can reduce blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. [7, 15, 16] The incorporation of these two factors into physical activity results in a greater improvement in health outcomes than physical activity alone, according to a recent meta-analysis of comparisons between hatha yoga and other forms of exercise. [17]


Makes the heart work smarter, not harder

Exercise necessitates a huge increase in cardiac output (amount of blood pumped by the heart over a given amount of time), because of huge increases in oxygen demands. The muscle of the left ventricle is getting a workout, and that muscle can grow stronger with regular exercise. Endurance athletes may increase their left ventricular muscle mass by up to 30%! Essentially, the heart can do less work to pump the same amount of blood. This means that resting heart rate decreases. [18] This is desirable, since a high resting heart rate is an independent risk factor for cardiac mortality.[19]


Natural vasodilation. Bigger, better vessels

As blood flow increases during exercise, mechanical stresses placed on the vessel walls are altered, and these mechanical stimuli prompt changes in the endothelial cells that line the vessels. Coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure patients who exercise increase their expression of eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase), a key regulator of blood pressure. In healthy individuals, the eNOS effect is not as pronounced and is transient, but it stimulates angiogenesis and vascular remodeling, increasing both the number and diameter of arterial vessels in skeletal and cardiac muscle, which results in improved blood flow to these organs. [20, 21]


A few more favors exercise does for us:

Builds our antioxidant defenses. [20]
Enhances sleep. [22, 23]
Protects against chronic inflammation. [24]


Here’s the best part: if you exercise regularly, you will get better at it and start to like it

Anything you practice on a regular basis will get easier over time, and the same is true for exercise. At first, it may feel cumbersome and very uncomfortable, but over time exercise will become enjoyable. Your body and mind will both thank you. 

1. Bassuk, S.S. and J.E. Manson, Epidemiological evidence for the role of physical activity in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. J Appl Physiol, 2005. 99(3): p. 1193-204.
2. American Institute for Cancer Research: The Exercise Factor. [cited 2010 September 1, 2010]; Newsletter 85, Fall 2004:[Available from:
3. The Price of Inactivity. American Heart Association.
4. Medina, J., brain rules. 2008, Seattle, WA: Pear Press.
5. van Uffelen, J.G., et al., Occupational sitting and health risks: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med, 2010. 39(4): p. 379-88.
6. Hyman, M., The UltraMind Solution2009, New York, NY: Scribner.
7. Gill, A., R. Womack, and S. Safranek, Clinical Inquiries: Does exercise alleviate symptoms of depression? J Fam Pract, 2010. 59(9): p. 530-1.
8. Uebelacker, L.A., et al., Hatha yoga for depression: critical review of the evidence for efficacy, plausible mechanisms of action, and directions for future research. J Psychiatr Pract, 2010. 16(1): p. 22-33.
9. Saeed, S.A., D.J. Antonacci, and R.M. Bloch, Exercise, yoga, and meditation for depressive and anxiety disorders. Am Fam Physician, 2010. 81(8): p. 981-6.
10. Ma, Q., Beneficial effects of moderate voluntary physical exercise and its biological mechanisms on brain health. Neurosci Bull, 2008. 24(4): p. 265-70.
11. Erickson, K.I., et al., Physical activity predicts gray matter volume in late adulthood: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Neurology, 2010. 75(16): p. 1415-22.
12. Davis, J.C., et al., Sustained Cognitive and Economic Benefits of Resistance Training Among Community- Dwelling Senior Women: A 1-Year Follow-up Study of the Brain Power Study. Arch Intern Med, 2010. 170(22): p. 2036-8.
13. Killingsworth, M.A. and D.T. Gilbert, A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 2010. 330(6006): p. 932.
14. Tierney, J. When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays. The New York Times, 2010.
15. Anderson, D.E., J.D. McNeely, and B.G. Windham, Regular slow-breathing exercise effects on blood pressure and breathing patterns at rest. J Hum Hypertens, 2010. 24(12): p. 807-13.
16. Brown, R.P. and P.L. Gerbarg, Yoga breathing, meditation, and longevity. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 2009. 1172: p. 54-62.
17. Ross, A. and S. Thomas, The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. J Altern Complement Med, 2010. 16(1): p. 3-12.
18. Duncker, D.J. and R.J. Bache, Regulation of coronary blood flow during exercise. Physiol Rev, 2008. 88(3): p. 1009-86.
19. Verrier, R.L. and A. Tan, Heart rate, autonomic markers, and cardiac mortality. Heart Rhythm, 2009. 6(11 Suppl): p. S68-75.
20. Kojda, G. and R. Hambrecht, Molecular mechanisms of vascular adaptations to exercise. Physical activity as an effective antioxidant therapy? Cardiovasc Res, 2005. 67(2): p. 187-97.
21. Brown, M.D., Exercise and coronary vascular remodelling in the healthy heart. Exp Physiol, 2003. 88(5): p. 645-58.
22. Atkinson, G. and D. Davenne, Relationships between sleep, physical activity and human health. Physiol Behav, 2007. 90(2-3): p. 229-35.
23. Montgomery, P. and J. Dennis, Physical exercise for sleep problems in adults aged 60+. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2002(4): p. CD003404.
24. Mathur, N. and B.K. Pedersen, Exercise as a mean to control low-grade systemic inflammation. Mediators Inflamm, 2008. 2008: p. 109502.




The Six Week Holiday Challenge

In America there’s a mindset that it’s totally acceptable and expected by well-meaning friends and relatives to gorge on decadent, rich foods during the holidays; aka the “Six Week Holiday Binge.”  It’s been taught and modeled to most of us since childhood, and for many, it’s hard to break free from the culturally engrained habit of eating for disease during that period of time. 

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving paintingI don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with being pulled into the culture’s holiday eating traditions:

  • traditions that are excuses to eat (and drink) for disease; planting seeds of toxic addiction and premature death
  • traditions that cause one to feel “blah”
  • traditions that result in the accepted norm of waking up on January first ~  lethargic, bloated and depressed; necessitating the need for New Years’ dieting resolutions

Whether one has many pounds to lose and needs to overcome toxic food addiction by following Dr. Fuhrman’s six-week eating plan as outlined in Eat to Live; or just wants to fine-tune a healthy habit like: eating only when hungry, or make a new, health promoting recipe each week, or increasing exercise intensity; most all of us can commit to a health improvement during the holidays. 

To help us get and stay motivated, I’ve invited several guest contributors, (including faculty from the Nutritional Education Institute, founded by Dr. Fuhrman), to share their expertise and practical tips to help us successfully navigate the holiday season ahead.  For example, they will instruct on such topics as why moderation fails, sidestepping sweet seductions, eating for health while away from home, and the wonderful benefits of daily exercise.   

The change of one is a transformation ~ the change of many is a revolution. Invite your family, friends and co-workers to jump on-board with you!  Let's all band together and intentionally challenge and change the cultures’ status quo by wholeheartedly committing to eating and exercising for health during the holidays. 

The six week holiday challenge will begin on November 20th and go through December 31st; with the official kick-off on Saturday, November 20th.  Stay tuned to Onlyourhealth in the weeks to come to be inspired and motivated by the line-up of guest authors!  

We are in control of our health destiny; not the medical industry and pharmaceutical companies, and definitely not the holiday traditions!  It's time to celebrate the holidays feeling well, and wake up on New Year's Day feeling our very best!


Let’s hear from you. What will be your six week holiday challenge? 



"Freedom from Want" painting by Norman Rockwell

Football players face damage to the cardiovascular system and brain

Body size is known to be inversely related to longevity – both tall stature and large weight have been linked to increased early-life mortality in epidemiological studies. [1, 2]

So it makes sense that football linemen maintaining a high body mass for competitive reasons would likely be sacrificing years of life for their large size. Indeed, retired NFL linemen are said to have an increased rate of premature death, specifically cardiovascular death. [3, 4] A contrasting hypothesis states that football linemen’s high level of exercise would protect them from the cardiovascular risks associated with their large size. However, recent research has found that they are not protected.

Cardiovascular and metabolic parameters were compared in current professional football players and baseball players. The baseball players did show an increased prevalence of hypertension compared to the general U.S. population, but otherwise had favorable levels of cardiovascular risk factors. However, the football players, linemen in particular, had higher rates of obesity, hyperglycemia, and cardiometabolic syndrome (defined as 3 or more risk factors) compared to baseball players. Linemen also had increased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, glucose intolerance , and obesity compared to the general U.S. population. [5, 6] The researchers concluded that these large athletes are not in peak physical condition – their time spent exercising heavily does not outweigh the negative health effects of their large size.

"For the population in general, the concept that you can be both fat and fit may simply not be true." According to Dr. John Helzberg of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, one of the researchers.

The researchers also expressed concern that the next generation of players, now high school and college athletes, will be encouraged to grow larger to be more competitive, to the detriment of their future health. [7]. We also know that the high animal protein intake utilized to get that large dramatically increases IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) and the link between increased IGF-1 and cancer. [8, 9]

In addition, high school football players may already be compromising their brain health because of the repeated head trauma inherent in their chosen sport. Motion of the brain within the skull can damage nerve cells and synapses, and a research group at Purdue University hypothesized that there may be additive effects of repeated head trauma even if individual impacts do not produce any symptoms. They conducted a complex study using helmet-based sensors, video, cognitive tests, and functional MRI (fMRI) to determine neurological changes in high school football players due to head trauma.

Data from the helmet sensors reported forces of up to 100 G sustained upon impact – for reference, most rollercoasters expose riders to forces of only 5 G. Players that showed symptoms (concussion) were expected to have neurological changes, and indeed did. Notably though, of the players who received a high number of or unusually hard impacts, half of those that showed no symptoms still suffered cognitive impairments, based on cognitive tests and fMRI performed before, during, and after the season. They showed deficits in visual working memory and also altered activation in a part of the brain in close proximity to the most frequent area of impact. This is a significant finding - players that didn’t have any symptoms likely went on playing after hard impacts, not realizing they risk further head trauma and further and more serious neurologic injury and intellectual deterioration. [10, 11]

The human body must be properly cared for in order to remain healthy. Similar to consistently eating a low-nutrient diet, growing the body unnaturally large and subjecting the head to repeated hard impacts may not produce immediate symptoms, but set the stage for future disease.




1. Samaras, T.T. and H. Elrick, Height, body size, and longevity: is smaller better for the human body? West J Med, 2002. 176(3): p. 206-8.
2. Samaras, T.T., L.H. Storms, and H. Elrick, Longevity, mortality and body weight. Ageing Res Rev, 2002. 1(4): p. 673-91.
3. Croft, L.B., et al., Comparison of National Football League linemen versus nonlinemen of left ventricular mass and left atrial size. Am J Cardiol, 2008. 102(3): p. 343-7.
4. Selden, M.A., J.H. Helzberg, and J.F. Waeckerle, Early cardiovascular mortality in professional football players: fact or fiction? Am J Med, 2009. 122(9): p. 811-4.
5. Helzberg, J.H., et al., Comparison of cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors in professional baseball players versus professional football players. Am J Cardiol, 2010. 106(5): p. 664-7.
6. Selden, M.A., et al., Cardiometabolic abnormalities in current National Football League players. Am J Cardiol, 2009. 103(7): p. 969-71.
7. American College of Gastroenterology (2009, October 30). For Big Athletes, Possible Future Risk: Heightened Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Among Professional Football Linemen. ScienceDaily. . 2009.
8. Allen, N.E., et al., Hormones and diet: low insulin-like growth factor-I but normal bioavailable androgens in vegan men. Br J Cancer, 2000. 83(1): p. 95-7.
9. Kaaks, R., Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp, 2004. 262: p. 247-60; discussion 260-68.
10. Purdue University (2010, October 8). Brain changes found in high school football players thought to be concussion-free. ScienceDaily. . 2010.
11. Talavage, T.M., et al., Functionally-Detected Cognitive Impairment in High School Football Players Without Clinically-Diagnosed Concussion. J Neurotrauma, 2010.


Can a plant-based diet fuel performance in serious athletes?

In 2010, Dr. Fuhrman was asked by the scientific journal Current Sports Medicine Reports to write a review of the literature and accordingly provide dietary recommendations for vegan athletes. His review was published in the July/August 2010 issue. An abstract of the article, "Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete", can be found on the American College of Sports Medicine's website here

A complete summary of Dr. Fuhrman's specific recommendations, specific considerations, a menu plan and recipes for maximum performance can be found in Dr. Fuhrman's Position Paper: Fueling the Vegan Athlete (available free to Members in the Member Center library). Dr. Fuhrman discusses the links between diet and athletic performance, specifically the role of plant foods in maintaining the health and performance of serious athletes. 

Athletes have specific nutritional needs due to the long-term physical stress of daily intense physical activity.

Athletes require a greater amount of caloric energy than sedentary individuals in order to fuel their training, and are particularly susceptible to certain micronutrient deficiencies as well as viral infections. Dr. Fuhrman's review provides guidance on using dietary means to maintain immunocompetence and to avoid exercise-induced oxidative stress as well as supplementing properly to circumvent deficiencies.

There is a widely held belief that a large amount of animal protein is required in order to build significant muscle or to sustain intense physical activity.

Plant foods are health-promoting, but lower in caloric density than animal foods. They are therefore thought by many to be inferior forms of fuel for athletes, especially in size and strength sports such as bodybuilding. However, the micronutrients in plant foods are indispensable for overall health; maximizing long-term athletic performance requires much more than protein (macronutrient) adequacy, micronutrient density and adequacy are crucial as well. Dr. Fuhrman addresses these issues and gives recommendations for obtaining adequate but not excessive amounts of protein with whole plant foods and also discusses the potentially deleterious effects of excess protein consumption by athletes.

Read Dr. Fuhrman's Position Paper, Fueling the Vegan Athlete.

Vegetable-fueled athlete breaks American record in 24-hour run

A recent New York Times article focused on Scott Jurek, an ultramarathoner with an impressive record – for example:

  • 7 consecutive wins in the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run
  • 3 wins in the 152-mile Spartathlon in Greece
  • 2 wins in the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon in California
  • 1 win in the 100-mile Hardrock Hundred in Colorado

And he also happens to be vegan.

When Scott Jurek was in college, he began to realize the connections between lifestyle and disease, and he transitioned his diet toward unrefined plant foods.

Scott Jurek recently competed in the 24-Hour-Run world championship in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France. He broke the American record by running 165.7 miles in the single-day run, finishing second overall. USA Today then named him their Athlete of the Week.

So what does Scott Jurek eat?

According to Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times, Jurek’s lunches and dinners consist of “huge salads, whole grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and usually beans of some sort or a tempeh-tofu combination.”

Sounds quite close to a nutritarian diet, doesn’t it? Dr. Fuhrman would of course make sure that nuts and seeds were included in this overall plan. A diet based on unrefined plant foods benefits overall health, lifespan, immune function, and cardiovascular health, so it should certainly promote athletic performance also. Phytochemical-rich foods may suppress exercise-induced oxidative stress and micronutrient adequacy promotes immunocompetence, which helps to prevent disruptions to the training schedule due to illness. Unrefined plant foods, high in micronutrients, are therefore well-suited foods for athletes.

To the average person, it might seem unthinkable that Jurek could run these extreme distances fueled only by plant foods, which speaks to our society’s misguided overestimation of the importance of protein.

Scott Jurek simply increases his number of calories as he increases training volume – Dr. Fuhrman agrees with this approach. Athletes do have elevated protein needs compared to sedentary individuals, since protein is the raw material for muscle growth. However, protein needs increase proportionally with calorie needs. The main concern for vegan athletes is obtaining sufficient calories because of the high nutrient to calorie ratio of plant foods. Dr. Fuhrman advises athletes that they can easily meet these needs by putting additional focus on foods that are rich in both micronutrients and protein – like seeds, tofu, nuts, whole grains, and large quantities of green vegetables.

Dr. Fuhrman addresses dietary considerations for vegan athletes in his most recent newsletter, Fueling the Vegan Athleteand in his recent publication in Current Sports Medicine Reports.  In this newsletter, Dr. Fuhrman discusses micronutrients and supplements of particular concern to vegan athletes, as well as strategies for meeting their enhanced calorie and protein needs.



New York Times. Diet and Exercise to the Extremes by Mark Bittman.

USA Today. Scott Jurek sets record in 24-hour race, earns athlete of the week.

Fuhrman J, Ferreri DM. Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2010 July/Aug;9(4):233-241



Interview with a Nutritarian: Anthony

Anthony was only 33-years-old when he was denied a life insurance policy due to obesity and poor health. In desperation he had to do something so he scoured the internet and discovered Eat to Live. Today, Anthony is 163 lbs lighter, has his health restored, and has more energy than he could’ve ever imagined. Most importantly, he doesn’t feel like he’s given up anything; he’s truly been set free from toxic food addiction!  Welcome to Onlyourhealth, Anthony! 

before and after male

What was your life like before discovering Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style?

I thought my life was fine; not great, but certainly not too bad either. I describe my prior life as being “functionally obese.” I was relatively active, usually happy and able to do almost anything I wanted.  I’ve been snowboarding, skateboarding, bicycling, and hiking for the past 20 years and was pretty good at those things.  However, there were some things I couldn’t do:

  • go on rides with my son at amusement parks
  • wear a seat belt on an airplane without an extension
  • ride in small cars
  • sit in plastic outdoor chairs,
  • climb a ladder (unless it was extra heavy duty)
  • weigh myself on a "normal" bathroom scale
  • participate in anything that had a weight restriction

I also had frequent migraine headaches, and when I had a headache I couldn't do anything except lie very still.

Health wise, I was in bad shape. Doctors had been telling me to lose weight and watch my blood pressure for as long as I can remember, and I eventually stopped listening. I accepted obesity as a part of who I am, because it is common in my family.  We all looked the same and had similar health concerns so it was easy to accept my condition as unavoidable.

I did occasionally get depressed in the evenings after finishing the better part of a decadent pint of ice cream.  I distinctly remember my beautiful and physically fit wife consoling me through some of those tough times.  The problem was neither one of us knew what to do about it. I hit my lowest when I was denied a twenty-year term life insurance policy at age 33. The thought of not making it to age 53 hit hard, especially coming from a life insurance company.  Logic told me that insurance companies have the data to predict life expectancy and want monthly premiums, so the fact that they didn't want my business was not good. I had to do something.

How did you find out about ETL?

Luckily I discovered Eat To Live while scouring the internet for weight loss information. I needed something that made sense to me, and I bought it immediately after reading the description and reviews. I couldn’t wait to start reading it!  [After finishing the book I was surprised to find out that Dr. Fuhrman's practice is about eleven miles from my house.  I'm still looking forward to the day that I bump into him and introduce myself as one of his success stories!]


before and after male skateboardingHow do you feel now?

Now I feel great!  I wake up every morning ready to take on the day.  I can do all of the things I enjoy in life, now better than ever.  I can out run my kids and all of their friends.  I’m always in a good mood and calm. I have more energy today than I could’ve ever imagined, and I never get tired during the day.  I also never get sick or feel depressed.  My self confidence is higher than it has ever been, and I’m truly proud to be me!  [read more . . .]




Medical stats
  before after
weight  360 lbs  197 lbs
height   6' 4"    6' 4"
blood pressure

 140/90  (with medication)

 115/71  (without medication)
cholesterol  214  128
HDL  38  50
LDL  143  67
triglycerides  166  55
AST [liver function]  55  29
ALT [liver function]  71  23
GGT [liver function]  78  31


Do you have any success tip(s) to share?

The first tip is to not worry if you slip-up once in awhile.  The most important thing is to keep moving in the right direction.  Think of slip-ups like speed bumps; they don't stop you from trying to get where you are going, they just slow you down a little.  As long as you stay on course and keep moving in the right direction, it will get easier and you will hit fewer speed bumps, and eventually you’ll be exactly where you want to be.

Another tip is to never allow junk food to displace healthy food.  If you do slip-up, and eat something unhealthy, make sure to also eat some healthy food as well. 


before and after male portrainIn a nutshell, what has nutritarian eating done for you?

Nutritarian eating has given me a new life!  I actually feel like a new and improved version of myself.  I am better in every way!  Some things are also much easier for me now.  I fit comfortably into airplane seats.  I buy regular size clothes from regular stores.  I don't worry about weight limits on chairs, ladders or anything else.  I enjoy snowboarding, skateboarding, biking, and hiking more than ever, and I've now added running to my list of favorite activities.

I truly enjoy eating the most nutritious foods available. I love knowing that by doing so I am ensuring my own health, and setting a great example for my family and friends.  Becoming a nutritarian has added so much to my life that I never even think about the things I used to eat and drink.  People sometimes ask how I could give up this or that.  The truth is I don't feel like I have given up anything!  What I have gained is so great that it could never compare with the temporary feeling of putting junk into my body.

Congratulations Anthony ~ we celebrate with you and applaud your life-saving accomplishment of earning health back!



  • Why take time to thoroughly study Eat to Live and Eat for Health?
  • Why read Dr. Fuhrman’s newsletters?
  • Why listen to his teleconferences?
  • Why ask Dr. Fuhrman medical or weight loss questions when they arise?
  • Why post struggles/victories and receive encouragement from others?
  • Why seek extra help through the withdrawal phase?
  • Why persevere through the toxic cravings?
  • Why learn true hunger signals?
  • Why get up and keep going when a slip-up happens?
  • Why stock a cooler with high nutrient foods when away from home?
  • Why learn to make delicious bean soups, smoothies and homemade ice-creams?
  • Why go to the gym in January when it’s below zero and dark outside?
  • Why ask family and friends for their support?
  • Why eat differently than 99.9% of the rest of the population?
  • Why put forth the effort to earn health back?
  • Why even bother when one can take meds for just about anything?

Sleeping Bear Dunes, one of the largest sand dunes in the world; located on the northwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Many from the Midwest make their annual trek up its steep slopes to see the breathtaking views from the various summits. I’m no exception. It’s become a part of my summer tradition since childhood. 

However, as food addiction and resulting malnutrition took over, I felt like the ‘real’ me became trapped in a body that I no longer recognized. I became a stranger to myself and climbing the dunes was a thing of the past. I became a lawn chair spectator of others from the distant island of captivity. Obesity and poor health robbed me of so much, and truly, only in hindsight, do I now realize how much I missed for twenty years of my life and my family’s life. Unfortunately, the food addict and his/her family adjust to the many handicaps of poor health, and both parties become accustomed to the negative changes. 

female on sand duneLast week, not only did I make the 3.5 hour round-trip hike up and down sandy dunes out to Lake Michigan and back, but it was exhilarating and I did it with much ease!  [The picture on the left was taken at the bottom of the final descent.]  I was finally a participant in my family’s life at Sleeping Bear, and someday I hope to be an active participant in my future grandchildren’s life also, if/when that time comes.  I refuse to be found sitting on a lawn chair by myself at the parking lot . . . . .

  • testing blood sugars and adjusting food and/or medications accordingly
  • out-of-breath due to physical exertion
  • fatigued from sleep apnea and the non-stop burden of carrying around excess weight
  • nursing achy joints, feet, and chronic back pain
  • experiencing muscle weakness from heart meds
  • living in constant fear of an impending heart attack
  • depressed and feeling hopeless due to all of the above


So why do the things that have successfully proven to get many out of food addiction and restore health? 

As I was leaping down the final descent, a Dad and Mom with four children were attempting to climb up. Both parents were morbidly obese and the late morning sun was starting to pelt down on them. They looked exhausted and their energetic children were ready to explore the great outdoors. It was in that moment that I realized once again, the reason why I’m committed to doing those things that Dr. Fuhrman recommends to live in optimal health!        

Tell us your reasons for choosing optimal health



image credits:;