Four big learnings on health (Part One: Nutrition)
In the past year, I’ve been asked about health more than any other topic outside of tech and data. I’ve decided to consolidate my responses to those questions in a series of four Lucky7 posts.
First, let’s start with nutrition. It is becoming increasingly clear that a vegan diet is your key to longevity and vitality. I’ve covered my transition to a mostly vegan (and sometimes vegetarian) diet over a three-part blog series, beginning in 2014. I pose that you will be more spiritually pure on a diet like this because of its benefits to our planet, your body, your mindfulness, animal welfare, and your fellow human beings. I cover what I’ve learned from reading many books and watching many movies. The most recent part, Part Three, covers the evolution of this movement to plant-based meats as well as clean meat (also known as cellular agriculture).
Recently, the ultimate catalyst for a plant-based diet came along, in the form of a movie. It is called The Game Changers and you can watch it on Netflix or iTunes. It is actually the #1 selling documentary on iTunes of all time. I originally saw it courtesy of my good friends John Mackey and Rip Esselstyn over a year ago. It took them along to find the right distribution partners, but we all agreed at the time that this was the movie that the movement had been needing. It hits you in a personal benefits way unlike previous movies, including the documentary Eating Animals, based on a book that I absolutely loved and blogged about extensively. The Game Changers is all about the benefits of a vegan diet on athletic performance. From Serena and Venus Williams to Lewis Hamilton to Novak Djokovicit, it is taking athletes to an all-new level. It is brilliantly directed by Louie Psihoyos, the filmmaker of the documentary The Cove, and it has the pace of an action movie. James Cameron executive produced it, and it is clear that it has his touches on the film. For the worldwide screening in movie theaters, which I treated 15 close friends to, James Cameron covered insights from the film for 30 minutes after it aired.
I’ve been eating this way for around eight years. My son and I have been having the same plant-based smoothie since then, with some minor modifications along the way. These are the only greens my son will eat for the day, and it is a fantastic start for a now ten-year old. I get asked about this recipe often, and have pieced it together over two Lucky7 posts before, but it has changed enough to warrant a fresh retelling of it here. If you want to see the original recipe, I wrote about it initially in this post, which is chock full of other information on the diet.
Brett’s vegan power breakfast smoothie recipe
Put all ingredients in a blender in this order. I highly recommend investing in an industrial-strength blender like the ones made by Vitamix or Blendtec as it will make your smoothie completely smooth — with no chunks. It will even liquefy the chai seeds in this recipe.
- 1 cup Sambazon Acai Berry juice, or any acai berry juice brand. There are a ton of antioxidants in acai berries.
- 1 cup Ripple non-sweetened milk. We are proud investors in this company and it has the same amount of protein per cup as regular milk (but with half the sugars, even for the regular version). How they make the pea protein in it, named Ripptein, have a neutral taste is interesting and is covered in the video below.
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk. Make sure you buy a brand without carrageenan. Whole Foods Market and Costco both versions without it.
- 1.5–2 scoops of vegan chocolate protein. I use Vega Sport’s Performance Protein blend but other brands would also work. Two scoops of Vega Sport provide 60 grams of protein, 5 grams of BCAAs, and 2 billion CFU probiotics (bacillus coagulans).
- 1 scoop of Vibrant Health Green Vibrance, which is a terrific superfood. Make sure to store Green Vibrance in your freezer after opening it as it is a “living” food and you’ll want to get all of the benefits from it.
- 1–2 tsp of raw organic cacao powder.
- .5 tsp of organic matcha green tea powder.
- .5 tsp of Four Sigmatic 10 mushroom blend.
- .5 tsp of organic cinnamon.
- 1 tsp of organic chia seeds.
- To sweeten, I use no-calorie monkfruit and specifically the Lakanto brand. Here’s a good variety pack on Amazon. Our son seems to like the taste of the golden the best but I would experiment with it. He puts a lot in, like 6 teaspoons, but you should sweeten to your own taste. We used to use honey, which is strangely not vegan, but I found through The Cooper Clinic that it increased my glucose levels and it was an unnecessary source of calories as well. And you can’t tell the taste difference between honey and monkfruit, which is vegan.
- For fruits, I use half a frozen banana, three frozen strawberries, 10–15 frozen wild blueberries, and 4–6 cherries. Frozen is important because you don’t want to have to use ice, which will dilute the smoothie’s taste with added water.
- A few stalks of raw organic kale (either purple or green, I usually mix it up from week to week).
You can get all of these ingredients at Whole Foods and probably many other places of your choice. To make preparation easy for busy mornings, I prepackage the frozen fruit and ingredients #4–11 in BlueAvocado Re-Zip bags and store them in the freezer, ready to go. We are also proud investors in BlueAvocado. Note that I remove ingredients in #6–8 for our son as they are too stimulating for him at his young age.
Adjust the recipe as needed for quantity. This makes enough for me and my son, and it is all we need to hold us until lunch.
Enjoy! It is the most dense, nutrition-rich smoothie you’ll have — there is nothing like it at Smoothie King, Jamba Juice, or even JuiceLand. If they did offer something like it, it would easily cost $15 per smoothie! This has all of the protein, probiotics, fiber, and superfoods that you need to power start your day! I even completely stopped drinking coffee or anything of the like seven years ago about a year after adopting this diet and, as a result, I don’t get the energy slumps during the day that many get.
Even though my son and I have a very nutrition-dense start to the day, I still supplement with a few vitamins, informed by both advice from John Mackey and the Cooper Clinic over the years. I use Vitamin Code for Men (they also offer a Women’s version) for my daily multi. It is made from real food instead of the mega-dose chemicals that are found in most multis. I take Algae Omega for my brain health. This is the only supplement that John Mackey recommends in his book The Whole Foods Diet. I take 5–6 of the capsules per day and it is the most expensive supplement I have. The reason why fish have high omega content is that they eat a lot of algae. When you eat animals, you are simply processing the food that they eat through their meat. That is why many that can afford expensive meat (think paleo-lovers) have shifted to pasture-raised cattle and chicken — they get a more natural diet than the primarily corn-based diet that factory farm cattle and chickens receive. I also take vegan D3 (informed by the Cooper Clinic), curcumin (informed by the longevity of people in India due to their diets), CLA (the most speculative supplement that I take), CoQ10 (informed by a dietician’s advice at Miraval), and vegan B12 (“necessary” for vegans as an energy source; this is due to how washed our vegetables are, as we used to get this from soil and meat-eaters get B12 through animals that consume some soil in their plant-based diets).
If you have suggestions for me to improve my smoothie recipe or vitamin regimen, please let me know — I’m also open to iterating on it and have been doing so for eight years. A big thanks to my Bazaarvoice co-founder, Brant Barton, for giving me the original ideas behind the first version of this recipe many years ago. And a big thanks to John Mackey, who has been vegan for 17 years, for his constant advice on diet and nutrition. His book The Whole Foods Diet is fantastic, and I feel honored that he wrote the Foreword to my book, The Entrepreneur’s Essentials.
I would also love to hear your thoughts on The Game Changers in the comments.