Why I’ve Finally Stopped Eating Oil

Aceite de oliva Olio d'oliva ελαιόλαδο Olive oil

There was a time when going vegetarian seemed extreme. Impossible.

Where will I get protein?

Forget protein, where will I even get the calories?

Then I did it, and it turned out not to be so hard.

Vegan, though … that was different. Too extreme. I could never do it.

How will I eat out at a restaurant? What will I tell my friends? Where are the calories going to come from now?

And as you know, that turned out just fine too.

But for the past few years, there’s been another “should I or shouldn’t I” conversation in my head — and this time, it’s been about oil. Olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil.

I know it’s not a whole food … but it’s not that processed.

All the vegan doctors say it’s bad, but they mean for overweight people. Not for me, I’m an ultrarunner!

And, one more time: Where will I get the calories?

Keepin’ it Real

I don’t expect this to be a popular blog post. It’s easier to make a made-up “chocolate helps you lose weight” story go viral than a “how I removed the last possible tasty thing from my food” angle. (That’s actually not the case, but I used to think it was.)

In fact, last time I wrote about giving up oil for a few weeks, I got emails from several people calling me irresponsible for suggesting that “heart healthy” oils might actually not be so good for us!

But I’m okay with that. People tell me one of the reasons they read my blog is because I’m transparent — so no sense trying to hide what for me is a sensible next step towards maximum health and energy through food.

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Want to Change Your Habits? Change This One First

This post is the fourth in a series of six I’m doing in partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute. As always, opinions and wacky ideas are my own.

If there was one habit you could do that would keep you on track with all the rest of your habits, what would it be?

I wrote about this idea a few years ago, when for me this habit was reading — filling my brain with positive, inspiring ideas each morning kept me excited about improving lots of areas in my life.

But people change. We go through seasons in our lives. And when it comes to my most important habit, I’ve changed my tune.

My friend and accountability partner, Jeff Sanders, was recently asked about his “anchor” habit on Mindful Creator podcast. His answer: energy. From the moment he wakes up, drinking a liter of water first thing in the morning, Jeff focuses on maximizing his energy levels, so that he stays motivated and capable of being the person he needs to be for his business and life.

As I heard this, I realized that — perhaps due to my association with Jeff — energy has become my anchor habit, too.

The Energy Focus

We often read about how willpower is overrated, how it’s depletable like a muscle and is only one part of the habit-change equation.

But let’s not ignore it entirely: willpower is a part of habit change, and it’s a big one. And sleep, stress, and nutrition — all of which clearly influence our energy levels — profoundly affect our ability to stick it out when we want nothing more than to quit.

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What Supplements Do Vegan Athletes Need?

Everyone, it seems, wants to know about supplements. After almost every talk I’ve given, someone in the Q&A has asked, “What supplements do you take?”

After my talk at the Marshall Healthfest last month, someone asked it.

Earlier that morning, in the athlete panel I did with Omowale Adewale, Rich Roll, Christy Morgan, and Ellen Jaffe Jones (in the photo below), someone had asked it.

And when we did a Q&A with Rich earlier this week inside the NMA Academy (reopening soon, stay tuned!), someone asked it there, too.

[athlete panel]

The vegan athlete panel at Marshall Healthfest 2015.

The Answer?

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Discover the Secrets of the Tarahumara: Stream the New Film GOSHEN in Its Entirety, This Week Only

It was six years ago that Chris McDougall sparked a revolution in running with Born to Run, the book that made seemingly everyone want to run an ultramarathon, do it barefoot, and eat pinole and chia seeds all the while. (Or was that just me?)

These behaviors, of course, are those of the Tarahumara, an indigenous Mexican tribe of incredible endurance runners whose way of life has been largely preserved by the geography of the Copper Canyon region.

That way of life, including the extreme lack of modern diseases that plague most developed cultures, is the subject of the new film GOSHEN: Places of Refuge for the Running People. And for the rest of the week, I’m thrilled to be able to offer it for streaming in its entirety here at No Meat Athlete. (April 11th is when the free streaming ends, so watch it before then!)

[Update: Since the free-streaming period has ended, I’ve replaced the embedded video with the trailer for GOSHEN.]


One message that Born to Run didn’t quite hammer home is that the Tarahumara eat a diet that is largely plant-based, with only small amounts of meat punctuating traditional meals of las tres hermanas, beans, corn, and squash.

And as we all know, it’s not just the Tarahumara who exemplify that when it comes to fitness, this diet works: as Chris McDougall says in GOSHEN, “When you start to look at super-performing endurance athletes throughout history, more often than not they’re vegetarians.”

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The No-Nonsense Guide to Eating Healthy and Vegan Without Going Broke

CerealFirst, let me just come out and say it. I wanted really badly to make a sense/cents pun in the title of this post.

But I resisted, for your sake. Because sense/cents jokes just might be the worst kind of joke in the world, and nobody should ever write or say them.

Next — and we’ll get to the good stuff soon, I promise — this is the third post in a series I’m doing in partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin. (And, unrelated, the first in a series of seven consecutive posts I’ll be doing this week, one each day!)

Okay, here comes healthy eating on the cheap. And don’t miss the giveaway at the end!

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The Frictionless Kitchen: 19 Ways to Lessen Your Resistance to Healthy Eating this Year

As I wrote in my last post, good eating habits aren’t about willpower. Willpower runs out.

Instead, if you want your healthy lifestyle to last, the secret is to remove the friction. Friction?

The time required to plan, shop for, and prepare your meals. The cost. Or simply that you just don’t like the way the food you should eat tastes — at least, compared to what you’re used to eating.

Earlier this week I examined a shopping trip and explained how each purchase helps my family eat healthily, without having to rely on willpower. It seems like a lot of people found that helpful, so today I’m taking it a step further — 19 tricks, rules, and tips we rely on to minimize the friction in the kitchen. Here goes.

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7 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat as Well as You Do

Note from Matt: I’m at the Woodstock Fruit Festival, eating nothing but raw fruit and vegetables for a week and doing all sorts of fun stuff, from high ropes and lake swimming to listening to talks by Mike Arnstein, Tim Van Orden, and Dr. Doug Graham (I’m actually listening to him give a food prep demo right this minute).

It’s been a great experience, not just for me and my wife but for our kids, who at ages 4 and 1 are getting the chance to try all kinds of exotic fruits like lychee, durian, longans, and dragon fruit.

In that spirit, I invited my friend Sid Garza-Hillman to write a guest post about raising healthy kids. Why Sid? Because of this (those are his twins).

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Meal Planning Tips for the Busy Athlete, with YumUniverse’s Heather Crosby

Heather Crosby, creator of YumUniverse and author of the upcoming book by the same name, knows a thing or two about creating a healthy lifestyle.

At first glance, YumUniverse is beautiful and artsy and obviously focused on healthy, plant-based, gluten-free, whole food. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that Heather has the same fascination with habit-change that I do, and she incorporates those critical concepts into her recommendations for meal planning or getting started with a plant-based diet.

Heather was our guest expert in the No Meat Athlete Academy last month, and today I’ve got a 20-minute clip from our seminar to share with you. It’s packed with Heather’s brilliant tips for simplifying your entire process around food — from planning to shopping to getting it on the table — without ever sacrificing health for convenience (down to the soaking of the nuts and seeds and cooking beans from scratch).

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