Hero of Ninja Warrior, and parkour champion, Tim Shieff tells us how he maintains a balanced diet eating only plants.
Meat off the menu
I’ve been a vegan for four years. I noticed the difference within three days of making the switch. I woke up fresher and just felt lighter and clearer, physically and mentally, but just as strong. In my sport it’s important to have a good strength to weight ratio, and that improved too.
If I’m going out for the morning, say for yoga or rock climbing, I might not eat first, I’ll just drink water. It’s important to be awake on an empty stomach sometimes. I’ll always have watermelon in my fridge because there’s nothing better than getting home from training and have some cold juicy watermelon. An indulgent breakfast for me would be muesli with almond milk or pancakes made with banana instead of eggs.
Missing cheese has been one of the hardest things. There’s a vegan version of every food out there but the one that’s got the lowest success ratio for me is cheese. I had some amazing ‘parmesan’ the other day though, it was spot on.
There’s a company called Fry’s Family that does lots of vegan alternatives and I have that in my fridge. It does great alternatives to absolutely everything: vegan chicken nuggets, prawns and burgers – it’s the best I’ve found.
Every calorie is made up of carbs, proteins and fats, and if you look at vegetables, especially the green ones, they have the highest percentage of calories made from protein. So I try and eat one big salad a day. I guess spinach or kale is the most common green that I eat. Look at gorillas; they eat leaves all day and they’re jacked!
Sweet sweet potato
I eat lots of rice and pasta, but obviously not egg pasta. I eat rice noodles and alternatives like that. And loads of sweet potato, that’s a big favourite.
Generally, a third of my fridge will be greens like spinach, lettuce, kale, cucumber and avocado. There’s always some cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn. I do love ketchup, although people judge you for that! There’s always some kombucha in there too, which is a fermented tea that’s really good for your gut.
Top shelf material
On the top shelf I might have vegan chocolate. There’s a brand called Vega, which is very good and I try not to eat too often. I still eat crisps sometimes but you get all kinds of crazy healthy ones. There’s the vegetable crisps like beetroot and sweet potato, I’ll try and go for those. Kale chips are good; you pay a bit more for them but feel better for it.
The king of fruits
Mango and watermelon are my favourite fruits and there’s one called Durian that is banned on the underground in Thailand and Singapore because of the smell once it’s been cracked open. They call it the ‘king of fruits’ and it definitely is the king. It’s a bit of a luxury but you can get it in Chinese supermarkets.
I’ll usually have some pears and nectarines in the fridge too. I’d love to grow my own but I’m not there yet, I live in London on the 36th floor! I think if you grown your own food, you appreciate it more than if you just bought it from the supermarket.
I’ve got a Vitamix blender that I make smoothies with. I live in a house with two other people and we’ll go through 10 bananas a day. So I’ll put six or seven bananas in the smoothie as a base, then I’ll add some water or coconut water or almond milk and some dates to sweeten it up. From there I’ll either go green with kale and spinach, fruity with frozen berries, or gluttony with chocolate like raw cacao and some cashews. I might sprinkle some maca powder in there too.
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