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Home » Embrace the Powerful Benefits of Plant-Based Nutrition with Kayla Slater! Ep 029

Embrace the Powerful Benefits of Plant-Based Nutrition with Kayla Slater! Ep 029

#29 – Nutrition is an important element of your overall health and wellness; and critically important for runners. In this episode, plant-based registered dietitian nutrition and run coach Kayla Slater shares with us her journey as a runner and how she embraced plant-based nutrition to improve her health and wellness.

Topics Covered:

  • What it means to be plant-based
  • Overall benefits of plant-based nutrition
  • Benefits specifically for runners
  • How to get started with plant-based and watch-outs

Today’s Guest

Kayla Slater

Kayla is an online plant-based registered dietitian nutrition and run coach currently residing in beautiful, sunny Florida, with her boyfriend and dog. Kayla has been plant-based for the past five years and running for over 10 years. She is currently training with her dog, Yukon, to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She is also the owner and founder of Plant Based Performance Nutrition and Run Coaching, LLC, where she provides personalized and group support for recreational and intermediate endurance athletes who want to fuel on plants for their health, the environment, and animals while gaining the plant-based performance advantage.

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Richard Conner 0:00

Welcome to Episode 29. Today we’re going to talk about an important topic that we don’t talk about enough on the show. And that is nutrition. We’ll talk about the benefits for anyone, but especially for runners. Hope you enjoy. Here’s what you can look forward to on this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast.

Kayla Slater 0:23

So that was really cool. And then it just, I just, you know, I really just kept being vegetarian. I didn’t actually think I was gonna stay plant based and it’s just funny how you go on those journeys sometimes and I was always trying different things. You know, I tried keto I’ve, you know, tried different different styles of eating, and eventually just went from pescatarian vegetarian to suddenly vegan and for the last couple years it just it stuck.

Intro/Outro 0:54

Welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, whether you are new to running or seasoned. Get tips and the inspiration that you need to achieve your health and fitness goals. Now, here’s your host, Richard Conner.

Richard Conner 1:12

Hi, everyone. Welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast. I am here today with Kayla Slater. Kayla is an online plant based registered dietitian nutrition and run coach currently residing in beautiful sunny Florida with her boyfriend and dog. Kayla has been plant based for the past five years and running for over 10 years. She is currently training with her dog, Yukon, to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She is also the owner and founder of plant based Performance Nutrition and Run Coaching LLC, where she provides personalized and group support for recreational and intermediate endurance athletes who want to fuel on plants for their health, the environment and animals while gaining the plant based performance advantage. So I’m excited to have Kayla here with us today to share with us her journey as a runner, and coach and talk about plant based nutrition. So welcome to the show.

Kayla Slater 2:12

Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

Richard Conner 2:14

Yeah. So you know, the Inspire Virtual Runs community, we love to talk about running, obviously, and fitness. But the community had asked for more information on the topic of nutrition. And it’s a topic that we’ve covered a little bit on the podcast with other guests, but not extensively. So I love the idea that we’re not only talking about nutrition, but we’re talking about plant based nutrition, which is I’m sure topic that doesn’t get probably enough air time we will say so excited about this topic.

Kayla Slater 2:46


Richard Conner 2:48

So you know, let’s just start by learning more about you. So let you know you’ve been running for 10 years. So maybe we start there, like what was your inspiration to start running 10 years ago?

Kayla Slater 2:59

Yeah, sure. So my main inspiration was my mom. So she was a marathon runner when I was growing up and got me into running. And I actually when I when she got me running, I should say I didn’t really enjoy it at that time. I actually really hated it. But I was an athlete. So I did soccer and that was kind of my main sport for a while. But then when I couldn’t play soccer anymore in school in high school, I ended up joining the cross country team because I was you know, I ran with my mom a little bit and was like, Well, I guess I’m okay. You know, with it, that maybe I could do it. So that’s kind of where my running journey I’ll say started because once I joined cross country, I was just hooked. I was like, wow, I actually, you know, was actually pretty good at it. I earned the VIP award that year, my cross country team and just kept running.

Richard Conner 3:53

That’s so cool. That’s so cool. And it’s interesting. Cool. We have a similar, I think similar story other than my parents weren’t marathon runners, but that’s cool that your mom was a marathon runner. But I started in high school, I think my sophomore year on the cross country team. And same thing like I started it didn’t know if I could do it and ended up loving it. So that that’s really cool. So yeah. Okay, so so you’re running for a few years. And then and then what happened next, and then you went plant based? Like was there a connection with running and fitness? Like, how did you how did you? What was your journey like there?

Kayla Slater 4:29

Mm hmm. Yeah. So when I went to when I went to college, I didn’t join the cross country team right away, but I did run my sophomore year. And then what happened is, I suddenly figured out that I wanted to be a registered dietician. And I don’t really know quite how that happened. But I remember it. You know, I was just really researching, you know, what I wanted to do with my career and really trying to figure it out if I was on the right path. And I decided, you know, I wanted to change my major, I wanted to study nutrition more. And I think part of that was from like health perspective, you know, I had family that you know, had heart disease, diabetes, all of these things. And I knew it could be fronted by nutrition. But I think it also stemmed from my running as well. Because, you know, the, when I got back into running, you know, at that level and college realizing, like, you know, I learned a little bit in high school, but I realize how big of a part and nutrition was and how I just didn’t feel like I knew that knowledge. And I also always had this, I don’t know, I guess you could say passion to help other people. So realize, like, oh, if I could be a registered dietician, then that means I could help people with nutrition, but also help those that are runners, you know, that that want to run and want to make sure that their nutrition is good. So that’s kind of how I led to kind of what I’m doing now is, it did kind of go together and the plant based nutrition, I would say, that probably came about in college when I was studying nutrition. So what happened is I was I, you know, I got my bloodwork and all of that done. And, you know, they told me that my cholesterol was nearly high. And I thought, you know, because I’ve always been a runner, and I wasn’t running competitively when I moved when I transferred to my new school, but I still ran, you know, I still went to the gym, I still, you know, but I was eating a healthy diet, right? And what I realized that, you know, of course, there is cholesterol, and heart disease, that stuff, it is hereditary. But the more I learned about it, I realized how much lifestyle made a really big factor. So yes, it might be, you know, I need to be on it a little bit more. But that’s kind of what inspired me to really, at first become vegetarian. So once I did that, you know, I, my labs were great, you know, my cholesterol is down, everything was great. So that was really cool. And then it just, I just, you know, I really just kept being vegetarian. I didn’t actually think I was going to stay plant based. And it’s just funny how you go on those journeys sometimes. And I was always trying different things. You know, I tried keto I, you know, tried different different styles of eating, and eventually just went from pescetarian vegetarian to suddenly vegan. And for the last couple years, it just it stuck.

Richard Conner 7:38

Wow, Kayla, thank you for sharing, sharing that that’s, that’s quite a journey. Moving to where you are for plant based. So like, throughout this journey, like how do you feel like how does it feel, in terms of you mentioned about your cholesterol and your labs? Just how have How has it been for you kind of pursuing this plant based lifestyle?

Kayla Slater 8:01

Yeah, I feel absolutely great. And I think that’s what it’s really why it’s stuck for me is that it just feels so much easier now to you know, not worry, even though, right? When we’re performance based, we don’t want to focus on our weed as much. But I think sometimes we do, right. And it’s hard, especially the older we get, we’re concerned about our weight. And so for me, it just felt like it was easier felt like, okay, I don’t have to worry about that as much. And I can focus on just fueling my body the way that I need to to support my running. And I’ve Yeah, I’ve just really felt great. Like, my labs have always been really good. I’m having actually had any concern with iron, which I was actually really surprised about, which is really cool. And then yeah, I just, I just feel good. You know, I’m just in my normal day, I feel like I have more energy, which is amazing. And really recovery as well feels like it’s it’s not hasn’t been as it’s not as bad. Like, I feel like I could push myself more and compete harder and all of that stuff, which is also really cool.

Richard Conner 9:15

Awesome, awesome. So you know, I’m just thinking for the audience, they may have their own perceptions about what plant based means or what a plant based lifestyle is, and, and even myself, like it’s not an area that I even understand very well. And it may be an area that some might just shy away from so why don’t we just kind of help to help the listeners kind of understand like, what is plant based and what is it that you’re that you’re following?

Kayla Slater 9:41

Yeah, sure. So plant based really means just limiting or avoiding any animal products. And you know, some people may say you know that they are plant based and they might have some fish so really that could be you know, more vegetarian, but really You really could say any, you know, any diet that you eat, that’s, you know, just I guess limits those animal products. But you know, vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, those are all forms of plant based nutrition. And really the ideas for health reasons is that you’re eating less saturated fats, less cholesterol, right, that are going to contribute less to chronic diseases, things like that diabetes, all of those things. And there’s research out there as well, that shows that it can even reverse some of those chronic diseases, which is really great as well. So all as decreasing your risk of cancer and a lot of lot of other things.

Richard Conner 10:46

Mm hmm. That’s really interesting. And but I’m thinking like avoiding meat products, or animal based products is probably probably talented for some of the things Oh, you know, it’s hard for me to give up x, right, whatever it might be. So how do you how do you get started with that? Like, how do you Is this something you do this, like cold turkey? Which, you know, kiss use the pine? Like, like, not not intended? Like, is it something you do? right away? Or is it something that you had to do kind of do over time?

Kayla Slater 11:18

Yeah, so I’ve heard different people kind of do it differently. And, and kind of depends on you as a person. For me, I did kind of gradually do it is that I was pescetarian and vegetarian and then shifted to vegan. But in the same way, as soon as I decided to be vegan, I just just did it was like, okay, no, you know, just no animal products whatsoever, you know, no eggs, no cheese, no dairy nothing. So, I really think it really just depends on the person, I do see more success with people that do just decide to do it and just do it. And then as I said, some people just like to gradually, you know, limit things out of their diet. And with that, I will say, you can still get the benefits because I get that question a lot, you will still get some benefits of eating a plant based diet, if you do, you know, even if you just limit your dairy. One thing too with dairy that’s huge, especially is it’s anti or it’s inflammatory. So that can be really helpful for people with joints. And also allergies, dairy can really affect it as well. So a lot of people have just feel better when they they start to limit that dairy. But yeah, but with that, it does you know it? Yeah, it does depend, I guess on the person. But also to get started. There’s a lot of great resources out there. So there’s the the ritual podcast is really popular, people love that. Forks Over Knives has a really good website, a lot of really good resources. And then also, Dr. gregers, trician, I believe it’s nutritionfacts.go. He’s got a website, he’s got the daily dozen, there’s also an app you can follow as well, which is what I usually recommend to actually to my clients to just kind of show them how to make sure they’re getting a variety of plant foods in their, in their diet. So there’s some Yeah, there’s a lot of really good, really good resources, I think out there.

Richard Conner 13:37

Okay. All right. That’s, that’s really good to know. And I think that’s helpful to know, you know, at least for someone like me, or someone who’s listening who isn’t doing anything intentionally around plant base today, it may feel like a big change, right? I think it is, I think it’s a lifestyle change. But it’s good to know that there is a path that you could follow that gradually gets you there. If you’re not, you know, the kind of person to say, I’m just going to make this switch overnight. And maybe, maybe there’s different motivating factors. Maybe if you’re in a situation where you need to like health wise, it would benefit for you to do that. And I guess that’s one thing. So that’s, so that’s really helpful to know. And like just out of curiosity. So you mentioned like, dairy, limiting dairy because of the inflammatory response, which is, which is interesting. What would be the alternative? Like what would someone do besides having dairy?

Kayla Slater 14:30

Yeah, so dairy is probably the hardest thing I know for people that specifically have gone vegan to eliminate. There are dairy alternatives, which is great. And I can say since I’ve even been vegan, they have gotten a lot better. When I first had vegan like vegan cheese. I thought this is awful. I’m not gonna eat this whatsoever, but they have gotten better. And there are plant based products. Bass yogurts out there now, there’s milks other milk choices we have. There’s coconut, almond. I mean, everything you could think of now it’s so crazy. But yeah, coconut almond are probably the most popular oat milk. Oh, milk is one I recommend a lot because it, it’s usually fortified with a lot of nutrients. So there’s believe it’s four or five would be 12. Which is really great. So yeah, there’s there’s definitely a lot of alternatives out there. But I can say, yeah, that’s usually the hardest for people, but also the one that makes the biggest differences, while like people, when they do make that switch, they just feel so much better. Especially for joints and things like that, it’s just basically to for runners is really helpful because you want your joints to feel good. So you’re, you know, have some arthritis or, you know, worried about that, you know, worried about your joints and your bones.

Richard Conner 15:57

Yeah, right. Right, and let you know, let’s so thank you for that. So this is really great information. And I love the examples that you gave there. And as far as the resources you shared, I will get those links from you. And I’ll put them in the show notes to make it easier for the listeners to find. And you touch a little bit on runners. So that’s perfect. Because this is a running podcast. Yeah, we have runners that are listening. And if they’re not plant based today, we’re talking about, Hey, there are advantages for anyone as a person. But in particular, there are advantages for runners. So let’s let’s, you know, kind of switch gears and talk a little bit about that. Like what, first, I think you mentioned joints. And maybe you want to start there. Maybe there’s another place you could talk about?

Kayla Slater 16:39

Yeah, sure. Yeah. So definitely, definitely helps with eating more anti inflammatory foods and getting rid of those inflammatory foods, which dairy is a big one can really help with that with you know, swelling in joints and those kind of stuff. Also some other events, typically for runners as well is recovery as well as improved endurance. So recovery is a huge one. And I hear this a lot from people that have been plant based for a while, or even if they’ve even just tried it, you know, even for a little while, even if it’s not that long, they can still tell which is really, really cool. I quote, Scott jeric a lot. He’s a vegan offer runner. And he there’s a quote that he says about, you know how plant based nutrition has really helped his recovery, which is huge. And I think that’s really helpful for those that you know, want to train more, maybe you want to get into auto running. And that that kind of you know, going that distance that recovery is going to help you right to to get there if you can recover faster. So that’s really cool. And there is some research as well, not as much as I wish there would be but there is some research, which is cool. That, you know, really does show the advantages and shows that you know, eating more plant based foods does help that recovery process.

Richard Conner 18:05

Mm hmm. Okay. Okay, that’s excellent. So, as I understand this, you have your own business, you’re running your own online business, plant based performance, nutrition and run coaching. So tell us a little bit about that. Are you? Are you training athletes or everyday runners like like me on plant based nutrition and running? Like, tell us a little bit like how all of this connects to to what you do?

Kayla Slater 18:32

Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, so I do, coach you know, the, either the everyday runner or those that, you know, want to be more competitive. And, you know, if they’re training, you know, for a half or full marathon, kind of our, our, my distances that I love to work with his people. But yeah, just, you know, helping either most of I would say most of the clients that come to me are ready, plant based, but they, they just really want to make sure that they’re eating properly as somebody that’s plant based for to support their fueling and their training. So nutrition is a little different for somebody that you know, wants to do a dress for health reasons, maybe lose weight, then somebody that is, even if you’re an everyday athlete, it’s so important that are making sure you’re fueling enough. So there’s a lot of things that I see that, you know, there’s all these great benefits, and there’s these advantages, but then there’s also these things that you know, can harm your body or might be negative effects, that kind of retreat people so they end up not being plant based, which in reality, they really could have the benefit of, you know, performance benefits and advantages as well as health advantages, which is really great. But I will say that you have to do it, right, which is, you know why I’m so passionate about really helping those people to do it. Because I really believe that it really can You know, really can change your life can really help you a lot, you know, just stay healthy, live longer and feel really good and even possibly live, you know, possibly Run, run more or run longer, which is really awesome. Especially if you love the sport. So yeah, so let’s say like all those, all those things are, are good.

Richard Conner 20:22

Mm hmm. Okay, excellent. And, you know, tell me a little bit about, like, what are the watch outs? So I don’t know anything about plant based nutrition. I’m interested, I love what I’m hearing about these benefits. And I want to dip my toe into what, like, what is it that I should be I should watch out for?

Kayla Slater 20:42

Hmm, yeah, so biggest thing is just not eating enough. So I see this a lot. And really, even if you’re not plant based, it’s really common, those that are more active, to not be feeling or not eating enough. And then combined with being plant based, because a lot of these plant based foods are lower in calories, what happens is, you know, most likely are just under fueling, which, you know, leads to, you know, kalita, nutrient deficiencies can lead to hormone imbalances can lead to all these things that are harmful for our bodies. So that’s probably the biggest thing that I see that, you know, is really, that I that I help and make sure people are, you know, when they come to me, first make sure that they’re, they’re fueling enough, they’re feeling properly, and all of that.

Richard Conner 21:33

Good, good. That’s, that’s good to know. So, so this is really interesting information. I know, you shared, you know, some of the resources that are available to help somebody get started. And so looking into plant based nutrition, and I would, I would, you know, I would say to our listeners, if this is something that you’re interested interested in, you know, nutrition is a big topic. And this is something you want to try or learn more more about. There, there are a number of resources. So I guess my question would be like, what is the like the very first thing that someone should do or consider, as they’re considering plant based nutrition? Hmm,

Kayla Slater 22:11

I would say, I know, two big things that are just that I that I’m involved in, is the club based network support groups, they have now a membership athlete group. And I’ll actually be running those groups every month, which was really awesome. But that’s a good resource. They have a lot of, you know, good resources in general, for those people that want to transition to plant base. And then also those that want to do want to learn more about being pop bass for athletes, which is really cool. And then I also have, I also have run a club based on our Facebook group. So that’s another I think, great resource to have. And there’s also other Facebook groups and communities. But I would say probably the biggest thing is just to find that support and find that community, because that’s what’s really going to help you. Because I find a lot of people too are drawn, you know, to wanting to work with Bay, because, you know, their inner circle of people might not really understand plant based nutrition, and maybe they’re runners, but they don’t quite understand that. Or maybe they’re like, you know, you are you making sure you’re getting enough calcium, like maybe you should drink milk, or maybe you’re not getting enough protein right there. So you’re so used to you know, going to those assumptions, like something’s wrong, then it’s your diet, you know, you should be eating me. And that’s not necessarily the case. So I think getting some support and getting that being, you know, surrounding yourself with those people is, is really helpful.

Richard Conner 23:50

Excellent, excellent. Kayla, this has been awesome. I appreciate all the information that you shared here about the benefits of plant based nutrition, how it’s helped you in your journey, ways that that the listeners can get started. Some things to watch out for this is really great, great information. So kinda I was like we wrap up here, like what would be the one thing that you would want to share with our listeners that would help them you know, as they’re thinking about plant based nutrition, or just in general in their fitness and health and fitness journey?

Kayla Slater 24:27

Yeah, I would say, when it comes to nutrition, what’s most important is doing something that you’ll stick with. So I did mention diet when I talked about the plant based diet, but I think we also mentioned that it’s a lifestyle. So the most important things when it comes to nutrition is just making sure it’s something that you can stick with and also making sure when it comes to running that you can properly fuel your body because that’s so important as I discussed them doing so you Really just finding something that works for you, there’s no one size fits all. And you really just have to find that you know what works for you and that you can stick with because anything when it comes to nutrition, you want to make sure that it’s sustainable. Something you can do, you know, for your life, because you know, you’ll, you’ll be on that that cycle right? That yo yo dieting, and that’s not where we want to be, that’s not going to also help our running document make us feel good and you know, show up in our lives betters better people. So whatever, you know, whatever you try will say, you know, just make sure it’s something that you could stick with. And if you need help, there’s support as well. There’s so many resources and support and everything like that as well that you can you can get.

Richard Conner 25:48

Excellent, excellent. Kayla, how can the Inspire virtual runs community find you and follow you online?

Kayla Slater 25:55

Yeah, so I am on Facebook. So I mentioned my facebook group is the Plant Based Performance Online Support Group community group. So have that as well as I’m on Instagram at plantbased_performance_rd.

Richard Conner 26:14

Okay, I will include that information in the show notes as well. Kayla, thank you again. I really love this topic about nutrition. A lot of great information. I’m really grateful for you coming on the show. Yes, you’re welcome. Thank you for having me. I’d like to take a moment to thank Kayla for coming on the show, and sharing this great information about plant based nutrition as well as her own journey. And here are the three takeaways that I got from the conversation. The first one is you can gradually ease into plant based, you can see what works for you. And as Kayla says, do something that you’ll stick with. The second takeaway was the benefits for runners. Kayla talked about the benefits that you can get during your recovery as a runner. So that was really interesting conversation about what the benefits are specifically for runners. And the third takeaway is find a support system or community that can support you. So just like we talked about with running and having an accountability group, you will need that support system as you progress in your journey to plant based nutrition. So really hope you enjoyed this episode. Please come to our website at Let us know what you think. And with that, thanks for joining and have a great day.

Intro/Outro 27:36

That’s it for this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review. Also, be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss an episode. Thanks for listening.

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