Vegetarian Elite
 
Extreme Mountain Biking with Austrian Vegan Sports Scientist Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer - (In Austrian German)      
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Today’s Vegetarian Elite will be presented in German, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Nepali, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Thai.

Adventurous viewers, today on Vegetarian Elite, we will visit the Tirol Mountains in Austria to meet Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer – scientist, author, and vegan athlete. Dr. Wirnitzer’s scholarly background is in Physics and Sports Science. She wrote her Master’s thesis for Physics on paragliding, and subsequently, earned her Doctorate degree in Sports Science.

She dedicated her doctorate thesis on studying herself – a female athlete on a vegan diet participating in a difficult extreme mountain bike marathon. Since the age of 14, Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer’s great passion as an amateur athlete has been in mountain biking sports. After her success at the TransAlp Challenge in 2003, Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer conducted her Sports Science research in tandem with her preparation and participation for the TransAlp Challenge 2004.

In the competition, which is regarded as the world’s toughest mountain bike marathon, Dr. Wirnitzer finished at top region of the world’s elite of mountain biking. And she accomplished all this on a pure plant-based diet.

The TransAlp Challenge is probably the most significant and most difficult mountain bike stage race there is. You have to imagine: in road cycling there are three major biking tours that everyone knows; the Tour de France as the ultimate road cycling race. And after this model, TransAlp Challenge was launched in 1998. It is designed as an 8-day race and on each of these days, a marathon will be run.

You have to imagine that the average is to overcome a nearly 3,000 meter altitude in a day, so you could say it is equivalent to three mountains as well as a distance of about 80-100 kilometers daily, which you must cope with. And you can imagine this strain physically, mentally; but also the heat, which must be added there. And these special challenges in their complexity, that’s what’s so special about this race.

For the first time ever, Dr. Wirnitzer scientifically brought the vegan diet into the context of this sporting excellence. She first studied an extreme mountain bike stage race, namely the TransAlp Challenge, to determine how intense and demanding it would be physically.

The main study participant in this project was herself – a female athlete going through a strenuous multi-day mountain bike marathon race. She would also report on the vegan dietary intake during the TransAlp Challenge 2004. Aside from presenting the collected and analyzed data in her doctorate thesis, Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer also availed the information in her published book “bikeeXtreme.”

In principle, to cope with an 8-day race means to prepare intensively physically and mentally, for one to two years; i.e. goal-oriented, very consistent training, which must be controlled and planned individually, constantly. But also on the one hand, you must acquire the competition experience, because you also do not know how the body will react, when for eight days you stand at the start again every day, perhaps the day before you fell.

And the mental strain that each day you sit at the wheel for up to 8 hours, coping with extremely difficult descents, bearing the heat, 30-35 degrees Celsius; maybe the food and fluid intake, which is very complicated in the mountain biking sport, essentially much more complicated than in road cycling. This complexity makes this race very complex and so demanding for the athletes.

In the TransAlp Challenge, participants face challenges of being exposed to the weather elements, while every day trying to master almost 3,000 meters of altitude changes on a 100-kilometer long course. Under such exhausting conditions that require peak endurance and strength, nutrition is of utmost importance.

That’s the basic character of the off-road cycling, that the opportunities to eat and to drink are very limited. The problem intensifies even more if it is very hot and one likes to offer a very high level of performance, because one wants to win or to be on the podium again.

For example, one has to deliver high performance ability for a very, very long time and if you make a dietary mistake, for example, drink now or too late or take the wrong energy drink, then it could be that for example, during a long descent that I do not have a chance, have too little energy and thus suffer a performance dip, which I can’t compensate for any more during the race and then my strongest competitor is the winner on this day and not me.

And these challenges that one has to overcome are simply very complex during the race. After the race the first thing I have to do is, on the one hand is to maintain my bike thoroughly because without an optimally functional device, I cannot have a good finish. And the second is to regenerate my body again.

Dr. Wirnitzer achieved extraordinary success in the TransAlp Challenge of 2004. As an amateur athlete, it was a feat that brought her into the leading group of this extreme mountain bike race, which consisted almost entirely of professionals.

Which performances were your biggest ones in life and which meant the most for you?

That includes the TransAlp Challenge in 2004 for sure. We had sighted the top 20 as a very realistic target, and the grandiose thing was we could undercut the top 20 in our category by far and managed with 16th overall rank – the connection to the world elite as an amateur team, and that is very outstanding.

With her impressive race finish and informative Sports Science study, Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer has been invited to lecture throughout Europe to present and promote her findings at international scientific summits. Her findings have been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals around the world from 2005 to 2009.

In 2005, she was awarded the Young Researcher Award in the category of “Sports Training” by the University of Prague. We will be right back with our feature on Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer and the advantageous vegan diet. We will learn what discoveries scientists had already made 100 years ago in regard to the performance-enhancing vegan diet.

Welcome back to Vegetarian Elite and the first of our two-part program on scientist, author, and vegan extreme athlete Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer. Regeneration phases are an important aspect of an athlete’s endurance. It has been proven scientifically that the regeneration phases are much shorter for a vegan than a non-vegetarian because the consumption of animal protein puts one’s body in an acidosis state while even at rest. How long should a recovery period be, and why should you abide by it? Dr. Wirnitzer explains:

The problem is, the body needs at least eight to 16 hours to regenerate, in order to be back at the start the next day with completely filled energy reserves. And if I cannot guarantee this, it means that my capability is simply reduced the next day at this start and cannot make use of my performance potential anymore. Although I perhaps want that, my body simply does not allow that. Therefore, the regeneration after competition is extremely important.

Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer also talks about the prevalence of the animal protein myth. If we study scientific sources in detail, a different picture emerges with evidence supporting the superiority of the vegan diet. Studies such as these date from over a century ago to contemporary times.

There were also indeed many studies which compared the flesh eating people with vegetarians. I read in your book that at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century there were already studies. Can you tell us more about it?

This story is very exciting, especially because it is very controversial and in their early stages the superiority of the vegetarian or vegan diet was shown, the evidence for the various benefits of a vegan diet were already there. But since that time we’ve omitted these positive results or ignored them. Interestingly, between 1850–1860, there were a variety of scientific studies from the nutrition sector; even then, the importance of carbohydrates was already demonstrated as the main fuel for the human body during everyday stress, but also for physical exercise.

And the interesting thing is, since that time these findings have been hushed up and denied. And unfortunately although these results have been there, there were scientists – one could say now, who were very close to the meat and dairy lobby, who were zealous advocates of protein. And they even had the opinion, that a man could never get enough protein.

And everyone who was rich or wanted to be civilized, took as much meat, milk, cheese and eggs as possible. As I said, although it was already known at that time that the preferred fuel for the human body are carbohydrates and not protein. This has been ignored over the centuries, and that is also the reason for this misconception, which is even now still deeply rooted and cemented.

Athletes on a vegan diet have much shorter recovery times. They have more strength and endurance, and consequently are more powerful.

In summary, it has been found when one takes the meat eating athletes and then compares them to strict vegetarians, athletes who live strictly as vegetarian/vegan could bring in strength, resistance, and endurance capabilities up to 3 times greater.

For example, they were able to cycle longer, they were able to withstand much greater stress by specific test series or exercises over much longer periods, at a greatly reduced recovery time which was only one-fifth of what omnivores or meat-eaters needed to recover again from complete exhaustion. And these are revolutionary results even though they have been there for 100 years already, and athletes hardly are aware of this knowledge. I find that is still exciting today when I tell you this.

Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer was brought up in the beautiful Austrian countryside surrounded by mountains and forests. She and her family shared a love for nature and athletics.

Basically, I am an outdoor freak. So that includes running, marathon running, nordic walking, mountain running, many hours of walking through the snow in the winter, mountain biking, bicycle racing as a training but also downhill, in order to easily grasp this technical handling of the bike and simply bring it to perfection because it is also a performance-determining factor in the race itself. How well I can master a difficult, technically difficult downhill section, must also be trained. So everything that has to do with perseverance, with the outdoors, with the mountains, and forests, is actually my life.

With this affinity for great outdoors, young Katharina naturally grew to adore animals. In her early years as a teenager, Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer was moved to become a vegetarian when she became aware of the cruelty involved in raising animals for meat consumption.

I started to be vegetarian at 16 years of age as my premonitions intensified that animals are tortured for my diet and because of the information I had collected at that time, which have shown then that for my nutrition animals had to suffer, which I didn’t want. And that was the decisive factor to abstain from it at 16 years of age.

Tell us about that moment, in which you realized that you never wanted to eat meat again.

It was not so much a special moment, but it was rather a process between 16 and 25 years of age, where it crystallized for me then, specifically in the study, in this area of conflict, humans, animals, sports and nutrition, that just this evidence that I gathered, these scientific facts, condensed.

Although her motivation towards a vegan lifestyle was her love for animals, Dr. Wirnitzer soon realized the other benefits that came with the plant-based diet.

And my private motives are ethical. But from the sporting point of view of athletes, there is really no better diet than the vegan diet to be more effective in sports.

For more information on Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer and vegan health, please visit www.bikeeXtreme.org Her book “bikeeXtreme” is available on www.Amazon.com

Amiable viewers, it was a pleasure to be in your company today for Vegetarian Elite featuring the vibrant Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer. Please join us again for part 2 of her program airing next Saturday, February 12th. And now, coming up next on Supreme Master Television is Between Master and Disciples. May veg role models such as Dr. Wirnitzer help inspire more trends toward a healthier, kinder, and sustainable world.
Today’s Vegetarian Elite will be presented in German, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Nepali, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Thai.

Open-minded viewers, in the first part of our program last week, we met Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer, a scientist, athlete, author and vegan from Austria. She not only placed herself among the leaders of one of the world’s toughest mountain bike marathon race, the TransAlp Challenge 2004, but was also the first scientist to study excellence in mountain biking in connection with the vegan diet.

The TransAlp Challenge involves a complete transverse of the rugged European Alps mountain range, covering nearly 600 kilometers and 20,000 vertical meters, all within eight intensely grueling days in the elements. It was during her participation in the TransAlp Challenge 2004 that Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer had carried out her fascinating doctoral dissertation project.

For me it was important to investigate mountain biking where it takes place, that is, outdoors in the mountains. Therefore, I made the decision to carry out a field study during the authentic stress of competition. And the challenge to persevere in this field study to the end was very difficult due to the overall complex conditions, because of course the competing team was stationed at a new start and finish every day.

These overall conditions with accommodation, with hygiene, with food intake, were very challenging. And in relation to this, I simply tried to study the athletes, the subjects that I researched, under the truly authentic stress of competition. In terms of capability, for example, heart rate analysis or fluid shifts in the body, which gave very good conclusions. Or how is the endurance profile of mountain bikers who are even able to finish after eight days? And there was simply a lack of studies.

So it was just as important to carry out this study for the first time, because the stress is simply a very different kind, whether I complete a race in 1.5 hours on a circuit, which I manage for the fourth or fifth time, where each of the technical difficulties already is known to me, or whether I have to overcome a TransAlp Challenge where I don’t know at the start what are the difficulties I have to cope with that day.

You have written a book called “bikeeXtreme.” Can you perhaps tell us more about that?

If I may show it to the viewers. My book actually was created at the end of my science project, which is also called “bikeeXtreme,” in the context of my PhD thesis. And perhaps I may add generally – all the projects I do, always have a final goal for me, namely, to make the knowledge that I thereby acquire available to other people. Because I think knowledge and increasing knowledge makes sense only if it is accessed by humans.

The idea of the book was to investigate this toughest mountain bike race as a whole for the first time, and perhaps I may explain why my study, my project as well as this book are also revolutionary and so special. I'm the first scientist in the field of sport sciences who for the first time ever researched a mountain bike marathon race.

Then the second point is: worldwide, I am the first one who researched a stage race, and then even this toughest stage race, to research the performance capacity during the stress of mountain biking over eight days, specifying the endurance profile of mountain bikers. Then, I was also the first woman who researched this extreme stress during an ultra-endurance exercise.

And last but not least, the fifth factor as to why my research is brand new: I have brought the vegan diet for the first time in the context of high- performance sports, which was never before done. And these five factors have never been studied in sports science. So, this book brings together five factors that constitute completely new territory on the map of sports science, especially that of mountain biking.

And what are the reactions of the other athletes and are readers reacting to this?

The feedback from sports colleagues in this area and from people who are very well-versed and know about cycling, about training, nutrition – it’s very positive. And they designate my book, my work, my academic research differently: either as the standard by which to optimally design training and planning, or as basic reading for the Alpine- bikers, for those mountain bikers participating in the TransAlp Challenge, or athletes, or just as the manual for marathon runners, for the mountain bike marathoners, whether it be for one day or several days of competition. So overall, the response is very positive.

When we return, the tremendously active and accomplished Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer will share some knowledge about the best nutrition for athletes.

Welcome back to Vegetarian Elite. The right nutrition is very important for peak performance in athletes. For Austrian extreme mountain biker and sports researcher Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer, the choice of an animal-free diet was crucial both for the science and for her heart.

For me it was a very clear decision. Out of ethical reasons, I do not want animals suffering for my happiness in life, for my food, for my pleasure. It was extremely easy for me to make this transition, because actually for me it was a longer process to decide. All the scientific facts that I gathered during my studies came together with the ethical information, the exploitation of animals, the torturing of animals; it all simply came together in a perfect mosaic with all its small puzzle pieces. And it was for me a very clear and simple path.

Athletes are always very concerned that they consume enough protein. What are the biggest errors and how much protein do athletes actually need?

Overall, protein is the nutrient that is most misinterpreted and misunderstood and now I would like to emphasize clearly: it is far overemphasized. This chart shows the energy needs according to the general popular dietary recommendations, as would be covered by the individual nutrients, from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. But you must know that such nutritional recommendations for omnivores who eat a mixed diet are supported by the meat lobby and dairy industry because they want to sell a product that the body does not really need.

If you look at the average person on a vegan diet, you see already clearly that on the one hand, the carbohydrate field is increased, but at the same time – so, the yellow bar – the protein requirements of these scientifically proven, healthy vegan living people, that I would also emphasize, are reduced to one-third already. That means it is scientifically confirmed that the excessive value given to protein is unnecessary and is not rooted in human’s physical needs, but is really just a marketing strategy.

This graph shows probably the most difficult bike race in the world, the Race Across America, and my study of the TransAlp Challenge from the year 2004. It is so clear and confirms all previous studies that the preferable nutrient under maximum peak performance in sports is carbohydrates, which during my mountain bike competition comprised more than 80% of the overall diet, so that the body was able to maintain the high performance for a long time on a maximum power level.

You see clearly that the top athletes, bodies that are tailored perfectly for extreme loads so to speak, in which the body works already extremely efficiently with a maximum 12-13% of protein of the total energy that it has to take in daily – has more than enough. This means if it has more protein, there will be difficulties, it means a reduction in the athletic performance. And it has just been shown that the body with a protein requirement of high-quality protein in the range of 8% to 12% or 13% of the total optimal intake of daily energy functions optimally and has all the essential amino acids.

This is mostly said by the opponents of the vegan diet – that only meat would have the essential amino acids itself and vegetable protein would not. That is just complete nonsense and one can also prove this scientifically quite well. Even in the large number of plant-based products, the protein in the plant diet has all essential amino acids. In total there are only eight essential amino acids which humans have to take each day to more than meet their needs.

And studies for vegetarians and vegans – non-athletes – also show clearly that vegetarians far exceed their protein requirements as well as their iron, (the second critical and often criticized nutrient) and also exceed the daily nutrient recommendations. Thus, protein deficiency is absolutely no issue. On the contrary, it actually only burdens the body when one takes too much, and 30% protein is far too much.

Quite clearly, humans, whether athletes or non-athletes, do not need more than between 8% and 12-13% of protein in relation to the total amount of energy that humans consume per day. Apart from the fact that these vegetarian-meat products are very delicious and I would not want to give them up because they greatly enrich the menu, be it when we have veggie cheese or even vegetable steaks for barbecue dinner, seen from the side of demand, it is not really necessary to consume these meat substitute products.

Indeed, if you know that if you eat a bowl of bean salad, for example from kidney beans, and a luscious brown bread from whole-grain, for example, this 10% protein, which I have to take in per day, have been covered. So when I regularly eat and because I like to eat whole grain bread or cereals like whole grain pasta, then this protein requirement is already more than covered.

What are your future goals?

Ah, my future is very exciting, I think. Scientifically, I have an enormous amount of ideas in my head. This scientific area that I have entered still has so many unknowns that my head actually overflows with great ideas in the area of mountain biking, but also in the area of the vegan diet. From an athletic point of view, I have withdrawn from competitive sports a little. I am out daily in nature, I do not need competition with others.

Fueling both body and mind with healthy plant-based fare, it is no wonder that Dr. Wirnitzer is so radiant with vitality and flow of creative ideas.

Would you like to convey a message to our viewers in conclusion?

For me there is actually no way back. It was the best, most important and most sensible decision of my life to live vegan. I need no meat, no animal suffering to be externally pretty and internally beautiful, to be satisfied, to be healthy. On the contrary, everything points to it. Therefore, cherished viewer, become vegan, save the world, save your health, be active and physically fit. You will benefit every day of your life. I never regretted this decision and for me personally, there is no way to go back anymore. So, “Go vegan!”

Our appreciation and best wishes, Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer, top-notch athlete and respected scientist with many talents and a caring heart. May we all find inspiration seeing your energetic life spent in nature, as well as your important contributions to sports science, fitness, and nutrition.

For more information on Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer and vegan health, please visit www.bikeeXtreme.org Her book “bikeeXtreme” is available on www.Amazon.com

Bright viewers, it was a pleasure having you with us today for Vegetarian Elite featuring the plant-strong and intelligent Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer. And now, coming up next on Supreme Master Television is Between Master and Disciples. May we all thrive on the life-enhancing vegan diet.

Be Veg, Go Green 2 Save the Planet!

Bright viewers, it was a pleasure having you with us today for Vegetarian Elite featuring the plant-strong and intelligent Dr. Katharina Wirnitzer. And now, coming up next on Supreme Master Television is Between Master and Disciples. May we all thrive on the life-enhancing vegan diet.



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