Jay Bolton is a vegan fitness personal trainer who specialises in outdoor fitness.

A former army medic, it was in the intense combat zones that Jay saw first-hand the faster recovery times of soldiers following plant-based diets, inspiring him to become vegan. Jay now offers one-to-one and group fitness sessions in London and is one of a small number of plant-based callisthenics trainers.

Why did you go vegan?

Jay BoltonA lot of people ask me why I go vegan and the story goes back to a few years ago when I was in the army as a medic and one of my colleagues injured one of his pectoral muscles, he was advised by another vegan to go on the vegan diet to improve his recovery rate. When I compared his recovery to the guys around with similar injuries I found there was a remarkable improvement in how he recovered. If you’re thinking about going vegan, don’t rush it, take your time and do your research!

I’m a runner and interested in eating vegan – what specific nutrition tips should I consider?

As a runner, the first thing you want to think about and most probably already know is the length of your run. I’ll focus on longer runs. For this, you want to think about slow release energy to keep you going the distance. Bananas are a great start. Not only are they tasty and packed with vitamins. They are also great for steady energy release and post-run recovery because of the potassium. Bananas also contain beneficial nutrients such as fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and folate.

When and what should I eat to maximise my running performance?

The magic word here is…Variety. No one food product will give you everything you need for maximum output. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients. The amounts and presence of these vary from fruit to fruit and vegetable to vegetable. Having a wide selection of these in your diet will ensure you’re covering most if not all of your bases. Ensure that within this you’re consuming a good amount of raw leafy greens regularly. This will keep your digestive system running smoothly and allow your body to gain the most from what you eat.

What about protein?

This is the most asked question about veganism. Everybody wants to know how they can they get protein and then how they can they get more of it! Because of this fixation with protein, many people focus on the quantity rather than the quality of what they are consuming. Protein can be found nearly everywhere and our bodies only utilise a certain amount. We require complete protein chains but as well as a range of vitamins (A, B, C, K, etc) we need fibre and we need good fats and oils. It’s about balance; not overloading in one area and forgetting about the rest. For example, Hemp seeds are a great example of a good source of protein.

How can I improve my fitness levels to improve my runs?

Mix up your training plan. It’s not enough to simply go for runs to improve your overall fitness. Add an interval session with short sharp sprints into your training plan to improve acceleration and pace. Throw in a strength session involving things like squat jumps and lunge jumps to improve explosive power. A medium to long distance run to improve endurance and lung function. Then top it off with a swim which a great all round workout and is low impact so our joints will thank you.

Are there any benefits to running outside vs the treadmill?

Running outside is one of the best ways to stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Rather than running on the treadmill, I think running outside not only improves your physical health, it also improves mental fitness and decreases stress too. There’s a whole body of evidence that shows being in a green environment, or even just seeing trees, has a beneficial effect on your health. As winter approaches I would suggest dressing appropriately; you’ll be surprised how quickly you get hot, and of course don’t forget your mitts! Remember it’s darker for longer and wear reflective gear so you’re visible to others.

James Jay Bolton – @jay_plantpower