This Pro Athlete Says a Vegan Diet Helped Alleviate His Sciatica Pain
When one of America's leading pro lacrosse players, Paul Rabil was experiencing debilitating sciatica after suffering two herniated disks, he decided to turn to the idea of changing his diet. His sciatica was causing what he describes as "shooting pain down the legs." Sciatica,(inflammation of the sciatic nerve) is a common nerve affliction for athletes who have overworked their bodies, and runners and cyclists who get it often can't sleep, can't sit and can't get relief from the conventional treatments. Sciatica is so upsetting because pain relievers often don't work.
After trying cortisone shots and two years of physical therapy, Rabil began thinking he might be able to help solve the pain with nutrition, by switching to a vegan diet. He explains how he arrived at this conclusion, noting on his Youtube channel that "a lot of our pain stems from inflammation. So if I could look at sources of food that cause inflammation, then I could get rid of those, and maybe, I'd feel less pain."
In the same video, Rabil walks through his weekly plant-based meal prep routine while giving viewers a little backstory on his newfound vegan diet and how it has shifted his training and alleviated his pain.
He opens in his kitchen, sandwiched by Whole Foods bags after a trip to the grocery store: "If you're an athlete, you know a big part of rounding out your performance is not only your training, your stick work but it's your sleep and your nutrition. Something that's different and unique to 2020 is that I've changed my diet entirely I've gotten rid of meat dairy and I'm officially vegan."
After initially making the switch, Rabil notes that it didn't take long before he was sold on the benefits of a meatless, dairy-free diet. Rabil says that "within a few weeks I started noticing a lot of alleviation so I started doubling down on veganism." Athletes worried about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet should watch The Game Changers, a documentary about pro athletes who perform better on a plant-based diet.
Now, Rabil rattles off the names of different plant-based foods like a seasoned veteran of veganism. As he prepares his weekly meals, he gives special shootouts to these products:
- Oatly Oat Milk: For his morning coffee, Rabil says he likes the creaminess of this brand. He says oat milk is "one of his favorite plant-based milks."
- Ripple Pea Milk: Rabil prefers this pea-based milk for his cereal. His favorite is Love Grown's Comet Crispies which are chocolate-y and gluten-free.
- Organic Firm Tofu: Rabil says "it's not very exciting, but if you season it well, it's palatable, and super easy to cook because it's pretty much already done. So you either sear it or put it in a grill." He seasons plain tofu with salt, pepper and paprika, but also loves Hodo's Chermoula Moroccan Tofu for a little more flavor.
- Sweet Potatoes: They're Rabil's "key to success" that he eats every morning because they help fuel his workouts. He says to eat one before your workout for fuel and energy.
- Whole Foods Plain Hummus: Its included in "pretty much everything I eat" because its a great source of protein.
- Beyond Meat Burgers: Rabil adds Italian seasoning before searing them on a stovetop and topping with Field Roast's Chao cheese.
Rabil closes the video by debunking a widely held stereotype about veganism: "People go nuts about being a vegan. It doesn't take that much work, It just takes discipline because in the end, we're just meal-prepping as if we were carnivores." He then implores his Youtube audience to try out a plant-based diet, saying, "Hopefully you kids at home also go vegan like me and then you won't have back pain and score 100 goals in a year."