Vegan Diet for Athletes
As an athlete, more nutrient based foods are needed to perform highly in whatever sporting endeavor you undertake. Foods that build muscle, heighten performance, and meet your energy needs.
A vegan diet for athletes is the surest bet because it helps cut down on fiber-rich foods and if you are a high performing athlete, you would generally need a vegan diet for fitness and the great thing is that there’s a variety of choices including grains products, fruits, vegetables, protein-rich plant foods, and even dairy products if you so desire.
The opportunities are endless.
But before we go any further, it is important to understand why a vegan diet for runners or athletes is very important. Although it is not new, there seems to be a prevailing increase in the demand for a vegan-based diet for fitness among athletes. The percentage of athletes who go vegan-based for performance purposes appears to be getting higher and higher and it is fast becoming the new rave among athletes and runners. However, it is not surprising why.
Why a Vegan Diet is Beneficial for Athletes
As earlier mentioned, vegan diets are beginning to be the new rave for athletes/runners, why? Because vegan diets generally have more health benefits over conventional western diets. For fitness, it is not enough to eat well, it is also important to eat healthily and it doesn’t get healthier than a vegan-based diet for runners. The reasons why vegetarian or vegan diets stand out so uniquely is for many reasons, we would examine a few:
1. Immense Health Benefits
Vegan based diets are loaded with immense health benefits. Apart from the performance-oriented benefits, a vegan diet for runners is also associated with eliminating chronic heart diseases. Even athletes are at risk of heart diseases and most athletes run towards the vegan diet for fitness because it solves that problem and reduces the risk of heart diseases. It has been socially and scientifically proven.
In a recent study, 44 endurance athletes and cyclists were closely monitored. They all had coronary plaques. It was discovered in that study that a plant-based diet reverses plaque and keeps athletes strong. It also reduces blood pressure and reduces high cholesterol as well. It also keeps runners fit and reduces weight.
2. Reduces Body Fat
You can probably tell that body fat is an athlete’s worst enemy. This is another reason why it is great for them to adopt a vegan diet for fitness.
Plant-based diets are typically low in fat and high in fiber and thus, can reduce body fat. More so, reduced body fat bears some association with increased aerobic capacity and oxygen usage to fuel exercise and it leads to better endurance.
3. More Suited for Athletes
Yes, a vegan diet for runners is a more suitable choice. It increases performance levels. It is also available in a variety of products as earlier mentioned and you have all-round benefits round the clock for better performance as opposed to the conventional toxic fatty foods.
Now, for those still skeptical of the immense nutritional value for vegan-based diets for runners, or still think conventional meals have more advantages and nutritional value, it may interest you to know that vegan-based diet for athletes also provide as much and even more nutrients than conventional meals, let us examine them:
What a Vegan Diet Offers for Fitness
Below is a list of the nutritional value of vegan-based foods for athletes and why they are rising on the increase in the athletic industry
Apparently, animals aren’t the only vectors of protein. Protein is also provided by vegan-based meals for athletes. An example is Soy products like Tofu and Edamame), these foods are vegan based and also packed with more than enough protein to cater to the needs of an athletic body. Other amazing vegan-based sources of protein are also, Seitan which is actually made from gluten, chickpeas, lentils, and nutritional yeast. All of these foods alongside are high, if not more portentous than the conventional meals. If you are an athlete looking for a great meal plan, you should consider a vegan diet for fitness.
2. Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is extremely important, especially for athletes because it kicks against excessive fatigue. A lack of vitamin B-12 will leave you weak and tired. Now, admittedly, it may be slightly difficult to get this nutrient because it is not found in plants, however, there are other ways to have access to vitamin B-12. You could stock up on fortified cereals, rice, and soy drinks.
It may be surprising to know that Red meat and egg yolks aren’t the only things rich in iron; you could get iron with plant-based foods as well. While red meat and egg yolks are unarguably rich in iron, they are also very high in cholesterol which obviously is not very good for an athlete who seeks a healthier way to eat. Black-eyed peas, Tofu, and dried fruits are also great iron providers. Fresh fruits also have iron but dried fruits are more preferable because you consume more while pumping yourself with much-needed nutrients.
4. Vitamin D
Yes, 10-15 minutes under the sun can load you with great vitamin D nutrients, but unlike the sun, Orange juice is always available and it is a great source of vitamin D.
Tips on Keeping Your Commitment to a Vegan Diet
Admittedly, it is no small task as an athlete, to commit to a vegan diet. For one, odds are stacked against you. veganism in athleticism is rising, but it hasn’t caught up to conventional eating yet, so here are some tips to make sure you stay on the right path in your commitment and see results in your athletic performance:
1. Draw Out a Plan of Action
First of all, vegan or not, athletes or not, everyone on a diet should have an eating plan. It is important to consider what to eat before your daily work out, how to gain as much nutrition as you can and hydration. These should be what should determine your meal rotation on a daily basis. You must prioritize protein as an athlete as it is one of the most useful nutrients and an important reason why you are opting for a vegan-based diet for fitness. To draw out your plan and know what to eat, when to eat it. Perhaps, the foregoing tips would help more in this regard.
2. Prioritize Your Protein
This has been mentioned before but is being mentioned again for the sake of emphasis. It is important to incorporate protein in every meal and aim to spread your protein intake throughout the entire day. This means equal portions whether its breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You may reduce protein intake at snack time but never underestimate the importance of protein in your major meals.
Here are some great protein-based meals to get you started
• All kinds of Beans
• Soy (tofu, tempeh, and Edamame)
• Nuts and nut butters (all kinds)
• Seeds (chia, hemp, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds)
• Lentils (brown, red and green)
• Yellow and green peas etc.
3. Do Not Forget Calcium
Calcium is designed for strengthening the bones. Its importance cannot be over emphasized to an athlete. It is necessary to keep the bones strong all though especially when you stress them during sports. This is another solid reason why a vegan diet for athletes is important because calcium is abundant in dairy products.
However, serious vegans may find calcium in certain plants
A. Green vegetables, like Kale, broccoli, bok choy, turnip greens, and spinach
B. Also, fortified cereals and 100% orange juice.
4. Not All Fats Are Healthy
Not all fat is healthy, but this doesn’t mean you should forget the healthy fat. Athletes burn calories on a daily basis. Those calories also need to be replaced but ignore high-calorie foods like meat, cheeses, and milks.
If you refuse to replace calories you lost during exercise, you may begin to lose weight and that doesn’t help you as an athlete, so vegan athletes need to eat enough calories from plant-based healthy fats like algae, chia and flax seeds, avocados, nuts, and oils. These foods are rich in healthy fat that contributes to heart health and cognition, both of which are important for athletes, and as such one other reason why vegan diets for fitness and athletes is the way to go.
5. Check Labels
When you buy certain foods, be it canned or even drinks, be sure to check the labels for the nutritional value. If you are being serious with adopting a vegan diet for fitness, it is important you do not compromise and be extra careful or your progress would be regressive.
Some gummies, for Instance, contain gelatin and many protein powders of which are whey-based come from animal products. Many other sport nutrition products are sweetened with honey also.
After all said and done, it is admitted that adopting a vegan-based diet for athletes isn’t an easy task; however, with these basic steps to guide you through, you will be well on your way to boosting your performance with plant-based diets. We have proven that it is not only all these conventional meals that have the nutrients you need, you could be a vegan or vegetarian and still measure up in terms of performance to those who aren’t.
However, also remember that these are just the basics, there is a whole world of information out there that needs to be accessed and new recipes are discovered every day. You could also learn to cook and combine some of these amazing vegan meals to make your eating more adventurous and interesting. Who says veganism is boring? For sports and as an athlete, it is important to understand at least these basics for a vegan diet in fitness and athleticism.