Vegan athletes are no different from other athletes. “I don’t have to do anything special,” remarks Jacob, a 14-year-old baseball and basketball player who has been vegan since birth. Some people think that strict dietary guidelines can put an athlete at a disadvantage and hinder their performance.
However, this is not true. One notable athlete, Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis, won nine gold medals after switching to a vegetarian diet. Vegans who eat a variety of foods and get enough calories are able to perform well at every level, from amateur to Olympic. The same can be said about strict vegetarian teenage athletes.
Vegan athletes should stick to a balanced diet, but they shouldn’t worry about eating too much. As long as they eat enough food of various kinds, they will be healthy.
Getting enough protein from a variety of sources such as nuts, beans, soy products, and whole grains helps athletes maintain their strength.
Eat foods high in vitamin B 12 and vitamin D, such as fortified soy milk, grains and nutritional yeast, and get 15 minutes of sun each day. These nutrients will help give you energy.
Vegan girls need to make sure they get enough iron.
Share vegan muffins and other dishes with your teammates, it’s fun! This is a great way to discover new products for others and enjoy together with friends.
Meals for teenage vegan athletes are not difficult to organize. Teenage vegan athletes should get most of their calories from complex carbohydrates, a moderate amount from protein, and a small amount from fat. In general, if you are a vegan, you should get 0,6 to 0,8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and 2,7 to 4,5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. For teen vegans, all of these requirements can be met by eating a variety of foods that provide enough calories.
Typical foods teen vegans eat include whole grain crispbread, pasta, veggie burgers, green vegetables, hummus, and peanut butter.
The 17-year-old soccer player and vegan since age 11 finds it easy to be vegan and stay active: “I eat oatmeal made with soy milk, bananas, and usually topped with raisins, cinnamon, and flavored with vegan butter for breakfast. For lunch, I can have vegetable stew with tofu and rice, and for dinner, I can have lentil soup, baked potatoes, and other vegetables like broccoli or peas.”
It is also important for teens to pay attention to vitamin B 12 and vitamin D. Vitamin B 12 can be found in fortified foods, including soy milk, grains, and nutritional yeast. Vitamin D can be found in fortified foods such as soy milk and cereals, and can be obtained from spending 15 minutes in the sun each day during the summer months.
Foods high in iron are green leafy vegetables, soybeans, tofu, lentils, quinoa, and raisins. To ensure maximum absorption, eat foods high in vitamin C, such as orange juice, tomato sauce, bell peppers, or broccoli, along with foods high in iron.
The athlete may also take iron supplements.
For any athlete – before, during and after training – it is important to replenish lost energy reserves and build muscle mass. For teenage athletes, this can be difficult due to the strict school schedule. Ideally, an athlete should receive 200 calories an hour before a sporting event or 400 calories two hours before a sporting event.
A teen athlete who is unable to eat during class should eat more meals during lunch or bring a 200-calorie snack to eat immediately after class. In general, every 200 calories means you have to wait one hour before starting your workout. For example, if you ate 600 calories at lunch, you should wait three hours before starting your workout. For more calories, try adding peanut butter, hummus, soy yogurt with fruit, muesli, nuts, bagels, and fruit juices to your lunch.
During long workouts, the athlete can refresh himself. 90 minutes after the start of training, the athlete should drink water or juice and eat something high in carbohydrates, such as a banana. During shorter workouts, water is the best drink. In addition, water should be drunk in sufficient quantities throughout the day.
A high-carb, moderate-protein meal 15-30 minutes after your workout can replenish your energy stores. Teenagers who don’t have the opportunity to eat properly immediately after a workout should bring snacks with them: an apple, a peanut butter sandwich, hummus in pita bread, orange juice with a handful of nuts of different varieties. Eating soon after exercise is essential and helps athletes replenish energy and build muscle.
For any athlete who trains hard, weight loss can be a challenge. To prevent weight loss during intense periods of training, athletes should consume more calories. Adding more snacks throughout the day, eating foods like oils, vegan cheeses, potatoes, casseroles, pasta, and rice can help keep an athlete’s weight down. If weight loss really becomes a problem, you need to consult a nutritionist.
By eating a varied diet and getting enough calories, vegan teens can perform just as well as their teammates, if not better.