Sports, veganism and the 4 golden rules of a vegan athlete

Vegan athletes often face particular challenges in meeting their nutritional needs, but with careful diet planning, this can be avoided. If you need proof, look at ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, who trains up to eight hours a day on a plant-based diet. Or the famous boxer Mike Tyson, the great track and field athlete Carl Lewis, the tennis player Sirena Williams… The list of vegan and vegetarian athletes is really long.

A vegetarian or vegan diet can fit perfectly into an athlete’s training plan. Many are frightened by the fact that excluding meat, poultry, fish and, in the case of veganism, dairy products from the diet, the athlete is deprived of “clean” protein, which is the main muscle builder. However, vegetarian diets tend to be high in “good” carbohydrates, the main fuel for athletes, without which they can feel lethargic, tired, and experience problems with the kidneys and other organs. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds provide quality carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Hundreds of times we have dispelled the myth that vegans and vegetarians do not eat enough protein. Plant protein sources are low in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol, supporting a healthy cardiovascular system, unlike animal foods. Good sources of protein for vegan athletes include quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, protein-fortified pasta, nuts, tofu, soy milk, soy “cheese” and “yogurt”, tempeh, peanut butter, beans, and peas.

Are there enough herbal products?

However, athletes have some special considerations to keep in mind when planning and dieting. They should carefully monitor their intake of vitamin B12, which can be obtained through fortified nutritional yeast (not to be confused with baker’s yeast) or through natural supplements. In addition to B12, vegan athletes (especially beginners) are often deficient in calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, vitamin D, and riboflavin.

Also, vegan and vegetarian diets are usually high in fiber, which can lead to flatulence and bloating if high-fiber foods are consumed just before or during exercise. Therefore, it is better to eat such products at least one and a half to two hours before training separately from the main meals.

Vegan athletes are choosing animal protein alternatives, such as soy meat, tofu, vegan sausages, and other plant-based foods, to avoid flatulence and fuel up for the upcoming workout. But you should carefully read the composition of such products in order to avoid the harmful additives that are often used during the preparation of vegan protein dishes.

You can also meet your nutritional needs with natural plant-based nutritional supplements. Luckily, there are more and more of them these days! But any supplement should be scrutinized, as gelatin or creatine (which is found in animal muscle tissue) is often added to them. In addition to vitamins and minerals, the plant-based market also has a large amount of plant-based protein that professional athletes can include in their diet.

What is?

To avoid nutritional deficiencies, your menu should be varied. Athletes or people who actively maintain physical fitness should plan their menu even more carefully than vegans who do not exercise. Include foods in your diet that will help you reach your fitness goals.

tofu, soy, rice and almond drinks, broccoli, kale, greens, almonds, tahini, black molasses.

legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grain breads, cereals, root vegetables, dried fruits.

legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products, cereals.

seaweed, seaweed, apples, oranges, persimmons, spinach.

legumes, nuts and seeds, seaweed, oatmeal, buckwheat, millet, barley groats.

vitamin-fortified foods, sun-dried mushrooms, parsley, vegetable oils.

nutritional yeast, soy products, fortified foods.

whole grains, whole grain breads and cereals, tofu, nuts, seeds, bananas, asparagus, figs, avocados.

4 golden rules for vegan athletes

We consolidate the learned material and adopt these simple, but very important rules for vegan athletes.

1. Balance your diet

No need to eat only fruits and vegetables or only buckwheat and rice. Regardless of which type of food you choose (vegan or vegetarian), you need to diversify and balance it as much as possible. Be mindful of nutrients, take vitamin and mineral supplements. Take a blood test at least once every six months to monitor your condition.

2. Create a weekly meal plan

A pre-compiled menu will help you carefully and visually balance your diet and stick to it calmly. List your main meals, snacks, and supplements. If you’re just starting out on a vegan-sports journey, this will help you become aware of what and how much you need to eat. In the future, you will no longer need a meal plan, because you will already intuitively know how to eat right.

3. Eat the Right Protein

Make it a rule to consume good protein after your workout. You can use plant-based protein shakes that only need to be filled with water, or you can make your own by mixing soy milk, sprouted beans, and a banana in a blender. Fast, tasty, healthy! And most importantly – no lack of protein!

4. Eat More “Good” Carbs

If you cut out industrial sugar, chips, cookies, candy, and other “simple” carbs, it gives you the opportunity to eat more of the “good” ones! You can afford to eat some carbohydrates, such as buckwheat, brown rice, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, even in the evening, without fear of gaining weight.

And of course, drink more water! You don’t have to mention that anymore, right?

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