As an athlete, it is important to be careful about the foods you put into your body. This is especially true for vegans. As a bodybuilder, weightlifter, or sports athlete choosing to go vegan, it is imperative that you are cautious in attaining the necessary nutrients your body requires. There are many reasons athletes choose to go vegan, including improved stamina and speedy recovery from injuries. Below, we’ve put together a list of strategies you can use to easily transition to this lifestyle.
1. Ensure Your Body Gets the Nutrients it Needs
The most important factor in any athletes eating habits, especially as a vegan, is to ensure all proper nutrients are collected by the athletes body. It is important as an athlete on a plant-based diet that you eat enough food. Many athletes on this type of diet tend to struggle in this matter. While you may be full, you may not be consuming enough calories. Additionally, ensure that you also don’t over-eat.
When starting a plant-based diet, you will need to begin eating foods that are good for your body. Stick to foods that are natural. Most importantly, you will want to eat a significant amount of vegetables as a part of your daily diet. Vegetables are high in key antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Ensure you eat a variety of green vegetables such as kale and spinach. In addition, other vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, and beets will help you succeed in becoming a vegan athlete.
Furthermore, staying away from inflammatory foods such as sugar, gluten, and trans fats can ensure your body only gains acceptable nutrients from the foods you introduce into your body. This can be especially difficult in social situations where you are sometimes expected to eat these types of foods. Politely let others know you are a vegan, and if necessary, bring protein-rich snacks with you in case you get hungry.
2. Use the Proper Vegan Supplements
As a vegan athlete, it may be necessary to use supplements. To stay healthy while being vegan, ensure you use supplements that are plant-based, organic, and non-GMO. There are a number of common vitamin and mineral deficiencies that your body may incur as a result of being on a plant-based diet. These deficiencies include magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, zinc, iodine, and taurine. While you may not need to use supplements, it is important that you are aware of these possible deficiencies as you transition to the vegan lifestyle.
One of the most important nutrients for any athlete is protein. As an athlete, you will want to consume plenty of protein to stay healthy and gain muscle as needed. You can consume this protein, as a vegan, through vegan protein powders and other healthy source of vegan protein. Lately, I’ve been snacking on BRAMI Lupini Beans.
You may want to consult with a nutritionist and/or do research of your own to choose the correct supplements for you.
3. For Optimal Recovery, Eat Well After Training
The most important meal for any athlete, whether as a bodybuilder or sports athlete, is the one directly after training. It is particularly important to stick to your macros by eating the necessary amount of carbs, protein, and fat. We will discuss this in the next section. Additionally, ensure you are consuming enough fluids to replace the fluids you lost during training. As previously mentioned, as a vegan, your new diet will help you recover fast from your workout. This meal is vital to ensure this occurs as expected.
You can checkout our recipes section for high protein meals that can take your recovery to the next level. When in doubt, eat large amounts of veggies.
4. Calculate Your Macros
To stick with your plant-based diet for a prolonged period of time, it would behoove you to calculate your macros and keep a food journal. If you keep track of the food you eat, you can ensure that you consume the correct amount of calories and take in the macros (protein, carbs, and fat) your body needs. If you fail to properly do this, you may fail in your transition to becoming a vegan.
I recommend using the free macro calculator offered by IIFYM. It will ask for a variety of information related to your body, lifestyle, and diet to recommend the macros that fit your needs! In addition to this calculator, you can use a physical food journal or an app on your phone. I highly recommend MyFitnessPal by Under Armour. It has been around for years and is widely used by the fitness community.
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