A common misconception I still hear is that you can't get be a serious athlete on a vegan diet.
That's simply not the case. Veganism goes hand in hand with health and fitness. In fact, an all-vegan 100% plant-based diet might be just what you need to spring right back into shape. (Research shows a vegan diet can IMPROVE your performance!)
As with any change to your diet or lifestyle, there can be some hiccups during the transition, so you may need to do a little extra research on sports nutrition, or undergo some personal trial and error before you can fully settle into a new routine.
Let’s look at the benefits a vegan diet can have on your fitness journey:
-Vegan staples, like whole grains, leaves you feeling fuller for hours, as well as lighter and less sluggish, due to the natural energy they provide.
-Plant foods are also chock full of antioxidants that assist the muscle restoration process post-workout. (There is a night and day comparison of anti-inflammatory post-workout benefits!)
-Vegan derived protein is non-acidic, compared to meat, which is acidic, causing negative effects on your calcium and bone density.
-You will have a lot more energy, and stable energy, eating plant foods.
-You'll feel less bloated and droopy after you eat.
-You'll be able to digest food easier, lowering your risk of cramps or nausea.
-Your hormones become more balanced.
There’s also an entirely new wave of vegan athletes who swear the vegan lifestyle improved their stamina and performance. According to them, switching to a vegan diet has only benefited their bodies for the better, reporting less joint swelling, weight loss, and more energy and endurance.
Sound too good to be true? Almost! The only catch is to make sure you get enough calories. A big mistake most people make when they first go vegan is to eat tons of salads and steamed vegetables, which are healthy, and stomach filling, but they don't have enough calories to sustain you, especially if you're working out.
It's important that you always include complex carbohydrates such as potatoes or cooked grains and/or protein such as beans or nuts with your vegetables, especially if you are training.
You also want to make sure you hit your nutrient minimums, which you should do naturally as long as you eat whole foods and enough calories.
Here’s the full list of the most important nutrients you should be looking out for.
To cover a few of them quickly:
Iron: can be found in foods like nuts, spinach and pistachios and raisins.
Calcium: greens like broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts are rich in calcium, which supports healthy bones and strength.
Vitamins C, D and B-12, omega-3, and amino acids are found in various vegetables, soybeans, and hearty cereals.
...and since everyone is still confused about protein.... Proteins can be taken from so many different sources: Nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, quinoa, and tofu, to name a few. You don't need extra protein in your diet if you work out, but it is recommended to meet the daily minimum amount for your weight and gender.
And of course, don't forget to drink plenty of water, rest, sleep, and get some sunlight for that Vitamin D. :)
A 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein is sufficient enough after your workouts.
As long as you have these things balanced and in order, there’s no reason why veganism shouldn't give you the results you're looking for, and then some. Don't forget to do plenty of research on the benefits and positive results switching to plant-based foods gives you.