Best Athletes' Benefits Of A Vegan Diet
Any type of physical work necessitates an excellent nutrition plan. Of all activities, athletics demands the most nutrition, including foods high in quality protein, carbohydrates, and good fats. We envision a list of meat and dairy products when considering a sample meal plan for a protein-rich diet. They are excellent protein sources, but vegan athletes have few other options.
They have every right to receive the proper nutrition because they make independent and healthy food decisions. So, here is a list of vegan foods to help you meet your protein needs without letting your diet be an obstacle.
Common Myths About Vegetarianism For Athletes
Let's take a closer look at some of the most prevalent myths surrounding veganism for athletes.
“Vegans Are Underfed And Frequently Ill“
A common misconception about plant-based diets is that they are deficient in many essential nutrients and may result in malnutrition. Evidence, however, suggests that this is untrue.
Vegan diets consistently rank higher than other diets in terms of their quality and nutritional value, according to a study published in Nutrition Reviews. They might also have a lot of health advantages. Several studies have suggested that plant-based diets can lower the risk of developing several types of cancer, which have been reviewed in Current Nutrition Reports.
According to a recent meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, they can also increase longevity and shield against cardiovascular issues. So there's no need to worry as long as you eat a well-balanced diet.
“Vegans Cannot Consume Enough Protein.”
But from where do you obtain your protein? It's almost a given that you've been questioned if you're a vegan (or have thought about becoming one). There is a widespread misconception that the only healthy protein sources are those derived from animals, but this is untrue.
Indeed, this crucial macronutrient is abundant in meat, dairy, and eggs. Still, it is also significant in beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy-based foods (like tofu and tempeh), spirulina, and various grains. Some vegetables, like broccoli, asparagus, leafy greens, and sprouts, can help you meet your daily protein requirements.
Vegans Have Low Levels Of Energy
A typical stereotype of a vegan is that they are weak, sluggish, and dependent on naps to get through the day. While a myth, it might be accurate in some circumstances. Balanced plant-based diets that include all essential nutrients won't cause excessive fatigue. However, you may feel less energized if you lack iodine and vitamin B12, primarily found in foods derived from animals.
Because of this, vegans must ensure that their diet and dietary supplements contain adequate amounts of these micronutrients. It's also important to note that many people feel worn out the first few weeks after switching to a vegan diet. It's completely normal, and the fatigue goes away once the body adjusts to the new diet.
“All Vegan Diets Are Beneficial For Health And Weight Loss.”
Is a vegan diet good for you? Plant-based diets can be very advantageous for athletes if they are correctly followed. But with so many processed vegan foods on the market today, it's pretty simple to choose the wrong thing. You won't gain any health benefits if most of your diet consists of foods high in fats, sugars, and starchy carbohydrates.
Similarly, plant-based foods typically have more dietary fiber and a lower calorie density and can be excellent for losing weight. Even the healthiest meal plan can cause you to gain a few pounds if you consistently consume more calories than you burn.
“Vegetarian Diets Will Hinder Your Recovery”
Every training plan must include recovery time. Your ripped and worn-out muscles are now rebuilding to become bigger and stronger. After a day or two of rest, your sore muscles should start to feel better if your body receives the proper nutrition.
Due to the high concentration of anti-inflammatory compounds found in plant foods, a well-rounded vegan diet may hasten your recovery.
Antioxidants are a type of phytonutrient that may help lessen your muscles' burning and get you back on track more quickly. A quick recovery means more training time and ultimately better results for competitive athletes.
Athletes' Benefits Of A Vegan Diet
For athletes who choose to become vegan, there are unquestionably advantages. Here are a few advantages of becoming a vegan.
The foundation of many sports is the capacity to develop and maintain muscles. For competitive bodybuilders, it's even more crucial because how they present themselves and look on stage is essential to their success.
The idea that plant-based foods can't provide enough protein to build muscle is one of the biggest misconceptions about vegan diets, according to Liam Holmes, performance nutritionist, Foodspring ambassador, and proprietor of pH Nutrition.
Most meat eaters contend that because protein from animal sources includes all of the essential amino acids required for muscle development, it is of higher quality than protein from plants.
So, is a vegan diet conducive to muscle growth? The answer, according to Holmes, is “absolutely.” “A growing number of studies now demonstrate that you can gain muscle on any diet as long as it contains enough protein when combined with resistance training. Protein can be found in all whole plant foods, and by combining various foods, you can get a complete source of the essential amino acids that go into making protein.
And the evidence at hand seems to support this. According to a recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in Nutrients, the source of protein has no bearing on changes in muscle mass or strength. However, especially in younger adults, it may impact the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat mass.
The majority of athletes use protein supplements to fuel their workouts. For those who have digestive problems or are lactose intolerant, the best vegan protein powder, protein bars, and snacks may be more advantageous. Dairy is the primary source of protein in many animal-based products. According to Frontiers in Nutrition, plant protein may even be better for the health of our digestive systems.
Intensive aerobic exercise presents a distinct set of difficulties and challenges. It can be very advantageous for metabolic, cardiovascular, and mental health if done in moderation. However, research indicates that athletes who compete in running, swimming, and cycling may be more susceptible to atherosclerosis (narrowing the arteries brought on by a buildup of cholesterol) and heart muscle damage. They must also pay close attention to their diet to keep their energy levels high.
A thorough analysis published in Nutrients found that plant-based diets significantly impact energy metabolism and cardiovascular performance.
According to Jess Hillard, a nutritionist at Warrior, “the vegan diet is associated with an increased carbohydrate consumption, which can be seen to benefit performance in some sports” . This also has a lot of fiber, adding bulk to the diet and making athletes feel fuller for longer after meals.
This can help with sports requiring athletes to have a lower body mass index. This is also supported by research showing that vegan diets are linked to lower fat mass, especially in runners.
Additionally, by increasing the flexibility of the arteries and the inner lining of the blood vessels, plant-based diets can aid in lowering blood pressure and enhancing blood flow. They may also significantly lower blood lipid and cholesterol levels concurrently. Therefore, vegan diets can promote oxygen flow to the heart muscle and assist in reversing atherosclerotic changes.
According to a study that appeared in Diagnostics, a plant-based diet may have an immediate effect on VO2max (a test of aerobic capacity) and the composition and operation of the heart.
Exercises For Muscles
How much heavy resistance training you do and how well you eat will determine how much you can lift, push, or pull. Your dietary habits will impact the size of your muscle fibres and your nerves' capacity to activate them.
Research studies haven't consistently shown differences in strength performance between vegan and omnivorous diets, according to a review published in Nutrients. It's interesting to note that plant-based diets frequently produce better results.
Crossfit-trained participants in a different study, also published in Nutrients, followed a vegan diet for four weeks while monitoring their exercise capacity. At the same time, a control group consumed a varied, omnivorous diet. Except for the vegan group performing better on a strength endurance test, the study did not find any discernible differences in performance between these groups.
Similar to this, a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study compared the leg and chest press strength of young vegan and omnivorous women. Vegans had comparable strength to people who consumed animal products.
Lastly, extensive muscle and joint inflammation may result from strength training. According to Jessie Jones, nutrition coach at the OriGym Centre of Excellence, an anti-inflammatory diet.
She asserts that there is a direct correlation between eating meat and inflammation. “In athletes, this can result in joint problems, muscle exhaustion, and a slower recovery rate. You'll have more energy to train if you avoid meat, lower your inflammation levels, and protect vulnerable areas from impact.
Athletes’ Plant-Based Diet
It's crucial to concentrate on eating a balanced diet if you're an athlete who decides to go vegan. This entails eating various foods, avoiding processed junk food, and considering the nutrients that might be trickier to obtain if you don't eat meat.
The advice provided below will serve as a springboard for developing a wholesome vegan diet for your athletic training.
Plan In Advance
Vegan or not, every athlete needs to have a diet plan. You should consider your pre-workout nutrition, recovery nutrition, and hydration daily. You can do that with the help of the following advice!
Planning your meals is essential if you're a vegan athlete because it can be difficult to eat vegan food while exercising. Certain nutrients, such as protein, fiber, and healthy fats, must be prioritized when creating an eating plan. Thanks to these nutrients, you will never go hungry during the day, which will also give you the energy you need to function at your peak.
You can make a vegan meal plan with the help of the following advice, ensuring that you never have to settle for a protein bar as a meal.
Be Certain To Consume Enough Vitamin B12
The only nutrient many vegans lacks is vitamin B12, primarily found in meat and eggs. Extreme fatigue and tingling in the fingertips are symptoms of a B12 deficiency, which can harm athletes.
Consume Plenty Of Calcium From Plants
Calcium is something I take very seriously because my family has a history of osteoporosis.
I've written about the importance of calcium for runners' bones, but I'll reiterate it here. Your bones undergo daily stress, so calcium is required to maintain bone strength throughout life.
Dairy products contain the most calcium, but vegans can also consume these plant-based calcium sources:
- Kale, broccoli, bok choy, turnip greens, and spinach are examples of green vegetables.
- Tofu and soy milk are examples of soy products.
- 100% orange juice and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals
Do Not Skimp On Good Fats
You probably burn a lot of calories while playing your sport, but you probably don't consume a lot of high-calorie foods like meat, cheese, and milk. You might start to lose weight if you don't replenish the calories you burn while exercising, which could actually lower your performance.
Healthy fats are useful in this situation. Because fats have more calories per gram than carbs and protein, they can replace the calories lost during vigorous exercise. Fat keeps you full after a workout, preventing you from overindulging in junk food or other foods high in empty calories.
Vegans must consume enough calories and omega-3 fatty acids from plant-based foods like seeds, nuts, avocados, and oils. Additionally, beneficial fats support heart and brain health, both of which are crucial for people who lead active lifestyles.
Muscle is fabricated from proteins. Muscles go through normal wear and tear during exercise, and protein aids in muscle repair and rebuilding. Protein is also important for strong, healthy hair, nails, and teeth. Additionally, it controls hunger and keeps you full. This should be obvious, right? How to obtain enough protein while vegan is the main concern among people. Protein is important for both muscle growth and recovery, and it also keeps you full all day.
Don't worry, though, it's possible to consume enough protein. You just need to be aware of vegan proteins and include them in your meals, including breakfast.
Get equal portions of protein at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and just a little bit less at snack time, to spread your protein intake throughout the day.
Make Sure To Take Enough Calcium
A vegan athlete's diet plan must include enough calcium-rich food sources. This is due to the absence of some of the main calcium-rich food sources like milk and eggs in a vegan diet. However, you undoubtedly do not want osteoporosis to affect you or your family. So be sure to include some calcium-rich plant-based foods in your diet. You can pick from options like calcium-fortified orange juice and cereals or soy products like tofu and soy milk.
Numerous green vegetables, including kale, broccoli, turnip greens, spinach, and others, are excellent sources of calcium and should be part of your diet.
Make As Few “Fake Meats” As Possible
The market is flooded with “fake” meat products.
These items are convenient (and occasionally tasty), but they are frequently loaded with sodium and added sugars. Eating nutritious whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains is a vegan's perk.
A deviation from that diet can result in protein, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies. You are welcome to eat “fake meats occasionally,” but try to eat whole foods most of the time.
Avoid Skipping Out On Good Fats
Because of the widespread ignorance in this area and the widespread belief that athletes only require proteins and carbohydrates to perform, we are making it a point to let you know this in our diet guide for vegan athletes.
Since vegan options do not include dairy or animal products like cheese, chia and flax seeds, nuts and avocados can be used as substitutes. For you to be an athlete, your heart must first be in good condition. If you don't mind stocking up on nutritious vegan options, these food options are great ones to have.
Try Simple Recipes
Being a vegan athlete may seem difficult, especially if you prepare your own food. But I assure you that vegan recipes don't have to be difficult. Yes, many vegan recipes require you to soak cashews or follow a precise recipe, but there are just as many that are quite simple.
I have a ton of straightforward vegan recipes on this website (you can find all of them here). Here are the quickest and easiest to put together.
While following a vegetarian exercise regimen is discouraged, we hope this article will successfully dispel such erroneous notions. Vegan diets can also provide the ideal level of protein and aid athletes in meeting their needs. Therefore, eat well to perform better!
I trust you enjoyed this article about the Best Athletes' Benefits Of A Vegan Diet. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly. Take care!
>>>Want To Learn How To Create Delicious, Cruelty-Free, Healthy AND 100% Vegan Meals? Try These Awesome Vegan Cooking Courses With A Free 7-DAY MEMBERSHIP<<<
Your Opinion Is Important To Me
Ideas? Thoughts? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Would you please leave me your questions, experience, and remarks about this article on the Best Athletes' Benefits Of A Vegan Diet in the comments section below? You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@LivingTheVeganLifestyle.org.
This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate and other affiliate programs. Read my full disclosure.