Historically, athletes believed they needed to bulk up on loads of animal protein and fats to build muscle and establish strength. Steaks, bacon, and poultry represented some of the essential foods athletes needed to achieve ultimate physical prowess. Of course, times have changed, and modern research indicates that a vegan diet produces significant increases in endurance, energy, and performance in athletes. Extreme, elite competitors hailing from numerous sports are steadily adopting plant-based diets, favoring the healthful fare and beneficial exercise-related results. Read on to learn how these competitors incorporate a vegan diet to fuel their stamina and maintain their health.
They Plan Ahead
Vegan diets include any food not derived from an animal. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are popular ingredients used in vegan cooking, but they are not always readily available on the go. Therefore, athletes must incorporate meal planning into their daily routine to ensure they stay well-fed and on track. Athletes have many considerations when it comes to their everyday diet. They have to think about how to fuel their workouts and replenish their bodies following a sweat session. Finally, hydration is critical for athletes to restore electrolytes and remain injury-free. Plant-based athletes must consider fiber, protein, and omega-3 fats when meal planning. These elements keep athletes fuller for longer. Many vegan options exist to fulfill these essential nutrients throughout the day including, plant-based protein powder, vegan meal replacement bars, and more.
They Track Protein
The number one question vegans receive is, “how do you get enough protein in your diet?” Undoubtedly, protein is vital for a vigorous training regime; it keeps athletes full and fortifies them with the energy they need to power through a workout. That said, can veganism provide an adequate amount of protein? The answer is, vegan diets can absolutely, healthfully fuel an active lifestyle. Vegans find protein in many plant-based foods like beans, peas, soy, nuts, and seeds. As long as athletes ensure they are getting a fair amount of protein in every snack or meal they consume, they should receive more than enough of the necessary nutrients.
They Get Adequate Calcium
Calcium is a mineral found in various foods, and it promotes healthy bone growth and muscular development in humans. Relying heavily on them for performance, athletes put their bones through copious amounts of stress. Therefore, calcium is essential to maintain bone health and density. The most common forms of calcium come from foods in the dairy family like milk and cheese. Because dairy originates from animal products, vegans must abstain. Luckily, there are many other plant-based options like leafy green vegetables, orange juice, and soy products. Additionally, many vegans take calcium supplements to ensure they are receiving a sufficient daily amount.
They Eat Fat
Dietary fats are essential for keeping athletes full, and they contain the primary nutrients vegan athletes need to keep from losing weight. Because plant-based competitors eliminate high-calorie foods like meats and cheeses, they must supplement these lost calories with healthy, vegan fats. Athletic performance can decline with too much weight loss, so elite athletes want to avoid shedding too many pounds. Plant-based athletes get their healthy fats from foods like nuts, avocados, and oils. Bonus, these nutritious fats are beneficial for cardiovascular health, which endurance athletes undoubtedly demand.
They Check Labels
Often, hidden animal products appear in foods like candy, bread, and wine. Further, several products use honey as a sweetener. Because honey comes from bees, and bees are animals, this use renders the food products not vegan. As such, vegans must become experienced at skilled label-reading to avoid accidentally ingesting hidden animal products.
Though it may seem overwhelming, plant-based athletes agree that a vegan diet is worth the dedication. A full, immediate dietary switch is not required, as most vegans began with small changes and slight shifts. With an abundance of recipes and online support blogs, making the switch to a plant-based diet is as simple and delicious as ever.