More and more people decide to follow a vegan diet for different reasons. These include respecting the rights of animals, reducing environmental impact and also taking care of health. In this sense, many sports people choose to base their diet on 100% vegetable products; eliminating meat, fish, and animal derivatives. An alternative that some elite athletes have chosen to promote better performance. As is the case of the tennis player Venus Williams, the Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton or the basketball player Kyrie Irving.
However, there are still some doubts about whether it is advisable to combine physical activity with a vegan diet. In today’s article, we review the main nutrition tips for you to follow a vegan diet adapted to an active lifestyle, as well as products suitable for vegans. Know the keys!
How to follow a vegan diet if you are an athlete
What kind of foods should you choose to have energy when doing sports and improve your performance? The main challenge of a vegan diet for athletes is to include all the necessary nutrients. If a proper diet is not followed, certain nutrient deficiencies can develop. For this reason, the following food groups should be incorporated to have an adequate vegan diet:
1- Vegetable proteins
To feed your muscles before and after exercise, you should consume products that are high in protein. In the case of vegans, they are limited to plant proteins. Therefore, foods must be selected and combined correctly to have the essential nutrients and amino acids.
What foods can you include? The products that provide a complete protein intake are the following:
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybeans and peanuts.
- Cereals: Rice, quinoa, seitan, oats, wheat.
- Seeds and nuts: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, chia seeds, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews and flax seeds.
- Plant milks: such as oat, almond or soy milk.
The vegan diet is based on plant foods, which are high in carbohydrates. For example, it can be found in regular and whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
On the one hand, you can find this macronutrient in pasta, especially whole wheat, quinoa, oats, and rice. In turn, fruits and vegetables are rich in carbohydrates. Such as, for example, banana, beet, carrot, pumpkin, turnip, potato and sweet potato, among many other vegetables.
Also, most fruits and vegetables have many properties beyond carbohydrates. From vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron, fiber and antioxidants. For this reason, it helps athletes to have energy and performance.
3- Vegetable fats
In turn, another essential macronutrient is provided by healthy vegetable fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, olives, soybeans and tofu.
Other products suitable for vegans
In addition to essential foods and nutrients, the vegan diet includes different products that you can incorporate into your diet:
- Coconut oil: very useful for cooking in desserts
- Puffed cereals: such as oatmeal, brown rice or quinoa, which are perfect products for breakfasts and snacks.
- Powdered oatmeal: you can use it to make sweet desserts like cookies and cupcakes.
- Vegetable burgers: There are many options, from legume burgers to vegetables or cereals.
- Nut creams: such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts or cashews.
- Tofu, tempeh and seitan: these are versatile products, derived from soybeans, which are an ideal substitute for meat or dairy.
Eating a vegan diet and being an athlete is perfectly possible. For this, it is essential to combine food and nutrients well so that there are no nutritional deficiencies. With these guidelines and tips that we have discussed, you will be able to maintain an active lifestyle and eat an adequate and balanced diet.