‘Nutrition is the best route to complete health’.
When it comes to fitness we link it to one food source, instead of finding the full balance of nutrition we need. Nutrition is important for all – not just bodybuilders and fitness lovers but this article is catering to those who are concerned about their transition into veganism from a fitness based perspective.
Why going vegan could be the best choice for your fitness
We all know – fruits and vegetables are the king of health. Ask any Five-year old. When deciding to go on a ‘health-kick’ or ‘fad-diet’ we understand that green vegetables and fresh foods are one of the most important things to get us slimmer and fitter than before. So, why not do it full time?
In recent years we’ve seen athletes pop-up from nowhere and break world records; the worlds strongest man Patrik Baboumian, World Champion Surfer Tia Blanco, 25-time medal winner Weia Reinboud and even ultra-marathon runners like Scott Jurek. You can find them everywhere in all types of sports and fitness levels.
The simple reason there are so many athletes turning plant-based is it’s healthier for you!
The longer answer would be there’s less saturated fat, less calories per gram of food (when eaten correctly) and less chance of fatigue. Leading to better recovery times and longer and stronger workouts but we’ll get into that a bit further down the article.
It’s not as hard as you think
Another factor in people being wary of plant-based diets is it seems intimidating to do something ‘unknown’. But, with simple research you’ll learn how easy it is and perhaps realise you’ve done something like it a few times before.
The foundation is essentially every other ‘diet’ you may have been on before.
The ‘typical’ diet is essentially eliminating a food group (like low carb-low sugar diets) and becoming so desperate to eat those foods that a few days in you’re replacing it with something else. Doing a ‘fad’ or quick diet is never sustainable as you’re cutting out a huge food source that’ you’re accustomed to. When you find these little ‘cheats’ on your fad diets, like indulging in more fruit on a low sugar diet you’ve created a loop-hole in your diet plan.
Veganism IS the loophole in dieting. It offers you the health benefits of a standard ‘healthy green diet’ which we all know to be basically a low-fat vegan diet. This is without actually dieting, or limiting your food choices or suffering from ‘cravings’, as there’s a food that offers any nutrient animal products offer.
Fitness tips for your transition
Let’s say that you have been convinced. Eating clean and effective proteins and balanced meals sounds like the best way for you to achieve the best health. So, how do you do it?
The most important thing, as with everything we do in life is do your research first. Learn what foods are highest in protein. Learn how to cook them and enjoy them, there are tonnes of amazing resources out there for you. I hope this list becomes one of them!
- Learn the nutrition of your food
- Learn how to balance a meal out properly with veg, carbs and protein sources.
- Learn the calories quantity of your food. You’ll be eating more than ever.
- Teach yourself how to cook your foods to get the best quality from them. Slow cooking and gentle heat seem to be optimal for most foods.
- Balancing proteins vs sugar (30g/10g).
When you’re just starting off, learning how to balance proteins with sugar can sound like a hard task. However, most people don’t need to spare it a thought. If you’re just starting off on a plant-based diet then you might be tempted to eat fruit all day. The best and most balanced meals have a combination of grains and vegetables as they offer more nutrients than fruit.
The easy rule of thumb is essentially for every 1/3 protein your body will easily digest the same quantity of sugar.
- Understand your protein needs
As someone who trains 5 times a week, I find that explaining my protein sources has become a hot topic. Contrary to popular belief we don’t need as much protein as we think. Most digestive issues, post-meal fatigue and additional fat stored whilst training to keep fit is typical of a high protein diet. Learning what protein sources are best for your own personal fitness goals is surprisingly simple.
For athletes, 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean muscle is optimal for increasing strength and size. For example, if you weigh 180lb and have ten percent bodyfat, then you should shoot for 150-160 grams of protein to build more muscle.
However, for most people, the RDA is 0.36g per pound of bodyweight. Equal to half a cup of walnuts or a soy chilli and broccoli.
- Buy cheat food. There’s nothing wrong with instant meals on occasion.
When trying new diets we can sometimes forget to ‘enjoy’ our food or make the most of our evenings and not meal-prep. I’m not advocating it every day, but just try not to make it a chore to be a healthy vegan. (We all need those day’s where chocolate bars are the only thing that will make us feel better. Having Vegan versions close to hand will reduce your chances of eating dairy-versions).
- Post-gym hunger is evil – Snacks are ALWAYS your friend.
Things like peanut butter and apples, peanut butter and banana (I hope you get where I’m going with this ). Peanut butter is a huge source of protein and good fats for repairing muscles after a great workout. Of course, you could stick to the healthier alternatives of fruits and veg snacks but it’s post-workout hunger. Let’s set ourselves aside and grab some vegan protein bars or peanut butter and just live with those choices!
- Drinking more water is always important
As with any healthy diet, hydration is always important to reduce hunger and provide water to the muscles and organs. However, on a plant-based diet you’ll especially want to keep on top of it as the more fibre you eat (which is in all plant foods) the more water you’ll need! Especially when fuelling those new gains! Just adding an extra glass should suffice.
For a more in-depth look (yep, this was just my summary) into the benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle for more effective and longer-lasting energy whilst training, you can read my “Transitioning to veganism for improved fitness“.
About the Author
Amy Hunt is a blogger and writer who has studied both nutritional and sports recovery. Amy loves to share her passions of fitness, food and health through her own blog and her delicious recipes.