How to be a vegan athlete

Veganism is a life choice that more people seem to be making. Still, despite its increase in popularity, when most think of a vegan diet, they tend to think of an animal rights activist, or someone who is a bit of a hippie at heart. Despite the stereotype, over the last few years, more sports stars and well known athletes have also made the decision to go green and follow a vegan diet.

Making the switch

Set yourself up with the foods that will help you thrive as a vegan athlete! It begins with the choices you make a the grocery store. You will need to replace meat, dairy and eggs with healthy, plant-based whole foods to start your vegan diet.

The first thing you will want to switch is dairy milk for almond or soy milk. Then, ditch meat and eggs and replace them with other high protein foods like quinoa, lentils, tofu and tempeh just to name a few.

Staying hydrated will be a major key to your vegan diet. Your body cannot function to its full potential if you’re dehydrated. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, cramping and affect our health in a number of other ways.

Be sure to drink enough water not only during your workouts but throughout the day as well. Some athletes enjoy coconut water for an athletic drink as well. It can be a great alternative to some of the high-sugar sports drinks.

Protein sources on a vegan diet

The most common question you’ll be asked when someone finds out you’re on a vegan diet is “where do you get your protein?” Especially as an athlete, they will be even more curious how you build muscle strength. Luckily, finding quality plant based protein is easy, and you’ll have plenty of variety to keep your muscles fueled and satisfied.

High vegan protein foods include:

  • Edamame
  • Seitan
  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Brown Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole Grains
  • Buckwheat
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Bean Sprouts

Post workout

Choosing balanced meals and snacks to fuel you before and during exercise while on your vegan diet. If you plan to start a vegan diet you consume may cause some gas, bloating or diarrhea. Introduce fiber slowly and allow plenty of time for meals to digest before you exercise.

Proper post exercise meal/snack choice is vital for all athletes, but especially vegans. After exercise, muscle protein synthesis is enhanced by consuming about 10 grams of complete protein source. Vegan athletes should consume quinoa or soy based foods within two hours after a workout.

If you are considering a vegan diet, be sure to take the time to assess what you eat to ensure you are choosing properly balanced meals. If you need help, seek guidance from a sports dietitian.

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