Are You An No Meat Athlete?

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A vegan diet is one that keeps runners eating what they can grow.

Much to contradictory belief, you can still stay active while on a meat-free diet. Yes, we know you would be wondering “Where does the protein come from?”.

This issue, we will be touching on 5 factual guides that lead to the saying “optimal nutrition is key to an optimal performance,” and this should get you on the journey to a “cleaner” mealtime.

With a proper vegan diet plan, you will soon find yourself bursting with energy and feeling great while you’re on the mile run!

 

Not more protein – just more calories!

  • It’s true! Lots of vegan fitness gurus emphasize on this, acknowledging that our bodies need lots of energy to sustain the hard effort training and exercising. While protein is vital to us all, it isn’t the lack of it that makes us exhausted, but actually it’s the lack of overall calories!
  • A common misconception implies that vegan diet gets nothing more than vegetables, thus the lack of protein. However, they overlook the fact that plants, grains and starchy vegetables supply a decent amount of it!
  • So as long as you consume a wide variety of plant-based foods, you will be well energised – even when training for a marathon.

 

Eating carb-rich foods in natural state before and after exercising.

  • Even if your body isn’t in favor of food before an early morning exercise, you need to top off your glycogen! It will help you to work harder, last longer, and recover better!
  • Half a banana or 3-4 dried dates with a cup of coffee about half an hour to an hour before a run works well, but you can experiment with other foods to see what suits you best. Try avoiding fibrous foods during a meal, as fiber stays in your stomach longer, thus increasing your chance of gastrointestinal trouble when you least need it!
  • After working out, you have about 30-60 minutes to have your meal. The carbs consumed within that time go directly to your muscle and liver and get stored as glycogen for your next workout. An ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 4:1 – suggesting oatmeal, cereal, pancakes and smoothies that work well.

 

Detach from “numbers” in your diet.

  • Don’t get caught up in the “numbers game” when it comes to calories/carbs/protein/fat ratio, as it distracts you from your actual fitness goal. Eat a healthy diet that is full of a variety of whole, plant-based components for optimal health and athletic performance.
  • Being “number-cautious” is described as a ‘reductionist’ approach in science and all areas of life opposed to a more beneficial ‘wholistic’ approach.
  • Scientists and doctors propose the consumption of starchy vegetables and grains complemented with vegetables, beans, fruits, and berries close to their ‘whole’, natural state as a diet that’s most beneficial to human health.

 

Benefits of whole, plant-based foods for athletes.

  • Optimized recovery: Antioxidants found in plants reduce oxidative effect of exercise on our bodies and help flush out lactic acid that makes our muscles sore. Plants contain up to 64 times the amount of antioxidants than meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Watercress, cherries and citrus fruits have shown positive effect on post-exercise recovery in studies.
  • Supplement-free: Vitamins and micronutrientsfound in whole foods act much more efficiently inside our bodies than their pill forms. Not just synthetically derived vitamins, but also the ‘all-natural’ vitamin brands. Possible explanation? The sum of its parts when it comes to plants – the combination of all components of plant-based foods works much better together than separately. Plus, sometimes high doses of vitamins found in pills can be toxic for us! The only exception is vitamin B12: most plant-based diet advocates agree on supplementation of this vitamin for vegans and isn’t toxic to us at higher doses.
  • No added weight: Consuming plants provides us with macro- and micronutrients, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals – and none of the artery-clogging cholesterol or hard-to-digest animal protein. Studies have shown that eliminating all added oils from our diet can repair the endothelial cells that make up the inner lining of our arteries, thus not only preventing, but also reversing heart disease! Imagine how much your athletic performance is going to improve once you ditch all the junk out of your diet!

 

Re-thinking sodium intake.

  • Too much sodium in our diets can lead to a number of health problems, high blood pressure being one of them. Some of us might have even tried to reduce the amount of salt they add to home-cooked food. However, if you participate in endurance sports that last for hours (running, cycling, triathlons, etc.) you might be losing too much sodium through sweat.
  • We need to maintain a certain level of sodium in our blood and tissues, so if you are a heavy sweater, you might want to consider adding a sports drink with some sodium and potassium during long bouts of exercise (more than an hour), and eating something salty after your workout.
  • You might have even heard about or experienced a condition called hyponatremia during long runs: dangerously low levels of sodium in the body paired with drinking sodium-free water cause swelling of brain and tissues, which results in disorientation, drastic decrease in performance, and sometimes fainting. As you see, too little sodium can be just as painful as too much.