Being vegan is completely compatible with practicing a sport at maximum efficiency. Vegan and vegetarian diets are suitable for all stages of life. They are also valid for sportsmen and athletes. In this article we talk about the right diet for vegan athletes.
The vegan diet is able to provide all the specific nutrients you need if you choose the right foods and think carefully about your menu. Any diet adopted by a vegan athlete must be well planned in order to avoid nutritional deficiencies, improve performance and prevent injuries.
Nutrition for vegan athletes
A vegan person can be vegan due to ideological or health reasons, or, simply, he made this choice for personal taste. His meals can be just as balanced as those of an omnivore. And, of course, this choice is not at all incompatible with carrying out a sporting practice, nor with being a professional sportsman.
The diet for vegan athletes must, of course, take into account their nutritional needs. In particular, particular attention must be paid to proteins, which are considerably present in foods of animal origin.
Are there really vegan athletes?
The answer to this question is: definitely yes. These are athletes who compete in all sports disciplines. Here are some examples:
- Lizzy Hawker, ultra marathon runner and 5-time winner of the Montblanc Ultra Trail.
- Edwin Moses, 2 times Olympic champion in the 400m hurdles.
- Alberto Pelaez Serrano, vegan and ultra marathon runner.
- Sergio Agüero, known as El Kun , footballer.
- Patrik Boboumian, “the strongest man in Germany”.
- The Williams sisters, tennis players.
- Frank Medrano, vegan calisthenics practitioner.
What foods to eat if you are a vegan sportsman
Fruits and vegetables
At the base of the diet of a vegan sportsman there must be fresh and seasonal foods. The vegan diet is not just about rice and pasta, as we often think.
Seasonal vegetables and fruit are absolutely essential, because, like all sportspeople, vegans also need a higher intake of vitamins and minerals.
In the case of athletes who are in a period of body recomposition, who are trying to lose fat for example, priority will be given to vegetables. On the other hand, those whose goal is to gain weight and improve performance will have to give priority to fruit (as well as the foods that we will mention later). The latter, although equally capable of satiating, provides a greater amount of calories and carbon hydrates than the previous group of foods.
Carbon hydrates in the diet of vegan athletes
Among these we can include rice, oats, quinoa and other seeds and nuts that offer us, in addition to proteins and healthy fats, an infinity of vitamins and minerals. Legumes and nuts are a good source of carbon hydrates, as well as being the main sources of protein in a vegan diet.
This is one of the reasons why it is preferable to leave out other cereals in order to adopt other dietary choices based on legumes, seeds and dried fruits. This also means using legume flours (such as chickpea flour) or legume pasta (peas, lentils) instead of wheat flour.
For many, the main problem with a vegan diet, especially in the case of athletes, lies right here. It is common opinion, in fact, to associate this macronutrient with sources of animal origin. However, legumes and nuts are excellent sources of vegetable protein.
They can be consumed in the form of stews, in salads or in preparations such as hummus or creams, such as peanuts and cashews, very rich in calories and nutrients. You can get all these preparations at home as the versions based on dried fruit (such as almond or hazelnut cream), in which you just chop the chosen fruit.
Similarly, mushrooms are also a food to be taken into account for their nutritional quality, as well as brewer’s yeast. A couple of tablespoons can provide any dish with about 12-15g of protein.
In terms of health, essential fatty acids could be considered a drawback in the vegan model, since, as is known, oily fish is the main source. However, this does not mean that it is the only food that contains it. We can find fats in vegetable sources such as:
- Nuts: walnuts, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, etc.
- Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, poppy, etc.
- Olive oil, dried fruit or seed oil.
- Vegetable margarine (preferably organic).
Remember that it will be the responsibility of a sports nutritionist to provide you with adequate assistance so that your diet is complete, balanced and able to satisfy all your needs. In this way you will achieve an excellent state of health.