It is widely misconstrued that a plant-based diet can’t get you all the nutrients you need.
From cricketer Virat Kohli to tennis champion Serena Williams, more and more athletes are opting to go vegan of late. Plant-based diet, though good for your heart, may not always been sufficient for those who do strenuous physical exercise.
A study published in the journal Nutrients noted that a vegan diet could actually be beneficial or athletes. It reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces cholesterol and inflammation and ensures sufficient oxygen supply to muscles. This in turn improves endurance of the athlete and subsequently, the performance.
So, if you are a gym junkie, what exactly should you vegan diet comprise of? A wide variety of foods are available and it is important it make sure that you get proper nutrition from them.
"To get enough protein to support an active lifestyle, those following a vegan diet have to eat plenty of beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Two to four servings per day of protein is a good rule of thumb to follow to meet the requirements for necessary amino acids," Stephanie Papadakis, a holistic nutrition consultant told Bustle.
"However, if you are very active, your body may need more. In general, people need 0.8 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of weight. Those who are really active could need up to 1.4 kilograms of protein per 1 kilogram of weight in order to maintain their muscle mass."
Papadakis also said that eating the above foods would be beneficial if supplemented with organic vegan protein powders. Chlorella and spirulina are good options as they contain nine essential amino acids that our body easily absorbs.
There are some supplements like vitamin B that are not abundantly found in plants and a vegan would need to take supplements of these nutrients. "B vitamins are important as they support the healthy formation of blood cells and provide mental energy," she said.
Stock up well on vitamin D, iron and omega-3 fatty acids as well. These nutrients are essential for your body to perform at peak levels. You will immediately notice during your workout that your body is lacking on a macro-nutrient. Make adjustments to your diet accordingly.
"If your hair and nails look brittle, if you feel weak, if you notice you’re losing weight from muscle mass, or you’re prone to catching colds; all of these are signs you aren’t getting enough protein. If that’s the case, start adding more protein into your diet at every meal," Papadakis said.
Being a vegan athlete entails a thorough study of your body and the nutrition it really requires. Make sure you get sufficient quantity of each. If you are new to veganism, fear not. While a mindset change is required, it is 100% possible to be vegan and an athlete.