Vegans can enjoy all the health benefits of a plant-based diet while easily supporting their fitness goals. You can maximize your nutrient intake by keeping in mind a few key concepts.
Variety Is Best
Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods can help vegans ensure they meet their nutritional requirements for protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Among the more common plant-based protein sources you’ll find:
Tip: Strive to include adequate carbohydrates for quick energy coupled with smaller amounts of plant-based protein to help build and repair muscle tissue in your pre or post workout meals.
Iron It Out
Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Vegan/vegetarian athletes and avid exercisers tend to be at a slightly higher risk for iron deficiency and depletion. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have routine iron assessments when you visit your doctor and focus your meals around iron-rich foods such as:
- Dark Green Leafy Veggies
- Dried Fruit
Tip: You can help boost the amount of iron absorbed by ensuring that you also consume foods high in vitamin C.
Protect Your Bones
Calcium-rich foods that also contain vitamin D can help strengthen bones and reduce your risk of stress fractures. Some of the best vegan sources may include:
-Fortified Soy Milk
-Dark Green Leafy Veggies
One additional nutrient of concern for vegans is vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is responsible for a number of metabolic processes including protein and DNA synthesis. It’s a nutrient found primarily in animal products: fish, meat, dairy, and eggs. Because the vegan diet is devoid of all animal products, it’s important to find alternate sources such as nutritional yeast or fortified soy milk and cereals. You may also want to speak with your doctor about the possibility of supplementation.