Step 1 – Make a personalised plan
You need a specialised and personalised eating plan as an athlete, not only to ensure that you stick to your diet, but also to make sure that you are operating at your maximum. You should be planning out your daily nutrition, hydration, recovery, and pre-workout consumption for each and every day. This ensures that you can properly assess the numbers behind the meals, such as calories and proteins, thus guaranteeing that you are fuelling your body with the ideal blends of food and energy. It is also worth remembering that it is far harder for a vegan athlete to pop into a shop and guarantee that the nutritional meal they need will be there, so planning ahead is essential. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
Step 2 – Proteins
For most people, the number one source of protein comes from meat and dairy products. However, for a vegan, this simply is not possible. Therefore, the main problem for many vegan athletes is providing enough protein to their bodies in order to compete and train at the top level. These proteins should be spread throughout the day in equal portions at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as small snacks in between. For vegans, sources of protein include seeds, nuts, nut butters, lentils, soy, beans, whole grains, peas, and more.
Step 3 – Calcium
Being an athlete is all about training every single day to be the very best in your sport. For the vast majority of athletes, this means putting your bones under constant stress and pressure in each training session. Therefore, it is even more important for athletes to keep these bones fit, healthy, and strong. The main way to do this is through calcium consumption. Once again, the vast majority of people get their calcium for dairy products such as milk and yoghurt, but that is not possible for vegans. In substitute of this, vegan athletes should be looking to add green vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli to their diets, as well as soy products, 100% orange juice, and cereals that are high in calcium.
Step 4 – Fats
As an athlete, it may seem as if you have to stay away from fatty foods at all costs, but that is simply not the case. There are such things as healthy fats, which are essential as a high-performing athlete. While training and competing, you burn huge numbers of calories. However, vegans do not consume high calorie foods such as meat, milk, and cheese. Therefore, it is more important for vegan athletes to be consciously aware of how many daily calories they are consuming. If you leave your body with too few, you will start to lose weight, which may affect your performance in your sport. Some helpful plant-based healthy fats can be found in things such as algae, chia, avocados, nuts, oils, flax seeds, and more. These healthy fats also lead to a healthy heart, another vital thing for professional sport.
Step 5 – B12
You should be actively looking for vegan B12 sources, as most people get this from meat and eggs. Without it, you will experience extreme exhaustion, which could ruin your training and performance levels.
Step 6 – Meat Replacements
We all know that fake meats are now on the market en masse for vegans to experience the taste of meat without the reality. However, as a vegan athlete, you should only have these foods once in a while, as these fake meats have high levels of sodium and sugar. Straying from your normal vegan diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and whole grains can cause deficiencies in your protein, mineral, and vitamin levels.
Step 7 – Labels
Always check the labels to ensure that food products fit in with your vegan athlete regime.