Is it possible to be in great shape with a vegan diet?
Can fitness and veganism go hand-in-hand? Here are the facts on working out on plant-based fuel.
The concept of going vegan - cutting out all animal by-products including eggs, cow’s milk and honey - can be intimidating for many. But a diet without animal proteins and complex carbs can help clear your arteries and avoid an inflamed digestive system caused by uric acid. Plant proteins don’t have the same effect - they’re easier to break down and your intestines can absorb nutrients more efficiently. The result? More energy and less bloating.
But does a meat and dairy-free diet help your performance in the gym? Can it help us get into shape? Is there enough protein to support muscle growth? These are all commonly debated questions in the world of exercise and veganism. However, it is possible to nourish a training regime with a vegan diet - followers of the food movement include tennis goddess Serena Williams and super-marathoner Scott Jurek. As always, it’s all about knowing the facts and doing it properly. This should help:
The first step to take is ensuring your body is getting what it needs. You may be cutting out food groups, but you can still get all the nutrients necessary for your body to thrive. The most important one for vegans to maintain is B12, which you can take in supplement form.
Get plenty of sunshine as well as plant milks fortified with calcium and vitamin D to avoid deficiencies common when giving up cow’s milk. You’ll bump up your zinc and iron count if you munch on foods such as quinoa, lentils, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds and tofu, while protein is abundant in the form of beans, peas, soy milk, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and pistachios. Plant protein sources packed with phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals, fibre and vitamins - aim for 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Do your research
Due to previous research linking soy to diseases such as breast cancer for possessing estrogen-like qualities, many have boycotted it through fear. However, recent evidence suggests that soy is completely safe and may even be beneficial in preventing multiple diseases. Since soy has the mightiest protein profile of any other vegan food, it’s important to up your intake for energy, ensuring an upbeat mood and optimum workouts.
A diet sans animals is a varied and often creative one. Most vegans enjoy a wide range of vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, fermented foods and whole grains, all of which are packed full of nutrients. Many of the fibre-rich vegetables and fruits help vegans feel fuller, leading to a reduced appetite and better gains in the gym. But that’s not an excuse to binge on unhealthy vegan food - processed food is still processed food, regardless of meat or dairy.
Our philosophy doesn’t start and end with exercise. The key to a happiness and health is a full-circle lifestyle, encompassing nutrition and wellbeing into the mix. Balance the energy you need for work, workouts, leisure and family time with personalised eating plans, vegan tips and permanent support from our Holmes Place Nutritionists.