Plant-based diets have recently gained popularity in sports, especially in athletes such as JJ Redick, Griff Whalen, Cam Awesome and Joe Holder. According to a new study in Nutrients, vegetarian and omnivore endurance athletes were found to carry almost the same body composition as well as the level of physical performance. What was the only difference? Meat-eating athletes were found to have more visceral fat that increased the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Training for endurance sports requires plenty of time, energy, and most importantly, a healthy diet. Making the effort to prepare your own meals at home helps you monitor your daily caloric requirements as well as save time throughout the week. After all, proper nutrition is essential to successful endurance training. Check out how you can change your diet with this endurance athlete’s guide to vegan meal prep.
Vegan Staple Food items
Endurance athletes require more protein than the average individual. In fact, it is not different from a normal diet, except for meat, of course. You can take your vegan diet as far as you want, as many vegan athletes tend towards gluten-free and raw food diets too. Stocking some of the common vegan staple items will help you meet your dietary needs, including:
- Vegetables – raw and cooked
- Vegetable sprouts
- Raw fruits
- Beans and legumes
- Starchy vegetables like yams and potatoes
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat bread
- Grains and seeds – chia seeds, flaxseeds, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, and bulgur wheat
- Nuts, milks and butters – almonds, walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower
- Agave nectar
- Soy products – tofu, tempeh
- Organic tea and coffee
- Vegan protein powder
Certainly, there are many more food items to include. The idea here is that these items can be easily found in your local grocery market to help make shopping and meal prep easy.
Vegan Daily Meal Sample Menu:
Breakfast: Bowl of rolled or steel cut oats with mixed berries, nut milk, and ½ banana.
Mid-Day Snack: 15 raw almonds with celery, red bell peppers, and carrots
Lunch: Bowl of lentils, with sweet potatoes, kale, and brown rice
Afternoon Snack: Vegan protein shake
Dinner: Tempeh with sauteed spinach, carrots, and mushrooms
Vegan Without the Prep
Whether you plan to throw a party or not on a strict budget and lack enough hours of prep time, there are plenty of vegan options to choose while dining out. You can also choose meal services that will deliver your meals straight to your doorstep. Subscribing to meal kits will match your calorie requirements and dietary needs. Not only will this option save you the hassle of hours of weekly prep, you will receive fresh vegan meals daily.
Boost Your Nutrients with Super Shakes
Like most athletes to intend to gain and maintain muscle, opt to include plant-based protein shakes every day. The key is to find the best seeds, nuts, and protein-rich fruits and vegetables along with your favorite vegan protein powder. For non-dairy milk, there are plenty of options to choose from, such as almond, coconut, soy, oat, flaxseed and hemp milk. Don’t be afraid to add toppings like cacao nibs, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds for an extra treat.
Many endurance athletes who have adopted a vegan diet reported having noticed an improved recovery rate, overall. Not to mention, vegan athletes have also claimed to follow better training, quicker improvement, and overall clarity and well-being. While it is not necessarily claimed to be better, endurance athletes will not lose any potential enhancement with a vegan diet.