What Do Vegans Athletes Eat? Famous Vegan Athletes At The Top Of Their Game (2019)
There is a great misconception around Vegans and their type of diet and the wrong belief that if you are having a plant-based diet you must be lacking all the so-called “good nutrients” coming from meat. So you must be weak, pale, and probably not too healthy. I have been called all the three on a few occasions, and besides being pale, (I am working on my suntan as we speak) they could not have been more wrong. So Today I would like to explain to all the people out there that do not know, that being vegan it’s a lot about health and to prove it there are enough famous athletes out there that are strong, successful and, yes, vegans! But I bet you want to know what do vegan athletes eat?
The Vegan Athlete Typical menu
Nature is full of good nutrients and the lack of choice is definitely not an issue; a plant-based diet provides all the nutrients needed to exercise with maximum energy.
All you have to do is organize yourself, your schedule and routine and once you have planned it well, being vegan is totally compatible with practising any sport with maximum performance.
Let’s face it, you might not like it, but today more than ever, we see on Facebook, on Instagram, even on youTube how vegan and vegetarian diets are suitable for all stages of life. Being an Athlete does not contradict the choice of being vegan, on the contrary, it can help you reinforce your body and your performance.
It is true that the energy requirements of athletes are greater, and of course, their needs should not be overestimated. Someone who practices a sport for pleasure might not give food that much importance but athletes need to change their nutrient intake according to the sport they are practising.
So is there a vegan diet for an athlete? Yes, there is.
I am going to start by explaining that I love aerobic but my sport for excellence is yoga, I practice yoga every day and it keeps me grounded mentally and physically. Still, I am very much aware that a yoga practice requires a different type of energy than what is required for aerobic exercise and for strength training. So I looked around, gone to a few gyms and asks some of the experts what would have been a good type of diet for say strength and aerobic exercises and these are the menu examples we came up with:
The aerobic Menu
If you are practising any sport like cardio, running, stepping, dancing, bicycle…on a medium to low intensity this could be a typical diet for a day:
- Breakfast: Cup of coffee, tea or another infusion with soy milk or almond milk if you prefer, accompanied by whole-grain toast and peanut butter, a great source of protein.
- Mid-morning: non-dairy yoghurt, could be soy or whatever you prefer with a handful of nuts.
- Lunchtime: One of my favourite, Chickpeas stew with spinach, or lentils stew with lots of different vegetables, an avocado salad and a fruit of your choice for dessert
- Mid Afternoon Snack: A banana with a piece of dark chocolate but make sure it has ideally more than 80% cocoa.
- Dinner: Quinoa or brown rice with vegetables and grilled tofu, a fruit of your choice.
Intense training/ Body Building Menu
When you doing a sport that requires a lot of effort, especially when it’s an intense and short type of training, an ideal menu should be something like:
- Breakfast: oatmeal porridge with almond/soy/coconut milk, raisins and nuts.
- Mid-morning: Some carrots stick to dip in some hummus are truly delicious as a snack
- Lunch: Back to one of my favourite again, lentils with vegetables and brewer’s yeast, soy yoghurt for dessert.
- Mid-afternoon Snack: dried fruit with peanuts and a piece of fresh fruit.
- Dinner: Vegan bolognese lasagne with textured soy sauce, salad with chia seeds and fruit for dessert.
Food supplements for athletes:
When assessing which supplements you should or could take you must consider what nutrients you need for the sport you are practising and in what dose you should take it.
Beta-alanine is a natural amino acid that is useful in strength sports in particular. It is recommended to consume about 6 g divided into several doses during the day. By increasing strength and power, the training will be of better quality. However, it can cause tingling in the hands, which is avoided by distributing the dose in different doses.
Creatine monohydrate helps improve strength, protein synthesis and glycogen synthesis for muscle recovery. The dose is calculated taking into account the body weight: 0.1 g / kg of weight. You can take it both before and after the exercise. Its effect increases if you combine it with beta alanine.
Vitamin B12. There has been and still is a lot of talk about the B12 because NON-vegans are using it as an excuse why people should not be Vegans in the first place. But that’s just another negative propaganda.
What is the right vitamin B12 supplement?
These supplements are normally sold in capsules, and usually of synthetic production and plant origin. If you want to make sure they are vegan, it is best to buy those that incorporate some certification.
Look at what type of carbohydrates appear in the composition of gels and bars. They must contain rapid absorption, which will help you obtain immediate energy (glucose, maltose) and slow absorption, continuous effect (fructose, galactose or the new generation, amylose type).
With a planned diet and determination there is no reason why an athlete, any athlete should not be or go Vegan. Even James Cameron in the latest documentary The Game Changers talks about how athlete are vegans and successful.
There are so many proofs of how a plant-based diet can be good for you, we have so many famous athletes nowadays that have embraced a vegan diet and are the all representing health, strength and everything that mother nature represents.
I could talk a lot, but rather than me saying it, let’s have a look at who these famous sports people really are, and to honor my son that is a basketball player and fanatic I can only start with
He is the Icon of veganism in the NBA. Kyrie Irving has been playing for great teams such as the Boston Celtics, and before that the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he assures that his recent change of diet has been fundamental to improve his performance.
It is said that one of the documentaries that have influenced Irving in his decision of becoming vegan has been the movie ” What the Health”, the same that motivated Lewis Hamilton to leave the products of animal origin. However, he maintains that it was a thoughtful decision after a time of learning, educating and understanding on his own what it means to be a vegan and why he wanted to take the step.
A former martial art champion. After defeating Conor McGregor at UFC he publicly said he wanted to promote the vegan movement.
Everyone knows the American tennis player that won seven Grand Slam singles titles and almost fifty in WTF tournaments, in addition to the double won with her sister Serena.
In 2011, she was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that almost knocked her out of her game. She adopted a raw vegan diet, in order to improve her health and regain her level of performance. A little less than a year later she returned to the tournaments and continues in the front row.
When she talks about her diet she admits not being perfect and she has admitted that sometimes she has fallen into the temptation of eating some unhealthy food. Her sister Serena joined her a little later in her transition to veganism.
The arrival to the veganism of the famous British pilot of Formula 1 is relatively recent. He had not eaten meat for several years but in 2017 the documentary “What the health” made him go a step further and start the transition to a completely plant-based diet.
In the beginning, the main motivation for adopting a vegan diet was to prevent health problems, however, the protection of the environment and the love for animals are gaining weight in defense of a plant-based diet.
Brendan is another example of an athlete and coach of professionals from the elite of sports in North America. He not only focuses on sports but dedicates his life to defend the benefits of veganism, as a diet and as a healthy and beneficial lifestyle with environmentalism and animals and he does it all over the world.
One of his common quotes is: “Being a vegan athlete is increasingly common because it’s fantastic.”
So there you have it, see, it’s not just about me, or what I believe, there is a world out there of people that have and constantly still are awakening to the need to embrace a Vegan Diet.
It is about compassion, it is about health, it is about love for the animals, love for the earth, but ultimately I believe it is about loving who we are and what we can become. Remember, I know it is an old quote, but it doesn’t diminish its strength and power: Be the change you want to see in others” and on this note, I will leave you and as always please feel free to share your thought with me on the comment area below.