Vegan nutrition for athletes - is that even possible?
“Athletes have to eat at least a kilo of turkey breast with low-fat quark every day, otherwise they won’t meet their protein requirements”, “I need meat, otherwise I don’t have enough strength for my workout”, “salad shrinks the biceps” – you do too Have you heard at least one of these statements before?
We do. At least 1000 times. That's why we want to clear up a very special myth today: Does a vegan diet work for athletes?
Vegan athletes - the living proof
First of all: Yes, even as an athlete you can eat vegan. Even as a competitive athlete. As proof we would like to start directly with a small "evidence list":
- Venus Williams - five-time Wimbledon winner, four-time gold medalist
- Andreas Kraniotakes - Top 5 MMA Fighters
- Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1 World Champion
- David Haye — Boxer
- Dirk Nowitzki – professional basketball player
Each of these athletes is more than successful in their sport and relies on a vegan diet. Proof enough that you don't need animal products to achieve top performance?
What are the advantages of a vegan diet for athletes?
Contrary to all prejudices, vegans are not constantly weak, tired and pale. On the contrary: Even and especially with an active lifestyle, the vegan diet has some health benefits, at least if you do it right and pay attention to a few basic things (but more on that later).
We would like to share some of these advantages and our own experiences with you:
fiber and vitamins
If you eat a balanced diet, you will probably get the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day very quickly and easily - and thus almost automatically consume the recommended amount of fiber and a large portion of vitamins. So optimally supplied.
Energy through selected carbohydrates
When you think of carbs, do you think of pasta, pizza and toast? Sure, it's not entirely wrong either. Carbohydrates can also be consumed in a more balanced way, for example through rice, cooked cereals, fruit and vegetables. These are so-called complex carbohydrates, which do not allow the blood sugar level to fluctuate so much and keep you full for longer.
Replacing heavily processed foods with whole grains, fruits, vegetables and other complex carbohydrate sources will give you the energy you need for the day and your workout.
“Eat your water” has been trending for a few years now. Anyone who eats a mainly plant-based diet and integrates a lot of vegetables and fruit into their diet automatically increases their fluid intake.
Drinking enough is of course still important!
Reduced risk of certain diseases
Of course, a vegan diet is not a panacea, nor is it a guarantee that you will always be fit and healthy - but a balanced vegan diet reduces the risk of various cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. From our own experience, we can report that after a few weeks of a vegan diet, our stamina improved, we were less tired and therefore more efficient.
What should you watch out for when making the change?
We've already said it a few times: Vegan is not always vegan and plant-based foods are not necessarily all "healthy".
In order for the transition to succeed, you should therefore note a few things:
Eat unprocessed foods as much as possible
No question, we also grab frozen pizza or vegan meat substitute burger patties. In order for you to really benefit from the vegan diet, balance is the key.
Pay attention to quality
Keywords: organic and pesticides – obviously, right?
Integrate enough proteins into the diet
As unnecessary as we find the protein sayings and prejudices: A sufficient protein intake still makes sense. Don't worry, it's very easy and works without countless dietary supplements. In our blog you will already find a very detailed post about vegan protein sources .
Pay attention to critical vitamins and nutrients
As a vegan, you can’t do without dietary supplements – but as a meat eater, you usually can’t either. We do not want to recommend any special dietary supplements here, but rather ask you to deal with what your body needs and, if in doubt, always seek medical advice. We are big fans of B12, Zinc and D3, among others. However, these should not be supplemented happily, but with caution and in the event of (suspicion of) a deficiency.
Conclusion: vegan diet as an athlete - yes or no?
For us: definitely yes! Whether you do competitive sports, go jogging every now and then or prefer the relaxed yin yoga session: Vegan nutrition can really have advantages for everyone:n. Listen to your body and take good care of yourself.
Supplements are not absolutely necessary, but can be helpful. If they are also as tasty as our numove protein bar, there is absolutely nothing standing in the way of a vegan protein supply.