After a summer of sport, it has got us thinking about the gruelling training regimes and diets these amazing athletes have to endure for months even years in preparation. But can you perform at a high level in sport, competitive or not, whilst following a vegan lifestyle?
Of course! But to maintain optimum performance levels there are some dietary requirements you need to consider.
Energy – this is very important when taking part in active sports. Whether its running, football, tennis or cycling, you need to make sure your energy levels keep up with you. Iron deficiency can be common with a vegan diet and a side effect of anaemia is fatigue. Vegan foods rich in iron are peanut butter, green beans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, lentils and quinoa and these are best consumed without caffeine as this can stop the body’s absorption of iron.
Endurance – fat in your diet helps us slow the rate at which you metabolise carbohydrates, therefore gives you energy for longer. Without eating animal fats you need to consume fats from avocados, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil and flax.
Recovery – when you are active in sport on a regular basis you will need to consume more protein in your diet to repair your muscles. This should be eaten alongside carbohydrates so that insulin levels don’t rise too quickly so you ‘crash and burn’ when active. It can be hard to consume the right amount of protein when following a vegan diet so consumer tofu, legumes, soy protein powder and hemp seed.
Just staying healthy – performing sport at a high level, can put your body under a lot of strain and nutrients can become depleted. Making sure you keep your vitamin and mineral levels high is important – you don’t want to be struck down with an illness if you have a big sporting event coming up! Make sure your diet is varied with plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits such as berries.