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Veganism in sport

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.


The Evolution of Novak Djokovic’s Diet

Novak Djokovic certainly understands the importance of nutrition when it comes to sport & performance. The world number one ranked tennis player has always been a firm believer in adjusting your diet to improve performance. In 2010, the tennis star authored Serve to Win, a gluten-free diet and fitness plan which Djokovic believes helped him reach peak performance and achieve “the greatest single season ever by a professional tennis player”.

Now, Djokovic has revealed his diet has evolved even further. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Djokovic suggested that he had been pescatarian for almost a year. Djokovic announced that he had become “vegan, with eating a little bit of fish here and there.”

Djokovic isn’t the first sportsperson to tap into the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Fellow tennis players, Venus and Serena Williams have been vegan for almost four years and still dominate the women’s game. UFC fighters, brothers Nate and Nick Diaz are also staunch vegans and credit their winning performances with adhering to a raw vegan diet.

Have you recently turned vegan? Let us know how you’re getting on over on Facebook.

Image By Création CARAVEO – Flickr: Djoko, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19750067


What’s the Best Way for a Vegetarian to Lose Weight?

In these weight obsessed times it seems almost normal, at least if certain elements of the media are to be believed, to see fat as bad and thin as good. Therefore it seems almost normal to make decisions about what we eat based on whether said food or meal is going to help us lose or gain weight.

But for those people who have made a decision to follow specific food plans for whatever reason, which includes a vegan or vegetarian diet, managing weight isn’t always the first priority. After all, it’s quite possible to have a 100% vegetarian diet but eat poorly and gain weight, so what’s the best way for a vegetarian to lose weight?

The rules of weight loss don’t change for vegetarians, and despite what some experts might have you believe, it really is down to calories. But eating less might result in only temporary weight loss as too little forces the body into famine mode and can encourage muscle breakdown. The most effective method is to lose weight slowly, and eat in a way that doesn’t make you so hungry that you have to use will power to stick to your chosen plan (after all, we all know that will power can be limited).

Calorie intake differs for men and women, level of fitness and activity, but as a rule of thumb, 1200 – 1400 for a woman and 1400 – 1600 for a man should be about right for sensible and sustainable weight reduction. I generally don’t like counting calories as it can make eating rather joyless, but if you download an app on your smartphone and enter what you eat it does help guide you. It’s an easy process and helps give you an idea of how many calories are in that handful of nuts we can all grab without thinking about it.

An easy way to reduce hunger is to eat small portions of food at regular intervals, each containing complex carbs, protein and a little fat. By combining the food groups you can take advantage of the way that the human body breaks down food to make energy. The food groups break down at different speeds, and so mixing them up provides short and medium term energy. By the time the body has digested the food and used up the glucose created from it you should find that you are naturally hungry. By eating little and often you won’t have to rely on your will power and hope that you can be ‘good’ today and not ‘break the diet’.

Here’s a typical day;


  • Small bowl of porridge (complex carbs)
  • Apple (carbs and fibre)
  • Palmful of walnuts (protein and omega 3 fats)

Mid morning snack

  • Almond butter (protein and fat)
  • Two oat cakes or one rye cracker (complex carbs)


  • Hummus (fat and protein)
  • Granary bread (complex carbs)
  • or lentil and tofu salad (protein and fibre)
  • Pumpkin seeds (fat and protein)


  • Half a small avocado (fat and protein)
  • Mixed seeds (protein and fat)
  • Crumbled oat cake (complex carbs)


  • Roast vegetables (fibre)
  • Mixed bean curry (protein and complex carbs)
  • Brown rice (complex carbs)
  • Soy yogurt and fruit (protein and fibre)

You might have to really watch quite how many nuts and seeds you use to stick to the ideal calories count, but remember that the fat is useful for several reasons, not least managing appetite and increasing satiety.

I am not an exercise expert (just as most personal trainers aren’t nutrition experts) but my best advice is not to overdo it and exercise every day for hours, instead to find something that you enjoy and that you can manage on a regular basis. Don’t just do cardio, it’s important to do weight bearing exercise as well, as toned muscles use up glucose and help maintain metabolic rate even when you are sitting on the sofa. Exercise doesn’t have to be gym based, as sports, walking briskly uphill and even bouncing on a trampoline will do just as well so don’t feel obliged to break out the Lycra.