When I started weight training properly about 3 years ago, it completely changed my life. Yet, one obstacle I have had to overcome was finding ways to properly fuel my body whilst following a vegan diet. For a long time, I often felt fatigued and nauseous during workouts, which I soon discovered was due to deficiencies in my diet. After years of research, I now feel stronger than ever and I know that my body is accessing everything it needs to perform at its absolute best.
Being plant-based can be amazing for your fitness, yet it is essential that you know how to consume enough calories, protein, nutrients and healthy fats. It really couldn’t be simpler when you know what to do, so look no further and prepare to take your fitness to another level!
Focus on Calorie Consumption
The amount of calories you consume has a substantial impact on your ability to reach your fitness goals, whether you are aiming to be in a calorie deficit or surplus. Being in a calorie surplus can be difficult if you don’t know where to find the calories in a vegan diet!
Many people believe that the easiest ways to access healthy high-calorie foods is through meat and dairy. Whilst these do act as good sources of healthy calories, there are so many plant-based foods that will enable you to easily reach your calorie goals for that day.
Avocado, wholemeal bread, pasta and rice, nuts, tofu, beans, chia seeds, quinoa and hummus are all healthy sources of substantial amounts of calories. If you are looking to put on weight or muscle, you can definitely do so by following a plant-based diet.
If you are consuming fewer calories than your body needs to function correctly you will struggle mentally and physically, which is likely to impair your ability to make the most of your workout. So, most importantly, most of these foods contain healthy fats to give you that extra boost when you’re working out to push yourself even further.
Pack Protein into Your Diet
Whilst meat substitutes and vegan protein powders are fantastic sources of protein, they can also be very expensive. You don’t need to rely on them in order to consume enough protein to support your muscle growth as there are so many other options out there.
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, grains, seeds, peas, spirulina, soy milk and oats are all fantastic protein sources that are easy to incorporate into any meal. My favourite meal to make in bulk and freeze is a mixed bean chilli, as each portion is packed full of 25 grams of protein! Meal prepping like this is a great way to save yourself some time whilst also enjoying amazing food.
Of course, you can use meat substitutes and vegan protein powders to make life a bit easier sometimes, however if you are working out on a budget, you definitely will not be missing out on protein if you want to try a plant-based diet.
Focus on Essential Vitamins and Minerals
As a vegan, there are a few nutrients that you need to be aware of in order to get the most out of your fitness. Vegans can sometimes be deficient in zinc, calcium, iron and vitamin B12 as a result of a lack of meat and dairy in their diet.
Yet, it is so easy to make sure you are consuming enough when you know where to find it! Vitamin B12 can be found in marmite, fortified plant milks and nutritional yeast, there is plenty of calcium in leafy green vegetables, soy and pulses and good sources of iron and zinc include lentils, beans and chickpeas.
Whilst it is not advisable to rely solely on vitamin supplements, if you know you have a busy day ahead, there is no harm in supporting your diet by taking a zinc supplement or vegan multivitamin to take the pressure off slightly.
If one of your concerns about becoming vegan is related to your fitness goals, it shouldn’t be! You will experience such a boost and you have the potential to experience highs in your fitness journey like never before. All it takes is a bit of research and preparation to know how to access essential food groups. Like anything else new, it may take time for your body to adjust to the vegan diet, but once it does you will never look back!