Being vegan doesn’t have to be incompatible with running or other endurance or strength sports. Naturally chock-full of varied nutrition, a plant-based diet can be a perfect fit to keep you well-fueled and injury-free. To ramp up your nutrition as you start out as a runner, build up your training, or take the plunge into veganism, be sure to include the following foods in your pantry:
Scientists at the Institute of Human Performance and Rehabilitation, Center for Research and Technology discovered an increase in athletic performance and recovery when athletes supplemented with spirulina.
To add spirulina to your own pre-workout plan, try a high-quality supplement capsule, or purchase spirulina powder, available at most health stores and natural grocers. A powder can be added to your pre-run smoothie for the right boost.
The plant-based go-to for even our grandparents’ generation, nut butters still hold steady as a powerful, nutrient-dense food. According to Competitor Magazine, almond butter, with its high vitamin E and antioxidant content, is a great choice for endurance athletes, while peanut butter (with B-vitamins and high protein) is also great for runners.
With so many nut butter options on the market, and given how important it is to diversify a diet, be sure to rotate through several options. Add a nut butter to your recovery smoothie, or spread some on apple slices before a race.
An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are an ideal substitute for fish and animal-based fats for supporting a healthy cardiovascular system. Chia seeds are also considered superfoods, provide protein, calcium, and fiber, and they add a little texture to your smoothie, oatmeal, or vegan yogurt.
A joint study by the American College of Sport Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Dietitians of Canada suggests that plant-based athletes require slightly more protein than meat-eating athletes. A great place to start is with tempeh, a fermented soy product that is less processed than many vegan protein offerings. In addition, tempeh is packed with isoflavones that aid your body’s natural anti-inflammatory processes.
After a grueling workout, it’s recommended to consume 10-20 grams of protein immediately. For post-run recovery, packaged protein bars are a simple solution. Find a bar that is loaded with protein and tastes good enough to choke down after a long run.
Be sure to add these staples to your diet at the start of your training program, and test new recipes or foods well in advance of race day or difficult workouts. When focused on varied, nutrient-dense foods, a plant-powered diet can be a beneficial choice for runners and endurance athletes.