Being a vegetarian athlete is possible. To do so, you only have to continue something that you probably did as a meat eater anyway: Eating right is the key to athletic success.
The fact that being a vegetarian athlete is possible is supported by many organizations, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or the American College of Sports Medicine. In this article, you will learn exactly what to do nutritionwise so you won't compromise health or athletic performance.
With vegetarian or vegan diets, there usually come two types of issues, the first one being the lower calorie consumption that is created by eating foods that have a lower calorie density. This means that a high volume of food still has low calories.
Especially athletes often have increased calorie needs because of their physical activity and a caloric deficit would lead to less energy and thus less power during training sessions.
The second problem is, that some essential nutrients can be primarily found in animal sources, including protein, iron, calcium, omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc - nutrients that are crucial for muscle synthesis and your metabolism.
While these challenges exist, it is possible to get all nutrients within a vegetarian or fully plant-based diet. To ensure this, it is important to keep an eye on your caloric intake and the nutrient-density of your food.
Many plant-based protein sources are not considered complete in and of themselves, but if you consume a variety of protein sources, such as beans, lentils, grains, soy products, and nuts, you are still able to get all amino acids needed. Most of these protein sources also provide important micronutrients such as zinc, calcium, and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in nuts and seeds, while vitamin D-rich foods are e.g. orange juice, mushrooms, or fortified foods that contain vitamin B12 as well. While nutritional yeast is also an awesome source for vitamin B12, supplementation for this vitamin might also be taken into consideration. Vegetarians could also get some micronutrients and protein from dairy and eggs.
To get the most out of your training, pre- and post-workout meals can be important fuels that provide more energy during workouts and help recovery after a training session. Pre-workout meals should be easy to digest, while post-workout meals should consist of at least 10 grams of complete protein. Post-workouts should be consumed within two hours after training for the best effects. Recovery can also be enhanced by external measures such as our Active Body oil. It reduces inflammatory pain and soothes tension to get you ready for your next workout as soon as possible.