It turns out, a healthy vegan workout diet doesn’t differ much from a healthy omnivore workout diet. Everybody needs the same energy-sustaining fuel, and effective fuels don’t have to be meat, eggs, or dairy products.
People choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet for a multitude of reasons, and a meat-free diet can be a very healthy diet. In fact, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, appropriately planned vegetarian diets, whether vegetarian or vegan, may provide health benefits that aid in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
So how do you make sure you’re eating the right foods to keep you going strong during a workout? It’s all about getting the fuel your body needs both during and after working out, whether you’re doing cardio or strength training.
Cardiovascular workouts – High-carbohydrate foods will fuel your body for cardio. Whole-grain oats with nuts and dried fruit are a great start for a morning workout. Some other excellent high-energy vegan options are bananas, dates, potatoes, whole-grain pastas, and mixed-grain salads. Just be sure to give your body about an hour to digest each 200 calories you take in before you go for that run. And don’t forget to hydrate!
Strength-training workouts – Choose foods that are high in protein to give working muscles the amino acids they need to rebuild. A protein smoothie with berries, soy milk, and soy or hemp protein makes a tasty and quick pre-workout vegan snack. Other protein-rich foods include tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans, unrefined grains, and nuts and nut butters (like almond, cashew, and peanut). The one-hour/200-calorie rule also applies to strength training, as does the hydration.
After you exercise, be sure to replenish your body’s energy stores with high-carbohydrate, medium-protein, low-fat snacks and, of course, plenty of water. That goes for the omnivores, too.
If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, what do you eat before you exercise? Do certain foods give you more energy? We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.