Updated: Apr 5, 2020
Congratulations! It is not anywhere near January 1st, and you are still keeping up a regular workout routine! Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it! There are so many different ways to work out, from going to the gym to running to biking to climbing. Regardless of how you get your exercise, every athlete will agree that nutrition is paramount. If you are a vegan athlete, sports nutrition can become much more complicated.
Every athlete needs to keep an eye on their diet, but there’s more to a diet than just what you eat. It’s also important to know when to take in certain types of food and supplements. “You don’t have to adhere to a rigid schedule and there are no hard-fast rules,” said Riska Platt, M.S., R.D., a nutrition consultant for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “But there are some things you should do before, during and after you work out.”
Generally speaking, if you are working out for an hour or less, most people only need to drink water or possibly an energy gel. Longer than that, though, and it becomes more important to plan food into the work out. Before you can plan your diet plan, you'll need to know your type of workout.
Know Your Workout
The type of exercise you're doing changes the types of supplements and how often you need to eat. If you are an endurance athlete, such as a long-distance runner, hiker or backpacker, or cyclist, you are likely to need more calories and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, many of these supplements include animal products, particularly gelatin. Vegan gels, such as Huma Chia Gels and GU Energy Gels, are concentrated carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes that provide quick energy. Because they are so concentrated, it's important to drink water with the gels to prevent an upset stomach.
Resistance-training sports, such as weightlifting and body building, tend to need more protein and calories. Muscles are built by creating micro-tears in muscle fibers, which are repaired using new proteins. According to Joel Giacobbe, a nutritionist and strength coach, athletes should "have about one gram of protein per pound of body weight every day." Many protein supplements are derived from animal products, especially beef, eggs, chicken, and seafood. However, there are many protein supplements that are plant-based, relying on soy, pea protein, seeds, and alfalfa. It's recommended that athletes increase their protein intake at meals, but protein supplements, such as Vega Sport Powder or Aloha Protein Powder, provide additional protein.
Hydrate Before You Diedrate!
Repeat after me: Hydration is important! Your sport-of-choice doesn't matter, you'll still need to maintain your water intake. Everyone sweats differently and water intake is affected by the activity you’re doing, intensity level, duration, weather, your age, your sweat rate and your body type. That said, a general recommendation is to drink a half liter of water every hour while doing moderate activity in moderate weather. As the activity level and weather increases, so should water intake.
When we sweat our body loses more than just water, we are are also losing electrolytes. Electrolytes are chemicals that form ions. These ions help maintain bodily functions, such as plasma levels, maintain pH in the blood, enable muscle contractions, transmit nerve signals, assist blood clots, and build new tissue. Athletes loose electrolytes as they workout. A common side-effect of electrolyte loss is muscle cramping.
Electrolyte loss won't be an issue with moderate activity that lasts less than an hour, but if the workout lasts longer or increases in intensity, athletes should compensate for the loss. Electrolytes are usually replenished with drink mixes, such as sports drinks, chews, or tablets that dissolve in water. While the active ingredients in most electrolyte sports drinks and tablets are vegan, there are often inactive ingredients and binders that are not vegan. It's important to read the ingredient list.
Check out our selection of animal-free Sports Nutrition products, hand-selected by our team of experts!
When in doubt, it's always a good idea to consult your doctor. Everyone's body and nutritional needs are unique. What works for one person may not be the best option for someone else.
Everyone here are VeganMed is cheering for you as you take control of your workouts!
Keep it up! You rock!
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