Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Balancing The Vegan And Athlete In You

by guest blogger Holly VicHammond

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to commit to a vegan lifestyle and also be an athlete. Most of the sports world subscribes to eating a substantial amount of protein as part of a training diet. Protein ensures peak physical condition, muscular repair after workouts and success in a given fitness-related endeavor. Though vegan meals might take a little more planning, it is possible to be a successful athlete who does not consume any animal products. Plant-based eaters simply have to rely on a bit more strategy. 
Whether an athlete chooses to be a vegan for personal, ethical or religious reasons, they will need to pay special attention to ensure they’re consuming the proper nutrients to fuel their workouts. Many successful athletes and famed fitness trainers, such as distance runner Scott Jurek, television fitness trainer Bob Harper, bodybuilder Mike Mahler and football player Ricky Williams, choose to live a vegan lifestyle. Clearly it is possible for athletes to eat vegan, thrive and achieve great success in their chosen sport.

Along with vitamins, minerals, water and healthy fats, athletes will want to ensure they consume the right balance of carbohydrates and protein to maintain a healthy body and succeed in their given athletic endeavor. Energy foods like lentils, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, oranges and blueberries are all good carbohydrates for athletes to consume. The world of protein lies far beyond the animal world and is easily found in beans, nuts, seeds, tofu and soy products and grains like quinoa
Vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes and asparagus are also good sources of protein. Obtaining the freshest produce and other healthful foods to fuel a workout is possible with a service like grocery delivery. Receiving fresh and delicious foods, as well as vegan specialty items, at home is possible and a welcome convenience for busy athletes.
Active individuals who aren't careful in determining their body's needs can negatively impact their workouts and performance during competition. Naturally, eating a snack or meal is more than satiating hunger and enjoying delicious flavors. The food is also fuel which energizes the body and can impact how far an athlete can run, work out or perform in competition. Though making the switch to a vegan lifestyle will take a little planning and probable time in the kitchen, an athlete who chooses to eat a plant-based diet will be fit and up for any challenge their chosen sport has to offer. As always, it's best when athletes know what their limits are but push themselves to test those boundaries – without overdoing it. Those new to the vegan lifestyle should take things slowly and not expect overnight results, although payoff will soon come.
While the mental picture most people conjure of vegans are skinny, undernourished waifs, this extreme is only likely to occur when people rely solely on carbohydrates, starches and junk food in exchange for meat products. Finding the right balance of carbs, calories and protein is paramount for athletes and will depend on individual tastes and interests. Thankfully, even a quick Internet search for recipes will guide those interested in a plant-based diet in the right direction.
Holly is an Indianapolis native, practicing vegan and avid soccer player who holds health and fitness very high in her life. In her spare time she enjoys blogging on behalf of MyGofer and other prestigious brands she enjoys.

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

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