If you’re a runner, it’s important to choose the right diet.
And with so many different dieting philosophies out there, knowing what to eat, and what not to eat.
It can be confusing, especially if you happen to be vegan or vegetarian.
This article will explore which diets are best for runners, while also addressing the concerns that may come up when you decide to change your diet from omnivore to vegan and vegetarian.
Let’s get started!
Commonly Asked Questions
Is a vegan diet good for runners?
Should I go vegan to improve my performance as an athlete?
These are some of the most common questions we hear from athletes on a regular basis.
Let’s start with how being vegan may affect your athletic performance.
Simply put, if you aren’t getting enough protein or calcium, you won’t be able to train as hard as you should.
This can result in decreased gains and (even worse) injury.
You need quality calories to maintain muscle mass and get stronger; otherwise, your performance will suffer.
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Overview of Vegan Diets
The most well-known type of vegan diet is a strict one that eliminates all meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Also known as strict vegetarianism.
But there’re many other variations of vegan diets.
If you include milk and eggs in your diet but no other animal products (such as honey), you’re considered a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian.
Vegans who eat no animal products whatsoever, but do consume animal byproducts such as leather or wool, are referred to as vegan.
It’s important to note that all variations of vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, and seafood; any red meat.
And dairy products such as milk, butter, or cheese.
Protein and Iron in a Vegan Diet
You don’t need meat or dairy products to get protein and iron.
Beans, nuts, and tofu are great sources of protein.
Not to mention calcium, which is very important for runners.
For iron, you can use fortified cereals or combine legumes (like lentils) with vitamin C-rich foods (like bell peppers).
If that still isn’t enough, consider taking an iron supplement.
Most runners don’t need more than 18 mg per day and can find it in pill form over-the-counter at drugstores.
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Are There Downsides to Being Vegans?
Nutritionists often agree that some types of foods and nutrients are more important than others.
Because vegans generally don’t eat meat, dairy products, or animal byproducts like eggs and honey, it can be challenging to ensure you’re getting all your nutritional needs met.
Runners who want to switch from an omnivorous diet to veganism should therefore plan carefully in order to get everything they need—especially protein.
Vegans can also run into problems if they try to take shortcuts when planning their meals and snacks on race day.
If you forget your gels or energy bars at home, don’t rely on bananas as a substitute!
Before switching to a vegan diet, consult with your doctor and nutritionist.
How Can Vegans Get Enough Vitamins?
If you’re considering going vegan, it’s important to know that animal sources of protein aren’t your only option when it comes to building muscle.
Whole grains and legumes are high in protein, as well as many nuts and seeds.
When following a balanced diet, getting enough protein won’t be an issue, and plant-based proteins may even provide some health benefits.
For example, recent research suggests that diets rich in soy (such as tofu or edamame) can help lower cholesterol levels by regulating blood pressure.
In addition, vegetarian diets often result in lower blood pressure and heart disease risks than meat-heavy diets.
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What About Calories, Fats Carbohydrates, and Fiber?
Runners need to pay special attention to what they eat, but that doesn’t mean you should give up eating meat entirely.
Some studies show that runners who follow vegetarian diets tend to be leaner than those who don’t.
But, as with any diet, there are trade-offs when it comes to choosing vegan foods.
For instance, if you’re a runner looking for protein from meat alternatives, there isn’t quite as much available in a vegan diet.
The same goes for fiber—you won’t have quite as many choices on vegetables when it comes to getting your daily fill of fiber.
Running When on a Plant-Based Diet
Though they may seem incongruous, running and plant-based diets can work well together.
That said, there are some considerations you should keep in mind if you’re thinking about making your diet vegan.
You need to make sure that your body gets all of its necessary nutrients on a vegan diet, particularly iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Also, make sure that you aren’t skimping on calories to meet your dietary requirements.
While there’s some evidence that plant-based diets are more satisfying than non-vegan ones, cutting back on calories could put you at risk of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa.
Sample Meal Plans For Runners Who Follow A Vegan Diet
A Sample Meal Plan For Runners On A Plant-Based Diet Is Provided Below:
- Tofu Scramble And Hash Browns Lunch.
- Homemade Vegetable Soup Dinner.
- Quinoa Bowl With Veggies And Hummus Snacks Include.
- Trail Mix and Raw Nuts.
Remember To Track Your Calories If You Are Following A Vegan Diet.
If you burn 2,000 calories in a day while running, eating 1,600 calories daily is ideal to help you lose weight.
By doing so, you’ll ensure that your body has adequate energy to run without putting your body into starvation mode.
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