Does the elimination of energy-potent food groups such as meat and dairy-products limit your chance of athletic success?
This is a question that has plagued the widespread discourse on veganism pretty consistently over the last three decades or so, and while many answers have been offered throughout this period, people are still somewhat confused about the topic.
When you consider that a large percentage of human population lacks at least singular nutritional bedrock in their diet for economic reasons or others, it’s actually an absolute wonder that so many people manage to retain physical prowess for as long as they do. With that in mind, it is perfectly feasible to max-out your energy levels for running on a plant-based diet.
Consume large quantities of plant-based protein
Meat and dairy products are rich in protein, a cornerstone component of the human diet that promotes the production of crucial enzymes, builds muscle, bone, feeds blood and triggers hormonal cycles. In other words, it is a macronutrient that the body requires in large quantities in order to replenish its energy wells and keep at it. This means that the first item on your ‘fuel for running’ schedule is to seek out and consume plant-based food that is rich in protein.
Some call it protein substitutes, but it is an unfair moniker simply because these foods have been an integral source of protein in the human diet since times immemorial. We are talking about black beans, lentils, cashews, tofu, kale, quinoa, and seitan. Most of these are quite common and they can be found at a local market, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you to acquire large quantities.
Of course, you should consider adding a delicious vegan protein powder to your diet as an additional factor that will keep your protein intake at the desirable levels. These days, protein powder comes in a variety of tastes and it mixes well with oat for a potent breakfast on the day of the run.
Keep your calcium and magnesium levels up
There used to be an extended period of history when scurvy represented a dangerous possibility that loomed over the heads of men. These days, you really have to go out of your way in order to have a vitamin C deficiency as it can be found everywhere – quite often even in junk foods, but we shall not even go there. If you are vegan, your vitamin C levels should not be an issue, but calcium, on the other hand, might become one.
Once you exclude dairy products from your diet, things can become fairly rocky, especially since your body begins depleting repositories of calcium from your own bones.
Say hello to the nut-based products. Almond milk is an especially popular product among vegans as an irresistibly delicious drink and a rich source of calcium. Most such products are also enriched with calcium for good measure.
The same goes for nut-based vegan cheeses which can be just as delicious as your regular dairy-based cheese. Magnesium is just as important of a mineral for your bones and your immune system, so adding an immensely powerful food such as chia seeds to your diet will certainly keep your body satiated as you prepare for a run. Magnesium will keep you fast on your feet, and since this mineral is as strong of food for the brain as it is for immunity, it will keep your reaction time lightning-bolt fast.
B12 and a matter of supplementation
B12 is a complicated yet crucial vitamin that is plentiful in meat, but it can also be found in seaweeds and nutritional yeast. If seaweeds are not exactly within your grasp on regular basis, you should know that the aforementioned almond milk and soy milk are quite rich in vitamin D, calcium and B12, but if you find this isn’t enough, you can rely on yeast extracts akin to, for example, marmite.
However, if your running sessions are getting particularly intense, you can do the one thing that pretty much all athletes do – add a whole cavalcade of vitamin and mineral supplements to your carefully balanced diet.
Since you have thrown dairy out of the picture, your energy levels should stay fairly consistent even after the meal – especially if you have reduced the intake of baked goods – but a rich selection of supplements will add fuel to the fire. Just keep in mind that supplement is not a replacement for a meal and you should be primed and ready for a running session of your life.
There is an unfortunate air of zeal that surrounds veganism due to such a passionate divide between its proponents and its detractors. This is why pointing to the flaws of this lifestyle can rouse misguided emotions and spark unnecessary arguments, but it is crucial to address them due to widespread health concerns.
Because, the truth of the matter is that exclusion of the entire group of food requires nutritional rebalancing, especially if the person that practices such diet – in this case, veganism – is trying to achieve athletic excellence.
Claire Morgan is a marketing consultant and lecturer who, thanks to her integrated approach to business, stands behind many digital strategies of renowned brands. She enjoys travelling and passionately blogs about the latest marketing and lifestyle trends.