Veganism is a life choice that more and more people are making. Still, despite its increase in popularity, when most think of a vegan, they tend to think of animal rights activists, hippies and boring salads.
But despite the stereotype, over the last few years, more and more sports stars and well-known athletes have also made the decision to go green and follow a vegan diet. The list includes tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, boxer David Haye and Arsenal right back Hector Bellerin.
Going vegan is the single biggest thing you can do for the environment but it also has some surprising extra benefits.
Many converts state that eating plant-based is key for healthy athletic performance, with benefits for energy levels, recovery times and getting rid of inflammation, as well as brighter mood and more motivation. It can also help with weight loss, with people following vegan diets having to work harder to get calories. Fruit and vegetables are high in anti-oxidants, helping the body to recover quickly from intense physical exercise.
Sounds great, right?
There is definitely the potential for a well-planned vegan diet to be highly beneficial to help with faster recovery from the antioxidants in plant-based foods, as well as energy levels.
But, there are some special considerations that must be made because of the potential for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Venus, Serena and their fellow vegan athletes have to plan ahead to make sure they’re getting the right levels of omega-3s, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. There’s also the famous question around protein, which is used by the body to build and repair tissue.
Vegans rely on plant-based protein, such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, soya alternatives to milk and yoghurt, and nuts. Eating a varied and balanced diet containing plenty of whole plant foods and adequate calories, will meet your body’s need for protein.
Plant power can certainly have a positive effect on athletic performance, with the right planning and a balanced diet. The number of people eating plant-based continues to increase, with many people choosing meat and dairy free days every week.
Why not join our Bootcamp SE16 Facebook group, where you can get support and advice from fellow bootcampers and trainers about fitness and nutrition, including plant-based meals?