Bite into a different lifestyle
Be both an athlete and a vegetarian with these easy steps
Getting in shape and achieving your physical goals takes a good diet. Being a vegetarian athlete presents new challenges to eating well. Yet, with the right tips it’s fairly easy to do.
Elite pros have found ways to train and perform for decades without eating meat. Former National Football League quarterback, Joe Namath, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985 as a vegetarian player. Grand Slam singles tennis champion and record holder, Marina Navratilova, spent most of her career as a no meat eater. Dave Scott was the first person to win six Iron Man competitions; he won all six as a vegetarian.
The approach to being a vegetarian athlete is really not that different than preparing for games normally. As an athlete, your diet is focused around pre-game and post-game meals and nutrition.
Keeping track of how much nutrients makes it even easier for athletes to transition into becoming a vegetarian. The Vegetarian Resource Group provides a sports nutrition study with guidelines on how to be a vegetarian athlete for both the pros and the average Joes.
The pre-activity meal is the fuel that runs your body’s engine. The study says that neglecting to eat before activity is the easiest way to impair your performance. There are two types of starter meals: one larger hearty meal and one smaller snack sized meal. The guide recommends eating the larger meal about four hours before activity. The smaller meal can be consumed about one to two hours before. Both these meals should be high in carbohydrates, states the resource group. It’s also recommended that protein should be included in every meal as an athlete for high muscle performance. Consume about 13 per cent of your total daily intake of the stuff. Good vegetarian go to foods for fuelling up include bagels or pasta with snacks like yogourt. Pair a high water intake with this meal and your body will be ready to compete.
Paying attention to your body while it’s active is a key element to greatness. Keeping yourself hydrated is the single most important recommendation from the report. The duration, type and intensity of your workout affects whether you need more than just water to rehydrate. As a vegetarian, you can look towards protein powers to get that extra boost. Just keep in mind each drink isn’t calorie free. It’s called a supplement for a reason. It’s meant to fill in areas of your diet that are lacking protein, not become a staple source. If you’re eating solid protein with every meal, you probably don’t need to be supplementing.
Being your best physically also requires post activity diet attention. To be able to train harder and faster the next time, you need to feed your muscles properly after activity. High protein is recommended by the research group for your post work out meal. Protein helps repair and rebuild small tears and imperfections in your muscles after a hard workout. The average amount suggested is between 15 to 25g. Carbohydrates are also important for glycogen replenishment. Vegetarian staples for recovery could include post workout snacks like fruit and larger meals like tofu stir fry with rice. For best results eat the snack 30 minutes after activity.
One thing people often forget is the amount of protein that is found in other foods besides meats. Vegetables, like spinach and broccoli, can easily help you reach healthy protein levels. New introduced foods that contain protein can also be high in things like fibre and vitamins. Although, you may be diversifying your vitamin intake trying new foods, there is one vitamin to pay more attention to as a vegetarian athlete. Vitamin B-12 is mostly found in animal products like meat, dairy and eggs. It contributes to healthy blood flow count. If you’re not eating meat, be sure you’re getting enough B-12 by including some of the other options, like eggs, in your diet every day. The recommended intake is about 2.4 micrograms.