As runners we often want to know what to eat. There foods that improve our performance and help us run faster and longer, and there are food runners should avoid plant-based diet for athletes a great option?
To find the perfect type of diet according to our training plans and body type, it is important to eat healthy fresh foods especially vegetables. A diet that includes vegetables and plants as the central focus will be healthy, and this is precisely where plant-based diets are getting more and more popular. Plant-based diets are among the best diets for athletes. Fueling our running on a plant-based diet is entirely feasible and can lead to improvements in our running as well as our overall health.
Vegan diets and vegetarian diets were the only diets that excluded animal products and focused on eating plants. However, in the past few years, plant-based diets have been more popular, and an increasing number of runners are choosing to follow the plant-based diets.
A plant-based diet is one that describes any diet composed of mostly but not necessarily only plant foods. Although vegan and vegetarian diets certainly fall under the plant-based diets, there is also more flexibility to include some amount of animal foods as well. Plant-based diets prioritize eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts, which we should serve a variety in most meals or every meal.
A general plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily prohibit animal foods, such as dairy, eggs, fish, poultry, and even meat may be included occasionally or in very limited amounts. For example, ovo-lacto vegetarians consume dairy and eggs.
The Benefits Of A Plant Based Diet For Athletes
A plant-based diet is one of the best diets for athletes, and studies demonstrate that plant-based diets support athletic performance for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
A general plant-based diet strikes the ideal balance of providing the benefits of consuming nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and healthy fats like the vegan diet but with too much restrictions and limitations that may lead to nutrient deficiencies. Some vegan runners struggle to get enough protein, zinc, iron, fat-soluble vitamins and vitamin B12, but a runner following a more generalized plant-based diet has access to consume eggs and dairy, or occasional fish, seafood, meat, and poultry.
The emphasis on eating whole, natural, plant-based foods and limiting processed foods makes it easy to fuel our running on a plant-based diet. The whole grains, vegetables, legumes, provide complex carbohydrates to keep glycogen stores topped off. Fruits and vegetables can provide simple carbs for quick boost of energy in a pre-run snack, and also enrich the diet with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants to combat free radicals and the cellular damage from training. Antioxidants can also reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.
Protein from legumes, seeds, whole grains, nuts, and certain vegetables also help fuel our running on a plant-based diet and help recovery after a workout.
A plant-based diet can also work well for runners trying to lose weight because foods like vegetables, legumes, and fruits are quite filling but are not high-caloric foods. The caloric density of many plant-based foods is low, so we can eat a large volume of food without consuming many calories, and we still refuel our body and feel full..
The high-fiber content of plant-based diets supports healthy digestion and is associated with lower cholesterol levels and body mass index (BMI). Also, studies show plant-based diets can also improve insulin sensitivity.
A plant-based diet is often relatively anti-inflammatory compared to other diets, particularly when athletes focus on whole, unprocessed foods. Meat, dairy, and processed oils can cause some inflammation for some people.
What To Eat To Fuel Your Running On A Plant-Based Diet
For runners looking to adopt a plant-based diet is that following a plant-based diet is fairly easy because we can eat anything we want as long as plant foods are the centre of our meal.
A plant-based diet for athletes can technically still include some meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy, provided we don’t follow a specific, stricter plant-based diet like a vegan diet.
However, the frequency or quantity of animal foods should be significantly less than plant foods.
To fuel our running on a plant-based diet for athletes, we should focus on consuming the following foods:
• Vegetables: Spinach, kale, artichokes, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, peppers, cabbage, parsnips, celery, asparagus, sweet potatoes, squash, onions, etc.
• Fruits: Berries, apples, melons, oranges, pears, plums, papaya, bananas, apricots, peaches, bananas, grapes, guava, pomegranates, clementines, grapefruit, kiwi, coconut, tomatoes, dates, figs, etc.
• Whole Grains: Oats, whole wheat, amaranth, barley, brown rice, quinoa, teff, farro, corn, etc.
• Legumes: Soy, beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, etc.
• Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, kola nuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
• Herbs and Spices: Basil, sage, thyme, cilantro, pepper, cinnamon, mint, clove, nutmeg, ginger, salt, garlic, rosemary, cumin, curry powder, chili powder, turmeric etc.
•Herbs and Spices: Basil, sage, thyme, cilantro, pepper, cinnamon, mint, clove, nutmeg, ginger, salt, garlic, rosemary, cumin, curry powder, chili powder, turmeric etc.
It is important to remind ourselves that animal foods can be healthy and incorporated soundly into a plant-based diet for athletes in limited amounts.
For example, cage-free eggs, organic Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, free-range chicken or turkey, wild-caught salmon, tuna or other fish, and even small amounts of organic red meat can provide high-quality, nutritious protein, iron, B vitamins, and other minerals in plant-based diets for athletes.
Plant-Based Diet Tips For Runners
Plant-based diets tend to be high in fiber and, often include bulky or voluminous foods.
This can cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea when we run, particularly if we eat our pre-run meal or snack too close to the time we start running.
To reduce potential stomach discomfort and digestive issues, running on a plant-based diet, we should focus on eating a lower-fiber snack or meal before running, or taking in energy-dense fueling options.
For example, rice cakes or fruits like bananas or dates, instead of high-fiber foods like whole-grain bread and cruciferous vegetables. They will digest and clear our system faster than fiber-rich options.
Another option are dried fruit, nuts, or vegan protein bars which can provide the calories and macronutrients we need to fuel our workout without weighing us down or filling our stomach as much as large volumes of fresh fruit and grains of an equivalent calorie content.
Eat and Follow a Healthy Plant-Based Diet, Listen to Your Body, Feel Better and Healthier and Enjoy Great Nice Runs!