What You Should Know about Exercise if You're Vegan
Achieving fitness goals largely depends on an appropriate diet, and becomes even more of a challenge when your diet is plant-based. To help you out, we’ve curated a list of five things you should know if you’re vegan and want to get more active – read on to learn what they are.
Limit the amount of highly-processed vegan substitutes you eat
Switching to a vegan diet can be difficult for some, and there is a wide array of food companies that produce meat substitutes to ease the transition to a plant-based diet and provide you with all the dishes you love, minus animal cruelty. Nowadays, you can get vegan versions of virtually any food you used to eat when you consumed meat and other animal products. From hot dogs and bacon to ice cream and cheese – there is a vegan alternative for everything, not to mention how tasty they are (which wasn’t the case some time ago). However, even in a vegan diet, there needs to be a balance, since these substitutes are still highly-processed, which isn’t doing your body any good. Plant-based meals should be predominant in your diet, while other vegan foods and snacks are okay from time to time. Which leads us to our next tip...
Vegan doesn’t always equal healthy
Just because it’s made without using animal by-products doesn’t mean you should eat it all the time. In order to truly enjoy the benefits of going vegan, you need to stop thinking about the things that you can’t have now. Therefore, make sure you’re consuming whole foods in larger amounts than meat and dairy substitutes. Instead of ordering pasta in the restaurant just because it’s the only vegan option on the menu, opt for a more nutrient-dense meal. Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are all delicious lentils you can order and feel much better than eating pasta. Once you switch to a whole-food diet, not only will your digestion improve, but you’ll also notice positive changes in your skin as well as your mood.
Get your proteins from foods and supplements
It has been claimed that a vegan diet lacks protein. However, avoiding animal products doesn’t mean skipping on protein. When carefully planned, a vegan diet can provide your body with enough proteins to function normally. We all know how high-protein diets can promote muscle strength and weight loss, and if that is your goal, you should enrich your diet with a variety of soy products, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are the richest sources of protein in a plant-based diet. Also, there are protein-rich foods you can prepare in different ways to spice things up. You can use chickpeas to make hummus, peanuts to make butter, and spirulina to make smoothies. If you still think you can’t get as much protein as you’d want, you can always get supplements such as quality vegan protein powder to ensure your protein intake levels are optimal.
Pre-workout nutrition is crucial for building lean muscles, recovering properly from your training session, and training effectively again at your next workout session. If you skip pre-workout snacks or you don’t eat the right foods, you can experience unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and cramps. Generally, it’s best to eat your pre-workout snack one hour before you start. When choosing a snack for your pre-workout meal, focus on getting carbohydrates and some protein. Carbs are essential for fueling your body and maximising your workout, and it’s best to go with a smaller portion to avoid working with a full stomach. A soy mild fruit smoothie, cooked potato, and a toast of bread made with peanut butter and banana are sure to help you gear up for the workout and maximise your energy levels.
Similar to the previous tip, skipping the post-workout nutrition is not a good idea, as it puts your results at risk and delays the recovery. Not eating properly after the workout can increase the degree of muscle soreness, which can have a negative impact on your next workout session. In order to avoid that, bring a snack that you will eat half an hour after you’ve finished your training. Include carbs and proteins in your post-workout session, as they help refuel your muscles and stimulate them to absorb amino acids, as well as aid your body in recovering from a hard workout session. A handful of nuts and dried fruits will replenish fuel stores, while a fruit smoothie with soy yogurt will serve as a delicious refreshment.
There you have it – five things you need to know before hitting the gym. Use the tips above as a guide to get the most of your workouts by maximising your nutrition.