There is a perception that you can’t become a professional athlete or perform in sporting events to a high standard if you follow a vegetarian diet. Hundreds of vegetarian athletes across the globe have proven this is nothing but a myth; with a well-balanced diet and a smart training plan, you can achieve great results in any sport.
If you’re thinking about going veggie or just want to decrease your meat consumption, we’ve got some tip and tricks to ensure you achieve and maintain a strong performance.
1. Eat small frequent meals
Try to eat 6-8 times each day with intervals of 2-4 hours. This will provide you with the right nutrients, give you enough energy to work out and help to increase your fat-burning rate. As an athlete you expend more energy than you normally would, so make sure you consume the right amount of calories for your physique.
You should aim to consume 15-20 calories per pound of body weight and 30% of them should be from fats, ideally ‘healthy’ fats.
2. Get enough protein in your diet!
With some careful planning, vegetarians can consume adequate amounts of protein. You should try to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should get a minimum of 150 grams of protein per day.
Examples of high-quality plant-based proteins include:
- But or soy milk
- Nut butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Quinoa and millet
- Dark, leafy greens
- Seitan, tofu and tempeh
- Hemp seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Sprouted bean breads
3. Don’t neglect fatty acids
Fatty acids are a key nutrient, but you won’t be consuming any fatty fish or fish oil, so take in plenty of flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts to satisfy this need.
4. Get the right type of carbs
Carbs are necessary for growing muscles. Opt for whole grains, they are low in glycemic index, so they won’t increase your blood sugar levels too much. If your aim is to build significant muscle, you need to consume roughly 2-3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight.
5. Avoid a Heavy Reliance on Processed Foods
A big mistake that many vegetarians make is relying on overly processed foods such as ‘fake meat’. Avoid this. Being vegetarian does not mean you can eat as many high-carb snack foods as you want. You still need to eat healthily and attempt to maintain a fresh and varied diet that contains lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
6. Keep Your Workouts Short but Intense
When building muscle mass, heavy weights and low reps will get the job done. As a vegetarian, you should aim for short but intense workouts. During lengthy sessions, your protein needs will be greater, which could be more challenging on a vegetarian diet.
7. Consider Iron Supplementation
One thing that you might miss out on by adopting a vegetarian diet is iron, a nutrient found in red meat that is responsible for good red blood cell development. Low levels of iron can make you fatigued, so if you plan on carrying out a vegetarian diet for the long term, consider taking a daily iron supplement.
It is absolutely possible to achieve strong results in your various sporting endeavours on a vegetarian diet. With these nuggets of information, you can make the appropriate adjustments to your training regime and create a well-balanced nutrition plan that will fuel your body for success.