Last month I wrote a post about nutrition for vegan athletes where I told about protein, iron and multivitamins. Go check that out if you haven’t yet! On this post we are going to get into 3 nutrition more for vegan athletes.
Magnesium is really important to athletes. It regulates hearth rhythm, supports normal functioning of muscles and blood vessels. It can boost your exercise performance. Magnesium deficiency is quite common. Especially runners and endurance athletes tend to need more magnesium. During exercise your magnesium need can be 10-20% higher than when you are resting.
You can have magnesium enough from vegan diet for example almonds, broccoli, dark chocolate, spinach, oat, sesame seeds, quinoa, black beans and spirulina are rich in magnesium.
Like I told already runners have higher risk to get magnesium deficiency and I really can feel the difference after running if I am taking magnesium or not. When I don’t take it after long run I usually wake up middle of the night because my legs are cramping. That is actually one of the most common sign of magnesium deficiency. Other deficiency symptoms are low energy, hormone problems, depression and anxiety, sleeping problems and high blood pressure.
If you have some of these symptoms you could try magnesium supplement. Best time to take magnesium is at the night before bed because it has relaxing properties. We have this puhdistamo tripla magnesium which contains three different type of magnesium. It is really clean supplement without any additives and it doesn’t have any animal products so it is suitable for vegans!
Vegan diet tend to be higher in carbs so this is not something you should be worried about but carbs are really important to athletes and it really does matter which type of carbs you are eating so that is why I wanted to include them in this post.
Nowadays many athletes just worry about how to get enough protein and are trying to lower carb intakes. Carbs are essential part of any human dietary requirement so avoiding all carbs really doesn’t do anything good. Our body uses carbs as main energy source. They are essential for the normal function of fat metabolism. If we avoid carbs our fiber intake also decreases. Lack of fiber causes problems in the intestine such as intestinal cancer, constipation and irritated bowel. Fiber also can your lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
It is true that carbs are everywhere and we get them a lot easily. Like I already said it is also huge difference that where does your carbs come from. If we consume a lot white sugar, white bread and other fast and processed carbs those are bad for us and there is no reason why athletes or anyone would need those in their diet. But on the other hand also legumes, vegetables, berries, fruits and whole grains are carbs sources and those in our diet are really useful. When we eat bad carbs our blood sugar levels rises fast and after a while they come down just as fast. Then we feel tired and we don’t have power to exercise. If we eat vegetables and whole grains our blood sugar levels rises slowly and stays like that and then we have power to do exercise.
Usually vegan food is lower in calories than meat, eggs and dairy products. That is why I wanted to take this topic here. If you change your diet from eating meat to vegan you can easily lack calories. Key word is just eat more. If you want to enhance your sport performance it is really important to get enough calories. If you go to gym and try to gain muscles you have to get about 200 kcal more than your daily calorie consumption. You have to feel satisfied after every meal and you know that you get calories. If you eat only salads and low calorie vegetables then you feel constantly hungry and lack calories. Your body doesn’t have power to do exercises.
Fortunately it is quite easy to know that are you getting enough calories. Without enough calories your body doesn’t have power and after workout it doesn’t recover. You will be hungry all the time and you might not be able to sleep well.
If you have feeling that after going vegan you are constantly hungry and you don’t have power anymore that might easily just be because you are lacking calories. So what should you eat then. Make your diet variant. Eat vegetables, legumes, berries, fruit, quinoa, oats, nuts, seeds. Actually nuts and seeds are really easy way to increase your calorie intake. Just handful of nuts can be like 100 calories. If you are having hard time to get enough calories you can use oils and protein powders.
Just in case if you still think that it’s not possible to get enough protein as athlete from vegan diet here is some vegan athletes who are thriving very well with vegan diet. Go check them on Instagram!
- Lewis Hamilton, British race driver, one of the most famous athletes in the world has shown us that you really can win world champions and hold records as vegan. He has told that after starting a vegan diet he feels the best he has ever felt physically and mentally.
- Naturally Stefanie is a vegan fitness youtuber who makes youtube videos for more than 190 000 subscriber. She has been vegetarian more than 10 years and vegan 6 years. On her videos she shows how to workout and eat as vegan!
- Heavy weight boxing champion David Haye has told that after he started eating on a vegan diet he wakes up brighter in the morning and his skin, nails and hair has never been better. He weight more than 100kg so his protein amount per day is pretty huge. He has told that in order to get all that protein he uses a lot plant based protein powders and also he developed his own protein powder which is made from quinoa, brown rice and pea protein.
- Sisters Venus and Serena Williams are both tennis player and they are both vegan! When Venus was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome she decided to start eating on raw vegan diet and her sister and roommate Serena adopted the same diet. Venus has said that changing her diet has made big difference and she feel huge improvements since she was first diagnosed. They have been in a vegan diet since 2012 and after that Serena has won the US Open three times.
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