Many athletes are switching to a vegan, plant-based diet. We at Wholistic Running encourage and coach athletes going vegan for the enhanced recovery, increased performance, fewer injuries and many other benefits it provides. Here are some tips to be a successful vegan athlete no matter what sport or level you are.
- Strive for a whole foods plant-based diet: For optimal performance and recovery, it’s best to eat more whole foods and less processed foods. Whole plant foods are more nutrient dense and provide more phytonutrients such as anti-inflammatories and polyphenols that speed up the healing process.
- Eat a variety of foods: Doing so encourages you get a complex nutrient profile allowing you to increase your energy and perform your best.
- Eat enough calories: This is important for both endurance and strength athletes. Since plant foods are nutrient dense but generally lower in calories, you need to ensure you eat enough food to provide for your caloric needs. Too many athletes who go vegan do enough eat enough calories and fail.
- Try superfoods: You may want to try ‘superfoods’. As professional athletes and having coached hundreds of athletes of all levels, we have found that some superfoods help athletes recover better and perform optimally. Superfoods we recommend trying include goji berries, maca and cordyceps.
- Find and stick with what works for you: As professional athletes, we have found what works for us. But even better, as successful coaches we have found what works for many other athletes. By finding out which foods work best for you, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll be a more successful athlete.
Here’s a simple, nutrient dense performance & recovery smoothie:
16 oz plant-based milk
1 T chia or flax seeds
1 scoop plant-based vegan protein (optional)
1 T maca
1 ripe banana
1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
1/2 inch slice of fresh ginger or turmeric (optional)
1 cup spinach or kale
Blend & enjoy!
Damian Stoy is a professional runner, coach & founder of Wholistic Running. He is certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell & on the prestigious list of Greatest Vegan Athletes.