When it comes to eating a plant-based diet for athletes, your post-workout snack is crucial. Eating right after a workout helps to restore your glycogen stores, helps you build muscle, and helps you to replenish your electrolytes and nutrients that you’ve worked off and sweated out.
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Want to eat a plant-based diet for athletes but need help post-workout? There are two nutrients that are specifically important to focus on when you’re planning your after-workout snack or meal. Protein and carbohydrates! These are the real MVPs of nutrition for the plant-based athlete…or really any athlete. Protein certainly gets a lot of focus in the athletic world, but carbs are just as important. Without protein and carbs, it will be difficult for you to build muscle and recover efficiently.
Vegan Reuben made with whole grain rye bread, sauerkraut, MamaSezz Veggie Breakfast Sausage, and MamaSezz Awesome Sauce
Protein is key for muscle repair and rebuilding. And despite some vegan myths, plants are chock full of complete proteins that are easily digestible and beneficial for muscle recovery.
Heard a plant-based diet for athletes doesn't provide enough protein? We hear this a lot and we're happy to dispel it. Did you know plant-based dieters (vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians, WFPB dieters, etc.) get about 70% more daily protein than their bodies need? This is roughly the same daily protein intake consumed by those with traditional omnivorous diets.
So for your average Joe, or even a “weekend warrior” plant-based athlete, you don’t have to think about your protein intake at all. For those of you pushing your bodies to the limit, whatever diet you choose, you should make sure that extra protein is an added part of it.
How Do Vegans Get Their Protein?
Getting a protein boost on a plant-based diet for athletes is not as difficult as it may seem, because all plants contain protein. Here are a few that contain crazy high amounts of protein that would be perfect for your post-workout snack.
Try to eat within 30 minutes of the end of your workout for best results:
Carbs get a bad rap, especially in diet culture. But you may want to think twice before you cut carbs, especially if you're an athlete.
Why are carbs an important piece of a plant-based diet for athletes? Your muscles use glucose from carbohydrates as fuel to energize your workout. Your body stores this as glycogen. As your glycogen stores deplete, the intensity at which you can perform decreases. So if you are planning to push yourself to the limit, you’ll need carbohydrates to get you there, otherwise your game or workout could suffer.
For those of you thinking carbs cause weight gain, spike blood sugar, and should be avoided for optimal health...you're probably thinking of refined carbs. It's a common mistake so don't worry, we're going to clear it up now.
The main difference here is that the best carbs to eat come in their natural form, which includes fiber. When the fiber or other important nutrients or minerals are stripped from a food it becomes “refined.” Brown rice is a great way to fuel your workout, but white rice (that has been stripped of vital nutrients including fiber) could spike and crash your blood sugar.
The fiber in whole carbs helps the glucose to slowly release into your bloodstream which gives you a steady stream of energy.
Whole Carbohydrates to Add to Your Post-Workout Routine
- Brown Rice and brown rice pasta
- Lentils and lentil pasta
- Whole grain bread
- Sweet potatoes
Want the best of both worlds? Try this vegan protein shake full of whole carbs, calories, and plant-based protein! The ingredients in this smoothie are scientifically proven to help muscle repair and growth, and reduce inflammation which means you can get back out there and do your thang.
Excellent Source of Dietary Fiber, Excellent Source of Protein, Excellent Source of Vitamin A, Excellent Source of Vitamin C, Excellent Source of Calcium, Excellent Source of Iron
- When it comes to a plant-based diet for athlete, protein and carbs are key!
- Plant-based protein and whole carbohydrates help you to gain muscle mass and repair damage, prevent inflammation, and speed up your recovery times.
- Focus on eating those two nutrients within 30 minutes after your workout for best results.
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.