Running on a Vegan Diet – Balancing Training and the Vegan Lifestyle
People choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons. Some do so for the health benefits veganism offers while others adopt it as an ethical choice. Regardless, the inherent limitations associated with the vegan diet can be challenging at times. This is especially true for vegan runners who are training for longer distances. But veganism doesn’t prohibit these pursuits as many ultra-marathoners have excelled on such a lifestyle. The key is having discipline and a good vegan diet for running. With this in place, the sky is the limit!
There is a reason why choosing a good vegan diet for running can be difficult. For one, vegan diets are more limited in their protein offerings than other diets. Likewise, they may also be limited in other key nutrients like calcium and iron. And the abundant availability of simple carbohydrates can sabotage vegan runners’ goals. Fortunately, a little planning and preparation can go a long way. With the right vegan diet for running, your capacity to excel will increase greatly.
The Ideal Vegan Diet for Running
Especially for long distance running, there is a misconception that a high-carb diet is desirable. But in actuality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many vegan runners who pursue such an approach often experience less than ideal results. Instead, research supports a high-protein, low-carb, and high-fat diet offers the best strategy for distance running. This diet helps teach your body how to better burn energy-efficient fats while replacing needed protein. And it reduces your dependency on short-acting carbs as a fuel source.
Vegan Runners and Protein
For both pre- and post-workout meals, proteins are an important part of the vegan diet for running. Proteins are needed to repair muscles and strengthen connective tissue. Naturally, lighter proteins will be preferred before your run. Various nuts like cashews and almonds are a good choice for pre-run snacks. These and nut butters provide both protein and healthy fats. Other sources of protein for vegan runners include black beans, tempeh, quinoa, lentils, and tofu. And of course, there’s always vegan protein powder for that added boost.
Vegan Runners and Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are a great part of a vegan diet for running because they pack an energy punch. They offer more than twice as many calories per gram than carbs and proteins. In addition, fats teach your body to burn fat stores (ketones) during your long runs instead of carb stores (glycogen). Because fats offer more energy, this provides a great advantage on your longer runs. For vegan runners, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, avocados, and nut butters are great sources of healthy fats.
Key Micronutrients for Vegan Runners
Vegan runners naturally require minerals like calcium to help rebuild muscles and strengthen bones. Likewise, iron is an important mineral because of its role in providing oxygen to the tissues. Without dairy or red meats, however, it’s important to plan for these micronutrients in your vegan diet for running. Calcium can be found in several vegan foods including kale, tahini, beans, chickpeas, and even almonds. Iron is present in beets, mushrooms, quinoa, green lentils, and red bell peppers. And of course, these can also be acquired by adding a multivitamin to your daily routine. The right choices can help you keep your running at peak performance.
Planning and Discipline is the Key
Vegan runners can absolutely perform as competitively as anyone when it comes to running. However, planning in advance is essential for true success. Many foods may be considered in a vegan diet for running. This allows you to tailor your meals and snacks to your individual preferences. But it’s important to avoid excessive carbs, especially simple ones. And it’s essential to anticipate your nutrition needs in advance. This is the perfect recipe for vegan runners to perform at their absolute best.