The stigma around veganism is a thing of the past, with more and more moving away from animal products and taking the plunge to a plant based diet. But what about vegan runners? Well they’re going to be just fine.
Vegan, and even vegetarian, marathon runners often get some funny looks on the start line, like without meat there is no possible way you could run long distances. But that simply isn’t true, in fact quite the opposite. More and more research is pointing to the fact that a vegan diet not only helps the planet, but it also improves your performance too.
You don’t have to look far to see elite endurance athletes who are vegan. Ultrarunner Scott Jurek holds his vegan diet as the key to his unreal performance abilities. But becoming a great vegan or vegetarian runner takes time, so let's take a look at some key tips for vegan runners.
Misconceptions don’t come much bigger than those who say that a vegan diet means you miss out on nutrients. Cutting out a major food group and any by-products will of course have a massive effect on the nutrients you consume, but just like any other athlete there are supplements here to help.
The main thing those on a vegan diet worry about is the big ‘P’, protein. But there are so many ways you can get protein into your diet with plant based foods. Nuts, seeds, quinoa, grains and beans are all great natural sources of protein, but there are other ways too.
Vegan snacks for runners are taking over the market with a wide variety of high protein tasty snacks available to try. Bars, crisps, you name it and there is a vegan protein alternative for you to try.
Millionaire Crunch – 58g – Salted Caramel
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Alongside this there is also vegan protein powders, which offer a great source of protein, and pack in over 20 grams of protein per serving. These powders are usually made up of a mix of soy, rice and pea protein to create a complete protein powder. This means it contains all nine essential amino acids, helping for the growth and development of muscle in the body.
Protein is also a key factor when looking at post-run recovery. Ensuring your protein levels are correct is key to making sure you are ready to go again quickly, as well as consolidating the results you have achieved.
Distance running and marathon training require top nutrition to be able to achieve, so ensuring you get the correct amount of protein is key.
Meat eaters and vegans alike can attest to that feeling of a long run in the morning after a rough meal the night before. It just ain’t happening, and if it does, your performance is going to be severely hindered. That’s why it’s important as a vegan runner to find a balance, through meal planning and great preparation.
Without meat and dairy products to tie you down, you can strike a fantastic balance in your diet to make sure you are correctly fuelled for your high impact exercise. Plus, vegans have an easier time keeping their body weight down.
So go crazy with the olive oil, make magic with garbanzo beans, and get creative with some black bean sauce. Make sure to try out different meal plans and preps to find out what works best for you. Some of the best meals were concocted by accident so play around, but make sure you are always hitting those nutritional goals.
Balance is key for improving your performance as a runner, but one of the main benefits of veganism is your health. Reducing your meat intake to none can drastically improve your physical fitness as well as reducing your risk of developing diseases related to the heart.
Eating more plant based foods will help you lose weight, and eating more fruits and vegetables will also transform your wellbeing. Not only will you feel less lethargic, your diet will be filled with more of the essential minerals and vitamins and fibre, helping to aid digestion and cell growth.
The vegan diet can do wonders for the body and mind, helping you on the track or on that wet, windy night when you just want to get back inside. Your health is ultimately the most important thing and a vegan diet will help you to get in tip-top shape. Organisations such as Vegan Runners UK are a great source for all things vegan running.
This isn’t really a tip, more of what to expect. Although there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence that a vegan diet improves performance, it does sure look that way.
Remember that Scott Jurek guy I mentioned earlier? Well he recently released an autobiography, noting that a key change happened when he shifted to veganism. He won the Minnesota Voyageur 50-Mile race on his third attempt. The one main difference? His diet.
Plus just from anecdotal evidence runners have said they felt they can run farther, faster, for longer. Without all that fatty meat to leave you feeling lethargic, you will be smashing PB’s and leaving the competition behind. So no worries if you are worried about becoming a vegan runner.
So, can you be a good runner on a vegan diet? The answer is a definite yes. Just like meat-eating runners though it is ultimately all down to you. Get your diet and training right and you can take your running performance to the next level.