Whenever I go seek out blog posts that talk about veganism and working out, one of the first things I come across is, “But where do you get the PrOtEIn from???” And some anecdote about how a family member always questions them or that no one realizes how healthy beans are. I have not had that experience, and most of my worries have developed internally – will I be able to get enough calories? Will my macros balance out? And then there’s also the good parts – how many more carbs will I devour now? How many new recipes am I going to try? What new foods will I fall in love with?
Well, I wanna dispel some rumors, because as an athlete, I can assure you that you can 100% be a successful vegan even with a tough workout regimen. So let’s start with the basics.
What’s the big difference between being vegan and an athlete and eating everything and being an athlete? Well, when you’re vegan, you don’t eat any animal products, including but not limited to eggs, dairy, and meat. The concern with this is that animal products are one of the best sources of protein for humans, so being vegan could jeopardize the amounts of protein you’re able to consume.
Fortunately, protein is not solely concentrated in animal products – you can find protein in many, many plant based products. Check out some sources below!
–Beans (Black beans and garbanzo beans are my two faves at the moment, but I can’t resist a good lentil meal in the depths of winter!)
–Tofu (I usually go with firm tofu, because it’s less likely to crumble and I prefer the texture, but obviously, to each their own)
–Nuts, especially almonds
–Nutritional Yeast (read about my love for this food here)
Another concern I had was making sure I could actually have enough calories throughout my day to sustain my workouts. Vegans tend to eat lots of fruits and vegetables (click here to find out my thoughts on fruits), which are just generally lower calorie options. Plus, in my mind, vegans and vegetarians just eat giant heads of lettuce, and lettuce is mostly water. Thankfully, I found that calories and nutrients are not too hard to chase if you genuinely like eating.
In general, I probably have 1700-1800 calories a day right now. And not only do I eat more than enough meals, but I also end up feeling quite full at the end of the day, as if I had a whole lot more to eat. Part of this, I think, is that most of my meals tend to be quite large to include lots of nutrients, and flavors, but also because I tend to eat more whole foods. This means I really go to town with dinner (my favorite sit down meal, almost tied with breakfast), and make big fancy filling dishes that I can scarf down after a long day. I have also been working out in the afternoon recently, so I’m able to have this big meal right after the big workout, which just generally makes all food taste better.
The last point I want to make is about my macros. In order to make sure I eat enough and get enough protein, I’ve been tracking on and off to see where I’m at. On average, I hit between 80 and 120 grams of protein, which is more than enough for my goals. The beauty of this is that I have a ton of carbs to fuel my runs (I’m a runner, yes), and I am an absolute carb lover!
I hope this qualms any fears you might have about being an athlete and maintaining a vegan diet guys – but if not, drop any questions, comments or concerns below! Or, find me on Twitter and let’s chat!