Veganism & Fitness? A Winning Combo!
Natalie Shemesh | Registered Dietitian
Athletes, especially bodybuilders, are often instructed to consume large amounts of protein derived from animals. They are told this will promote muscle development (hypertrophy). The truth is that the “protein scare” which is prominent in the fitness world is far-fetched.
There are plenty of good sources for protein in a plant-based diet: legumes (lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, fava beans); soy and soy products such as tofu, tempeh and TVP; quinoa; seitan; and in smaller amounts in grains (such as wheat, rice, buckwheat, pasta, bread); nuts and seeds; vegetables. Soy products, quinoa and also the combination of grains and legumes (not necessarily during the same meal) provide complete protein with all of the essential amino acids in the right proportions.
Protein is, of course, an essential parameter in the process of muscle formation, but it is important to understand that it's only one out of a whole group of parameters involved in muscle formation. Other important parameters, for example, include carbohydrates and anti-oxidants. They are found in plant-based foods in abundance and assist energy production and post-workout muscle recovery. Apart from professional athletes, most people don't require such careful monitoring of their daily protein consumption.
Here are some examples of protein-rich meals (along with iron and zinc, which are also vital), suitable for post-workout meals:
- Tofu scramble/chickpea flour omelette with whole wheat bread
- Legume patties with rice/potatoes/whole wheat bun and veggies
- Rich veggie salad with tofu/legumes
- Tofu/seitan stir-fry with veggies
- Bean or lentil soup
- Soy milk based oat porridge
- Edamame beans with a splash of lemon juice and a dash of salt
- Spaghetti with soy-meat balls
Here is a list of well-known world-wide vegan athletes:
Carl Lewis, Dave Scott (the 1st six-time Ironman Triathlon Hawaii champion), Scott Jurek (Ultramarathon runner), world champions tennis players- Venus and Serena Williams, Jim Morris (78-year-old bodybuilder), Alexander Dargatz (bodybuilder), Patrik Baboumian (the strongest man in Germany), Frank Medrano (trains in calisthenics), Mac Danzig (retired Mixed Martial Artist fighting in the UFC).