Whether you’re an experienced vegan or new to the world of plant-based eating, you’re likely still a bit confused on how to make this type of diet work as an athlete. But really, it doesn’t have to be so hard! Not only can plant-based diets reduce your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but they’re also a rich source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals. Check out these 9 non-meat options that make for a delicious post-exercise meal.
Not only are lentils super affordable, but they’re packed with protein at a mighty 18g per cup. They also supply nearly 40% of your daily value of iron, which is something athletes, especially females, tend to need a lot of.
Dates will forever be my all-time favorite way to fuel up for a long exercise session. Plus with around 20g of carbohydrate per Medjool date, dates also make for a great recovery snack with the addition of a little protein. I like to add a little bit of peanut butter and sea salt for some extra protein and electrolytes to replace sweat losses.
A complete protein source, quinoa should be the base of any vegan athlete’s diet. Quinoa is also packed with iron, B vitamins, fiber, and a healthy dose of fatty acids.
One of the highest plant-based sources of protein, tofu packs in about 20g per cup. Like quinoa, soy is also a complete protein and is a great source of iron and calcium. Tofu is super versatile, and can be made into smoothies, scrambles, and as a meat replacement.
Another soy-based protein, 1 cup of tempeh contains even more plant-based protein than tofu at around 31g per cup. Because it is less processed than tofu, it also retains more of the soybean’s nutrients, like protein and fiber. 1 cup of tempeh also packs in almost 20% of you daily need for calcium.
Chickpeas have that ideal 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio that make them a great option for refueling post workout. Combined with their near complete lack of fat, they can also be absorbed quickly and can be consumed in many different forms: plain as a salad topping, roasted, baked into bars, or made into a low-fat hummus.
Fruits and Veggies:
Intense exercise causes your body to shift toward a more acidic pH, making fruits and veggies a perfect post-workout meal option in order to help bring those pH levels back up. Leafy greens, sprouted vegetables, and many fruits have a neutralizing effect on your body, which can help speed recovery.
Dairy is a huge source of calcium and vitamin D, but for many, regular cow’s milk does not sit well right after a workout. Soy milk makes for a great replacement with up to 6g of protein per cup.
Nuts & Seeds:
There is a reason chia seeds, flaxseed, and hemp seeds are viewed as nutritional powerhouses. Packed with both protein and fiber, nuts and seeds are also typically high in plant-based omega-3’s that have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation.