The Vegan Runner – Nutrition & Diet

Being vegan is amazing for the body and even better for the environment, but figuring out what to eat on a daily basis can be a little tricky. Things can get even more complicated when you’re a runner. Having a limited choice of protein and a wide variety of carbs to choose from can really throw you off when it comes to properly fueling for a good run. Luckily, you don’t have to give up being vegan in order to continue with your training. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re a vegan runner.

Keep it simple

Oftentimes, simple meals are the best for your body and performance. Keep this “formula” in mind when creating your meals: grain, bean, green. For instance, you can make a delicious and nutritious soup with rice, lentils and kale or spinach. For flavor, add a bunch of spices you like (cumin and turmeric go pretty well with any soup). This grain-bean-green formula will allow you to prepare simple meals that will fuel your runs and minimize food worry.

Give your body plenty of glycogen

The best source of energy for your body is glycogen. Natural processes in the body break down carbs into glucose and latter glycogen which is stored in the muscles. Your plant-based diet allows you to eat plenty of wholegrain carbs like pasta or rice. Your energy supply will be slowly released which is perfect for long runs and running in cold weather or any sort of sub-optimal conditions when you need plenty of fuel. In general, any meal that is full of beans or pulses with the side of grain (lentils with rice or baked beans with rice) will provide you with all the necessary amino acids.

Keep your bones strong

Running is a high-impact activity, so your bones will definitely feel it. In order to minimize injury, you need to feed your bones with plenty of calcium and vitamin D that boosts its absorption. So, make sure to include any sorts of food that’s high in calcium like broccoli, kale, soybeans or collard greens. For the vitamin D portion of the meal, you can opt for any type of plant milk such as soy or almond milk fortified with vitamin D and B12. If you’re open to supplementation, make sure to consult with your doctor in order to pick the right kind for your diet and physical activity level.

Energize with dates

Longer runs usually require some sort of snack that will keep your energy levels high. In that case, you can pack a few dates and walnuts in your pockets. Dates are basically natural gel packs and they are pretty delicious. And you don’t even need any extra packaging and create waste!

In order to replenish your electrolytes without artificial energy drinks, you can add a small amount of salt to your mid-run drink. This trick will help you during long runs and improve your recovery time.

Get a good blender

Runners on the go need something very practical to keep them full during the day. So every vegan runner needs to have a good blender for nutrient-dense morning smoothies. Here’s a recipe you can try: 1 kale leaf, 1 carrot, ½ inch ginger root piece, ¼ avocado, 4 tbl of oats, 1 tbl of any kind of nut butter, 1 tbl of raisins, 1 tsp of chia seed, 1 tsp of flaxseed, 4 prunes, a few frozen berries, ½ cup of almond milk and some water. If you like cinnamon, add a dash as well. This smoothie has plenty of calories, good fat, carbs, fiber, sugar, and protein—everything you need.

Veganism and running CAN go together. As long as you keep these tips in mind, you can achieve amazing results on the track and lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.