Any Vegan Athletes?

Denizen

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Hi

I'm completing a transition over to 100% vegan this weekend. I've been largely pescatarian for a while now but for several reasons I want to cut out dairy and fish.

My concern is that I run a lot of miles a week and also do core strength excersize. Currently I use whey protein and fish as a part of my post workout recovery routine.

I wonder if there are any fellow athletes here that can suggest vegan alternatives that can offer me advice on how to find sufficient protein for recovery.
 

Lou

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I'm no athlete but I think I know a lot about nutrition, protein, and the plant-based diet.

If you are anything like the guys at my gym you probably overestimate the amount of protein you need.

There is a coefficient that gets bandied about at my gym. You multiply your goal weight (in pounds) by the coefficient to determine your goal in grams of protein. The guys at my gym use numbers like 1 to 2. However, in reality, the number is less than half that. Depending on a number of factors including age, sex, and goals the coefficient is usually between 0.48 and 0.8.

Especially since athletes eat a large number of calories it's actually pretty easy to hit protein goals (without even trying).

With protein more is not better. Our bodies can't store protein. Excess protein is broken down for calories (and excess calories are turned into fat for storage). and especially worrisome is that when protein is broken down it produces nitrogen wastes which your kidney then has to work hard to filter out of your bloodstream. Nitrogen wastes are toxic.

there is also the absorbability and utilization of protein to consider. the jury is still out on this but the most recent studies estimate that the body can only absorb and utilize about 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.

Two good articles worth reading.
 

Thom

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I was a distance cyclist, middle distance runner, backpacker, and occasional triathlete for about 20 years. I switched to vegetarian diet late in the game. Then finally made the switch to vegan diet. During the first year my cholesterol dropped 30+ points, I finally flattened my mid-section, and gained muscle mass and tone. In the last 3 years, I dropped the cycling for climbing, so I could spend more time with my girlfriend and dogs.

To paint a clearer picture of my current "workout stuff" -- my also vegan girlfriend and I climb 3-4 days a week for 2-4 hours at a time; we do some low-key mountaineering where we'll summit 4000 footers in 6-8 hours of continuous hiking and rock-scrambling; we multi-day backpack with dogs, so carrying 20-40 lb packs while hiking 6-8 hours over varied terrain; and I do strength training work 3-4 days a week.

I'm kinda simple when it comes to food, so I can handle a lot of repetition. I tend to go to similar meal ideas for pre-workout as post-workout:

-- Tofu scramble, loaded with sautéed veggies, avocado, TVP, potatoes, nutritional yeast & turmeric
-- "Power Bowl" / black beans and/or lentils, rice, veggie protein (seitan, tofu, tempeh, etc), guacamole, leafy greens
-- Big salads with leafy greens, micro greens, beans, veggie protein, fresh veggies, BEETS, nuts, seeds
-- Sweet potato "steaks" with avocado and black bean salad
-- Smoothies or smoothie bowls / blended fruit and nut butter with protein powder as a drink or bowl topped with coconut shreds, nuts, seeds, oats
-- Oatmeal topped with nut butter, seeds, nuts, dried fruit

Keep in mind you can usually modify any "meat" meal to be a vegan meal just by swapping the protein source. Swap a fish fillet for seitan or tofu. Swap whey protein for pea protein (or hemp or rice).

We have a couple of cookbooks called The Thug Kitchen. It's all easy-to-make vegan meals. There are a few books in the series, covering ideas for snacks, meals, and party foods.

Another fitness energy strategy we employ -- I learned from years of cycling -- is to eat small snacks as you workout so that your body can replenish and rebuild as you tear it down. On long hikes, we'll eat:

-- Nut butter sandwiches or roll-ups
-- Trail mix
-- Snack bars (granola bars, Cliff bars, Luna bars)
-- Smoothies or energy drinks