**Disclaimer, not every vegan is focused on having a crazy fit body! So if you are happy with your vegan body, then keep doing you! 🙂 **
There are quite a few myths flying around regarding vegan diets and vegan exercise. Therefore, once you have transitioned to one, you may be wondering, “what about exercise?” Well, this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask.
After all, with a vegan diet, there is quite a bit of tweaking involved. Now, when you are on meat or animal-based diet, nutrition and exercise can be fairly straightforward. When it comes to vegans, though, this information isn’t always readily available.
Well, there is actually a positive spin to this. The reason that there aren’t too many specific articles regarding vegans and exercise is that not a great deal has changed. As long as you are getting enough nutrition and maintaining a sufficient calorie level, then you should be fine.
As mentioned, though, this can be a tricky thing to balance. This is particularly true if you haven’t really paid much attention to your diet or exercise routine before becoming a vegan. Well, now that you are asking all the right questions, here is what you need to know:
Can Vegans Work Out Like Non-Vegans?
One of the biggest misconceptions of a vegan diet is that it makes you weaker. So, by following this logic, many people simply assume that if you are vegan, you can’t do the kinds of exercises or activities that omnivores do. At the very least, you can’t do them at the same intensity as your meat-eating peers.
Well, there is excellent news for you: this is simply not true. Vegans are able to work out with the same tenacity and power that non-vegans do. Need proof? Well, did you know that there are some top athletes that are vegan?
This enviable list includes powerhouses like Venus Williams, Jermain Defoe, and Lewis Hamilton. What’s more, there are boxers, weightlifters, and MMA fighters that are all vegan!
Considering that these people are at the top of their game, it is easy to see that you don’t need to eat meat or animal-derived foods to be strong or fast. However, you may have to work a little harder to achieve the same results as meat eaters. These will be discussed shortly.
What Kind of Exercises Should You Do?
It is clear that your vegan diet isn’t going to stop you from doing any kind of exercise. Of course, this doesn’t really narrow things down. So, you may be still left asking the question – what types of workouts should I do?
The answer to this isn’t as clear-cut as you might imagine. At the end of the day, you need to do exercises that help you achieve your fitness goals.
These, as you can imagine, can vary quite a bit from person to person. Some individuals want to get fitter, others want to lose weight, and there are those that simply want to gain muscle.
Research has shown, though, that a mix of cardio and strength training is best. This is true regardless of the kind of physique you are trying to get. By ensuring that you get enough aerobic exercise and weight training, you will certainly be a great deal healthier.
Whatever you decide to do, however, make sure to start off slowly. This is particularly important if you are going back to working out after transitioning to a vegan diet.
If your body is still getting used to your new diet, then it is best not to push yourself too much.
Instead, start off with a low-intensity exercise for a shorter duration. Then, see how you feel immediately after your workout the following day.
This should give you a good idea of whether you must continue at the current level or if you can kick it up a notch. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution.
Getting Enough Protein While Working Out
It should come as no surprise that the conversation eventually circles back to the topic of protein.
As you should be aware of by now, it is possible to get as much protein as you need on a vegan diet. This is because many plant-based foods have at least some protein content.
The issue, though, is that pound for pound, meat tends to have more protein than plant sources. Therefore, the average omnivore may have to eat a lot less food than you to get the same amount of protein.
This in no way means that you can’t get enough protein. It simply means that if you want to exercise and gain muscle, you will need to be a lot more conscious about how much protein you consume at each meal.
In case you are just looking to improve your general fitness and not build muscle, your protein needs aren’t too bad. You should aim to get around 0.8 – 1.3 grams of protein per kilo of bodyweight. If you are trying to bulk up, aim for between 1.3 and 1.8 grams of protein.
Vegan Nutrition Maintenance for Workouts
Of course, your nutrition doesn’t begin and end with protein. You also have to be careful about other food groups as well. Remember, whether you are trying to maintain your weight, lose weight, or gain muscle, exercise requires you to use up energy. Thus, you need to make sure that you are replenishing your reserves.
You are going to need to eat a balanced diet of unprocessed carbs, healthy fats, calcium, and proper vitamins and minerals. All of this is possible on a vegan diet. At the same time, you should be aware of the exact nutrient quantities going into your body.
There is no such thing as a complete food. For you to stay healthy and active, you need to consume several different kinds of food. This ensures that you are consuming appropriate amounts of all nutrients necessary to stay healthy.
To make certain that you are getting the right combination, you should be aware of two things:
- How much protein, carbs, fats, and specific vitamins and minerals you need
- The exact quantity of these nutrients in all the foods you eat
As long as this balance is met, there will be no adverse reactions to working out.
Fueling Your Workouts
If you are planning on putting the pedal to the metal with your workouts, then you should focus on fuelling your workouts both before and after the fact. See, your body needs certain foods before so that it can have enough energy to propel you through your workout. The post-workout meal helps with recovery and to replenish what has been lost.
Now, there are technically two kinds of pre-workout meals. The first is for people who aren’t working out for too long – keeping it under an hour. In this case, your pre-workout meal would be a part of your regular, three meal schedule.
However, it is important to make sure that you are eating the right foods. Here, you should focus on consuming healthy, unprocessed carbs and some protein. Your body tends to use carbs for energy more than anything else. So, this is what will be fueling your workout.
If your workouts are longer and more intense, then you should have a snack or small meal about an hour before you exercise. Once again, carbs and protein are the most important ingredients to include. Nonetheless, you should make sure that they are easily digestible. If you are looking for a quick fix, vegan energy or protein bars will do.
After you have exercised, your energy reserves will be diminished. So, healthy carbs will help to build them back up again. For this meal, protein becomes just as important. Protein is associated with muscle building and muscle recovery. So, eating a meal that is relatively high in protein could make it easier for your body to adapt to the workouts.
Vegan Supplements – Do You Need Them?
Look for any gym junkie and you are sure to notice them carrying around a veritable hoard of supplements, pills, and powders. Even though there are far fewer vegan options, you may be wondering if you need to take these supplements as well.
Unless you are planning on seriously bulking up or are a professional athlete, it is unlikely that you will need these supplements. Instead, ensuring that you eat a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients will be more than enough.
If you do decide that supplements are for you, make sure to check every ingredient on labels. As mentioned, vegan supplements aren’t all that common. So, you will have to be very careful of those that are offered to you.
On a similar note, most supplements are FDA-approved and have no real oversight. This makes it all the more important that you know what you are putting into your body.
This concludes what you need to know about exercising as a vegan. As you can see, it isn’t impossible to get fit or even bulk up on your vegan diet. All it takes is a little know-how and some dedication.
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