Becoming a Plant Powered Athlete
Becoming a plant powered athlete… An idea which had been in my mind for a while. During lockdown I took the plunge. I decided to change my diet from “normal” to plant based. After hearing many stories about successful vegan athletes, I’m intrigued and I’d like to see the impact, if any, that it might have on my sporting performance. So why not? Especially since I’ve always enjoyed plant based food.
This is a personal project I’m doing for myself and I’m not trying to convert anyone. Let’s see what happens with my performance over the next months.
The actual changes to my diet
I stopped eating meat, fish and eggs. I’m not a purist though. There are a few non-vegan products that I haven’t fully removed from my diet. Like with everything in life, it’s never just black or white and I’ve come to a compromised diet which I feel happy with (at least so far as this is all new to me).
I’ve replaced animal products by tofu, pulses, nuts, seeds, quinoa, wild rice, nut butter, plant based milk. Of course I’m also eating a wide array of fruits and vegetables.
I am though still enjoying some dairy products, mainly cheese and chocolate. I just like them too much. Even though it is possible to find vegan replacement for these, the ones I found so far are more expensive and harder to source.
Practicalities – How I make it work
I have no real knowledge in nutrition so it’s been a learning curve. I’ve been doing a bit of research online and joined a couple Facebook groups to get tips from the vegan athlete community.
Also I'm not really interested in cooking, as I’d much rather spend my free time training in the outdoors rather than being in the kitchen.
The rest of my family enjoy eating meat/fish. So to minimise my time cooking, I prepare some of my vegan protein in advance at the beginning of the week (like cook quinoa, marinate and cook tofu). Then for each meal, I just cook a meat/fish dish for the rest of the family and easily swap my protein with my pre-prepared vegan ingredients.
In addition, I’ve been very fortunate that my sports nutrition sponsors offer vegan products. I’m thankful to have the support from XMiles, Unived and Totally Wonderfuel who all provide some vegan fuelling products for athletes (energy gels, energy balls, supplements, vitamins, muesli etc…). So perfect.
My modest research highlighted that it might be harder to obtain all the necessary vitamins from a plant based diet, so I’ve been taken vitamin supplements (for example vitamin B12) to prevent potential deficiencies.
Follow this space…. Let’s see what the impacts, if any, are training and racing wise.