It’s estimated that 3.2 percent of the population are vegetarian, with another 10 percent
of Americans choosing to consume a “vegetarian-inclined diet.”
These numbers will likely grow as more and more research continues to reveal the benefits
of eating a plant-based diet—advantages that range from lower risk of disease to an easier
time losing weight.
But what happens when you’re an avid exerciser?
Even meat eaters need to modify their diets when they’re working out, and the same is true
for those who choose to eat primarily plants.
So if this is you and you’re wondering what kind of plant-based diet plan can help you keep up
with your fitness routine, there are a few key points to remember.
1. Eat Before Your Workouts
Eating before your workouts is the equivalent of filling up your gas tank or charging your electric
car before heading out for the day.
If you don’t, you’re not going to get very far.
You don’t want to eat a lot, but you do want to have some energy available to your body to help
it make it through your program.
Some good pre-workout food options include a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter
and bananas or some trail mix.
And you want to consume this mini-meal 1-2 hours before you hit the gym.
2. Eat After You Exercise Too
Just as your body needs fuel in order to get going, it also needs it to recover.
Experts recommend that you get some nutrients (protein and carbs) back in your body
within two hours post-exercise to replenish what you used while training.
A couple food options to consider, which are plant and not meat-based, are veggies and
hummus, a salad with nuts and seeds, or a pea or rice protein drink.
3. Increase Your Protein Intake Overall
Health experts like Breaking Muscle explain that protein is one of the key components to
Thus, you want to increase your intake of this one macronutrient (they recommend one gram
for every pound you way) if your goal is to have more muscle mass.
Some plant-based food sources that are loaded in protein:
*Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews)
*Seeds (pumpkin, chia, hemp, sunflower, and flax)
*Beans and legumes (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, red lentils)
*Whole grains (whole wheat, oatmeal, bulgar, brown rice)
Incorporate these food items into your diet all throughout the day and you’ll give your muscles
what they need to succeed.
4. Choose Natural Over Processed
Some people believe that adhering to a plant-based diet means they can live on chips, crackers,
and sugary desserts and still be healthy.
However, research shows that eating a high amount of processed foods weakens your body,
making it more susceptible to diseases like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
For this reason, you want to always choose natural plant-based foods over those that have
been stripped of their nutrients in order to change their form and make them more palatable.
Keep in mind also that processed foods tend to be higher in sugar, salt, and fat—three things
you don’t need more of in your diet.
5. Don’t Forget to Rehydrate
Part of keeping your body healthy and ready for exercise means keeping it hydrated; this is
especially important when you’re working out and sweating a lot.
To make sure you get enough water, drink before, during, and after your workout sessions.
Additionally, keep a bottle next to you all day, making it easier to sip on it every time you
And if you get tired of drinking plain old water, remember that other beverages can help you
replenish your body’s water supply too.
For instance, if you juice for higher health, then the water that drink contains counts toward
your daily intake.
The only drinks you don’t really want to count toward your intake are coffees or any other
beverages that contains caffeine as that is one substance that’s more de-hydrating than
Follow these five basic guidelines and your plant-based diet will help support your workout
program versus making it harder.
That’s a nice thought, isn’t it?
And if you want to see a sample plant-based diet that can help support a grueling workout
regimen, Muscle & Fitness has one that supplies all of the nutrients you need in a meat-free way.
Check it out!
It makes eating primarily plants while exercising an easy thing to do!
About the Author
Shelly Stinson is freelance writer based out of Denver, CO. Her interests include healthy living, being active outdoors and trying new restaurants. Find her on twitter: https://twitter.com/shellystins
What are your favorite tips for supporting your workout regime on a plant-based diet?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.